Churchgoing = Pink to Men?

Hello Kitty on PolicemanThe Chief of Police in Bangkok, Thailand has discovered the ultimate punishment for wayward officers: they must wear a pink armband emblazoned with “Hello Kitty,” a cutesy favorite of under-10 girls.

Other punishments have not deterred tardiness, double parking and littering among officers, but acting chief Pongpat Chayaphan believes the armbands will do the trick. “After this policy came out, the police are scared,” he said. “It will be very embarrassing to walk around with Hello Kitty on your arm.”

What’s so bad about a pink armband? This seemingly benign corrective strikes a double-whammy at the heart of manhood. Every man fears being perceived as feminine (pink) and childish (hello Kitty).

Sadly, churchgoing has become a pink armband for many men. It’s a sign of weakness, childishness and femininity.

Holiday Services and Men

Christmas lightsKyle and Bonnie have been married almost twenty years. Kyle hates going to church. Bonnie loves it. This has caused tension in their marriage, as she subtly prays, preaches and prods Kyle toward religion, and he steadfastly resists.?? But Kyle “does Bonnie a favor” and attends church three times a year: Christmas Eve, Easter Sunday and Mother’s Day. He’s one of millions of men who attend only on these holidays.

Bonnie looks forward to these occasions, and each time prays earnestly that God will touch his heart. But nothing ever happens. Kyle feels as out of place as a ham sandwich at a Bar Mitzvah.

Why are holiday services, which draw huge numbers of irreligious men, so ineffective at engaging them? I believe that holiday services are, by their very nature, poorly suited for men. They tend to hide the church’s greater mission under a mountain of religious tradition and ceremony. Holiday services also give men a skewed perspective on what the gospel is all about.

Boyz to Men

Man looking at steepleThe church loses almost all of its young men after high school. Research indicates that more than 70 percent of the boys who are raised in church abandon it during their teens and twenties.

Dan Schaeffer told me the sad tale of his son’s nine best Christian buddies. All were pillars in the youth group, but within three weeks of high school graduation all nine had turned their back on church.

Why is this happening? We work so hard to train them up in the way they should go. How can a boy simply abandon church after 16 years of Sunday school, 8 years of VBS, and 4 years of youth group?

I believe we can combat this widespread apostasy – if we rediscover young male initiation.

Church as a Classroom…

Have you noticed how many church programs are built around a school paradigm? We offer adult classes, seminars, Sunday school, Bible Studies, etc. The centerpiece of our worship is a lecture (sermon) from an educated person with a seminary degree. Christianity has become an educational pursuit. The path to Christ now leads through a classroom.