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HOW WOMEN HELP MEN FIND GOD
By DAVID MURROW Thomas Nelson
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Chapter One Where Have All the Good Men Gone?
The sun was nearly set as fifteen women gathered on the deck overlooking Susan's backyard. It was a warm spring evening. The bees buzzed lazily around the bougainvillea as a few crickets began tuning up for their evening of song. The women chatted easily about work, family, and church.
Susan tapped a spoon against her iced tea glass. "Ladies, I'm so glad you've joined us tonight. We are going to devote this evening to supporting one another as we explore what is usually a taboo subject in church today. I mean, have any of you ever talked about this in a group?"
The women shot nervous glances around the circle. A few shook their heads. No one indicated that she had.
Susan continued. "Now, when you received your invitation, I asked you to be ready to answer two questions. I'd like to go around the circle and have everyone very quickly give their names and their answers, OK?"
Heads nodded in agreement.
"I'll start out. My name is Susan, and my number is eight." Susan turned to the woman on her left.
"My name is Juanita, and my number is four."
"My name is Trish, and my number is seven."
"Hello. I'm Theresa, and my number is twenty-three."
The women erupted in gasps, whoops, and laughter. As the noise died down, Theresa clarified, "Hey, I come froma large family!"
The confessions continued. Connie's number was three. Rachel's number was thirteen. Hannah's number was four. Julie's number was ten. And so on.
Once every woman had spoken, Susan added it up. "This small group of women is currently praying for one hundred and thirty-five men. Men we love. Men who need a closer walk with the Lord. That's an average of nine men per person-an average that's much higher, thanks to Theresa!" The women laughed brightly, but inside each carried a dull ache for the spiritual lives of the men they loved.
So let me ask you: what's your number? How many guys are you praying for? How many men in your life need a deeper relationship with Jesus?
Grab a pencil and add it up. Let me help you.
Think about your father. Husband. Ex-husband. Brothers. Uncles. Cousins. Sons. Friends. Boss. Coworkers. Do you have more than ten yet?
I'm not asking whether these men are spiritual. I'm not inquiring about their eternal salvation. Nor am I asking if they go to church.
Here's what I want to know: Are these men true disciples of Jesus? Do they enjoy an ongoing, daily walk with God? Are they living a life of love, joy, and peace? Are they connected to a larger community of believers? If not, why not?
Think about your church. Isn't there a significant number of married women who regularly worship without their husbands? Now, how many married men regularly worship without their wives? One or two? Why does it seem that men have a harder time following the Lord than women do?
You're not just imagining it. Christianity is slowly losing its men.
A ladies' club?
Fifty years ago, there would have been no need for a book like this. Men and women attended church in roughly equal numbers. Congregations brimmed with active laymen.
While the upper echelon of church leadership is mostly male, more than 60 percent of the adults in the typical U.S. worship service are female. The average mainline Protestant congregation is two-thirds female. Many Catholic masses attract a crowd that is 70 percent female. Women compose more than two-thirds of the local church volunteer force and outstrip men in every area of Christian endeavor. They pray more, witness more, and disciple more. Women work while men wimp out.
The gender gap shows up in every age, cultural, and racial group. I wish we could blame Western society for our woes, but the man shortage is a worldwide phenomenon. Christian churches from Minneapolis to Moscow to Melbourne suffer a gender gap. I've received e-mail from pastors overseas whose congregations run 90 percent female.
The men who do attend church aren't nearly as involved as the women who outnumber them in the pews. Experts estimate fewer than 10 percent of U.S. churches maintain an ongoing men's ministry. Compare this to the estimated 90 to 95 percent of churches that offer women's and children's ministries.
Guys and religion
So why don't we just blame the guys? Aren't men just less religious than women?
Not really. No other religion suffers the huge gender gap Christianity does. In fact, Islam seems to have a bumper crop of men. So did the early church. In Bible days, men were the spiritual giants. Today's spiritual giants wear lipstick and eye shadow.
We have a disconnect here. As I noted in the introduction, 90 percent of U.S. men claim belief in God. Five out of six call themselves Christians. But just two out of six U.S. men claim to have attended church the previous Sunday morning. Some experts believe the true number is fewer than one in six.
