Where have the men gone?
I love this article. I love his solution less but the courage it took for Boundless (a division of Focus on the Family) to print David Murrow's piece is admirable.
The gist of Murrow's article is that beginning from a young age, activities like Sunday school and youth group are screening out the most dynamic and marriage-suitable boys. Sunday school is catered towards girls. Youth group has all the super-sentimental music girls not boys love. And this is what Murrow says we're left with:
"The single men who survive the screening process generally fit one of the following profiles:
1. The Bible geeks. Quiet, studious men who love to study theological tomes. Or verbal guys who love to teach.
2. The musical. They play in the band. Or they stand on the front row raising their hands during the music.
3. The asexual. Guys who are OK with kissing dating (and kissing) goodbye.
4. The predators. Guys who know there are plenty of desperate young women in church and enjoy trying to get them in bed.
5. The social misfits. Strange men who come to church because it's the only place women will smile at them."
To be fair, I like to think our church does better than many churches in this regard. We have many more male youth leaders than female and we have a history of raising up men who go on to become missionaries and pastors (and get married).
Yet Murrow's points are valid. The way we usually do church is not exciting for boys. It's not particularly adventurous, challenging, or competitive. If I were single and not involved in church leadership, you would not find me anywhere near a church on Sunday mornings. I would be rock climbing, playing basketball, or learning to SCUBA dive. Men need and want to be challenged. Why would anyone expect boys to be any different?
It's a source of pride that I am a late(r) convert. I didn't start going to church until halfway through eighth grade and because we had just moved to Atlanta and we had no friends. Man, I made my Sunday school teachers pay. I asked questions and challenged them to no end. I found sermons incredibly mind-numbing and boring. But what kept me coming was friendships I made with guys, particularly older guys I looked up to, who mentored and challenged me. I thrive on that.
My challenge today is to help make our church a place where men thrive. My bigger challenge is not as a pastor but as a father - that is how to give my three sons a first-generation Christian experience. I want them to experience the vibrancy and danger of faith in Christ. It doesn't come simply from sitting in a pew or memorizing scripture. I don't know exactly what it looks like for them. But I am both committed and responsible to helping my boys explore the adventure that is the grace of God. It is a challenge God made me for.