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How Far Should Churches Go to Appeal to Men?

One church in Canada reevaluated their worship song repertoire to attract more male members. Should other churches do the same?

by
Chris Queen

Bio

October 6, 2013 - 9:00 am

church-men

One question has plagued the modern church over the past few years: how to appeal to men, particularly to fathers?Churches across North America have tried different tactics to lure men into the fold, with varying degrees of success. Men’s events like motorcycle rallies and fish fries often work. Christ’s Church of the Valley in Phoenix once temporarily replaced a planter in their foyer with a motorcycle in an attempt to attract male members. Eastridge Community Church, where I am a member and serve, has brought in various players and coaches from the University of Georgia football team for men’s events.

But should churches consider the impact of their worship music? The women of one church in Canada did, and they enacted changes that increased their male attendance.

Attendance at Strathcona Baptist Church in Edmonton, Alberta was running 60% female. The church’s female elders set a goal to attract 50% male worshippers.

After reading and discussing Why Men Hate Going to Church, these women decided to eliminate the feminine songs and see what would happen. They developed a numeric scale and evaluated each song according to how masculine or feminine it was. For example, the song, “Lord You are More Precious than Silver” scored 8 on the feminine scale, and was excluded.

The elders didn’t eliminate every feminine song – the goal was balance. But any song that scored a 6 or above on the “femininity scale” was dropped.

Without changing anything other than the music, the church’s gender gap quickly evaporated. Men participated more, including a marked increase in the number of men who spoke their praises aloud to God. And overall attendance grew.

Please note – this was not a bunch of angry men demanding change. The effort was initiated and driven by the women of the church.

The success of Strathcona Baptist Church’s efforts brings up a fascinating question: how far should churches go to appeal to more men? Our lead pastor at Eastridge often says, “if you can bring in the man, the family will follow.” But a church should not aim to turn men into pew sitters — rather, the goal should be to mold men into disciples ready to make a difference in their family and community.

So, how far should churches go? What traditions, service elements, or programs should leaders change in order to lead more men into the body of Christ? How drastic of a change is worth the result? And what should churches do once more men begin to attend? Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments section below.

All Chris Queen wanted to be growing up was a game show host, a weather man, or James Bond. But his writing talent won out. By day, Chris is a somewhat mild-mannered office manager for an IT managed services provider, but by night, he keeps his finger on the pulse of pop culture and writes about it. In addition to his Disney obsession (as evidenced by his posts on this website), Chris's interests include college sports -- especially his beloved Georgia Bulldogs -- and a wide variety of music. A native of Marietta, GA, Chris moved with his family as a child to nearby Covington, GA, where he still makes his home. He is an active charter member of Eastridge Community Church and enjoys spending time with family and friends. In addition to his work at PJ Media, Chris spent nearly a year as a contributor to NewsReal Blog. He has also written for Celebrations Magazine and two newspapers in Metro Atlanta. Check out his website, www.chrisqueen.net.

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Top Rated Comments   
I'd be wary of a church that is consciously shaping it's Marketing message, period. The whole idea of the Gospel is not to be just another product trying to "break through the clutter" of 21st century commercialism--the point is challenging the modern, pagan culture with Christ.

That was the deal in 300 A.D., the deal in 850 A.D., the deal in 1500 A.D., the deal in Plimoth (they added the "y" later) in 1620 A.D., and it's still the deal today.

Music is one aspect of worship--and an easy way to goose a church's attendance is to hire a really good rock-n-roll band. But to build a covenant family of God is not a question of packaging a product, or staging what a recent visitor (commenting on another church) called "a rock concert with donuts." It's being faithful to the Word of God, in teaching, in preaching, and in worship.

That a group of women elders starting scoring hymns based on their perceived femininity, out of concern that they might boost their attendance numbers, strikes me as offering all sorts of evidence that they're going about the leadership of the church in all kinds of wrong ways.

(And, FWIW, I'm the music director of my church. I pick the hymns--and I pay far more attention to whether the text of the hymn reflects the lectionary readings than any foolishness about perceived masculinity.)
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Most successful way to appeal to both men and women: Male only church leadership.

Men love to belong to male dominated organizations. On the other hand, women love to belong to male dominated organizations. Don't believe me? Have you ever thought it was odd that women always want to belong to men's business organizations, men's career fields, men's social clubs, men's athletic clubs, etc., but men avoid women's organizations.

I once attended a large and rapidly growing conservative Lutheran congregation which had a male-only leadership. I was astounded by two things. First, board and congregational meetings were more calm, to the point and productive than any church meetings I have ever been to. In three years, I never heard someone said, "Well, I feel . . ." Second, it had the strongest bunch of women I have ever known in any church I've ever attended. Having men in visible, public leadership roles and the women in deeply influential, behind the scenes roles worked very well for that congregation.

I suspect the church's acquiescence to feminism in the sixties and seventies badly damaged it. As men fled the church, the church did not become larger. It did not even get more women members because as the men left, the women follow them out the door. The more women want to be in charge, the more men leave. The more men leave, the more the women leave because an organization is only valuable to them if there are lots of men in it. It's deeply ironic, isn't it?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Challenge men. Call forth action from men, not Oprah-esque calls for feelings. Men are best at doing, and rising to challenges.

