Why Men Hate Going to Church

Have you ever lied? Ever stolen anything? You may recognize these questions as part of The Way of the Master, an evangelism method made popular by Ray Comfort's ground-breaking book, Hell's Best Kept Secret (HBKS), which focuses on effective, biblical evangelism through the use of God's law, The Ten Commandments.

In the book, Comfort observes that 80-90% of those who initially make a profession of faith in Christ eventually fall away, because they were never given the true gospel to begin with. Comfort observes that in prior centuries, preachers like Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards would openly issue warnings of the consequences of sin using a four letter word that began with the letter H. But in the modern church, the mention of "hell" is avoided for fear that it will seem offensive to the sinner. So the modern gospel is reduced to three words: "Jesus loves you." With no clear understanding of what sin is and why they will be punished for it, sinners cannot appreciate the magnitude of Christ's love. The point of Comfort's book is that both sides of God's character must be presented in order for an unregenerate sinner to clearly understand the gospel message. It is true that "God is love," (1 John 4:8, 16), but it is also true that God will judge us for our sins, and that He is "angry with the wicked every day," (Psalm 7:11).

So what does an evangelism method like The Way of the Master (WOTM) have to do with masculinity? Could an evangelism method hold the answer to unbalanced gender relations within the local church? I think it can, when you consider that the "soft" gospel described by Ray Comfort in HBKS has not only produced millions of false converts, but it has also feminized the modern church to the point of driving men away.

David Murrow's eye-opening book, Why Men Hate Going to Church encourages the reader to give consideration to some outstanding insights on the modern church and it's tendency to repel men. The book is ground-breaking in its attempts at pinpointing how many aspects of the modern church have become largely feminized, and therefore uncomfortable for many men. Murrow's belief is that a balance between the masculine and feminine should be present within the church, and uses the analogy of a thermostat to illustrate his point. If the thermostat in your home is set too high or too low, you will be uncomfortable. In the same manner, Murrow believes that the thermostat in most churches today are set too high on "feminine" and therefore are stifling to the masculine spirit.

Although Murrow does not ever mention Ray Comfort, HBKS, or WOTM in his book, it can be argued that there is a correlation between his observations about the feminized church and the inadequacy of the false (if not feminine) gospel used by many in their evangelism efforts as described by Comfort. A feminized gospel does not motivate false Christians to come to Christ, nor does it motivate male Christians to come to church. Consider some of the very valid points Murrow makes:

Ignore what is being preached from the pulpit and look what actually happens on Sunday morning. Almost everything about today's church . . . is designed to meet the needs and expectations of a largely female audience. Church is sweet and sentimental, nurturing and nice (p. 14).

What does today's church emphasize? Relationships: a personal relationship with Jesus and healthy relationships with others. By focusing on relationships, the local church partners with women to fulfill their deepest longing. But few churches model men's values: risk and reward, accomplishment, heroic sacrifice, action, and adventure (p. 15).

Jesus had no problem attracting men. Fishermen dropped their nets full of fish to follow Him, but today's church can't convince men to drop their remote controls for a couple of hours a week. The good news is, Jesus is alive today. He wants to speak to men. If only the church will let Him (p. 17).

Murrow describes how much of what Jesus offered the early Christians were principles rooted in men's values: competence, power, efficiency, achievement, skill, competition, challenge, and adventure. The early church was full of opportunities for men to be men. Many of these opportunities are found in proper biblical evangelism as outlined in HBKS. Yet most churches do not encourage their members to evangelize, and when they do, the preferred method of choice is "friendship evangelism." There is no challenge or adventure in establishing a "relationship" with someone for months in order to build up the courage to tell them "Jesus loves you." No, real challenge and adventure is rooted in circumventing the intellect to go for the conscience - to use the law to convict the sinner of their guilt before God. Is it any coincidence that most evangelism circles are dominated by men?

While Comfort has demonstrated the effect of a one-sided gospel on the lost, Murrow has demonstrated the effect of a one-sided gospel on the saved. When the church's values are overtly feminine, men are not the only ones who suffer. Women are at a loss to understand how they can help the men in their lives to cultivate more of an interest in church activities.

Although I disagree with most of the social and anthropological explanations for male and female behavior that Murrow provides, (I believe maleness and femaleness are divine assignments from God not rooted in psychology, sociology, or anthropology), the book is worth the read for the numerous recommendations Murrow gives for bringing the church back into balance. The answer to a healthy, balanced church is a healthy, balanced gospel. As women, we can do our part by allowing the fullness of God to speak through His creation. The Bible says He created them male and female. We should not discourage men from expressing the masculine traits of the Christian faith. Let God be expressed through us in completeness: the perfect balance of love and judgment, nurturing and discipline, submission and leadership.


The Way of the Master

Cameron, K., & Comfort, R. (2002). The way of the Master. Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale.

Comfort, R. (1989). Hell's best kept secret. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House.

Murrow, D. (2005). Why men hate going to church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.


Anonymous said…
one smart lady made a series of video about why men aren't in church... so if you are interesting go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aTZHSDl-VI
Jennifer said…
Thank you for bringing this to our attention! The teaching in those videos are WONDERFUL. Your timing is impeccable as well, since I was planning on writing about men and emotions next. Also, next month we will be focusing on Satan's lies. Much of what she discusses in the videos line up with what we'll be discussing. Thanks so much for sharing this! I loved it.
Kurt Michaelson said…
Great post Jen. This reminds me of the research project I conducted for my bachelors degree, which analyzed how more men could serve within the church.

In Modern Man in Contemporary Culture. Effective men’s ministry: The indispensable toolkit for your church, Erickson and Schaffer (2001) say that men who are not involved in a church do so because they do not believe that the church offers anything of lasting value to their lives. Men prefer Sunday sports on television rather than attending a church service and they especially feel that there is too small a return on their investment of time, attention and energy to go to church."

If the value of winning souls was expressed more seriously by any pastor, there might be a greater number of men in attendance and a passion for more of Christ in the hearts of these men would likely increase as well.

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