Friday, 21 January 2011

Men and the Church Part 2

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...


  1. Somebody tweeted to me today that there is an old space shuttle going for sale today, and that it would make a great venue for men's ministry. What do you think?

  2. Hi Richard lol - yes, potential. Though only if it has a bonnet to look under, a stereo that would match the latest output from NASA, super wide wheels, a turbo unit; oh and Isofix kids seats, a cup holder, a dock for the iPod, back-seat DVD player for the children to watch Peppa Pig on long journies; oh, and so that it would please my gay mates, some pictures of oiled rugby players on the walls, some vibrant cerise accessorising; and for my evangelical mates a guitar stand and some classic Kendrick; and for my carflick mates a pew from the twelfth century next to prie deux with a copy of KJV on it

    yes, altogether an idea!

    Anyway, always remember to avoid labels lol

  3. Sometimes stating the obvious is necessary. 'All people are different' - but so often we want to clump a group - be it a gender or something else - under one label. You're a man so you must be like this. You're a woman so you must do that. And when I use the word 'must' my tone of voice is needed for the meaning - it's an assumptive must rather than an instructive. As in this must equal that, surely.

    (Not sure the use of 'assumptive' is linguistically correct, nor that I make ANY sense but never mind!)



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