Men and the Church in an Ever-Changing America

Promise Keepers unleashed some hot issues on the American church that will be discussed at this year's ever-popular conferences during its annual media day on Wednesday.

When times are changing and America is changing, where does the church stand, and on a more pressing issue, where are the men?

Ministry leaders, including this year's keynote speaker, Dr. Bob Reccord, tackled the issues at a live-broadcast from the PK national headquarters in Denver, Colo.

"The church is the frontline of Jesus' strategy to take the kingdom to the world," said Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) for the Southern Baptist Convention. "While ministries like Promise Keepers ... and the NAMB are good helps, it is the local church that God always has used and always will use to expand his kingdom."

Reccord was recently announced as the main speaker for all 19 conferences that will reach male audiences nationwide beginning June 2.

Many wrongly associate "calling" – a term that church leaders and overseas missionaries are familiar with – to a limited definition, Reccord pointed out at the 2006 media day.

"Why did we get to a point where the word 'calling' only has to deal with those in vocational ministries or missions?" he asked. "Those in the pew often think 'calling' is relegated to those who go to seminary and those who go to the mission field."

While church and ministry leaders may have been called for their respective works, Reccord told the live crowd, "[God] equally called all of you to be embedded in the culture ... and on mission where He has planted you."

The culture today, as Reccord described it, is an increasingly diverse one. One out of ten citizens is foreign born and the Asian and Hispanic populations are growing in double digits.

Panelist Stan Perea, executive director of HIS Ministries in Denver, Colo., called the United States a "mestizo,” meaning mixed in Spanish.

"We live in an America where we no longer look like astronauts," he said. “It is an America that is changing significantly."

In an ever-changing nation, where does that place the local church people?

"That puts all the rest of us in a service role to say 'How can we help you the church succeed?' because you're the frontline troops," said Reccord.

Where Are The Men?

On another pressing issue, more men are leaving the church amid societal changes. Only two out of six men attend church on a given Sunday, said Promise Keepers President Tom Fortson. Studies showed that in the next 15 years, only 30 percent of men will still participate in their church. And other than the youth, men are the most significant percentage of this trend, comprising more than one third of the whole.

"We are losing men in the church," said Perea.

James Ryle, founder of TruthWorks Ministries and a founding board member of Promise Keepers, pointed to the mistake of the unchanging church against a time of radical change.

"The greatest mistake that the Church can make is to refuse to change in these changing times because Jesus is on the move," he said. "The people leaving, they're not leaving the Church, Christ, Scripture ... They're just leaving the game."

More specifically, "you have to challenge men," said Alvin Simpkins, Senior Pastor at Emmanuel Christian Center in Watkins, Colo. "Pastors are no longer demanding anything of the men."

Beyond the dwindling crowd of men at Sunday worship, the panelists raised a larger question.

"The real question I think we have to deal with is 'Where is the Church?'" said Perea.

The critical question, Ryle said, is not "how do you get men to the church" but "how do you get men to be the Church?"

The Church, he added, has to be "real, relevant and significant when it is following Christ who is ever-contemporary."