Lately, it seems like every time I talk to a church leader, they mention the struggle they are having with getting men to come to church. Countless men’s ministries are constantly looking for that thing that will finally give the men’s ministry a much needed shot in the arm.
In sermons, pastors will either theme an entire series to relate to sports, or they will have individual sermons with sports tie-ins.
So, why doesn’t it work?
Let’s look at your average man. He works five days a week and only has two days off. Saturday, and Sunday. During the week, he gets up at six or seven in the morning to go to work. The only days he has a fighting chance of sleeping past 8 a.m. are Saturday and Sunday, and you want him to wake up early, get dressed, get the kids ready, on one of those days to come to your church. Some of your churches are so stuffy, they won’t even let him bring his cup of coffee into the sanctuary. Then, you want him to sing songs. Do you see this much? Men breaking out into song during the normal course of the week? After that, you want him to sit still for 30 or 40 minutes so you can tell him whatever it is the Lord has “laid on your heart” that week, and he’s snoring within 15 minutes.
So, what’s he going to do? He’s going to stay home. His whole family is probably going to stay home with him, because these are the two days he gets to spend with them. If your main attraction for men to come to church is your Sunday morning service, you’re out of luck.
What would work? Be all things to all people. If you want to attract a man to your church, your church should strive to meet his needs. What does a man want? Most churches think they need men to form deep emotional connections where they can “open up” with other men. That may be true, but there are very few men who are going to say that they want that. A man wants to relax. So let him. Meet him where he is and connect him with other men who are like him. That’s called fellowship. How you ask? Try some of these methods.
1.) Don’t just talk about sports.
You know that every Monday night during football season and at some point on Sunday, most men are going to be watching football. So, order some hot wings and pizza and host a party. You may not be able to get them into the pews for a stuffy church service, but you might be able to coax people into the fellowship hall for free food and football with their fellow fans.
Have a Superbowl party. Cancel your evening service on Super Bowl Sunday and watch the game with some members of your congregation who don’t already have plans for the big game. But don’t limit yourself to football. Don’t forget about baseball, basketball, soccer, wrestling, and NASCAR. Don’t be cheap about it either. Chances are, if you feed them, they will come.
You don’t have to host a kegger. But stop being so afraid of beer. Most men drink beer and the Bible doesn’t forbid drinking it. In fact, if you want guys to be more open and honest, beer is an important part of male socialization. When you host those Super Bowl parties, don’t be afraid to have some adult beverages. You don’t have to turn your church into a bar– and if it really bothers you to have people drinking in the church, host it offsite. Most guys will appreciate the more relaxed atmosphere.
3.) Disciple, but teach practical skills.
Confession time. I am lost when it comes to home repairs. I also have to look at instructions before jumpstarting a car. My bet is there are a lot of men in your congregation who are just as lost when it comes to some of these practical skills as I am. Offer some classes where we can ask our questions without being laughed at or judged. If I can trust you when I come to you with my clumsiness and lack of handyman skills, I might be more willing to open up to you about other areas where I feel inept.
Jesus’ disciples were fisherman. There are several stories in the Gospels where Jesus is on a boat fishing with a group of guys. Plan a fishing trip. It’s relaxing, it’s fun, and it’s away from the world. You want to connect with men? Take them fishing, it is the perfect environment for fellowship.
Take these suggestions with however many grains of salt you feel necessary, but I know some of these suggestions would make me come to church a little more often. I’m not alone, either.