You’ve probably heard about the explosive growth of evangelical/Pentecostal Christianity in Latin America. But this growth has a dark side – men are falling away at an alarming rate.
I interviewed Richard and Jo Ann Clark, missionaries from Indiana who work with a number of fledgling churches in the Central American nation.
Church for Men (CFM): What is the typical weekly attendance in the churches you work with?
Clarks: 50-100 in the rural churches. 100-300 in the city churches.
CFM: What percentage of the attendees is female?
Clarks: Typically 60 to 80 percent. Seventy percent female is the norm.
CFM: What percentage of your lay leaders is female?
Clarks: Our best estimate is around 80%
CFM: Why do you think Nicaraguan churches are so short on men?
Clarks: Women dominate church life here. They are the majority of worship leaders, prayer leaders, and ushers. They even make the announcements. Women decorate the churches according to their tastes. When we offer a church leadership seminar, the vast majority of attendees are women.
Nicaragua is a country with a long tradition of macho culture. This makes it difficult for a man to be involved with anything female-dominated. There is still a bright line between “men’s things” and “women’s things” in this part of the world.
CFM: What percentage of women is praying for a man in their life to come to Christ and get involved in church?
Clarks: Of the three groups we polled, 90% or more said they were praying for a man in their lives to come to Christ. They also would be happy to turn their leadership responsibilities in the church over to men, if only the men were willing.
CFM: What are Nicaraguan churches doing to attract more men?
Clarks: For the most part, nothing. But when we talked with several pastors about some points made in your book, they looked like a light bulb came on!
We hope to develop seminars for pastors, pastors’ associations and churches. Most pastors are very aware of the gender gap, but they have no idea how to change it.
Personally, I have begun calling the men forward for a “Men’s Huddle” at the end of the service and the men respond positively (see photo).
CFM: I’ve been hoping my publishers would print my books in Spanish for some time. Maybe when the new version of WHY MEN HATE GOING TO CHURCH comes out in late 2011, they’ll do a Spanish translation.
Clarks: That would be very helpful. We need that message here in Nicaragua.