My husband has been reading a book by David Murrow entitled Why Men Hate Going to Church. And when my husband reads a book that he enjoys, I hear enough about it to feel like I have read the whole thing myself, cover to cover! And he really, really enjoyed this book and has also talked to many other people about it. Needless to say, I've heard his abridged version more times than I can count. So I feel pretty well-informed. Here is what I know...
It has fascinating insight on why many men see church as something for women and children. At the beginning of the book, the author offers two lists of words. The first list contains several words such as power, competence, authority. The other list contains several words such as love, gentleness, relating. He asks readers to identify which list best reflects Christ and Christianity. Then, he reveals that the two lists actually reflect male and female attributes respectively. He goes on to explain that in the church world, God's “feminine” attributes are heavily emphasized, making men feel like church is irrelevant or uninteresting to them. After all, men appreciate those qualities in women, but in order to see their need for God, they must see God as more than just a gentle lover of their souls. Conclusively, pastors and church leaders must remember that while reflecting on God's love, grace, and compassion is vital in Christianity, equally vital is the acknowledgment of God's power, judgment, and authority. My husband David has been challenged to include the “masculine” attributes of God in his preaching as well as the “feminine.” This Sunday, David will preach his last sermon in a three sermon series he titled “Be a Man!” In the series, he has shared stories of three manly conquerors who trusted in God's power and who were able to overcome unbelievable odds. These, my friends, were real men. And God's Word is full of them. But I believe that manly conquerors are not a thing of the past. I believe God still wants to use real men for His Kingdom.
Ministers and church leaders have a responsibility to be aware of this, but women also have a responsibility. So what can we do to help men see church as more than just a warm home-away-from-home for women and children? Here are some of my humble suggestions.
- Praise God for His “masculine” attributes. God's love and mercy are beautiful and absolutely necessary. But try to go two or three days simply praising God for His power, might, justice, protection, and qualities like these. And always remember to keep a balance in praising God. With every attribute you appreciate that tends to be soft and sweet, try to think of an attribute that is strong and rugged. Reflecting on these attributes of God will help you appreciate your husband and the male leadership roles in your church.
- Encourage your husband to be a man. Be thankful for the fact that your husband is a man! And let him know that you appreciate his initiative and hard work. Encourage him to use those attributes in leading your family. Once your husband knows you believe in him as the leader in your home, he will more likely want to become involved in the church. Remember, nagging and encouraging are entirely different. If you constantly remind your husband what he should and should not do, then he will not feel like the spiritual leader in your home. That will translate into a hesitancy to become a leader in the church. Encourage him towards godliness, and respect his decisions.
- Pray! Pray! Pray! God is all-powerful, isn't He? There is nothing too big for God, is there? Then the most important thing you can do is ask God to help your husband be the man of God he should be. Ask God to speak to and lead your husband, and pray that your husband will be obedient. Pray specifically, and pray consistently. For a guide on how to pray for your husband, try this Praying for Your Husband from the Psalms from Titus Women's Ministry. I also highly recommend the book The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. Praying for your husband will benefit him, you, your marriage, your family, and your church. You can never go wrong with prayer!
So, according to David Murrow and all of his research, men hate going to church.* And what can we do about it? Well, leaders in the church have a responsibility to create an atmosphere that makes women, children, AND men feel welcome. They also have a responsibility to communicate God's Word in a way that fully reflects God, not just one side of Him. And men have the responsibility to obey God and become the spiritual leaders in their homes. But women also have a responsibility to encourage the men in their lives to be real men of God. If your husband is already a strong spiritual leader in your home and is involved in your church, he still needs to know that you support him. And these could be ways to express your continued support for him. These ideas could also prove helpful in rearing your sons to become real men of God. The bottom line is this: God wants to use both men and women in His kingdom, and He has equipped both sexes to serve Him in effective and God-glorifying ways. One very important way He has equipped you as a woman is with the responsibility to support, encourage, and pray for your husband. Don't shirk that responsibility. Keep at it. And by God's grace (and power, and might!), you will see your husband be a man.
*I did not include in this post any proof supporting the statement that men hate going to church, and I do realize it is a very broad and general statement. However, if you read David Murrow's book, you will see that he sufficiently backs up his claims. The information in the book is thorough, and Mr. Murrow's writing is very interesting. Ok, I am done with my plug. :-)