I read an article from a pastor called, “5 Ways Your Church Can Be More Bro Friendly.” While I had hoped it would offer unique insight into ministry to men, it rather was merely the resounding gong against the “feminization of the church”—an accusation that is not new in conservative Christian circles. The answer to this horrible, horrible problem is to create a more masculine culture within the church.
I vehemently disagree for a couple of reasons:
First, the notion of what is masculine or feminine is not entirely static. It is fluid and changes from era to era and from culture to culture. Our notion of what it means to “be a man” today isn’t the same as it has been in our history, or in the history of other cultures. This means that the ideals we’re promoting as “masculine” are not about biblical values but about our own notions and comfort.
Second, the Bible clearly says that, in Christ, the cultural distinctions that exist in the world no longer have any value.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
It really shouldn’t matter how one does church, then. What we’re talking about is purely stylistic differences and preferences—not anything that has a foundation in biblical truth. But for the sake of argument, let’s look at the author’s notions of what makes church better for men as opposed to a woman’s church.
1. Cast Compelling Vision — Pastor, if you want to keep men interested (especially men who are leaders), you must give your people a clear picture of where your organization is going and why you believe God is leading you to go there.
The writer fails to prove that this is a masculine characteristic. Rather, this is a human characteristic. Who wants to follow an aimless person? Men and women want a clear picture of where and why organizations are heading in a particular direction.
2. Masculine Design — From the titles of sermon series, to the church’s logo, to the stained concrete replacing the carpet, even special parking for guys on motorcycles…
This is “Preference Central.” It’s not about any universal truth. It’s about stereotypes of what the author considers masculine and feminine. It’s about design, not truth. Now carpet is feminine? I happen to like cushioned seats, but I guess real men prefer to have a numb bottom by the end of a manly sermon—no cushions for those bros. And the stereotype about motorcycles? I need to introduce you to my friend Junie, one hard-core female biker who attended a church I pastored.
3. Involve Men in Projects — We are naturally fixers and doers.
Another laughable stereotype. I’ve known many women who are fixers and doers (and if my wife, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law are reading this, please know that I love you very much and I’ve got some projects that need to be finished when you have the time). Really, it’s a personality thing and not a gender thing.
4. Avoid Being Overly Emotional — Spiritual matters are emotionally heavy. Emotion should certainly be expressed in healthy ways. Too much of it from pastors or worship leaders may be perceived as weak and become a turn-off to many men.
Yes. We want manly men to lead our churches. We don’t want any sissy poetry-spouting men. Give us real men like King David!
I’m emotional. I know emotional pastors, professors, even military commanding officers.
5. Challenge/Truth — Men starve to be given truth–good or bad, and typically are insulted by a shallow watered-down approach.
I’ve known many men that prefer a shallow, feel-good message as opposed to a challenge. I’ve known many women who step up to challenges and hate hearing shallow drivel.
Please stop the stereotyping. People are people, and people are more unique than your gender stereotypes allow for.
But if you want to argue about, let’s step outside and settle this like men.
I welcome all discussion, just keep it civil and polite. If this post resonates with you in any way, please share it on social media or email.
Photo by driver Photographer via Flickr