The Church offers various things men are in need of.
This Sunday, your local church will experience a gender gap. With most church congregations consisting of 61% women and 39% men, there will be 13 million more American women than men in church this Sunday. Most churches in the country are seeing this phenomena develop before their eyes — men are leaving the church en masse. According to David Murrow, author of “Why Men Hate Going to Church,” more than 90% of American men believe in God, and 5 out of 6 American men identify as Christians. So why aren’t men going to Church?
As I sought to answer this question for myself, I was lucky to meet Chris and Josh, both of whom are on staff at the Crossroads Uptown location. These two men have devoted their lives to helping enhance others through developing relationships with God, and are passionate about showing as many people as possible how they can benefit from regular church attendance and a strong relationship with God. They agreed to sit down with me and talk about the exodus of men from the church, and how men could benefit from finding their way back.
Friendship – Many men, upon leaving school and the start of their careers, ignore one of the most important aspects of life: friendship. They get bogged down with work, trying to get ahead and make a name for themselves — while simultaneously starting relationships, getting married, and having kids. They often set old friends aside as they work on themselves, trading real relationships with fellow men for “work friends.” You may engage in small talk or get a beer after work, but when crisis strikes, you have issues at home, or you simply need someone to help you move, they won’t be there for you when you need them.
Chris and Josh have both found themselves in similar situations. Both UC alumni, Chris was very involved during his time on campus, but never found “his people.” He graduated, got a good job, and went to work. He soon found himself lonely, looking around wondering who he could truly rely on. Chris saw that his brother had found real community at Crossroads and knew he wanted that too. He gave Crossroads a shot, and found “his people.” A group of like-minded men to have fun with, to help each other through the good times and bad, and to seek a relationship with God. Similarly, Josh found himself with plenty of drinking buddies in college, but no one that he could really talk to, trust, or rely on. It wasn’t until Josh became heavily involved at church that he found the community he desired.
Men need these close relationships with other men in order to escape the day to day, to support one another, and to thrive. These types of bonds typically cannot be found in an office, in a bar, or from your child’s friend’s parents, but they can be discovered by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, opening yourself up to vulnerability, and engaging yourself in church.
Action – When men get together, they don’t want to just sit around and talk about feelings, they want to DO things. As Josh said, we grow up playing with action figures, watching superhero movies, and wanting to be that hero. But as we age, many men give in to society’s passive nature. We should sit down in our cubicle, be quiet, and behave. This paradigm crushes male spirit, our natural reaction to testosterone. We have found outlets like watching sports on TV, obstacle course races, and watching Bear Grylls drink his own urine, but TV only lasts an hour or so. But the pursuit of God inspires men to action, and the solid groups of men within a church are conduits of it.
As grown men, we still want to be that hero we looked up to as kids, but lack the means, motivation, and direction. All of those things can be found by getting involved in a church and pursuing a relationship with God. Josh found himself “wrecked” by reality in 2015 when on a mission trip to New Orleans, still devastated years after Katrina. But he also found ways to enact Godly action into his day to day life. As a bartender and bouncer at a popular college bar, he was able to serve as a protector of young women and be a friend to those in need of aid. Chris had a similar experience on a mission trip to India where he served in a home for young boys at risk of becoming involved in the sex trade. These men were inspired to take action through their relationship with God, and the church provided the means to channel that energy.
Freedom – Is there anything in this world that men crave more than freedom? A relationship with God offers a unique kind of freedom, one that men without that relationship will never find. Freedom from themselves. Chris pointed out a fact that I have known for a while, but hadn’t quite put my finger on. Often times when men find their way back to church, it is after some sort of catastrophic event in their life. The loss of a family member, lack of community, or hitting rock bottom in some form or fashion. It happens to a lot of men. It happened to both Chris and Josh, and it happened to me. We felt trapped in our lives, trapped in our brokenness.
So what kind of freedom can regular church attendance and a relationship with God offer men? Freedom from their past, their demons, their brokenness. We all have them, but many will do nothing to address them, letting them fester into a dark pustule of anger, spite and depression. When a man humbles himself to God and recognizes weakness in relation to the awesome power of God, he is free. Free to change his ways, free to pursue a better life, and free to live his life to the fullest. When one humbles himself to God, their lives are open to new friendships and the pursuit of action.
Men in America have been largely absent from the church in recent years. Along with that absence, men have found themselves more lonely and directionless than ever. There is no better way for men to find the relationships they need to thrive, to put their drive for action into effect, or to find freedom from themselves than regular church attendance and the pursuit of a relationship with God. As society tells us to be passive, to sit down and follow the rules, God tells us the opposite. He wants us to be aggressive, to seek him and make radical change in this world through him. So men, this Sunday, I encourage you to get up and get yourself into church, I promise you won’t regret it.
For those unsure about where to start, or who may not consider themselves “Church People” — check out Brian Brings a Beer – where Brian Tome (Senior Pastor of Crossroads Church) sits down and talks with some awesome people over a beer.
If you want to take a big step towards God, consider going to Crossroads Man Camp, find more information by clicking here.
Special thank you to Chris and Josh. Without your help this article would have been even more incoherent than it is now.
Follow this author on Twitter: @ThomasZimmCR