“Church is boring.” “It’s irrelevant.” “It’s full of hypocrites.”
You’ve heard the excuses —now learn the real reasons men and boys are fleeing churches of every kind, all over the world.
Christianity is the only world religion with a chronic shortage of men. David Murrow identifies the barriers to male participation, and explains why it’s so hard to motivate the men who do go to church. Then, he takes you inside several fast-growing congregations that are winning the hearts of men and boys.
The first release of Why Men Hate Going to Church sold more than 125,000 copies and was published in multiple languages. This edition is completely revised, reorganized, and rewritten, with more than 70 percent new content. Why Men Hate Going to Church does not call men back to church—it calls the church back to men.
“This is one of the most helpful books for understanding why men are indifferent toward church and how churches must change to welcome men.” —MARK DRISCOLL, pastor of Mars Hill Church; cofounder of Acts 29 Church Planting; founder of The Resurgence
“[This] is a prophetic and relevant ‘snap-out-of-it’ masterwork that every pastor must read—not just for the sake of the kingdom, but also for his own sake and sanity in ministry.” —KENNY LUCK, men’s pastor, Saddleback Church
“David Murrow knows how to connect with men. Where was this guy when I was twenty?” —FRANK PASTORE, host of America’s largest Christian talk show, KKLA (Los Angeles)
GROUP DISCUSSION GUIDE AVAILABLE FOR FREE AT WWW.CHURCHFORMEN.COM/GUIDES
Christianity is not attractive to men at the moment. In fact, men hate going to church, according to David Murrow, the author of Why Men Hate Going to Church. Murrow argues that Christianity has become feminized since the industrial revolution to such an extent that men are leaving in droves or avoiding church like they avoid housework (my example - not his!). The men who do dominate the leadership positions in churches are actually feminized men who feel comfortable with, and demonstrate the characteristics of, women - intimacy, verbal communication, emotions, caring, touching etc.The entire thesis of this book is premised on the assumption that men and women are completely different in their natures. (The author draws on the popular Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray.) Murrow believes that most people conceive of Jesus Christ as living out the values ’that come naturally to women.’ The way that church is structured (in most Christian churches) appeals to women because of this belief about Christ and, therefore, men are left out in the cold. Christianity is seen as a "soft" faith and, if men are attracted to Christianity it is because they are ’highly verbal, sensitive, and relational.’ ”Real” men are into power, competition, achievement, practical skills, results, setting goals, etc. All of this is not deliberate, of course. But it's a very real problem.How do we get men back into the church? Reverse the feminization of Christianity and bring masculine elements back into church worship and life. If the Church is to reverse the declining membership of its congregations (in the West, in particular) it needs to get men back into the pews. Women, it turns out, like churches with lots of men so the focus needs to shift to making the faith more masculine - and the women and children will follow.Why Men Hate Going to Church is a passionate, fast paced read. It's powerful and persuasive. A lot of the material sounds reasonable and some of Murrow's assertions are backed up with empirical evidence. The idea of “masculinising” aspects of Christian belief and worship is certainly needed? For example, images of Jesus need to become more real than the effeminate versions of much Christian art. And the praise songs that have men singing to Jesus as his lovers definitely need to go!But I experienced a degree of discomfort as I read this book. Firstly, the differences between men and women seems overly stereotypical. Very little is discussed in the book about the commonalities between men and women. The simplistic distinctions between men and women as described by, for example, John Gray have been criticized as excessively reductionistic and not reflecting how similar men and women are in so many respects. The picture drawn by Murrow seems to "black and white".Secondly, Murrow's passion and enthusiasm for making his point sometimes borders on sexism. While the feminine is occasionally affirmed it would be easy to infer that the bad aspects of Christian worship and life are the product of female nature. I've only read the book once, but I can't recall any occasion where the author has remotely suggested that “masculine” Christianity may have its problems or any hint at the historical abuse of women by men who have suffered at the hands of men in power. I don't believe this is intentional but Murrow needs to be more careful about this aspect of his views.In summary, Why Men Hate Going to Church is a passionate plea for the reconsideration of men's needs in our churches. It's a plea also being made outside the church in areas such as education. Men and boys do need healthy masculine role models in the church. Murrow's passion and enthusiasm for the concerns of men is great to see. For me, though, I would have liked to see a more substantial, objective argument presented for rejuvenating Christian worship for all. But then, maybe I'm not a “real” man!read more
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I am torn. Should I lend/recommend this to others? Murrow's insights into the masculine spirit and the feminization of the American Church are valuable, and many of his suggestions represent a Biblical model of Church. HOWEVER, there are many other ideas that display a low view of Scripture and an overemphasis on letting the congregant (or the consumer) determine the "program" of the "show" on Sunday.Most disturbing is Mr. Murrow's incredibly poor use of scripture. A conservative estimate would be that 70% of the text's appeals to God's Word are incorrect, using verses either from suspect "translations" or by taking them completely out of context (a strange example is his using "It is not good for the man to be alone" to warrant the need for more intentional male fellowship). I hope this does not reflect the exegetical skills of the men at his very "masculine" Church.In conclusion, this book is helpful, but it leaves me with the desire for a better book. To my (limited) knowledge, a Theologically-accurate and compelling addition to the men-book craze has not arisen yet. I pray that there would be one soon.read more
