English Vicar Battles Feminized Church

Church steepleRev. John Richardson is an Anglican priest who has spent most of his pastorate ministering in a village by the name of Ugley. (John tells me the town is home to The Ugley Women’s Institute. Really.)

John is daily steeped in the feminine teapot of modern Anglicanism. After he read my book he felt inspired to write a guest column for the Church for Men newsletter and Web site. I’ve reprinted it here. Enjoy:

When I arrived in 2000, the congregation was warm, faithful — and elderly. Obviously something would have to be done, and soon, if there was to be a worshipping community in ten years’ time. By the grace of God, and with a few changes, we managed to draw in some new faces, particularly families with children, so that despite the losses through deaths, our numbers went up. But here was the problem: although the mums and kids were attending regularly, the dads were not. I’d had contact with the dads. In one case the dad had been the reason why his family started coming to church. But we were not keeping the dads, hence David’s book.

What I got from it, however, was more than an insight on my problem. Rather, it was one of those ‘Oh my goodness!’ experiences, like noticing your fly has been open all the time you’ve been giving a public speech. As I read, I realized that the problem is not just with our congregation — it is with our entire denomination, and indeed with our culture.

This Battle has been Fought Before

Muscular ChristianityApparently, the battle to re-engage men in the church has been fought — and won —  before. An earlier crusade to re-engage men reached churches, businesses — even the White House.

I’m reading a fascinating book titled Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America, 1880-1920. The book catalogs an earlier movement to restore the masculine spirit in mainline Protestant churches. The movement was large and widespread, and ushered in an unprecedented period of health and prosperity for the churches that participated.