The Man Issue“
by Rick Knoth
Is there a future for the men in your church?
What a strange question to ask, you may be thinking. However, if you move past the perception that just because men dominate American pulpits, men should dominate the pews, then the question is not strange at all. The fact is, men are absent in ever-increasing numbers from America’s churches. In the Assemblies of God, the percent of women to men “adherents” (the Assemblies of God does not collect gender data on attendance) is 55 to 45 percent, respectively. If data were available, the percent variance of women to men “attendees” in Assemblies of God churches would most likely be marginally wider.
Conversely, women in the Assemblies of God are visibly absent from our pulpits, yet they are more present than men in our pews. This will be the subject of the upcoming spring 2015 issue.
The question, then, “Is there a future for men in your church?” is one of the more important and relevant queries of our day as men’s ministry leaders and pastors fight an uphill battle for the hearts and souls of men. In this issue of Enrichment, I invite you to ponder this question and the future of men in your church.
Statistically, the outlook for men and the church looks somewhat grim. Consider the following:
- The typical U.S. congregation draws an adult crowd that is 61 percent female, 39 percent male.
- On any given Sunday, 13 million more adult women than men attend America’s churches.
- This Sunday, almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands.
- Over 70 percent of boys growing up in church will abandon it during their teens and 20s. Many of these boys will never return.
- More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only one out of six attend church on a given Sunday.
- The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ but fails to see any value in going to church.
- Fewer than 10 percent of U.S. churches establish or maintain a vibrant men’s ministry.1
What if these statistics were reversed? What if churchgoing women were dropping out of church to the same or greater degree as men? Would it matter? You bet it would! It would be a major-league crisis for the church! We would be asking two very important questions: “Why is it happening?” and, “What can the Church do about it?”
Fortunately, the declining attendance of women in church is not yet at crisis level. However, with the readily available data on the declining attendance of men in church, it seems reasonable to conclude that the crisis is real, and it should matter to pastors and church leaders everywhere. And when you further consider that more and more men are giving up on fatherhood, leaving their wives, and leading self-absorbed lives consumed with sports, video games, and pornography, the questions, “Why is it happening?” and, “What can the Church do about it?” take on even greater importance for the local church.
So let me ask you again: Is there a future for men in your church? Does your vision for your church embrace a hopeful future for men — both the churched and unchurched?
You don’t have to grow dismayed, discouraged, and downcast by the poignant crisis of men in America. Instead, allow the Lord to challenge and encourage you! A renewal of faith within America’s men and youth is possible if the Church will offer a compelling vision that includes a hopeful future for men. When the Church gets it right, everyone benefits — the Church, the home, and society.
I believe the starting place for such a vision is to revisit the tripartite model Jesus used 2,000 years ago. It is a model that has all but disappeared in most churches. Think of it this way: We have the opportunity to engage in the same life-changing ministry Jesus used. In Jesus’ discipleship model, He first called men (and women) to follow Him. Then He modeled the transformative life by training and empowering men (and women) to live out their faith. Finally, Jesus sent men (and women) out to transform the world.
The opportunity we have to participate in the life-changing ministry Jesus engaged in should motivate us to meet men at the crossroads of their lives, wherever that may be. It should motivate us to point men to Jesus, direct them to godly mentors who can wake up their God-given potential, and then lead them on a life-transforming mission to change the world — one man at a time.
How you decide to unpack Jesus’ discipleship model in your ministry environment is, of course, entirely up to you as the pastor. With that in mind, we designed this issue of Enrichment not only to reignite a passion in you to reach men for Jesus and disciple them to be the champion believers for whom Christ died, but to offer you creative and empowering ideas to accomplish the task. We trust you will earnestly consider the contents of this issue as you continue working to create a church-wide strategy to reach men, young and old, for Christ.