Study: Men Lack Church Support

The majority of men in the United Methodist Church attend worship service almost every week but most feel they lack support from friends and from the pulpit, a new report revealed.

With churches struggling to keep men in the pews and women more likely than men to attend church, the Commission on United Methodist Men conducted the Study of Men report, surveying 1,350 people –a sample reflecting the demographics of the total number of men in the United Methodist Church.

The top reason why the church doesn't reach many men is a lack of interest in religion, survey respondents said they believe. They also listed "societal emphasis on individualism/materialism" and "distrust of organized religion" as common reasons churches struggle to reach men.

Despite wider church trends of fewer men in attendance than women, the majority of United Methodist men (86.5 percent) said they attend church almost every week and 65 percent are involved in small groups or a men's program. Also, half of the survey respondents said they had a strong connection to their congregation that is growing stronger and 75 percent said they use a devotional at least several times a week.

While United Methodist men show a commitment to church, the report's findings revealed that they're getting little support.

Only 27.2 percent of the men have a close male friend that knows or supports them and 68 percent said that the senior pastor could do more to support men in the congregation.

"The reviewers felt that if a majority of men have difficulty establishing and maintaining a heart-level relationship with another man, a majority would also have difficulty with a heart-level relationship with God," according to the report presented by Gil Hanke, president of the Commission on United Methodist Men, which provides oversight for all men's and scouting ministries in the denomination.

Hanke will conduct further reviews on the study with a think tank and the report will be submitted to the 2008 General Conference, the top legislative body of the denomination. The study was undertaken at the request of the 2004 General Conference, according to the United Methodist News Service.

There are approximately 239,000 people who are part of the ministry of United Methodist Men in the United States. The ministry will celebrate its centennial year in 2008 with yearlong events aimed at growing the organization and moving more men into discipleship. Every local church in the denomination, including those without chartered United Methodist Men's groups, will be encouraged to join the celebration.

"When men are growing in Christ, they impact the whole church," said the Rev. David Adams, top staff executive for the commission.