David Murrow has updated Why Men Hate Going to Church, his renowned book with new information and text previously published by him in other books. Murrow in this text uncovers the gender gap in churches, asking the question where are the men? Murrow shows his readers that today’s churches are dominated numerically by women and that men are largely absent. He explores the culture of the church noting that church vocabulary and words like love and relationship are tied to feminine culture and not masculine images. For example, churches typically use pictures of Jesus as a lamb or dove while generally ignoring the word pictures of Jesus as a lion. He also shows how church programs, largely academic and feelings based provide boys and men discomfort leading to a male exodus from the church. In general, churches rely on volunteer positions that are better suited to female preferences instead of male. And church programming generally also follows this trend. Finally, he provides suggestions and practical examples of how to return men to church. Murrow advocates that the greatest way to grow the modern church is call men back by changing our culture. By bringing back men Murrow argues that men, women and children will all benefit.
This book creates a lot of conflict in me in my ministry and my personal life. My ministry has been within one that stereotypically is a women’s ministry, working with families and children. Part of my personal call has been to have manly guys working within that ministry so kids can see both the masculine and caring side of men demonstrating balance. But I see exactly what Murrow describes with curriculum that are largely intellectual in nature and put boys at a disadvantage with girls in the “competition” of Sunday school. And I think that this realization is what has led me to also seek non-traditional curriculum and curriculum that relies on movement and diversity to help keep boys engaged in learning about Christ. Honestly, one of my best days of ministry was spending a day with a predominantly boy youth group scooping horse manure. There were no complaints as these boys completed a manly task in God’s name. As a man I often found myself chaffing at his description of academic pursuits as womanly. I personally excel in this area while my skills in car maintenance are completely lacking. But with this prejudice aside I definitely see and have felt the issues he points out about language, frilly decorations and relationships. My academic training is history, which warns that generalizations are not absolute. So, there are exceptions to what Murrow describes, but the generalizations are widespread enough that leaders should take notice of this book and assess how their ministries are attracting or repelling men and boys.
Review Copy Provided by Thomas Nelson