Missing in Action? Men and Church

It would also be hard to make the argument that Scripture celebrates doubt. Even the tough, pointed questions asked by a prophet like Habakkuk are—as Abraham Heschel once noted—about the passion to understand what God is doing, not about the celebration of doubt.

Finally, I think that the reason a community of prayer warriors attracts men is because it is the first time they have been told that they belong. It is difficult, if not impossible to reconcile what many men hear—and don't hear—on Sunday with the demands that life makes of them on Monday. What do you do with the need to compete? How do you act like a man, a husband, and a father? What about strength?

Courage, for example, is the ability to act on our convictions in spite of our fears. It is deeply rooted in our capacity for faith and trust. It is even possible to argue that faith often manifests itself in the form of courage. It is also a virtue that women can and do need to cultivate. But, because, we associate courage with bravado, we never preach about it.

So, what am I arguing? Do churches need to sponsor monster truck competitions and parachute drops? No, not necessarily. But we need to find a means of engaging men in their faith that says, "Your life is not an embarrassment."

There is a healthy balance to be found between Robert Bly's Iron John and a pale androgyny. What it will look like from congregation to congregation will no doubt take a different form. But we had better find it soon. If we don't, the men will be missing in action.

11/29/2011 5:00:00 AM
  • Progressive Christian
  • The Spiritual Landscape
  • Churches
  • Leadership
  • Seminaries
  • Christianity
  • Agnosticism
  • Frederick Schmidt
    About Frederick Schmidt
    Frederick W. Schmidt is the author of The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Life in Hard Times (Abingdon Press: 2013) and several other books, including A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005) and Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009). He holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Job Institute for Spiritual formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and Consulting Editor at Church Publishing in New York. He and his wife, Natalie live in Chicago, Illinois. He can also be reached at: http://frederickwschmidt.com/