Just coming up for air.
This is a great article. The section entitled Girly-Men Pastors was great just because of the title!
Here are some data in the article I always thought were anecdotally true but now I have some hard numbers:
According to an oft-quoted statistic from Promise Keepers, when a mother comes to faith in Christ, her family follows 34 percent of the time, but when a father comes to faith his family follows 93 percent of the time.
Read the rest of the article. There are more where those came from (Yes, US based, but I’m sure the UK churches will wake up to the same problem).
Churches need to evangelise men, disciple men.
10 thoughts on “Men and the Church”
Those numbers are true in the U.S., and even in our own church until recently, it seemed that the men’s ministry was the lowest priority. However, we have adjusted, and now make it a top priority. If the men are appropriately equipped, then the men can disciple their families–husbands/fathers are truly the ones responsible (more than the pastors) for the spiritual instruction of his wife/children.
However, I hope that for pastors that read this article, that a proper balance is struck. I notice that some were taking out certain worship songs that seemed “touchy-feely” or whatever. Worship songs that express love to the Father are just that: worship (in fact, just yesterday we sang “This is the Air I Breathe”). What men need to do is to reclaim a proper, biblical sense of their masculinity (see the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) and then know what is truly worship and what is something that has been “feminized.” If men cannot be an example of how to worship to their wife/kids, then the congregation is failing to worship in an honorable manner (not only does the man coming to Christ effect the family, but how he lives it out–they WILL follow his example, good or bad).
the stats you quote sound great, but unfortunately when Neil Barber looked into them, trying to trace the origin of them, he ultimately found they weren’t credible – sadly. Ask him about it some time. If there’s anyone who can prove they are credible it would be good to know.
Re some of the other stuff, and the article – great title – I agree too much of church can be overly feminized, but I think there can be far too much poo-pooing (excuse the verb) of songs which express love for Christ/God. What’s the whole bride of Christ thing about? As I understand the NT teaching on marriage, marriage was given in order to picture the truth of Christ and his church. That is not to open the gate to talking about the Christian faith in erotic terms – the bible never does that (unless you go with the Song of Songs as allegory) but it is paralleled with marriage. God designed things so that the closest relationship it is possible for two human beings to have would picture the relationship between himself and his people!
In saying this I know things are sometimes off balance, but lets beware of the pendulum!
Ant, I don’t really have time for this, but I asked for it – here goes!
The best source I can find is on the PK website here. It’s a quote of a verbal statement which lacks any other context so, as you say, it should be verified.
I don’t really understand your comments about marriage here. Firstly, an individual Christian is not married to Jesus. The collective body is. It is the individualising of the concept that is the problem. I invite you to prove otherwise! Mixing of the individual and the corporate always causes problems. As one writer put it, it is a problem for the church that men are driven away by the idea that they are married to another man. But if they like the idea, that’s another problem! (Think about it.) Besides, aren’t men to identify with Christ in exercising self-giving love to their wives, rather than identify with the bride, in Paul’s analogy in Eph 5?
We (men) need to approach Jesus as men, true to our natures, and not singing Jesus-is-my-girlfriend songs. (What I mean is the kind of song that is indistinguishable in style from modern pop love songs except that ‘Jesus’ replaces ‘you’ or ‘[insert girl’s name]’.)
Secondly, don’t you find that your wife is more impressed when you tell her what you love about her, not simply that you love her? The same would be true of speaking to men whom we love as brothers. I think too many songs now are reflecting on what I feel about Christ rather than reflecting on what it is about God that make me feel this way. That’s why hymns need to be theologically rich. They express stuff about Christ and so they are a more genuine expression of love to Christ.
Finally, I don’t believe Song of Songs is an allegory of Christ and the Church. It makes for odd exegetical gymnastics to make it fit.
Hi again (its bank hol – I’ll have no time again tomorrow!)
I have no wish to make a big splash about this… though I don’t know, maybe I’ll post something about it some time.
Re the stats, I’d like to quote them too. And they sound to me to be true to experience. I’m just warning you before you use them, that Neil worked really hard to verify them, going from source to source and found nothing at the end of it. But I’d like to be shown wrong on this – then I could use them!
Re individual/corporate – I agree. I never said anything about the individual. I increasingly think the individualisation of the Christian life is one of our biggest problems in lots of ways today. But you (and the article)were talking about corporate worship weren’t you? So was I. Not ‘one man and his God’. Taking a sideways step, one of the things this may highlight is that more of our songs ought to express the corporate ‘WE’ rather than the individual ‘I’. As for who we men identify with in Eph 5 – surely that’s not an either/or is it? It seems to be pretty obviously a both/and.
‘Jesus is my girlfriend songs’ – I do know what you mean by that, but I sometimes think that can be just an unhelpful put-down. Sets up a bit of a straw man. A Christian man really ought to be able to express love for God without too much embarrassment.
So yes, as you say, theologically weighty songs – absolutely. Doesn’t negate a song expressing love on it’s own though – do you ALWAYS have to give a reason why when you tell someone you love them?. But I would have something to say if a church was ONLY using such songs, or using them most of the time.
Just a bit concerned there’s a band wagon here, that too many are jumping on at the moment. It may be a reaction to a pendulum swing that’s gone too far the other way, but lets be careful.
Stephen–having been to one of the PK conferences when I was still in high school (not sure what the equivalent would be on your side of the water), it’s kind of a mixed bag, and a long story, to say the least.
Anyway, I’m totally with you on the over-individualization issue (we deal with this in the extreme here in America–it’s the core of our existence here, we have our two cars, our land, our homes, etc. Me, me, me, me! haha). We are a body of believers, indeed.
And I agree with you on the Song of Songs not being an allegory with the Bride of Christ and Christ–C.J. Mahaney gave a very good argument biblically at the Desiring God conference I went to in 2004.
Are you done with all your deadlines, or still hard at it?
there are things I want to answer in your post, but I don’t have time, so I shall have to leave the issue unsatisfyingly unfinished. Sorry. Perhaps over a beer some time…
Yup still up against deadlines. Thanks for asking. I have a 8k-word dissertation to submit to college (hard-copy not electronic) by Thursday lunchtime. Then a run of other essay deadlines followed by exams in June.
that’s fine – lets do that sometime when you’re under less pressure!
And btw, lest I was misunderstood, I don’t think Song of songs is an allegory either. I was trying to say that though the bible says marriage pictures Christ’s relationship with his church, it nowhere speaks of it in erotic terms. I then added (perhaps confusingly) that the only way someone (not meaning you) could argue it did was if they were to take S of S as allegorical. But none of us, at least, do.
oh, and Dan, I was listening to the talks from that conference a while back. Good stuff wasn’t it? Some of the things in that conference (and in the subsequent book) are what I was trying to say (perhaps badly) about marriage in my first comment on this post…
Ant, one of the problems I will have is that I will not be reading very closely, so sorry if I misunderstand you. I should probably shut up! (for now)
Ant–the conference on Sex and the Supremacy of Christ was quite excellent. I’d never heard Piper speak before (and got treated to Dever, Mahaney and Al Mohler as well), and it was great. Piper and Mahaney have some great sermons and messages on the topic of marriage and proper roles within that relationship.
In addition, my pastors got to attend the the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, and they said that it was excellent, almost intellectually exhausting (I mean, having Dever, Mahaney, Piper, Mohler, Ligon Duncan AND R.C. Sproul–whoa.).
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