Many churches and families struggle when it comes to men attending church. Maybe you’re a pastor and you look around and don’t see a lot of men. If you do see them, they are uninvolved, not passionate about their faith and are simply taking up a seat. It’s great they are there, but you want so much more for them.
Maybe you’re a wife or a mother who wants nothing more than to see your husband or son become engaged in their faith. You want it to be more than talk or more than simply showing up. You want them to take initiative, to pray with you, pray on their own, read their Bible, anything so that it doesn’t feel like they are doing it simply to make you feel better.
I’ve written before about ways for your church to reach more men, and while there are a number of things your church can do to reach more men, there are lots of things you can do to make sure men hate your church.
With that in mind, here are some ways to make sure men hate your church, don’t engage in their faith and ultimately don’t come back:
1. Make it about women. Let’s be honest about church and spirituality. Women tend to be more open to spirituality and church than men. They tend to be more involved, take it more seriously, be more engaged in what is happening, and they are more likely to volunteer at a church. So it is easy to make church geared more towards women. When we do this without thinking about men, we communicate to them, “This isn’t for you.”
Now the answer isn’t to make church all about men so women hate it. That would be absurd and get our churches nowhere. As we’ll see in the rest of the list, there are some simple things you can change to help men stop hating your church.
2. Give them nothing to do. One way to make men hate your church is to give them nothing to do. Make them feel unneeded outside of writing a check or giving their wife and kids a ride. If that’s the extent of what they can do, they’ll check out. The answer also isn’t more serving opportunities. It is communicating how important their presence is in the church, how important it is to take their faith seriously and take that faith into their lives.
3. Don’t give them any tools. Maybe you’ve sat in a church and heard, “Men should lead their families. Men should pray with their wives and kids. Men should lead family devotions.” And then after the pastor has made every man feel guilty, he stops. No tools. No, here’s how to do it. Just do it.
Yet for most families, devotions are a train wreck. A fight to keep kids engaged and focused. They go terribly wrong more than they go even close to right. Many couples are unsure of how to pray with each other.
The last thing men need is more guilt about what they aren’t doing. They want to do those things; they just don’t know how. They need tools. Someone to show them, to walk with them, to help them.
Honestly, the best way to make men love your church is to help them with tools in their faith.
4. Sing songs that are too high. I’m going to step out on thin ice, but the reality is most men don’t like to sing. Think for a minute, where else do you sing in public with a group of people? It can be weird. Then when you throw in songs that get too high for men to sing or talk about how beautiful and amazing Jesus is, it starts to get uncomfortable for men, especially men who don’t follow Jesus and are guests at church.
5. Don’t expect them to succeed. This goes right along with #3, but when we don’t give men tools, we also communicate, “You think you can’t do this and so do we.” Expect men to succeed and give them a high bar.
One reason men hate church is that it isn’t worthwhile. The bar is so low. The bar in many churches is come and we’ll entertain you. Give a check once in awhile and feel good about yourself.
That isn’t succeeding and that isn’t worth getting up for.
Here’s a great example. Think of the average Mother’s Day sermons and Father’s Day sermons. Mother’s Day is about how amazing Mom is (and she is). Father’s Day is often a punch in the face to men. So men walk out hearing, “You can’t do it and we don’t believe in you.”
6. Think that all men are tough, manly men. Most men’s ministries in churches today are geared towards manly type men. Men who want to get dirty, eat lots of raw meat and go camping. And while there are a lot of those men, they aren’t the only men out there. Too many churches and pastors think all men are the same, and so they zero in on one man. It’s easy to do, and often it is done without thinking about it.
7. Only talk about a couple of sins men commit. I know one pastor that when he wants to talk about sin, he calls it “drinking and carousin’.” Many pastors, when they want to talk about men and sin, will just talk about porn. Do men struggle with porn? Yes, but so do many women. There are a bunch of other sins men commit and struggle with. Talk about those just as much. Talk about the father wound that many men carry around, the drive to succeed and the emptiness that comes from our missed opportunities. Don’t just focus on one sin.