By Aaron Kerr
Many pastors in churches across America walk into auditoriums and preach to audiences that are mostly women. Many of these pastors don’t even realize how lopsided their numbers are in the favor of the ladies. This question should plague every pastor’s mind: How can I engage the men? Not that women aren’t important, but let’s face the music: getting the men to stick with a church is typically more difficult. That’s why Mother’s Day is one of the biggest attendance days of the year and Father’s Day isn’t.
Here are some steps to help raise the “masculinity quotient” in your church family.
1. SING MASCULINE-FRIENDLY MUSIC.
Please STOP singing erotic love songs to Jesus. When a guy walks into your service, does he feel like he’s listening to music from a Nicholas Sparks’ film about lovers or is he hearing music about the most powerful being in the universe, a powerful warrior King worthy of being followed? Sing music about the greatness and glory of God and less about feelings and being held tenderly by Jesus. Seemingly erotic love songs to Jesus are like kryptonite to men.
2. MAKE JESUS MASCULINE AGAIN.
Masculinity is not something to be ashamed of, but it is incredibly lacking in the American church. The early Church was a courageous group following a fearless King, and we’ve traded in that concept to follow a picture of a mild-mannered man petting sheep and teaching Sunday school to toddlers. There’s nothing wrong with men teaching children’s Sunday school. By all means, it would be good to get more men in those spaces. But men want to follow someone worthy of their worship, and for many men the “kids’-camp-counselor” or “petting-zoo image” of Jesus isn’t that guy. We need to stop asking men to focus on how they feel and instead focus on what they are called to. Men tend to value duty over feelings, and following a mighty King is our calling.
3. PLACE VALUE ON FATHERHOOD.
The world we live in is full of broken families and fathers who are either absent or terrible role models. We have multiple generations that have never been taught what a truly healthy father looks like. Our culture suffers greatly from a shortage of quality fathers. We need to be teaching fatherhood and healthy family dynamics. We need a strong emphasis on supporting blended families and encouraging other men to mentor those who don’t have good fathers. We are supposed to be a church family, right?
4. PROVIDE PLACES FOR MEN TO SERVE.
In what areas of your church do men typically want to volunteer and take part? Most men don’t flock to be part of kids’ ministry, so is there another place for men to connect and feel like a valuable member of the body of Christ? Our church has a team called Journeymen (Journey is our church’s name) that helps single moms, the disadvantaged, and the elderly with home repairs, yard work, and other chores. Men love this ministry; they are passionate about it! They are getting to be the hands and feet of Jesus! I hear the same emotional reaction when I speak to men who travel with Open Bible’s MOVE construction ministry team. Men have an innate desire to be useful, valuable, and respected. If they can’t see that their contribution in your church body checks off these important boxes, you’ll have to work really hard to get them to show up.
5. EXAMINE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A PEACEMAKER.
The church needs to change its mindset around the concept of a peacemaker. When you break down the Hebrew word “shalom,” which we translate as peace, it means “to overcome the one who causes chaos.” Men are not called to be passive creatures that quietly exist in peace. Men are mandated by God to create peace. Men need to understand that wherever they go, they are created to bring stability, safety, and security. This is not accomplished by always being nice, timid, or harmless. We need men who are willing to fight. Creating peace is a battle, and we need courageous men of God to lead that fight. Men need to know that their church needs masculinity.
The ironic thing is that when churches incorporate these ideas and focus on reaching the men, not only do the guys show up, but so do the ladies.
About the Author
Aaron Kerr is the Student Ministries Director at Journey Church of the Open Bible in Urbandale, Iowa. His family’s mission is to raise up future men and women of influence. Aaron and his wonderful wife, Nicole, and their son Benaiah live in Des Moines, Iowa.