"Why Men Hate Going To Church"Ã¢â¬âthe title says it all. It's the question we have all had, on a subject we have all noticed, without ever asking. Perhaps you imagined that there was no answer. It is just one of the mysteries of life. Read this book by David Murrow and you will have answers that will make you wonder that you never noticed them before. He gives answers that stem from the fundamental differences of men and women. We see some of these ideas in marriage books to our advantage. I will confess to being skeptical as I began, but this book is compelling. As a pastor I found his marketing/media perspective unique and thought provoking.
He shows that we have feminized church. Our services are much more favorable to women than men both in comfort and service. He gives a fascinating history of how this developed. As I read, I thought there is little than can be done about it, but in the last half of the book he gives practical advice. A new mindset is the key one.
He is friendly to the contemporary style of worship and I am firmly of the old fashioned variety, yet where his type of worship fails men he minces no words. I appreciate that kind of candor. This work doesn't pretend to be theological at all. If some idea he offers sounds like a marketing ploy to give them what they want with no regard to God's glory, that is the reader's problem. For what it is, this book could hardly be better.
I received this book free from the publisher through its book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
A Review of Ã¢â¬ÅWhy Men Hate Going to ChurchÃ¢â¬Â
November 26, 2011
It is Sunday morning Jane has the children dressed and ready to go. She also is ready to head out for morning worship, but where is John? He decided to take the day and go fishing, why? This is the premise of the most recent book that I have read, "Why Men Hate Going to Church" by David Murrow. I will admit that when I first got this book I was hoping to find something that I could actually tear apart, and write a strong critique of a book that I didn't really feel was worth reading. Oh boy was I ever wrong! Although I may not agree with all that the author writes about, this book was certainly worth reading.
On this particular book there is a variety of reviews. Some people rate it an average book because the author was able to string two sentences together, mind you if that was all a book had I would give it a 1. Others rise up and praise this book as the newest and best thing to hit men. I'm probably somewhere in the middle. So let me tell you why.
Having been raised in the Church I have noticed that a lot of what David Murrow talks about is true. There are so many ministries in many local bodies of Christ, but who runs those ministries? Quite frankly, it is the women. Now I want it known that I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but I do have to ask, "Where are the men?" This is probably a better understanding of this book then some have given it credit.
As I said, when I first saw this book listed as a book I could review I immediately looked at a group of reviews, and the formulated my opinion of the book off of that. Now here I am a week later, and I was at Church watching some of the behaviors of the men in the congregation. Some have said this book doesn't present the gospel, which is true, but again that was not the purpose of this book. The purpose of this book was to find out why Christian men aren't being the fishers of men that God called them to be.
David takes the time to address what he calls a vicious circle that has been impacting the Church since the pre-Victorian era. By and large Churches will start with a decent percentage of men as well as women, and then slowly the men begin to drift away. What happens is a Church begins meeting, and then building a building, but then the work left to do is leading a ministry like Children's Church, or Sunday school, or Bible Study. As these ministries begin to get established in the Church the women begin to rise up and volunteer to lead this ministry or to lead that ministry. As more and more women rise to the leadership positions the priorities change as women are more emotional based (again not a bad thing) then men are, and so more and more women are attracted to get their spiritual high, and men are left wondering what has happened. This is part of the cycle that Mr. Murrow speaks about in this book.
Now David is not beating up any of these ministries. His focus is instead on how men and women interact differently, and therefore these ministries which have their purpose lose their priority and men are shut off, and begin to leave the ministry work to the women, only exacerbating the situation that had lead to them being shut off. In fact David spends the last eleven chapters speaking about how Churches can reengage their men.
From a personal stand point, this book has made me begin to watch and observe. Right now our Church is the middle of a building campaign, and so there is a lot for the men to be involved with and participants in at this time. In fact just last week the men were asked to help get some of the wall trimming placed around the gym/sanctuary floor. This was a great opportunity for some of us to rise up and help our body of believers. However, will the men stay engaged?
Over the past year at least the men's ministry of our Church has taken off in a way which I couldn't believe. As I said earlier, I was raised in Church since the age of 8 and this is the first Men's ministry that I've seen so strong in the Church. In fact I often brag about how our Men's Ministry is closer knit, than I've witnessed through my wife, than the Women's Ministry of the Church. This book has made me ask, "Will it last?" In this book I think David Murrow does a great job showing how men relate shoulder to shoulder. I think this book is a tool that every Pastor, Elder Board, Servant Leader, and layman would benefit from. I think this book is a book that every wife will benefit from as she sees how dragging her husband to church will not make him the spiritual leader that she needs.
