1. Rhonda asks: My husband goes to church but he never seems to change. What’s wrong with him?
A lot of men who go to church are unaffected by what they hear. The gospel bounces off their souls like bullets off Superman’s chest. New research into men and women’s brains may hold the answer.
Women’s brains have more verbal resources than men’s do. As a result, women are more comfortable with words; men are more comfortable with objects. The problem for men is that our modern church services are highly verbal. We offer spoken lessons, written study guides, and lengthy verbal sermons. It’s hard for men to absorb so many words.
Jesus knew this, and taught men through parables: short lessons built around an object at hand. When you’re teaching men or boys, keep your lessons short, and build them around a concrete object. The fewer words, the better.
2. Nancy asks: Why can’t I get my husband to go to church with me?
Nancy, there’s an unspoken feeling among men that church is a women’s thing – and research indicates that these men may be right. Studies show that the typical American worship service draws a crowd that’s 61 percent women. Midweek activities are even more lopsidedly female. Volunteer opportunities revolve around traditionally feminine roles: childcare, teaching, singing and kitchen duties. Men have a hard time finding their place in church, unless they have a passion for changing diapers, attending meetings or passing out bulletins.
Plus church has a reputation as something for “little old ladies of both sexes.” Honestly, a lot of men resist church simply because they feel, deep in their hearts, it’s something for women and children.
The best way to break through this logjam is for a man your husband respects to invite him to church. This tells your husband, “Hey, if HE goes to church maybe it’s OK for me to go.”
3. Bernice asks: My sons received Jesus as little boys, but now that they’re teens they don’t want to go to church. Why?
Church experts estimate that anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of the boys who attend church today will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many will never return.
Why the high dropout rate? Teenage boys are anxious to be grown up, but they see church as a kids’ thing – something to put behind them. Boys don’t follow Jesus because our Sunday schools tend to downplay his bold, aggressive side. Instead, we draw pictures of Him hanging out with children, sheep and even puppies! After years of seeing Jesus fraternizing with the under-10 set, boys no longer want to follow our child-oriented Savior.
What’s the answer? If you’re a Sunday school teacher, please don’t soften Jesus up. Present him just as he appears in scripture – wild, bold and even a bit scary. Never show boys pictures of Jesus among children, unless you want them to reject Christ as teens.
4. Melissa writes: My church has almost no single guys my age. Where are all the single Christian men?
There’s a joke about this: Men in the church are like parking spaces. The good ones are either already taken, or they’re handicapped.
It’s true: single men under 35 are the group least likely to attend church. But certain kinds of churches are doing better than others drawing single men. In general these churches fit the following profile:
- Headed by a male pastor who’s bold and outspoken
- Contemporary worship style
- Conservative theology
- Risk-taking culture
- Offers intentional male discipleship
- Worship service done in under 90 minutes
I’m not encouraging you to leave your church, but if you’re looking for single men, your odds are better in a church that fits this profile. It might be time for you to visit such a church.
5. Joann writes: My husband loves the Lord, but why won’t he ever pray with me?
Praying aloud is tough on your average guy. It requires a man to be good with words, and most guys aren’t as verbally gifted as women. A guy may feel he has to use a special religious vocabulary. He may feel inadequate if he can’t “pray like a preacher.”
My wife and I used to talk about things, then try to pray about them, but it always fell flat. We took a huge leap forward when we invited God right into our conversation. It’s so simple – we just shoot quick prayers to God while we’re talking – no closing eyes or bowing heads. We speak normally, as if God were sitting right next to us. It feels less religious and more real.
Joann, let your husband know that he can talk to God using normal language, in the course of everyday conversation. See if that doesn’t break the prayer logjam.
6. Sarah from the U.K. asks: As a regular churchgoer, if I see a man having coffee after the service who seems to be a newcomer (and looks as if he’s not used to church) and no one is talking to him, do I:
a) go and shake his hand and say welcome, etc.
b) don’t do anything – leave it to the men.
b) ask a nearby (not too busy) bloke from the church to go say hello.
c) ignore him, he’s probably happier just soaking up the atmosphere.
The fact that he stayed for coffee would seem to indicate that he’s looking for companionship. My advice is to go right up to him and greet him with a firm handshake. Ask him questions: What’s your name? Have you worshipped here before? Oh, it’s your first time…how did you hear about our church?
Blokes usually like to talk about their profession, so ask him what he does for a living. If he says “I’m a pharmacist” you can say, “Great! Do you know Roger Blake? He owns a chemist shop down on Port Street, and he goes to this church. Would you like to meet him?” Now you’ve connected him to a man he has something in common with. They can talk about the latest drugs while you make a graceful exit.
If he doesn’t want to talk about work, you can always ask him if he follows sports or what his hobbies are. If he says he’s a big football fan, it won’t be hard to find a bloke who shares his passion. Make the introduction and melt back into the crowd.
