Quick facts

  • You’re not just imagining it. Christianity is short on men. Here are the facts:
    • The typical U.S. Congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61% female, 39% male. This gender gap shows up in all age categories. [1]
    • On any given Sunday there are 13 million more adult women than men in America’s churches. [2]
    • This Sunday almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands. [3]
    • Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants. [4]
    • The majority of church employees are women (except for ordained clergy, who are overwhelmingly male). [5]
    • Over 70 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many of these boys will never return. [6]
    • More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only one out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church. [7]
    • Churches overseas report gender gaps of up to 9 women for every adult man in attendance. [8]
    • Christian universities are becoming convents. The typical Christian college in the U.S. enrolls almost 2 women for every 1 man. [9]
    • Fewer than 10% of U.S. churches are able to establish or maintain a vibrant men’s ministry. [10]

    Church is good for men:

    • Churchgoers are more likely to be married and express a higher level of satisfaction with life. Church involvement is the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness. [11]
    • Church involvement moves people out of poverty. Its also correlated with less depression, more self-esteem and greater family and marital happiness. [12]
    • Religious participation leads men to become more engaged husbands and fathers. [13]
    • Teens with religious fathers are more likely to say they enjoy spending time with dad and that they admire him. [14]

    And men are good for the church:

    • A study from Hartford Seminary found that the presence of involved men was statistically correlated with church growth, health, and harmony. Meanwhile, a lack of male participation is strongly associated with congregational decline. [15]


    FOOTNOTES:

    [1] “U.S. Congregational Life Survey – Key Findings,” 29 October 2003, <www.uscongregations.org/key.htm>.

    [2] This statistic comes from Barna’s figures on male/female worship attendance, overlayed upon the Census 2000 numbers for adult men and women in the U.S. population.

    [3] I came up with this figure by taking the U.S. Census 2000 numbers for total married adults and overlaying Barna Research’s year 2000 percentages of male vs. female attendance at weekly worship services. The figures suggest at least 24.5 million married women attend church on a given weekend, but only 19 million married men attend. That’s 5.5 million more women, or 22.5%. The actual number may be even higher, because married people attend church in much greater numbers than singles.

    [4] Barna Research Online, “Women are the Backbone of Christian Congregations in America,” 6 March 2000, <www.barna.org>.

    [5] Ibid.

    [6] “LifeWay Research Uncovers Reasons 18 to 22 Year Olds Drop Out of Church,” PowerPoint presentation accompanying study, available at the LifeWay Web site, http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/article_main_page/0,1703,A=165949&M=200906,00.html, accessed 12 September 2007.

    [7] Barna, “Women are the Backbone of Christian Congregations in America.”

    [8] I get an e-mail message about once a month from a pastor overseas whose congregation is almost totally female.

    [9] Camerin Courtney, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Christianity Today, Single Minded. View at http://www.christianitytoday.com/singles/newsletter/mind40630.html.

    [10] Based on a show of hands at the National Coalition of Men’s Ministries meeting in 2005. The consensus in the room among hundreds of men’s ministry experts was that less than 10% of congregations had any ongoing ministry to men. Compare this to the 110% of churches that offer women’s and children’s ministries.

    [11, 12] “Why Religion Matters: The Impact of Religious Practice on Social Stability,” The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder, 1064, 25 January 1996,  <www.heritage.org>.

    [13] Penny Edgell (Becker) and Heather Hofmeister, “Work, Family and Religious Involvement for Men and Women,” Hartford Institute for Religion Research, <http://hirr.hartsem.edu>.

    [14] Christian Smith and Phillip Kim, “Religious Youth Are More Likely to Have Positive Relationships with Their Fathers,” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 12 July 2002, findings based on the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997).

    [15] C. Kirk Hadaway, FACTs on Growth: A new look at the dynamics of growth and decline in American congregations based on the Faith Communities Today 2005 national survey of Congregations. Hartford Institute for Religion Research, http://hirr.hartsem.edu.

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