Comment on "Why Men Hate Going to Church"


I’m currently reading–and enjoying–the book Why Men Hate going to Church by David Murrow. I think he makes a lot of points that need to be made and he does it in a way that doesn’t reject the importance of women in the Christian community (at least as far as I’ve read). I think some of his thinking about worship services needs to be adapted to liturgical model and it doesn’t really take into account that the Eastern Church with a longer liturgy doesn’t seem to have the same issues keeping men involved as does the Western Church, both Roman Catholic and Protestant.

That being said, I want to comment on something I’ve seen quite a bit in the book. Here’s an example:

Christianity is still growing worldwide, but it is losing ground to two aggressive competitors: secularism and Islam. At the risk of sounding alarmist, I believe the church has at most 250 years before it is totally overrun by this duo–unless we reengage men.

Now this might be something that we can see when looking at the situation pragmatically, which we should always do on one level. But when I read things like this I think they display a profound lack of faith. Jesus himself said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church (Matt. 16:18). One of the great strengths of Christianity has always been that we know the ending of the story–we don’t know how it’s all going to play out in the interim, but we know how the plot is going to be tied up. It irks me then, when I hear Christians talking about Christianity dying–conservatives and liberals.

Whether they are ranting about so-called fundamentalism like John Spong or sounding a warning about secularism or Islam like many conservatives, or warning people about the decline in real evangelism like Dan Kimball, whenever a Christian makes a case for something by saying that if the Church doesn’t do X it will die, they are simply lying and being unfaithful and we should call them on it. That doesn’t mean denominations won’t come and go–they are simply the institutional mechanisms to convey the faith–when they stop doing that, they deserve to die and Christians should be willing to kill them and start over when the time comes–our loyalty is to Christ after all. But regardless of what happens to the various human institutions which we have created to aid in the proclamation of the Gospel, the Church itself will never die–that’s a central tenant of our faith and people need to remember that.

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5 thoughts on “Comment on "Why Men Hate Going to Church"

  1. At first glance, I absolutely agree with you. The church is going nowhere, if Christ’s words are to be believed (and I happen to believe them).

    However, the real risk for some people in knowing how it ends is that it leads to complacency. Now I haven’t read Murrow’s book, and you say this comes up “white” (sorry) a bit, but it could be that he doesn’t really believe that the church will be overrun, because he believes we will re-engage men. He could just be “speaking prophetically” about where our current actions (or inactions) are leading, without really believing that his prediction will ever come to pass.

    Having said that, I realize I may be overly generous in that characterization. In fact, I suspect that the truth is closer to what you posted. I just have a tendency to present the other side, and it hit me re-reading this post that there may be an alternative explanation.

  2. Adam,

    I actually like Murrow’s book, and many of the points he brings up. He’s very even handed, but he’s not afraid to ask tough questions and deal with real issues. That said, I don’t think people start out thinking that they’re making a theological statement when they sound warnings like this… I think they are just being pragmatic. My concern is how it looks in a theological framework. In some ways it’s the ecclesiological equivalent of getting people to a faith in Christ by scaring them with Hell first.

    Now, theologians from Origen to Jonathan Edwards have recognized the importance of the doctrine of Hell, but it’s something that can be very misused. In this case too, I think the statements that “the Church (the whole thing) is going to die if _________” is over used and can feed into a tendency we have to think of the Church as just an institution like any other. That’s my only concern. But Murrow’s book is good…after I finish it, you’re welcome to borrow it, I’d like to hear what you think.

    Thanks for catching the typo–don’t know how that happened. I’ll blame the demons that power the internet… they’re nice little scape goats. ;-)

  3. Oh… I also agree that the assurance we have can lead to complacence. That’s why we have to preach the fullness of the Gospel–it won’t allow us to be complacent.

  4. You do make a very good point; regardless of the reason, it runs contrary to the gospel to ever predict that the church will pass away.

    I also think preaching the fullness of the Gospel shouldn’t allow us to be complacent, but I’m frustrated because complacency abounds in the church. I mean, we’ll get fired up about gay people (and I mean the church in America as a whole, not just Episcopalians), but otherwise people seem satisfied to go to church on Sunday so they can die and go to heaven.

    I’m not saying that’s a bad a bad thing in and of itself, but it’s incomplete (I guess that’s where the full Gospel come in). Christians are far too satisfied with the status quo IMHO. I’m in a big and pointless discussion on T19 about the death penalty, and someone who was arguing with me said that there will be no perfect justice until the Kingdom of God, so we’re just stuck with what we have. I’m not satisfied with that. We shouldn’t be sitting around waiting to see if the Kingdom of God will come to us; we should be doing our part to usher it in to being.

    I’m idealistic, and I freely admit that. I’m not completely naive, but I’m afraid most of us have become too jaded. Maybe that’s part of why men don’t go to church. I don’t know. I’m just fired up myself about that right now.

  5. Adam,

    You’re right–people do use any excuse they can to keep from changing things. That’s not exclusive to the Church, but one would hope to see less of it among Christians. Instead, there are all sorts of things where Christians sort of say “well, it’s not going to be perfect so we’ll deal with it.”

    I’ve experienced that attitude when it comes to the justice system, the environment…all sorts of things.

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