Welcome to the Big Picture Podcast, I’m Joel Fieri and I’m back to hopefully bring come clarity and keep the conversation going about what’s happening today in the Church and greater society. And, I’m not alone this week. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church and host of the Church for Men podcast, along with e2 media network’s own Jefferson Drexler, to discuss the “Feminization of Today’s Church”. With so many people today hesitant to stand up and say there is something tragically wrong with the course most churches are heading toward, the three of us tackle some tough issues head on… like men are prone to do. So, without further ado, here’s part four of our roundtable discussion…
JEFFERSON: Is the Church an entity that has problems regarding men stepping up less in leadership roles, or are we on a trajectory? In other words, are these issues merely bumps on the road that can be fixed while the Church stays the course in a Godly direction, or has the damage that was done 20-30 years ago put us on an entirely different map?
DAVE: The good news is that churches are beginning to figure this out. For instance, Sunday School has become much more “guy friendly”. When I was a kid, the Sunday School rules were: sit still, color within the lines, and memorize your verses. Today, most Sunday School classes are a more kinetic experience. Many young boys (including my grandsons) absolutely love going to Sunday School!
The problem remains at Youth Group. Throughout the country, Youth Group used to be boy-friendly. Now, it’s becoming girl and artistic boy friendly. So, we’re eliminating and entire class of boys and it’s well documented that society follows “the jock”. What “the jock” does, the school does. The same applies at Youth Group. So, if the jock stops attending Youth Group because there is nothing there for him, the others stop attending as wel.
Thank God for Fellowship of Christian Athletes and other organizations that are doing great work with jocks. However, even they are having problems integrating teenage athletic leaders into the local church. This is because of the new brand of spirituality that is preached, the methods churches demand their congregants to worship, etc. It’s been feminized.
However, especially at American mega churches, corporate worship services have become more man-friendly. Churches like Saddleback Church and North Coast Church in Southern California intentionally target their methods and ministries in a “guy-oriented” fashion. The same goes for Christ Church of the Valley in Phoenix. 20 years ago, they made a decision to start being intentional on focusing on men. Over that time, their congregation has grown from 1,000 to 24,000 people.
When churches focus on men, the churches grow.
But, this often begs the question, “If you focus on men, what happens to the women and children?” The truth is that the women and children love it. The truth is that the most attractive thing to a Godly woman is a Godly man. And when the men depart from the church, glory departs with them. And the women don’t want to go to those churches. Eventually, it becomes a bunch of women providing hospice care for a dying congregation.
JEFFERSON: So, there seems to be a mislabel that says if we allow all this testosterone into our congregation, then a community of people getting along and feeling nice toward one another will go away.
DAVE: There’s going to be conflict either way. If you have a church with a strong “guy presence”, the conflict will be right out front. This will blow up, but then things will be settled. In a female dominated church, all the conflict will occur under the surface, and will never be truly resolved.
There’s a false belief in the church and in society at large that women are virtuous and men are flawed. Along the same lines, maternal ways are better and paternal ways of doing things are bad. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Church. We lead this movement.
JEFFERSON: There seems to be a purveying mindset of: “Can’t we all just get along? Can’t we just keep the waters smooth? And, with the waters smooth, we can make it through the next week.”
This seems to be a huge priority within our culture, especially within today’s Church.
Or, as Jeff Allen often says, “Happy Wife / Happy Life”.
So, as guys, don’t we have a natural inclination to acquiesce a bit in order to smooth the waters, make our wives happy and then we’re happy?
DAVE: Well, there’s no purpose in stirring up conflict for conflict’s sake. But, the fact is that conflict always comes. And, in the Church, we almost always deal with it in a feminine way. We try to smooth ruffled feathers, instead of dealing with conflict the way Jesus did.Jesus actually accelerated conflict.
Think about this: Jesus was invited to the home of a Pharisee for dinner. Now, if I were Jesus, I would have walked in and said, “Wow! That lamb smells delicious!” But, Jesus didn’t do that. The Pharisees asked Him about ceremonial washing, noticing that His disciples didn’t participate in it before eating. It was an honest question. Now, instead of complimenting His host on the meal being served and then offering up a nice response to the question, Jesus tears into the Pharisee. He blames His host and the Pharisee’s ancestors for killing the prophets.
Imagine going to a dinner party where the host is accused of murder!
Yet, this is how Jesus dealt with conflict.
He accelerated it and got to the root of the problem. And He did it quickly. We don’t do that in the Church. We deal with conflict in a feminine way and sweep things under the rug. But, men eventually get tired of this. Men want to take matters out into the parking lot, fight it out, declare a winner, and move on. And, if none of this is an option, men quit altogether.
JOEL: Right. And, as long as a winner is declared and a man knows he did his best, even if he loses, he’ll stick with it because he knows the conflict was dealt with fairly.
DAVE: Exactly. About 75% of the time, the guy will stick.
JEFFERSON: How does all this pertain to the compromising of truth?
DAVE: Let me put it this way, typically older women will sacrifice rules upon the altar of relationships. Men will typically sacrifice relationships on the altar of rules.
Now, the reason why it is so easy to slip into the feminized direction is because when Jesus came to earth, He encountered a culture that was choking on rules. He then introduced grace, love and forgiveness – all more feminine attributes. And so, it’s easy for us to say, “Oh, Jesus was fighting against this overly-masculinized, legalistic, rules-oriented culture. And we can follow that doctrine right off the edge of a figurative cliff. Then, we’ll fall right off into an equally bad heresy: sacrificing rules on the altar of relationship. This is what is happening in too many mainline churches, and it’s about to happen in far too many churches at large.
The way to keep your church healthy is to keep a balance between rules and relationships. Jesus didn’t say, “Hey, I came to do away with the Law, so live however you want.”
No. What He actually said was, “I haven’t come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.
So, how to we keep this balance? A church that is steadfast in Christianity’ rules, but loving to people will attract men.
JOEL: It also largely comes down to the question of how “love” is defined. Dave has written about the differences between “Father love” and “Mother love”. Too many times, “following the rules” is viewed as “unloving”. Somehow, it’s not loving to expect Christians to obey God’s commands.
But, this goes against Jesus’ own words. In John 15 alone, He said nine different times, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. Don’t say you love me if you refuse to obey my commands.”
Then, when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He pleaded, “Father, make them one so that the world will know that You sent Me”. And, after His resurrection when Jesus gave us the Great Commission, He said, “Go into all the world preaching the Gospel, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded.” That’s how we show our love for one another and for Jesus. It’s not an emotion – a gooey feeling in my heart – it’s trusting God enough to do what He says to do.
So, we need to break free of the more feminine concept of “love being a positive emotion, everybody being nice to each other and affirming one another”. Men naturally know when they are fighting for what is right. They are okay with hashing through a tough situation in order to root out a problem. But, culture – even Christian culture – keeps telling men to stop trying to solve their wives’ problems. Sometimes, I wish the experts would say, “you know… women, God put that man in your life. Maybe you need his help to solve your problem as I designed him to do.” It goes both ways.
We need to get back to the mindset of, “If we are a loving Church, then that means we are obeying Jesus’ commands in how we treat each other and how we relate to the world in preaching the Gospel.
Thanks for listening to the Big Picture Podcast. Dave, Jefferson and I will continue our discussion over the next several weeks regarding the problems and possible solutions facing today’s Church. If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please check out our other podcasts and videos on the e2 media network, leave a few comments, and tell your friends about us. Be blessed!