Why Should the Church Care About Reaching Men?

I was interviewed the other day by a newspaper reporter on the topic of men and the Church.  She mentioned the statistics about how men are leaving the Church or not attending church in the first place and then asked, “Why does it matter? Why should the Church care about reaching men?”  The essence of the question was: If men don’t want to go to church, so what?  It wasn’t asked negatively.  The reporter followed up with great questions.  But the initial question had that undertone of why should the Church try to reach men if men don’t want to be reached by the Church?  Perhaps a better sense of the question was this: Why should men go to church?  What difference does it make for them?  What difference does it make for the Church?

My initial response (which I didn’t verbalize) was: If the statistics were reversed and women were dropping out of church, we wouldn’t ask, “Why does it matter?”  The first question or two would probably be: “Why is that happening and what do you think the Church needs to do about it?”  It would be seen as a major crisis for the Church.

My first verbal reply was that it had to do with the message of the Gospel and the Christian belief that God’s grace is for everyone, male and female.  We believe that Jesus comes to call all of us to follow him; that life is found in him.  So we want men and women to hear that message and follow Jesus through the local congregation.

My follow up answer had to do with men and culture.  Men without a vision for good, noble manhood tend to end up either violent or passive.  I talked about the fact that over 90% of those in prison are men; how almost every day we read a story about another man doing harm to others.  Or we see passive men: giving up on fatherhood, their wives, living lives focused on Fantasy leagues and 24-hour-a-day sports and video games (at the risk of over-stereotyping.)  With fewer and fewer young men attending and graduating from college, with no strong skills for liveable wages, these passive and/or violent men will be a huge burden on society.

The Church can offer men a vision for good manhood.  Jesus not only models that manhood but calls men into it, forges it in them, and empowers them to live it out.

In other words, the Church should care about reaching men because society needs good men—men who are good husbands, dads, employers, employees, citizens, and churchmen.  When the Church gets it right (and that’s another issue) the Church can offer a compelling vision for that kind of manhood that, over time, can help build a better society.

Why should the Church care about reaching men?  Because the world needs good men.  Because Jesus can forge men into good men.  And because Jesus died and rose again to empower men to be good men.

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About Tim Wright

I've been a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 1984, currently serving as the founding pastor of Community of Grace in Peoria, AZ. My wife, Jan and I, were married in 1979. We raised two kids and currently have 3 grandkids. I love to ride my bike, travel, read British Mysteries, and Disneyland. I have written 6 books, including my newest--Searching for Tom Sawyer: How Parents and Congregations Can Stop the Exodus of Boys From Church. My website: www.TimWrightMinistries.org

  • http://www.churchformen.com/ David Murrow

    As for the photo – you’re welcome.

    • RevTim

      Got it off google images! Some other good ones but this is still the best!

  • Ian Carmichael

    To be glib, perhaps. But I wonder whether a ‘dominant culture’ sees much attractiveness in a power-challenging gospel? And men, in general, are cultural ‘winners’ – the gospel will call them to stand down. Even amongst the imprisoned the currency is power, and the gospel call subverts that. Whereas amongst the marginalised, a view of identity centred on love, forgiveness and humility has a deep appeal.
    I also wonder if there is greater male attendance in bombastic and/or doctrinaire churches.

    • RevTim


      I think the Church offers a unique understanding of power that appeals to men–a power that saves, that sacrifices, that fights for what is good and for life. It’s a power found through following, which men do well in a hierarchy they trust, in this case following Jesus.

      I’m guessing that the more “cut and dried” hard-line churches do appeal better to men than do mainliners like my denomination. But again, Jesus is compelling to men. How do we put the testosterone back into Jesus and the church. I have a new post coming on that in a few weeks!

      Thanks for chiming in!

  • http://www.swordcrossrocket.com swordcrossrocket

    I don’t think this can work. The problem is you are arguing for a utilitarian social reason for men to go to church in part. The goal is for church to make good men, because good men are socially useful. This is not going to attract men.

    I think the only reason to do so is the same for everyone. Men need to be in church because men are Christians and Christians are commanded to be part of a local body of believers. Men need to be Christians to receive eternal life and follow Jesus. In the process they become good men, but the end goal isn’t to tame us.