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by the Editors of Religion Today> >> > April 5, 2000
Men shun "feminized" churches

American churches are becoming feminized, and that is turning men off in droves, says the director of the National Coalition of Men's Ministries (see link #1 below)....In most churches, "a man can't be a man," said Daniel Erickson, executive director of the coalition, a network of leaders from 20 denominations and 55 men's ministries, including Promise Keepers. ...Many men have left churches because they don't find what they need there, Erickson said. Only half of the men who say they have a relationship with Christ attend church, he said. Of the men who don't go to church and say they have no relationship with Christ, 85% were once in a church....Pastors aren't helping draw and keep men in church, said Erickson, an ordained minister and former Promise Keepers executive.

Men are "intimidated by pastors, and pastors don't know how to minister to them," he said. ...Eighty percent of pastors are "more in tune to their feminine side" and are artistic, creative, and musical, Erickson said, citing a study done by The Navigators. But "the problem is that 80% of men are not, so 20% of pastors who are more in tune to their male side are trying to help 80% of men."...Church services generally are geared to women, Erickson said. Weak preaching won't impact men, but strong preaching combined with a testimony from a man "whose life was changed" can grab men's emotions and help them remember what was said, he said. "If you don't make men glad or sad, then you've done nothing."

...Men often are criticized in church, but not helped, Erickson said. Pastors point out the inadequacies of fathers, but "these men already realize they are bad fathers," he said. "Let's provide training and equipping." The average church is not relevant to men, and is "answering questions they are not asking." 

 ...Men want to know God, Erickson said. About 97% of men believe in God, but they want a church "where they can be real men and not have to play religious games," he said....Men are drawn to a church when they see that "this place cares about me as a man," Erickson said. They want a pastor who cares about them as men, and speaks directly to them in his sermons while the women "eavesdrop and translate," he said....Pastors must meet with men in small groups and confront "issues men really deal with, that you can't talk about on Sunday morning," Erickson said. This includes intimacy with wives, he said. Some men have a problem with pornography, but "the real problem is intimacy. We don't know how to be intimate with our wives." The average man doesn't have close male friends, either, he said. 

...Many men also have a "father vacuum" in their hearts because their father was emotionally or physically absent, Erickson said. As many as 90% of the men in prison "are from an absentee father situation," he said....Men also want to be recognized as "the seat of leadership in the church," and want action rather than words, Erickson said. If church were a football game, men wouldn't want to stand around in a "holy huddle" and talk, with no action, Erickson said. "The average man wants to 'hit somebody' -- the devil." Men have to be challenged, Erickson said. "A guy goes to the marketplace and is challenged to run a $4 million budget, but in
church we challenge him to usher." Perhaps the most important fact about men is that they are in a crisis, Erickson said. He cited a study by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America showing that 530,000 American men a year are attempting suicide, and 30,000 are succeeding. Four out
of five people who commit suicide are men, he said. Some denominations are strengthening their ministries to men in local churches, Erickson said. The national ministry Promise Keepers still is doing a great job of "stirring men up" at its conferences, but has closed its local offices, he said. Other groups are "picking up where PK left off" in local training for pastors and lay leaders who work with men, he said.

...The National Coalition of Men's Ministries is holding conferences on ministry to men April 13-15 in Chicago and Oct.12-14 in Atlanta. They are open to pastors, men's leaders, and those who lead men's ministries in denominations. Speakers include evangelists Nicky Cruz and Josh McDowell, Joseph Stowell of Moody Bible Institute, and pastor and ministry leader Crawford Loritts.

RELATED LINKS: 1: The National Coalition of Men's Ministries 

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