Bringing Men Back to the Church

Reader mdavid alerted me to the following article concerning evangelization and men in the church: Bringing Men Back to the Church. The first sentence:

Here’s a simple formula, tried and true, for getting families into church: If the fathers come, the wives and children will come, too.

The article is short and worth a read in its entirety. Here are the stats which lie at the heart of its argument:

  • If a child is the first in the family to become a Christian, there’s a 3.7 percent probability that the rest of the family will become Christians.
  • If mom is the first in the family to become a Christian, there’s a 17 percent probability that the rest of the family will follow.
  • If dad is the first in the family to become a Christian, there’s a 93 percent probability that everyone else in the family will follow his lead.

I can attest to personal anecdotes which firmly support this. A follow-up post will touch on that story more. The article itself is short on solutions, so I invite my readers to take this opportunity to offer their thoughts on how to address this problem.

In the meantime, here is another good blog post by Beefy Levinson which touches on why the priest shortage in the US is artificially created.

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7 Comments

Filed under Churchianity, Masculinity, Men, The Church

7 responses to “Bringing Men Back to the Church

  1. I would suspect that making insight into the text and thus into God and his world a priority in sermons would be more appealing to men in general. Sermons based on mere experience or feelings of acceptance/rejection as the prime loci of Biblical exposition are not helpful to men or women and I would wager are more explicitly unappealing to men (not because one sex is more logical than the other, but because women might be more apt to put up with ineffective preaching for the sake of relationships in the local body than would a man). I think this sort of effort followed by practical applications based upon the very insights into God and his world offered in the Sermon would go a long way toward helping men who are at church to A) effectively evangelize to other men B) not be embarrassed by the church when they invite their male friends.

    Similarly, the focus in churches on the importance of fulltime/vocational ministry is stupid. I think a lot of men who build things, make money, and teach at schools, and have careers find that sort of rhetoric a bit insulting. Women probably do too, but they are more willing to preserve relationships and suffer crappy preaching.

    Preaching in a way that appeals to human nature more broadly (that the intellect is logically prior to the will) will probably appeal to men. Similarly, I would suggest a healthy dose of pastoral catechizing of the whole families that go to church. This puts a burden on pastors, but they get paid to be burdened. If the pastor is catechizing whole families who are members, then the pastor A) is forced to come up with creative and compelling answers to hard questions B) makes such theological conversation typical of the Christian home C) becomes closer to the men of the church who would then feel more comfortable inviting their male friends to church without worrying that their buddies will think that their spiritual leader is a wuss or an incompetent.

  2. Neguy

    I think these stats are pretty widely known. I believe Driscoll even quoted them at various times. He was always very explicit that his ministry was targeted at men.

  3. Donal,

    This article is about killing vocations, but I tend to think men leaving and killing vocations are one in the same.

  4. Novaseeker

    It’s related to the vocations issue, but slightly different I think. One of the reasons why vocations are way down across the board (priesthood, monks, nuns, etc.) is that family size has radically decreased, and parents are less inclined to encourage a vocation than they were when they had 5+ kids. There really aren’t very many parents at all today who are exactly encouraging vocations with respect to their kids. I think that’s had a significant impact on lowering the number of people entering the priesthood and religious life in general. I think the other factors that drive men away from attending the Church are also linked to the decline in vocations, but there are other, broader, issues at play that have also, for example, depressed the number of women entering religious life as well.

  5. mdavid

    I think it dangerous to assume a single reason for anything. But here are some likely reasons of male church attendance/vocations declining:

    1) Wealth and the corresponding breakdown of community and family*
    2) Feminization of church leadership (Lavender Mafia + 1960s feminism)
    3) Rejection a father’s family authority (by Church and State)
    4) Women in the dominate workforce.
    5) Family planning (artificial birth control, NFP)

    The community to start defending male authority within the family and church will experience amazing growth. I’m not sure it will happen in America.

    *I found it interesting that in Stingray’s link Esolen mentions his summer diocese. Just think: the concept of retirement, division of wealth between young and old, and the explosion of house square footage all correlate with feminism and family decline. Hmm.

  6. The community to start defending male authority within the family and church will experience amazing growth. I’m not sure it will happen in America.

    It only takes a few with the stomach for it. I think you are right though.

  7. LDS missionaries try very hard to talk to fathers for exactly the reasons you list.

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