Saturday, August 30, 2008

Why Men Hate Church

When this book came out three years ago, I saw it prominently displayed on the front table at Borders near my house. It also got some spark in both 'Christian' and regular mags, papers and even NBC news.

I'm one of those guys who reads books for free in Borders. Took about 45 minutes to get the gist.

I've been meaning to comment on its impact on me as the chief servant in my church. The research and interviews Murrow did for the book helped me clarify simple things to avoid alienating men without meaning to. I want to alienate people for the right reasons, if you know what I mean.

When you scratch plant (start with nobody in a new place) you feel this kind of desperation to keep anybody with a pulse. Any criticism causes a quick reaction. That compulsion/lack of faith led me toward making church more 'woman friendly.' A big one for me was without thinking I was using mostly 'soft' illustrations and stories that got an 'aw' rather than ones that got a grunt and a nod. Another mistake was to assume that if a woman spoke up, it represented what men think too.

A good take away is the observation that if a man doesn't feel like there is opportunity for him to make a difference, he won't stay around. Men want a piece of the action.

So I started connecting with guys directly, started asking them what they thought, talking more directly (bluntly) about life, got a guy to lead us in getting on a Habitat build and started looking for young men to hire as staff.

We aren't a 'church for men' in the sense that I don't dress in camo and ride a motorcycle in the church (like some disturbing videos I've seen), but we are applying some of this insight. And in year five now, we are seeing men very involved in leadership, training and serving. Even seeing some men show up without their wives and bringing them later.

The book is worth the read. Don't agree with all of his solutions. But he notes too many obvious mistakes to avoid.

Murrow's got a website Some good free stuff on there. You can read some of it online at Amazon too.

If you can find it at a Borders, read it for free.

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