Why aren’t the Men in Church?

My experience as a pastor and a parishioner tells me that women tend to be more active in the church than men. Certainly there are exceptions, but usually women vastly outnumber the men in their congregations. Why is this?

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Ecce Homo (Behold, the Man), by Antonio Ciseri

Men, like women, can have valid reasons for limiting their worship attendance: work schedules, medical problems, caring for an again parent…the list could go on.

But there might be another reason: One explanation for men’s absence in the church might be that men often think that Christianity automatically means the surrender of masculinity. This is the opinion of men like Friederich Nietzsche, an influential atheist philosopher of the late 1800’s.  He adopted the unbiblical view that Christianity was a religion for the weak. Our culture’s embrace of the “self-made” man has caused many to see self-reliance as the highest good, a message that is the opposite of the gospel. These views of masculinity are false, but they are widely accepted.  The popularity of these ideas can mean that many men view Christianity and manhood as irreconcilable.

Jesus was certainly not timid (Matt. 23), nor was He naïve or feminine. Instead, He willingly went to the cross because of His strength of purpose. Jesus is the ultimate man, the second Adam who fully exhibits all that God wants men to be (1 Cor. 15:45). Men find true manhood only in serving the perfect man, Jesus Christ.

True manliness is Christlikeness.

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About Corey Sharpe

Where do we get our beliefs? Three theological perspectives have significantly shaped my Christian identity: Evangelicalism, the early Methodist tradition and liberation theology. From my coming to faith in a Baptist church and throughout my education in a Baptist school and college, I was nurtured by convictions that emphasized a spiritual rebirth, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Even when I disagree with certain aspects of evangelicalism, it has deeply influenced my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. My seminary studies spawned my interest in early Methodism, particularly its approach to spiritual formation. Its leaders were convinced that only a foundation of doctrine and discipline would lead to a meaningful transformation of the heart and mind. In other words, having the mind of Christ enables me to be more like Christ. Life in a suburban culture obscures the increasing gap between the poor and rich, as well as the Bible’s close identification with the poor. My doctoral work in socio-cultural context exposed me to liberation theology, which helps me see redemptive history as a history of oppressed groups, written from the perspective of the powerless, about a God who is actively involved with the poor in their struggles. I am now the pastor at Huntingtown United Methodist Church in Calvert County, Maryland. Together my wife and I are raising 4 young theologians.
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5 Responses to Why aren’t the Men in Church?

  1. Birdie Cutair says:

    Many men come to church at the invitation of their wives. But also many men, especially younger, unmarried ones come to church because they are invited by other men. It works; I’ve seen it in action.

  2. Carol Childers says:

    High attendance of males in my church. Men’s Bible studies, too.
    The men are setting the example for their children as to the importance of worship in community.
    Have you asked the men this question?

  3. Pastor Corey says:

    Barna Research Group did a study in 2011 comparing the differences in the faith of men and women over a 20 year period. They had a similar conclusion: women are more active in the church than men. There are certainly exceptions, but this seems to be a national trend.

  4. Janice says:

    There are a few exceptions, but in our church there are a lot of men staying home. I wish I knew the answer as to why they don’t come. I think some of it is the fact that if they come regularly they will be asked to do something. I asked my husband why he thinks it is that women are more active in our church. His answer, “they are smarter.” I don’t believe it, but good answer.

  5. Ann Denbow Simmons says:

    Women do not seem to have the ego problems that men suffer from. Some men feel it sends a message that they are weak. I have asked military personnel why they do not attend church nor pray? Response, it shows a weakness in my belief of myself as a man and in control of my life. However, I have spoken with these same individuals after they have been injured and their beliefs and needs have done a complete turn around.

    Jesus is often portrayed as a weakling. Jesus was not a weakling and he was a man you also expressed his anger, in the temple when he turned the tables over of the merchants, but Jesus was a man who revealed his strength and courage in standing up to the Pharisees and the Roman legal system. Jesus, to me was never portrayed as a weakling but rather a man who was in complete control of who he was and what his mission in life was. I always respected my Father for his role as head of our family and his role as a member of the Chapel community. Daddy along with other men in our chuch at Chapel volunteered many hours to the up-keep and development of our church and the grave yard. There are always complainers and always individuals who can find fault but they usually are not the givers of time nor the action people. There are exceptions but life is not always easy, simple or decided by only one individual. I can remember once that Daddy was confronted with someone from Chapel who complained about the direction of the mowing and that if the lawn was mowed in the direction that they were advising the grass would look healthier and greener.

    I must add Janice, I did enjoy your husbands answer!!!

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