Welcome to Lakeside Church, the statistically average U.S. Congregation. This week:
- Lakeside will draw an adult congregation that’s 61 percent female, 39 percent male.
- Almost 25 percent of the married women who attend Lakeside will do so without their husbands.
- Lakeside will attract a healthy number of single women, but few single men.
- The majority of men who actually show up for Sunday worship are there in body only. Their hearts just aren’t in it. Few will do anything during the week to nurture their faith.
Lakeside is the norm in Christianity – in the U.S., and around the world. Your church profile is probably similar. Count noses this Sunday – you’ll be surprised. A 60/40 gender gap (or larger) probably affects your worship services, midweek meetings, Bible studies, ministry teams, youth group, etc. In today’s church, women are the participators, men, the spectators.
How did we get here? How did a faith founded by a man and his 12 male disciples become anathema to men? Why do Christian churches around the world experience a chronic shortage of males, when temples and mosques do not? Why are churchgoing men so hesitant to really live their faith, when men of other religions willingly die for theirs?
As a church leader, the lack of male participation may not be one of your top concerns. After all, if you want a smooth running congregation, women are the key. Women keep the ministry machine going. They sing in the choir, care for children, teach classes, cook for potlucks, and serve on committees. George Barna puts it this way: women are the backbone of Christian congregations. Men are like hood ornaments on cars: nice, but not necessary
Over the long term, however, a lack of men will doom a congregation. The gender gap is associated with church decline, according to the latest studies. The denominations with the fewest men (per capita) are also those that have been losing members and shutting churches. On the other hand, churches with robust male participation are generally growing.
If you want a healthy church for the long term, attract men. This was Jesus’ strategy. It still works today.
There’s just one little problem: men hate going to church.