So, let's do this thing. As I thought about how to approach this, I worried about the fullness of it - and so I must remind you, faithful reader, that this is a blog, so as much a scrapbook or notebook for ideas. If you are looking for a full treatise on the subject - you may find your glass less than full! One may follow if this leads me to a roll!
So, why are we here? Some of us identify a problem, and that is that there are too few men in our churches. In my preamble, I touched on labels and how they trouble me, partly because they are what they are, but also because they ignore the differences in men. We should always, and with urgency, drop the labels.
Any strategy that seek to attract people into anything needs to acknowledge at the outset, that those people are all different. Different in needs, tastes, personality, age and so many other things. Oddly, in for retailers, it is a far easier proposition. For example, the flooring industry knew that its target market was women within a fairly specific age-range. So, it marketed to them. The makers of Peppa Pig merchandise can be fairly specific about who they ply their wares to. For the church it is less easy. We want to be attractive to men, but how can we be attractive to all men all of the time.
We can't! Of course we can't.
Let us consider 'men' for example. We range from Mickey Rourke to Rowan Williams; Alan Carr to Alistair Darling' Peter Tatchell to "Pastor" Terry Jones; Hulk Hogan to Hillary Benn; Tony Blair to Tom Jones; Bill Hybels to Boris Johnson. How the church sets out its stall has to acknowledge these differences. There isn't a concise model of 'male human' - how much more boring if there were.
Oddly, on one point I can be sure that all men would agree - we would not welcome labels that are prefixed un- de- or non- . Such labels would have the happy effect of equalizing all differences in a shot.
For me, the only way is to stop trying to please all of the people all of the time. The difficulty with that is that you please no-one not never! Easy said, yes - but how many efforts exist that are just one-stop Men traps. Surely, a better way is to make the distinction between what we think men want and what men actually want. I don't want to be told what I want or need, I want someone to listen to me say what I want and need, and then maybe help me realise that hope (not make it happen for me, importantly). Listen to me, hear me (there is a major difference there, often ignored).
The first 'D' in this little journey is about a mindset. A mindset that seeks to 'fix a problem', apply models that look great on flip-charts, will be bankrupt. A mindset that divides men into categories fewer than the sum total of all living males on this earth will also be bankrupt. A mindset to celebrate difference, engage with it, make the distinction between what we think and they think about it all, and of course, dropping labels - there has to be a penny or two profit in that!
Part of me regards this is a statement of the blinking obvious - then I wonder...