Many church leaders are trying to address the "Where are the men?" question that is going around. If you attend a church like mine you might have 3 men for every 10 women who are active. All of my previous mission trips have been around this ratio. So...where are the men? Many people believe it is because men portray Jesus as a hippie who loves to sing and play with baby sheep. Some think it is because the church is vulnerability/feelings based. Others think that men are just plain lazy. While I believe those (to some extent) are true, I believe I may have an alternate suggestion.
As a man I value certain things (as do all men). We want purpose, honor, respect, and task that we can tackle. If we don't have these, you might as well get a knife and neuter us.
When I first became a Christian I was thrust into leadership. I certainly wasn't ready for it yet but God made me ready pretty darn quick. It was a painful process but it was amazing. I grew so much in those years of leadership to the point where I was wondering why my fellow brothers didn't step it up and match my performance. This was rather unfair of me for several reasons but one of which I was put into leadership and they weren't.
Well now that I am getting married I have taken somewhat of a hiatus from ministry to focus on my marriage. In doing so I got shoved into a spiritual rut. Its so much harder to keep up with my spiritual disciplines now. I don't have a hunger to learn. I am constantly praying for a spark of passion; just something to get me where I used to be a year ago. My spiritual disciplines have slummed. This is not good.
Why is this? I believe it is because I am no longer in a formal leadership position. When I was discipling other men I had motivation to pray, read, study, memorize, meditate, ask advice, fast, etc. By taking this hiatus I have lost (not totally) my honor, respect, and a task that I can tackle. A few Sundays ago I had a brother at church ask me where I have been (pointing out that I am not seen as much as I used to be). Yikes! Am I becoming one of the men the church is wondering where I went?
On the contrary, somewhere in he middle of my "spiritual rut," I had a Mormon message me and ask if I'd like to hang out sometime and debate/talk. This thrilled me to no end. I can't explain to you the excitement I got in this moment. After replying back to him I prayed like I haven't prayed in months. I studied my bible and I did research to review my knowledge of . God had sparked a passion in me. I had a task laid out before me and I wanted to aggressively take it by the horns.
While you chew on that, let me bring up another observation. In the past 4 years I was active in my fraternity. In a fraternity there are many leadership positions of which lead to honor and respect. If you didn't get a "stepping-stone" position then there was no way to prove yourself to move up which would soon lead to, for lack of a better word, depression. What I've observed is many of my fraternity brothers would bail out after getting initiated. This is crazy!! After working so hard to get into the fraternity (and hard it is) they are never to be seen again. After seeing my 5th or 6th initiation I could start to guess who would bail out and who would stick around. I noticed that if a new initiate wasn't given one of the (many) leadership positions in the fraternity they were almost certainly doomed to drop out.
God created us men to fight for something. We value honor and respect, both Christian and pagan alike. We want a task that is not too tough but not too easy. We want vision and a sense of accomplishment.
Getting back to our problem at hand, how can this be solved? My suggestion: Replace female leaders with male leaders and have only males as the go-to guys in the church. The church would need to motivate, pray for, and maybe force men into leadership. When men are given a leadership position they flourish. They now have a task that they can run with and make their own. They probably feel inadequate (much like I did) which drives them to prayer, fasting, and studying of the word. They feel they are being used by God which motivates them to do more for God. They feel wanted, needed, and depended on by their church which motivates them to stick around. Their hard work leads to honor and respect. Other men start to look up to them which adds motivation to persevere. I don't know about you men out there but I want to live like this.
There are several questions/concerns that probably come to your mind:
- Should a man lead an all-woman ? No. I think it would be best to have a female leader lead all-woman events.
- Should a new male Christian lead a bible study? A new male Christian probably shouldn't lead a Bible study. But he can be placed as head of the parking committee or something similar for starters.
In short, where there is vision and accomplishment, there you will find men. Men don't stick around because they aren't needed (or at least they don't feel or know they are needed). , in his popular book, Wild at Heart, pointed out that every boy wants to be told by his father, "You have got what it takes."
Am I right? Wrong? Maybe on to something? Tell me what you think.