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There are some books which prove quite important to one's growth and development in life because they make evident a pattern, challenge, and/or idea that is true, real, and yet somehow neglected or left unconsidered. Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow is one such book: after reading it, you will never look at Christianity and its practice in 21st century America the same way again.I first encountered this book a few years ago and was glad to have the chance to read and review the updated and revised edition. "Completely Revised and Updated" is not an exaggeration: I remember many of the key arguments and themes, but in the new edition they are presented more powerfully and underscored with more evidence. My reading of the original edition really caused me to think about the best way of approaching ministry; reading the new edition has led to the same process.Why Men Hate Going to Church presents one of the pressing challenges of American Christianity: where are all the men? The author sets out the evidence: most churches have a gender gap, featuring far more women than men. The more active the women get, the more likely the men are to leave. When men are not active in churches, their children are less likely to be active in churches, especially their male descendants, and the challenge grows.The author then provides helpful analysis of the sources of the difficulty: church plays to the strengths of women but the weaknesses of men. Women tend to be more auditory, better at study, more relationally-driven and focused, willing to sit and listen, share, and better at expressing themselves verbally. Men are more visual-spatial, less patient with study, less relationally-focused, fidgety, and often find expressing themselves verbally as challenging.Men do excel at boldness, willingness to take risks, and engagement in acts of service, but many times these values are not honored as highly in the assembly and in the general life of a church. The author spends some time contrasting different images of Jesus and to whom men and women best relate ("the Lion of Judah" vs. "the Lamb of God"). The author describes how churches better appeal to women, and on account of it, develop a more softened and feminine approach, further alienating men and enhancing women's presence.Yes, many ministries are male-dominated, but the author does well at showing how ministry is often done by men who are more verbal, studious, and more "feminine" than the average "macho man" (and I, for one, must plead guilty). The author also shows how when women do take over, either in terms of various matters within the congregation or as preachers themselves, men are most often further alienated and their number continues to drop.The author spends some time looking at historic trends and the various reasons why we have come to the place at which we find ourselves, as well as seeing different experiments that seemed to work in the past (like the YMCA). He also spends a lot of time considering how to bring the men back in: return to a mission-based view, consciously think about how a given prayer, song, lesson, theme, etc., would sound to the average man and adapt accordingly, find things for men to do that play to their strengths, and find ways to work with boys and their particular composition in such a way as to respect their constitution and not develop an inferiority complex in the face of all the girls.I have some concerns about many of the suggestions which put a lot of the impetus on the church where the Lord put it on the individual Christian in terms of service and in terms of the programs which should be provided for the youth; thankfully, the revised and updated edition put less emphasis on adaptations to the assembly and more on finding ways to get men to serve out in the world. I'm afraid that some of his theological points in terms of masculinity might be a bit too reactionary against an overly feminized version of Christianity; it's understandable but not necessarily beneficial.These concerns should not distract from the main point of the book or its importance. I believe this is a must read for anyone who seeks to promote the Gospel of Christ and wishes to encourage his or her fellow Christians: you don't have to agree with every point or every solution to gain from the author's perspective and the needed reconsideration of thought, feeling, and practice toward being more inclusive of masculine characteristics. There's a reason Jesus speaks more concretely and obviously about mission than relationship; there's also a reason why Jesus chose 12 men and worked intensively with them. If the church will grow and prosper in the twenty-first century it will need men to stand up with faith, boldness, vision, and effort to promote the Gospel message, and an over-emphasis on the "feminine" aspects to the detriment of the "masculine" aspects of humanity is pushing those men out and away. There are times for preaching and study; there are times for service and boldness. There is a strong need for greater relationship; there is as strong of a need for recognizing, understanding, and accomplishing God's mission for His Kingdom. Let us find ways to bring men into the fold and make sure that we are not pushing them away on account of our distorted emphases or an environment hostile to masculinity!*---book received as part of early review programread more
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Murrow, a television writer and producer, asks and effectively answers the question: "What is it about modern Christianity that is driving men away?" Just 35% of American men say they attend church weekly, he reports, and women make up more than 60% of the typical congregation on a given Sunday. Murrow contends that the church caters to women, children and the elderly by creating a safe, predictable environment. This alienates anyone fond of risk taking, including young men and women, but men are affected most. In order to reach men, Murrow suggests, churches must "adjust the thermostat" to embrace the masculine spirit: let men lead; give them tasks; encourage pastors to show strength and teach men through object lessons, letting them discover truth for themselves. Two of the best outreach methods: start rigorous mentoring programs and help men make friends with other men. Murrow bases his conclusions on what he claims are legitimate biological and cultural gender differences. He is aware that these observations might offend, and his thesis will find few takers among those who believe that the church needs less, not more, male influence. But Murrow's work is quite likely to get an enthusiastic reception from many Christian men. It contains sharp observations that will provoke much discussion-and, perhaps, some change. (Mar. 24) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved