Why Men Watch 3-Hour Football Games, but Fall Asleep During a 45-Minute Sermon

Football GameAs I write this, the world is gripped with sports fever. Here in North America big-league hockey and basketball have just crowned new champions. The rest of the planet is focused on the World Cup, where the best soccer teams are battling it out for football supremacy.

Men are the primary audience for these sporting matches. So if men can sit through a 3 hour-long hockey game, why is it so hard for men to focus for a 45-minute sermon?

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.