Many church leaders would like to do a better job reaching men, but don't know how, says a bestselling Christian author. But a new program isn't the answer, he's adds.
How do you attract and pump up men for Jesus on Sundays?
David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church, suggests Sunday worship services with a masculine accent.
"Go for the Guys Sunday" is a newly released action plan for churches to take the first step to assure their service resonates with men, who are often bored in or absent from the pews.
Men are the world's largest unreached people group, according to Church for Men, founded by Murrow. They currently make up less than 40 percent of church attendants at a typical worship service. Murrow argues that services are built around feminine values with worship songs that are sweet and sentimental and sermons emphasizing the home, marriage and family.
Men need more masculine imagery and more opportunities for men to use their skills, he says. They have their own language, culture and unique needs.
Traditionally, a church that offers men's ministry hosts breakfasts, outreach and other programs. But when Marty Granger - who will be heading the upcoming large-scale men's assembly Stand in the Gap 2007 at the National Mall in October - asks if churches have "a ministry to men" rather than a men's ministry, church leaders often get puzzled.
"I say, 'Do you recognize the needs of men, do you actually work on your worship services and your programs being masculine friendly and masculine language?'" Granger would ask them. "Oftentimes, that's where the disconnect is."
Church for Men encourages a different approach. Although a men's ministry may flourish as men act masculine only in that context, when it comes to attending church on Sunday, men often have to "check their manhood at the door."
Rather than a separate men's ministry, Church for Men promotes the integration of a masculine spirit with church life.
A "Go for the Guys Sunday" would meet the culture and needs of men that Murrow believes have been ignored too long.
When hosting a "Go for the Guys Sunday," especially as Father's Day approaches, one suggestion is to decorate the sanctuary around a chosen theme – such as "Great Outdoors Sunday" – so men feel at home and not uncomfortable on cushiony pews with fresh flowers and quilted banners traditionally inside a church.
And shorter is better when reaching men. Church for Men recommends Sunday worship services be wrapped up in one hour or less.
Worship songs should also have lyrics that men can relate to. While hymnals are full of anthems for men, today's praise songs, Murrow argues, sound more like love songs. Men prefer upbeat songs and songs that do not repeat over and over.
Avoid the overtly evangelistic message, the organization recommends. The special service is designed to change men's perceptions, that it's boring or irrelevant, of church.
And the special service will not only pique the interest of men but also of women.
"Here's the wonderful truth about women: they are comfortable with guy things," argues Church for Men. And with one out of five married women worshiping on Sundays without their husbands, most women will gladly try something new in order to attract their husbands, sons and fathers to church.
Bottom line: give men some attention. "Men have been neglected for years. They're bone dry - but give them a little personal attention and they grow like mad," according to Church for Men.
Churches that have more men in the church (60 percent or more) are more likely to be growing than those dominated by women membership, a study by Hartford Seminary found last December.
"We're hoping churches will recapture the spirit of masculine involvement in the churches," says Granger