Gender gaps and equality are discussions filling recent news reports but there is one area where a sizable gender gap exists without much notice – a lack of men in the church.
According to Church for Men, the typical congregation in the United States is comprised of 61 percent women and only 39 percent men. This holds true across all age ranges. On a given Sunday, only about 12 percent of men attend church, and nearly a quarter of all married women are attending church alone. The divide is even more pronounced for midweek events, where women make up 70-80 percent of attendees.
Why does this matter? Studies show that involvement of men in the church has huge benefits. A church with a 50-50 attendance split between men and women is typically a growing church, while a church with 30 percent or fewer men in attendance is a dying church. Children of men who attend church regularly, especially boys, tend to stay involved in church longer into their teen years and beyond. And transforming men has a wide ripple effect in families and in the community.
So what can be done to attract more men to the church? Here are a few places to start.
Beef up. Surprisingly, only about 10 percent of churches have a strong men’s ministry. Begin placing an emphasis on developing a ministry to men, but also look for areas in existing ministries where you can include men.
Roughen up. Churches often reflect the feminine in their décor and outreach, which tends to leave men feeling like outsiders. Using bold colors instead of pastels and décor that is a bit more rustic will make men feel more at home.
Rock out. In general, men prefer louder music with more rock elements and strong lyrics, rather than praise music that repeat the same words over and over.
Fist bump. Men are becoming more comfortable with the bro hug, but for many men physical touch beyond a firm handshake, along with talking about feelings, still makes them feel uncomfortable. Develop environments where they can feel manly while getting more involved.
Be active. Because men usually are more action-oriented, find ways to include them in activities that require more action, like church maintenance and planning outdoor activities. Join sports leagues where men can ease into church participation through activities they enjoy.
Action stories. It’s no secret that most men prefer an action-adventure movie or story. Include more teaching on some of the mighty heroes of the Old Testament to show that men can be men and still honor God.
Pat the backs. Men react well to praise and encouragement. Rather than being critical of men for not being involved, emphasize their importance and recognize them for the efforts they are putting forth.
Concise communication. Most men are not given to long conversations, and communication is often brief and to the point.