In my books I offer a lot of advice for attracting men to church. Among these are the obvious “spiritual” suggestions: preach better sermons, do a better job loving people, offer ministry opportunities for men, etc.
But then I get into some practical ones: choose manly songs. Ditch the quilts, flowers and lace. Don’t make people hold hands. Go easy on the Love Songs to Jesus. I tend to focus more on these practical steps because we rarely give them much thought.
My critics often take issue with these suggestions. They have a hard time believing that song lyrics, paint color, décor and metaphors make a difference. God is all-powerful, and the idea that He could be limited by something as trivial as pink walls or romantic lyrics is insulting to many Christians.
Let me be clear: God is God, and he can do whatever he wants. If God is present in worship, it won’t matter if the pastor wears a pink ballerina tutu – men will be drawn. The Spirit always trumps the practical.
Yet practical things do matter.
Let’s say this Sunday your church’s furnace goes out. The temperature outside is near freezing. The sanctuary temperature drops into the mid-40s (8° C). You decide to hold your worship service despite the temperature. The Spirit comes and people get a blessing.
Things go so well you decide not to repair the furnace. Week after week you leave the furnace unrepaired. The temperature in your church varies widely based on the weather.
Tell me, what will happen? Would there be complaints? Opposition? Defections?
Yes, yes and yes. People would leave your church over the temperature of the sanctuary.
Now, should air temperature matter? Not at all. Paul and Silas praised God in a smelly jail cell in Philippi. Peter was crucified upside down. Shouldn’t we have the fortitude to praise God in a room that’s a bit frosty? Are we really that weak? Are today’s Christians shallow people concerned only with their own comfort?
Perhaps. But we’re focusing on the wrong issue.
Look at it this way: when people come to church they want to focus on God. Not on distractions. A cold sanctuary is a distraction. If takes our focus off the Lord and places it on ourselves. Our discomfort. Our frigid fingers. Our fussy children.
At Church for Men, we help you identify the distractions that are keeping men from focusing on God when they enter a church building. Many of these things are trifles. They really shouldn’t matter. But they do.
If there were only one church in a particular city, the little things would not matter as much. But modern worshippers have choices. They come to church seeking God. And they’ll choose the church where sense his presence. God’s voice is still and small. The fewer distractions, the easier it is to hear his voice.
Some of my critics feel that I’m reducing the power of God into a commodity. That I’m suggesting we somehow manipulate the pure gospel message to appeal more to a certain constituency – in this case, men.
This is not what I’m saying at all. In fact, I’m suggesting the opposite: the pure Gospel has already been manipulated in subtle ways to appeal to a female audience. Church for Men helps congregations restore a healthy masculine spirit – a spirit that’s widely present in the Bible but woefully absent in many congregations today.
David Brooks wrote an insightful article in the New York Times cataloging some of the ways people are affected by seemingly trivial environmental factors. Among these:
- Organic foods may make you less generous
- Men are dumber around women
- Women inhibit their own performance
- Judges are tougher at election time
- New fathers are stingier with their money
- Children from affluent neighborhoods are more often delinquent
- Women wear red to impress men
Now, should any of these things affect our jobs and our relationships? No. But they do.
We’re only human. And when we walk into a church we’re affected not only by the Spirit, but also by our environment. Getting that environment right (and removing distractions) will help men connect with God.
www.churchesformen.com. Used by permission.