How To Reach Men With The Gospel

Across the UK, women have outnumbered men in church for years. Pastor Clement Okusi shares how churches can get more men in the pews

It has been said that Christianity is “the only religion with a shortage of men”. One of the sad characteristics of Christian congregations in Western Europe is the huge decline in male attendance, with most churches having a significant gender imbalance. Some surveys have shown the female/male ratio to be as high as 70:30 in churches – a stark contrast to the UK female/male population being approximately 51:49. This gender imbalance has far-reaching implications for the health and vitality of the Church.

One such consequence has been the feminisation of the Church. It is not uncommon to walk into a church and see a male pastor, yet be greeted by women; ushered by women; have your tithes and offerings collected by women; listen to announcements made by women; be led in worship by women; and given after-service refreshments by women.

This imbalance affects children, teenagers, young adults, singles looking for a spouse, families, and the ‘missio dei’ (the mission of God). The sad truth is that men who attend church regularly are a minority group, and the modern church is not doing what Jesus did, which was to reach men with the good news.

WHAT CAN CHURCHES DO TO ATTRACT AND ENGAGE MORE MEN?

Jesus showed us how to grow healthy churches: focus on men first. Jesus spent most of His time developing 12 men. He knew that if you transform men, you transform the family, the community and society.

Here are FOUR ways to make churches men-friendly:

The Premises

Many churches do not realise that their buildings can either attract or repel men. Many churches have a very feminine decor and feel to them. These spaces are often filled with soft pastel colours, pot pourri, lavenders and flowers. I remember one mature lady wanting to be a blessing to our church by bringing a dozen bunches of silk flowers to decorate our church building. When I saw them I immediately felt my masculinity start to ebb!

Organisations like Starbucks & McDonald’s put a lot of thought, effort and expense into their colour schemes in order to attract both men and women. Churches must also realise that their spaces need to be designed in a way that is gender-balanced, appealing both to men and women.

The Praise

One observation of the modern church has been the feminisation of the songs we sing. Years ago, we sang battle songs about the Lord marching into battle, taking back what the enemy has stolen, and the blood of Jesus. These songs appealed to men’s masculinity, and to their sense of adventure and daring. Nowadays, however, many worship teams are dominated by female singers, which has led to worship songs that are overtly ‘feminine’ and view Jesus more as our boyfriend and lover!

Also, the pitch and cadence of the songs can repel men. Once, I was at a church that sang songs in soprano. Despite my best efforts, my baritone voice just could not sing the songs, so I stopped. Men want to sing songs whose themes and tones appeal to them. Churches need to intentionally have worship experiences that appeal to both men as well as women.

The Preacher

For most men, the preacher and the sermon are the most important part of a service.

From the pulpit, men receive direction, instruction and revelation. Men want the preacher to tell them something that makes them reflect about God and their life. Men want to be challenged and corrected by a person they can respect and be inspired by. Men want to hear sermons on topics they can relate to as men, such as sex, money, power, leadership, vision and accomplishments.

Even the different translations of the Bible can attract or repel men. Some churches have embraced gender-neutral translations of the Bible, instead of translations that refer to the orthodox view of God using male pronouns. Men want unambiguous and masculine portrayals of God.

The Programmes

Any church that wishes to attract men needs to actively empower men in areas of leadership and involve them in church governance and decision-making processes.

A dedicated men’s ministry, with activities that resonate with men, such as leadership, sports, outdoor activities and working with their hands, is also much needed. These should include men’s discipleship classes, men’s breakfasts, mentorship and men’s Bible study groups, for example. Men are by nature competitive, so activities like football, table tennis, paintball shooting and bowling will usually appeal to them. Mental health and emotional well-being are big issues in our society, so creating environments where men feel comfortable expressing their struggles are also needed.

When we redress the male/female imbalance, churches will see more men in their pews.

Pastor Clement Okusi is senior pastor of Eternity Church in Croydon and has seen many men saved under his ministry. Visit www.eternitychurchcroydon.com

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