CONTRIBUTIONS (group shot): Men in the church have a vital role to play
MOST CHURCHES mark the start of a New Year with a focus on prayer and fasting so expect, if you attend a service during January, to get an invitation to attend midweek meetings to pray.
There’s no doubt that prayers work, and with this fact in mind, I hope that one of the issues that churches include on their prayer list, is for an influx of men in their congregations due to their missing presence in the pews.
There’s no doubting that just as our community is suffering from the absence of men within the family, the same can be said for the church.
Though many of our churches now have majority female congregation, it was not always the case. When Caribbeans first started emigrating to the UK in the 50s and 60s, an era marked by the creation of many of our historic denominations, I’ve been reliably informed that churches were often populated by the men who came to the UK ahead of their wives and children to lay a foundation before sending for them. So what has been responsible for the change?
One reason is undoubtedly the leadership style of old-school church leaders who were usually very strict, influential and autocratic.
Whilst the older generation were able to endure this style of leadership, subsequent generations weren’t and men who attended such churches, found they were squeezed out or ignored if they challenged church leadership or made suggestions. Many subsequently left, never to return.
But now, we have a situation where church leaders have got used to running predominantly female congregations. Little or no thought is given to redressing the balance.
MISSING PRESENCE: It is important that men know that issues they are interested in will be dealt with
Jesus instituted the perfect model for church growth, development and mission by firstly mentoring, equipping and training 12 disciples. Churches need men because they bring flair, focus, energy and dynamism to the church environment.
According to a study carried out by Hartford Seminary, churches are three times more likely to grow if they are gender balanced.
When people see strong, authentic male Christian leadership in action, other men, as well as women, are more likely to follow.
There’s no getting away from the fact that when more men start attending church, women are more likely to find Christian husbands, young boys get mentored, teenagers and young men find role models to follow, thereby leading to churches that have a good female/male balance.
So after they’ve prayed, here are some things churches can do to attract and minister to men:
• Ordain men that exhibit healthy, Christian masculinity to church leadership
• Organise events/services that focus on issues that men are interested in
• Preach messages that are Biblically based and challenging as opposed to being emotionally driven
• Provide mentoring for young boys and young men within the church
• Create safe, non-judgemental environments where men can share their experiences, their struggles, successes and failures
• Give men opportunities to serve God and the church their way. They won’t volunteer to do flower arranging, but will carry out DIY tasks around the church, take young boys to a football match, do caretaking duties of church buildings, etc
• Men tend to be more action focused so bear this in mind when devising church activities and programmes
• Let men know that their presence, contributions and opinions matter.