Monday, October 24

Why Men Hate Going To Church by David Murrow

Churches today are facing a problem: they are having trouble drawing in men.  According to Murrow, a typical church service’s attendance is predominantly female, at 61%.  Furthermore, women tend to volunteer more, and most Christian colleges also have a noticeable gap between male and female attendance.  Why Men Hate Going to Church was originally published in 2005, however Thomas Nelson has released an updated and revised version of the book.  The updated version includes materials from other books by Murrow and he has trimmed some content he now sees as unnecessary or redundant, as well as including updated numbers and figures when possible.

After some misunderstandings after the first printing, Murrow makes it clear that he is not blaming women for the problem, nor is he blaming men.  His goal is show that the gender gap exists in church, reasons for it, and ways to encourage men back into church.

Murrow divides the book into three sections.  The first section introduces some of the reasons why men have stopped attending church, as well as the importance of men in a church.  Early on Murrow presents two sets of values.  The first set includes, “achievement,” “power,” “efficiency,” and “goal orientation.”  The second includes, “love,” “helping,” “feelings,” and “sharing.”  He asks people which set most represents Christ and his values, and he’s given this ‘test’ to over a thousand people.  90% of the time people choose the second set.  He then reveals that these values are taken from Dr. John Gray’s book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus and the first set describes men and the second set describes women.  One of the core ideas throughout the book is that churches today tend to cater more to women than men which causes men to feel uncomfortable and left out which results in many men deciding to simply not attend.

In the second section, titled “Church Culture vs. Man Culture,” Murrow digs deeper into the various reason men give for not attending church.  This section contains two of my favorite chapters, “The Christian Industrial Complex” and “Men and Contemporary Worship.”  In the worship chapter, Murrow explores how contemporary worship songs offer easy to learn and sing lyrics, unlike some of the older hymns, and they are set to music that engages men.  However, many songs sing about a relationship with God in terms that many men have trouble connecting with.  Murrow writes, “Lovey-dovey praise songs force a man to express his affection to God using words he would never, ever, ever say to another guy.  Even a guy he loves.  Even a guy named Jesus….Men are looking for a male leader—not a male lover.”

Some of these ideas are also present in the “Industrial Complex” chapter, which looks into Christian marketing.  Most Christian stores carry a larger selection for women than men and the Christian Booksellers Association shows that there are more books directed towards women than men on their top 100 list (21 to 6).  Because women consume more these products, more products are aimed towards women.  This then begins to work its way into churches, which begin to purchase products and lessons which would appeal more to men than women.  This doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be products marketed to women but that they do not appeal to many men.  With a lack of strong material for men, men have trouble feeling connected to lessons in Bible studies or events.

The final section offers some of Murrow’s ideas on how to get men back in church.  These ideas are not huge or outlandish, nor do they require extra money.  Some of the ideas are actually quite simple, including a recommendation to pastors that they use more sermon illustrations that relate to men or to use fewer feminine-oriented decorations.  He also encourages churches to find ways to allow men to use their skills to serve the church.

When I picked up this book I was interested in what it would have to say, though I was also a bit wary.  The topic seems like one that could easily turn into a blame game.  However, Murrow manages to avoid this.  He presents multiple reasons why men may be turned off by church.  He uses some statistical information, interviews, and personal examples to support his ideas.  Some have read this book and misunderstand Murrow’s call to make church more ‘manly” as anti-woman – it’s not.  Rather, it seems to be more of a call to balance, because in many churches it seems that there isn’t a balance.

4/5 stars

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

1 comment:

  1. One of my old coworkers talked highly about the first revision. I love the quote "Men are looking for a male leader—not a male lover" <-- so true.