CompassNow that Father’s Day 2012 is in the books, churches should consider ways in which we can better reach men going forward. I mentioned in a couple of Facebook group conversations an observation that churches tend to praise mothers on Mother’s Day and criticize men on Father’s Day.  I knew some might have some passionate feelings about it. They did. The responses ranged from (I’m paraphrasing):

  • There aren’t that many good examples of fathers in the Bible. There are more examples of godly mothers.
  • Don’t worry about it. Just preach the Gospel like I do. Sigh.
  • I agree. The church is pretty tough on men–certainly on Father’s Day.

Some churches have recognized the problem and sought to address it. Below, I’ve listed a few things I’ve found a churches that are effective at reaching men do (generally). This post makes some generalizations. I understand there are exceptions to these things–and all men are not alike. I also understand some churches who reach men rather effectively may not do one or more of these things.

However, we tend to get nowhere when we are so hypersensitive to generalization. I call it DSS (Diet Soda Syndrome). Have you ever noticed how party hosts will buy 2, 2-liter bottles of soda. One regular, one diet. Half-way through the party, the regular is gone. Maybe a cup is gone from the diet bottle. In an effort to accommodate all present, an equal amount of soda was purchased for all. But, it turns out to be unwise because most like regular soda. In fact, some are truly repulsed by diet. It’s easier for diet-soda drinkers to splurge and have regular than vice-versa. Go ahead and be mindful of the diet soda drinker. Just tell yourself the truth about your own biases about soda and who is actually likely to attend the party.

By all means, generalize. Just understand it’s a generalization and not a rule. Leave room for the exceptions–the men (in this case) who don’t fit the generalization. We do this responsibly in other areas–generalizing about teens, children, and others. To generalize is not to insult or “label.” It’s to use judgment.

It’s true that men aren’t all the same. However, there are certain things many (if not most) men respond to. That’s what these are. I’m also not arguing the church should react to these by affirming them.

These are general observations. Nothing more. Churches reaching men these days generally:

1) Are “high-challenge” churches. Not rude–challenging.

2) There is less singing, or music with a slightly “harder” edge to it. If you doubt this–grab the playlists of a random couple in the church’s iPods. Often, there will be a difference between the male and female playlists.

3) Decor is something men can feel comfortable in. We’re not talking a sports bar atmosphere, here. Just less mauve and silk flowers.

4) The preacher is a man other men respect for something men typically respect. Like what? Wisdom, intellect, spirituality–something. Respect is the language of men. If men don’t respect the minister, it’ll be hard for them to dial in fully to the church. The same can be said of churches where the minister is disrespectful toward men in general.

5) Are effective at casting an inspiring vision of true Christian manhood. Put simply: they help men understand what God is capable of doing in/through their lives.

We can do better at reaching men than we are right now. We need to.

Two questions this morning I’d love to hear your feedback on: 1) Does this whole conversation weird you out? Why? 2) Is there anything you’ve noticed about churches reaching men effectively you’d add to the five things I’ve listed above?