Hold EVERYONE accountable. In our current society, nothing will turn men off to church faster than women getting a free pass for destroying their families. EVERY man in church knows other men who have been dumped by their wives and screwed over by a legal and social system that canonizes single mothers and villifies fathers. For the man who has been dumped, to hear the same come from the pulpit, it is like a devils brew of vinegar, capsascin and salt poured into the wound. For him to know that 99 out of 100 churches out there will gladly welcome his wife and then celebrate with her when she turns her back on reconciliation and "marries" another man, well, why the heck should he bother being part of a community that will support his betrayer? Especially a community that, by default, will cast the husband as the bad guy in marital breakdowns? The wife who IS dumped by her husband will find a community that welcome her, both specifically and generally. The husband? He may find a specific welcome, but the general tone will be otherwise.

Challenge, action, just treatment.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (37)
All Comments   (37)
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I think the article demonstrates the problem from the start. Where is the question, “What saith the Lord?” What does God’s Word say upon the subject? It is nowhere to be found. The church is now a man-centered social club not the body of Christ. God is no longer sovereign; man is sovereign. Churches are marketplaces crafting their message and practices to appeal to consumers interested in felt needs and entertainments. The focus on numbers – attendance and money – are the measures of the world, not the Bible. When you abandon the rock of Scripture as your final authority for the shifting sands of subjective preferences, this is what you reap.

Christ creates His church and the Bible is its constitution and ultimate authority. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2Ti 3:16-17). Traditions, service elements, or programs? What saith the Lord? God has chosen the folly of preaching to save the lost (1Co 1:21). The Gospel (message) is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17). Rightfully preaching the Gospel, rightfully dividing the Word of God, are marks of a true church rather than social clubs.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Frederica Matthewes-Green wrote a good essay about this:

http://www.frederica.com/writings/men-and-church.html
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Christianity became a woman's religion sometime in the 20th century. There's no place for testosterone or masculinity. Feeling is elevated over logic. Compassion over duty. Talk and togetherness over action and creation. Now I feel like a stranger in a strange land, and I know I am not alone. Most of the men I see in church of a Sunday are there for the same reason I am -- to placate a woman. All I can say is, after listening to all that cant and having to "feel" and "emote" and compassionate, I damn well better be going to heaven or I'm going to be pissed.
Our church, like our society, is a feminized world. We just have to live in it.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
It depends on the church. Try going to an "old school" church.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
My church has hymnals with all four parts (SATB) so I can sing in a register that fits my voice. I always sing the bass part and its very comfortable.

Some of the music is a single line only and it's just aggravating to sing. I'm not a woman, or a tenor and I can't sing like either one. Printing all music in all four parts is a no-brainer . . .

Also, please stop talking about your feelings. I don't have feelings and have no idea what you are crying about.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Having done men's ministry for twenty years my experience is that men get in their head that to be a Christian is to live a near perfect life. They look around the church and see men who appear to have it altogether and the feel Christianity is so far out of reach for them. If we had pastors who are so afraid of gossip that they refuse to show any failings. And if leaders would express there broken dependence on Christ, then maybe men would find life in Christ something reachable. If I ever write a book about Men's groups it will be titled, " A Man Like Me", as that usually is the first response I usually hear when men have come to the group for a couple of weeks. That's why my favorite study is, the life of Abraham. What a screw up. Offering his wife to the Egyptian King to save his own hide. (twice). Jumping ahead of God's promises and creating Ishmael, who the Arabs are descended from. But, when it mattered he believed and God gave him credit for it. It's his faith our Christian faith is modeled after. That's a man like me, I hope.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Like Pope Francis said when asked to describe himself; "First I am a sinner, that is not hyperbole, it is the truth of who I am."
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Orthodox Church has not had this problem. As Leon Podies wrote [http://www.amazon.com/The-Church-Impotent-Feminization-Christianity/dp/1890626074], “The Orthodox are the only Christians who write basso profundo church music, or need to.”
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the Orthodox Church, only men are allowed to be priests, deacons, acolytes, etc. Jesus knew that women are less sinful than men and go to church, so He designed the Church to appeal to men, so more men would be saved.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is more than that. We have a married priesthood, and they are expected to be role models, as are the Matuskas, who are the Fathers' other halves.

He's going to be at the bachelor party, while she's manning the bridal shower.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again; the battle of the sexes is a suicide pact, for both sides.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
religious music isn't exactly something I would normally buy, and i'm not trying to sell anything; however, just fyi, there are some very young angels singing on earth today. not real angels of course, but wow!

Rhema Marvanne is one who doesn't sing anything but religious music. even has a church named after her. (about 11-12 y.o. now) haven't heard her sing anything new lately. read her story, its very touching how her life has been touched.

another one, Jackie Evancho (13) was singing opera stuff but has crossed over to Barbara Streisand type stuff. she sings a duet on u-tube w/ b.s. (1970's morph.) that is really beautiful. also, there are many more really good ones coming up, boys and girls.

if you enjoy music, do yourself a favor and check these kids out.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
For Catholics, ditch all the Marty Haugen limp hymns and bring back the old powerful hymns and chant.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
While they're at it, they can ditch all OCP (Jesuit) produced worship aids too.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
more emphasis on the duty and sacrifice aspects of Christianity and less emphasis on "social justice" issues.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is an acronym, that I use to describe how we need to present ourselves in our churches ... particularly as it comes to the music, but not only there.

W I R E D

Worshipful ... God-centric in all we do.

Interactive ... fellowship (vertical and horizontal) is not a spectator sport.

Relevant ... speak to each other in each other's cultural/intellectual language, about each other's challenges and blessings (and don't forget the soundtrack).

Edifying ... give each other something for our minds and hearts, to take home with us.

Dynamic ... nothing like an intense 2x4 of the unexpected, to get the congregation's attention.

These are the ways you keep men, their wives/girlfriends, and their kids all engaged in following the Lord. It is what has kept me engaged, all my adult life.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
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