Monday, 10 May 2010

The Father, the Son and the Only Bloke

I was sent a flyer through email last week, inviting me to a seminar dedicated to getting men (back) to church. It is to be called 

Reaching 'Unreached Men'

Perhaps a little perjorative in its titling, as it makes it sound like if you are not a God botherer when you are a lost lamb - men won't thank you for that. But anyway ...

I am unable to go, as 'life' happens, but I would have loved to, for good and healthy reasons as I have a specific interest and a specific perspective:

1. I am a man. The pants-tackle will confirm that, as will the gruff voice, and the fact that films with Hugh Grant make me feel queazy. Yes, dear readers, I am a man, dammit.
2. I am such a bloke as the seminar seeks to reach - and my ordained status only makes me an anomaly to the ordained, not to geezerdom. I have spent many good years working with the 'unreached' geezers in retail, know a little about what makes them tick, and share a heart with them on the whole.

I think men can be (mostly) sub-divided accordingly, each needing a specific 'approach' (sorry, fellas, I am now guilty of treating you like lab-rats too)

Blokus Grunt-Monkeii: Something of a majority state, I am quite clear that I fall into this category
  - Pragmatic
  - Family motivated, financially 'hand-to-mouth' on the whole
  - Sports interested
  - Retailing, manual/skilled labour, all that sort of thing, tired and needing of a beer in the evening
 Blokus Hairgeleii: The next largest state of man
  - Mostly graduate, or at least diploma'd, have some saving in the bank and a stonking mortgage
  - IT, Banking, management - all that sort of thing
  - Famly motivated (less likely to have kids that the other lot above, careers first, you see)
  - Sports interested, problem solvers, wine quaffers
Blokus Modernmanicus: An important, but slightly smaller subset
  - Caring professions, teaching, nursing etc etc
  - Almost universally graduate, union minded
  - Family motivated, gin and tonic types (or fancy Lagers)
  - Less sports interested, and less likely footy or wuggah for those who are sports interested
Homo Tweedicus: A small but influential subset
  - Movers and shakers, and often seen with a gold signet on their little finger
  - Sport is a minority interest, and almost always wuggah - brandy or single-malt types
  - Family motivated, but in the wider thirty generations of N and N sense
  - Orxbridge, or Durham if they bummed out
  - Politically minded and financially affluent

There are others, of course (Blokus Shavedheadimus - for those who love extremism; Homo Homo Blokus - for those who like other blokes; Laddus Hoodicoverupus - an intermediate state, sort of like a pupation state before full fledging into manhood and so on and so forth ...)

So, how does the church reach the 'unreached men'? The eternal question ...

My modest offering, born of my own perspective only, are these:
  1. Meet men where they are, and in what they love to do. In simple terms, be a visitor to a pub once in a while - most usefully in a dog-collar. Get to know people and do not, and I mean it, do NOT use the 'G' word [God] - game over if you do, unless of course they rasie the subject unprompted. Build relationships with people, enter into chats with them, be interested in them without a heart to convert them - being an infectious Christian will do its own job (and God does the converting, not you)
  2. Men want to feel in control of their own lives and more especially those of their family - engage with men at that level. Provide for their children, get to know them. No dad is immune to the goodness that a person shows to their offspring, believe me. 
  3. Don't try and save men (in the Christian sense) - respect the caveman side of all blokes. Men don't need saving mate, and that's a fact - they are the hunter gatherers (even if they aren't really) - and to save one who saves others will earn you a poke in the eye. 
  4. Talk work - what do they do for a living? We know that Jesus was a carpenter, so there is no failing in being just a little interested in what people do all day. Be interested, get to know thir work, and for God's sake, don't judge them. Binmen are as vital (if not more so) than merchant bankers. 
  5. Most blokes have stuff to do on Sundays (I was in 'the wilderness' for two years due to working patterns, so Sundays were a dead loss [and no, I wasn't in the wilderness, just busy, so be careful about terminology) - they will put their family before church every time
  6. Do not presume that because someone works in shop, supports Man U, has a tattoo of a spiderweb across their face, owns a Staffy etc etc that they arent committed Christians (just perhaps not a churchgoer) - someone made that mistake with me once and tried to introduce me to the Lord, which is fine, but they didn't ask the right (or any) questions and made some appalling (and offensive) presumptions about me (I was testing my vocation at that time too)
  7. Men are interested in their own things. For me, it is fast cars, jet aircraft, rock music, films that expose giblets and gizzards, real ale, etc - I am not the same as my wife in my tastes or most of those who attend any given church on any given Sunday. Talk Aston Martins or Eurofighters with me, or the virtues of Exmoor Gold, and I will quickly become interested in you and what you stand for. The Christian contageon will do its work in proximity, not from a distance.
  8. Think flatpack construction - men get there in their own way and prefer to work it out for themselves. Men's Curry Nights, a trip to a beer festival, tickets to the next Air Tattoo - they will do you better than a Service (or other in-church) initiative - to men they represent the Instruction Manual. Give men the opportunity to make their own connections, and they just might  - some might not, so be ready for that too. 
This is a daft brief list. I could batter on for days about this stuff, but for now will call 'Time'. I congratulate the fella from Grove on his initiative with his Seminar, and wish him every success. We need more men in our churches and even with my collar on, I feel like a minority. In St Mary Aylesbury, there are more Zimbabweans than men under 45 - six times as many.   

*Caveat - this is an English/British perspective for those who read this on distant shores!


  1. I was once kidnapped, taken captive and made to listen to a presentation on 'Fresh Expressions of Church' (you wouldn't have got me there otherwise). However, I warmed to the bloke when he explained that he had started off his 'Fresh Expression' by going to the pub and meeting some other blokes, then they had a barbie, then they had a curry night then, whoops, they seemed to have turned into a congregation! You are not alone, Cloakey.
    BUT -
    all this bloke stuff is fine, but what are the girls supposed to be doing, arranging flowers? Let them eat curry, too.
    We have 'Men's Beakfasts' down here. Great idea for the old dears who get to eat the breakfast but the very concept utterly infuriates 75% of men, who wouldn't touch it with a barge-pole and the 99% of women who aren't cooking the breakfast. Net loss, I think.

  2. I thought you women pondered feminist theology, fought against the foul male oppression and washed the dishes?!


    But what about you ladettes, you geezerbirds ... join us, sisters, join us!

  3. Just as long as you don't make the curry 'Men Only' but expect us to cook it (and then 'wash up' - sorry, term not recognised) we'll be there.



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