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Where have all the men gone?

DISAPPEARING: Church leaders are struggling to attract black men to their services

DON’T YOU think black churches need to pay more attention to the perennial problem of too few men in their congregations?

Isn’t it time churches found new ways to convey to men the enormous spiritual, social and financial benefits they could experience as a result of following God’s commandments and dedicating their lives to serving Him?

This fact was hammered home at two events I recently attended. Speaking at the first event was David Murrow, author of the popular book Why Men Don’t Go To Church and founder of www.churchformen.com, a website which provides advice on how churches can reach men.

Murrow led a seminar at the Church of God of Prophecy in Harlesden, north west London, where he gave reasons why men do not go to church. The reasons included church décor – too feminine; church dress code – too stiff; church service length – too long and the fact that the church often presents an image of Christ as a gentle, meek and mild figure who loves children. Whilst this depiction of Christ is attractive to women, it’s a turn off for men.

A depiction of Christ as a meek and gentle figure strips him of masculine traits such as strength, courage, bravery, integrity and honour which would make men interested in him and follow him. Murrow also shared his belief that boys are more likely to follow Christ if they have a relationship with a Christian man they respect.

Sadly, this idea offers little hope to the thousands of single black single mothers who faithfully take their sons to church in the hope they will become Christians when they are teenagers. If Murrow is right, the truth is that when young boys hit their teens, they are likely to stop attending church, particularly if they are sporty or don’t have a strong male role model in their life.

The other event I attended was a discussion called Are Black Men In Crisis? organised by David Musa Ministries. I was a panellist, along with three other people, and enjoyed an enlightening and respectful discussion on the subject.

One of the most poignant comments was made by a 30 something man, who I’ll call Simon. Not only did Simon think that black men were in crisis, he shared how he had been affected by that crisis. He was one of 21 children, whom his father, a businessman, had with multiple women. Due to his father’s behaviour, and his mother’s inability to cope, Simon ended up in care. He became an angry young boy, who at the age of 10 used to fight with staff and adults. He said that if he hadn’t been fostered by a Christian family, he would have gone down a path of violence, criminality and maybe prison.

Luckily, due to his foster family’s love and support, Simon became a Christian and now enjoys a successful career. He told the audience that his relationship with his father remains a tortuous one. They talk, but argue constantly because his father refuses to acknowledge that he failed in his role as a parent, a situation that very sadly is all too common for black children.

Christianity should not be a female preserve. It’s for everyone.

Churches that want to experience growth, excitement and revival and contribute to the growth of black marriages and families, the development of confident young people and the community’s educational and economic success would do themselves a favour by implementing strategies to reach men. Our community desperately needs them to.

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