The idea is: get men talking about something they know, so they feel competent. And conversation is always easier between men who have something in common.
7. Kathy from Wyoming writes: My husband attends church with me and was raised in the church. However, he does not have Christ in his heart. I am not sure what his actual thinking is on this matter. “Being born once is enough, I was sprinkled at 12 that’s good enough,” are his platitudes. He is the type of guy who wants and thinks he is right and can be an island. I appreciate any words of wisdom. We’ve been married for 20 years.
Dear Kathy: Unfortunately, many men who grew up religious were inoculatedagainst Christianity as boys. They were injected with a weak version of the Christian faith. This exposure was just enough to keep them from developing the full-blown disease as adults. Ask these men if they are Christians, and they’ll respond, “Yes, I was raised ___________ (fill in denomination).” They may consider themselves religious or spiritual, but there’s no ongoing connection to a local church. And, truth be told, there is little connection to God.
I noticed by your e-mail address you’re a Methodist. I’ve noticed that men raised in liturgical churches are most likely to have been vaccinated as kids. Liturgy can be deeply meaningful, but it dampens spontaneity, making faith seem dead to the young. These men are stuck: they believe in God, but they won’t explore a richer life of faith because they’ve already got their religious box checked.
It’s very hard to infect a vaccinated man. How do you get past his religious defenses to help him see his need for Christ? You should start taking some risks for God.
I have a friend who for years lived the safe, predictable Christian life. Cindy’s church résumé included Sunday school, choir, committee work, and more. Her husband, Carl, a burly electrician, had scant interest in church. Then God’s Spirit got hold of Cindy in a big way. He led her to the African nation of Uganda, where she worked with AIDS orphans and abused women. She also began traveling to remote Alaskan villages, ministering in communities devastated by drugs and alcohol.
Carl was watching. He’d seen a change in Cindy. Her religious life had become a real walk with God. It was no longer duty; it was pure joy. One winter night he asked Cindy to take a walk. As huge snowflakes fell, Carl reached out a husky hand, took Cindy’s in his, and surrendered his life to Christ. He followed faithfully the rest of his days.
Men are drawn to risk, adventure and the conquering of territory. Is your walk with God risky? Adventurous? Are you taking territory from the kingdom of darkness?
8. Mimi writes: My husband was once a true believer. In college he was so pressured to be a “good Christian” that he gave up. He decided that he would not believe in God anymore. He stopped going to church. When we were dating he tried to go to church again but nothing really changed. He says he is agnostic but I just think he figured out that he can live a “good life” with out God. What can I do? We have a 2 year old girl.
Your story is more common than you think. I know lots of women whose husbands were deeply involved in church, but who “burned out” at some point. Even pastors, teachers and worship leaders can be shipwrecked, either through abusive situations or simple overworking.
If your husband truly received Christ into his heart, then the Holy Spirit still dwells there. The Spirit’s influence can be strengthened through prayer. I would encourage you to band together with other women in your church who are in your position and pray intently for your men. The Bible says, “Wherever 2 or 3 are gathered, there am I in the midst of them.” The power of your prayers is amplified when you join with other believers.
I discuss this at length in my book How Women Help Men Find God. I’ve devoted an entire chapter to this subject. If you haven’t yet read this book, please pick up a copy today.
9. Carol writes: Our church has a men’s ministry but our focus for spiritual growth is small groups or what we call mini-church. These meet in homes weekly. How can we make our mini-church more guy friendly? What can we do in this environment to help men?
Small groups can be wonderfully transforming for men. They’re less formal than church services. There’s a chance to be real and not religious. There’s food.
But mixed-gender small groups can be tough on men, because women often outperform men without even realizing it. Here’s how it happens:
· Women are often better readers, so they sound “smarter” when they read aloud from the Bible. Men are diagnosed with reading disorders at four times the rate of women. The common practice of asking people to look up Bible verses and read them aloud can be terrifying for men who possess poor reading skills.
· We often pray aloud. Again, women’s highly verbal brains give them an advantage in forming prayers and getting them out of their mouths. Haven’t you noticed that women’s prayers often sound more eloquent than men’s? (preachers being the exception to the rule)
· Women often find Bible passages faster. Women are 29% more likely to read their Bibles regularly, so they find the passages more quickly. And their superior finger dexterity helps them flip through those fine onionskin pages with greater ease.
· Women are often better at socializing and small talk. Gals often feel more comfortable in a social setting because they know just what to say, especially when people are hurting. Guys often don’t.
So my recommendation is to make sure you’re giving men an equal opportunity to shine. No reading around the circle. Draw out your less verbal men and give them a chance to speak up. If you’re going to have group prayer at the end, pass an object around the circle. When the object is in your hand, you have the option to pray or pass. Encourage the guys in the group to meet together once in a while to have fun.
Most importantly, pray that the Lord would give you a discerning heart toward the men in the group, and to show you when the men are feeling inadequate or outshone by the women. You’ll know what to do.