Now that I have offered praise of this book, there is a least one thought that did still bugs me about it; I think some of the comments that David makes are just plain wrong. I am a man who enjoys dressing up for Church on Sunday morning. Very seldom will I attend church in anything less than slacks, a nice dress shirt, and a tie. I find it frustrating that David Murrow seems to imply that the only men truly satisfied with Church are the more feminine. I was an athlete in high school, and in fact I'm still very competitive, almost to a fault. I think this concept that a man cannot be both an athlete and an academic is disrespectful and untrue.
Every person who professes faith in Jesus Christ should engage in regular time of worship both corporately as well as personally. I think every believer should have regular times where they dig into the WORD of God, and learn and grow from the author and finisher of our faith Jesus Christ, through the working of the Holy Spirit. I also believe that just because the Church has been feminized is no excuse for a man to not attend. He is called to be the spiritual leader of his family, not the Church, and even if there are problems, a man still needs to be regularly engaged in the Scriptures. All this being said I still give this book 4 out of 5. I believe every believer, male and female, can benefit from this book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Booksneeze as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
From Adam to the wicked servant who hid his one talent in the ground (see, Matthew 25:14-30), men have always blamed others for their sin. For instance, when God called out to Adam, who was responsible for Eve as her spiritual head and ours, our forefather did not take responsibility for his sin but instead told God that it was the woman whom He had given to Adam that was to blame for his breaking of the Law. Well, if you are at all familiar with the Fall Narrative (see Genesis 3) then you know that God didn't buy the man's excuse. So why is it that today, in our contemporary Christian culture, books like "Why Men Hate Going to Church" can be written for the masses, read by the masses, and positively appraised by the masses? I received a free copy of Why Men Hate Going to Church for review from BookSneeze.com several weeks ago, and I have had the difficult task of trudging through page after page of answers to a question that Scripture answers very clearly. That question is: Why do men hate going to church? And in response to it, Scripture emphatically declares: "Because they are sinners, that's why!"
David Murrow's book was a difficult and burdensome read, but not because it is an academic tome, nor because it is thousands of pages long, nor because it is poorly written. In fact, it is none of those things. Why Men Hate Going to Church communicates its arguments very clearly for all to understand, it is short, and is written in a friendly and accessible style. The difficulty I faced, therefore, was with the content of the book and not with the style, length, or any other superficial feature of the book. You see, David Murrow's research into the issue of the gradual decline in male church attendance reflects the type of thinking that is all too common in the culture of stuff that we live in. Murrow's book, in other words, sees the decline in men attending church as a phenomenon that is the result of women removing the things that men find exciting and interesting from church. The irony, however, is that there are many valid criticisms that Murrow makes. For instance, he criticizes the "Jesus-is-my-boyfriend" "Praise and Worship" music that is characteristic of the non-denominational denominations for being practically erotic in its tone.
And he's right, but there is a bigger problem behind such awful music: Scripture is left out, trodden underfoot, and treated as a ouji board by many professing Christians. Consequently, it is not Biblical Truth that determines the content of the music in church, but the emotions of those who write the songs. And why is Scripture treated this way? Because it doesn't agree with the sensibilities of those who many are too eager to call "seekers" and whom God identifies as "goats." Page after page, I was enraged and saddened by the condition of the church - but not because it has pushed men away from worshiping God. Rather, my anger and sorrow were the fruit of seeing how blind so many in the pews, behind the pulpits, and in the Christian writing industry are of what is really going on. It is the commercialization of pseudo-Christianity that is really the problem. Instead of preachers who preach the Word, we have charlatans who give pep-talks; instead of the Gospel of God's free grace, we are given self-help swill that we can find on the back of a cereal box or on Oprah.
Why Men Hate Going to Church is a good book if only for this reason: When set beside the Scriptures, even the most impenitent and blind can see how far the church at large has fallen away from the Truth. Men hate going to church for the same reason that women hate going to church: Because apart from a Sovereign work of grace in their hearts, we all hate God. Rather than preaching for liturgical reform, we should be on our faces repenting for turning the house of God into a house of merchandise, filled with wares of every kind but lacking what is truly important: The Truth of God's Law, that declares we are sinners who deserve God's unmitigated wrath; and the Truth of God's Gospel, that tells us Christ underwent the wrath of God for all who, having been shown the worthlessness of their works and their rightfully deserved end, turn to Christ in faith, completely trusting in His merits to save them.