Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Men and the Church Part 1

There have been rumblings on this blog about being a man in the church, and how tough it is at times. This may come as some surprise to those of you won over by the notion that 'discriminating-Church' is a male dominated domain. Yes, it might be male led, but it is a long way from male dominated. Church life, on the ground, is a very matriarchal enterprise believe it or not, and us men are rarer than a rare-beast's Welsh rare bits.

Last weekend I indulged myself with a whine about it all, and quite rightly, someone made the challenge about how I would attend to the shortage of men  in our church life. I am going to meet that challenge over a number of posts. 

As it is all the rage to articulate cogent thought in terms of mnemonic acronyms, I am opting to make DISCIPLES of men in the church. Apart from  the original concern as offered above, I have been grumpy about an offering on this subject that will make its appearance some time in February. For clarity, I think it is a worthy course of work, tackling a tough issue up-front and I wish it every success. I am grumpy because of its labels ('un-churched' and 'de-churched' are pejorative in the extreme and evoke terms like 'unwashed' and 'deloused' - to me) and also because I offered to help with it a long time ago, and am still waiting for the call! Anyway - these are my motivation for writing. 

So, regard this as the contents page to this thread - I will work with it for a few days.

D - dropping labels, differences, distinctions, difficulties
I - involvement and how
S - spiritual dimension of men, stalking targets
C - community and committing, church and children 
I - individuals and image
P - pub and places, problem, what problem? poor-selling of salvation
L - listening for the right reasons
E - enablement, enthusing, exceptions
S - settling down, seeing it through

Naturally, other things will emerge that do not fit my neat pattern here. I will wang them in somewhere, don't you worry. Chief among them would be 'trying too hard', and it is that facet of such efforts mentioned above that I worry about. That is for later. I think that this area of thinking is sparsely populated, and this will, of course, be only my perspective. It will be a perspective born of some difficult facts hidden in my past, a long time in a job that I didn't love so the bills could be paid, a work history in retail and a business skill-set, normal and healthy male appetites and weaknesses, having a young family and caring for their needs, and a simple love for God (not to mention lumpy testicles, being the at dead centre of the target age bracket for target-heathen-geezers, oh, and being male). I believe that this all qualifies me to write on subject. So I will. 


  1. On a positive note, at least Oxford diocese has recognised the problem and is trying to do something about it.

    As a suggestion (rather than a recommendation or endorsement) you may find the Christian Vision for Men site interesting. You will probably find it rather too evangelical for your taste, but some of their practical ideas may chime with some adaptation.

  2. Looking forward to following this through - doing some research myself at the moment about mission/liturgy/gender - there's something very strange about a church which talks a lot about patriarchy and male dominance but is in fact female dominated in the pews.

  3. As the second youngest 'regular' male churchgoer at our church (the youngest being the vicar!) I have regularly struggled with being a man at church. While I get on really well with everyone there I struggle with the lack of contemporaries. For a year I took my young son to rugby on a Sunday morning rather than church and was pleasantly surprised to find I actually missed going to church, so it's unlikely that my son will become a rugby star!

    This has all been brought back with a shock with the announcement our vicar is leaving in the next couple of months. This will leave us with two female NSMs, two motherly churchwardens, 2 women training for ministry and one male reader. It will be interesting, as they say.

  4. Thanks for stopping by - I am looking forward to have my 'go' at this - after all, I am still learning!

    Simmy, thanks too for the pointer. I am aware of CVM but hadn't got too far into their stuff yet. I am less worried about evanglical endeavours (and I was, the effort here in Oxford would really put me off), as in truth, they make it happen so often. I will look at this through anglican-catholic eyes, in the hope that it has a helpful spin on the mainstream ideas that float around.

    Rachel - feel free to challenge, admonish, kick and scream as necessary. I shoot from the hip and my words are very spontaneous (the joy of blogging, but also its curse). I try to call it as I see it, so 'edges' provided by debate and other good people will always be helpful to the sum of the whole!

  5. Peter - I sympathise with you. Barring the kids on the choir, I am the youngest male in my church. We geezers are largely family men and so we all (even this be-collared man here writing) identify the tug between faith-needs and family-needs. Let's see where this little journey takes us.

    (BTW, I am going to be in the market for a job in a couple of months. Have car, can travel lol)


  6. we geezers ... speaking for us at my church, not a general statement

    (thanks for pointing that out, my faithful lawyer)

  7. Some interesting stats:

    Until next wednesday I am the only man in our clergy team, our local cluster of parishes and usually the only man in a church service other than on Sunday Morning. PCC last night had a ratio of 1:3 men:women.

  8. (Just one thing, Cloakey - the slightest hint of a suggestion of any possibility of an upcoming 'Men's Breakfast' and you are out of the Will!)

    Peter - I really feel for you. When my kids were little I was the only female member of my Church between teenager and OAP. There were, unusually, one or two men in the (wide) age-group but no girls. Be assured that you are a Real Man and hang in there.



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