That last paragraph may have gotten you thinking, Those lazy guys! They just need to get their act together and come to church.
Sure, some guys are lazy. Some are proud. Some are sinful. But in truth, so are some women. Nothing in Scripture suggests that males are born spiritually challenged. Both Adam and Eve fell just as far.
The heart of the matter
I'm going to tell you something that's hard for some women to believe. It may challenge a long-held viewpoint. It may make you mad. But if you cannot accept what I write in the next paragraph, you may as well put this book back on the shelf and ask for a refund.
I'm convinced that in many cases, men's resistance to Christianity is not entirely their fault. This is because, ever so slowly over the centuries, the church has forgotten how to stir the hearts of average guys. Little by little, we've abandoned the male-magnetic methods of Jesus; therefore men have withdrawn.
Now before you ask for that refund, let me clarify something. There are certain men who do quite well in church. Men who grew up religious know the system. Men who are skilled teachers or musicians easily find a place to use their gifts. Men who are sensitive or highly verbal gravitate toward churches. So do studious men who like to read books and debate theology. And unfortunately, predatory men know church is a place they can gain power and control.
But your typical off-the-shelf guy has a hard time doing church as it's done today. It's a poor fit for him. So he stays away-or falls asleep.
In days past, societal and family expectations kept men in church. But any social stigma attached to skipping church died years ago. The modern man is completely free to choose whether or not to go to church-and every day more of them choose not. The trends are indisputable: churches welcome a lower percentage of men every year.
Women are suffering as a result. In the United States, almost a quarter of married, churchgoing women regularly attend without their husbands. Mothers watch in anguish as their sons turn their backs on Christ during their teens and twenties. Single women comfort themselves with jokes like this one:
Sarah: Have you heard the one about men in the church?
Sarah: Men in church are like parking spaces. The good ones are either already taken or they're handicapped.
Darcy: Ha ha. Spiritually speaking, that is.
Sure, there are a few feminists who think men are the problem. They see too much male influence in the church and seem to wish the men would just pack up their masculine pronouns and leave. But as I travel the country, that's not what I hear from the women I meet. They want a church with vibrant, spiritually awakened men. Don't you?
What can a woman do?
If the church routine is not doing a very good job connecting men to God, what can?
Women can. That's why I wrote this book. It is designed to help women just like you:
discover the root causes of male disinterest in church;
gain a deeper understanding of men's real spiritual needs;
learn what women can and can't do to keep their sons engaged at church;
identify the things about church that drive men crazy-and learn how to change them (or at least understand them);
develop a way of talking about faith that intrigues men;
present the gospel in a way men understand;
identify churches and ministries that speak to both the masculine and feminine heart;
be challenged to bring more risk and adventure to their personal walk with the Lord; and
learn how to share with a single man and detect if his faith is real.
In short, this book is a window into the soul of men. And who better to open that window than a man whose faith in Jesus was nearly shipwrecked a few years ago? Here's how it happened to me.
My crisis of faith
Here in Alaska, the sun stays up until midnight in June. I was lying in bed trying to sleep, but the bedroom was too hot and bright. My wife was breathing softly in bed next to me. I pulled back the covers, crept down to the basement, and logged on to the Internet. The session started innocently enough-a little e-mail and a quick check of the latest sports scores. But soon I was visiting Web sites that would shock my wife, my friends, and my church.
I had been a faithful Christian for twenty-four years, a dependable face every Sunday morning. I'd led mission trips, taught Sunday school, and served in every conceivable position in my congregation. I'd recently been elected an elder. But that night my faith was unraveling.
I turned to the Web. I visited two forbidden sites. Two sites intentionally designed to lure men from Christ. They were stimulating. Exciting.
They were Islamic Web sites.
My fellow elders would be horrified. My wife would dissolve in tears. After nearly a quarter of a century of following Jesus, I was tire-kicking a new religion.
I still loved God, but I couldn't bring myself to sit through another church service, Bible study, or committee meeting. I was dying of boredom. My soul craved adventure and challenge; the church offered me study guides. Islam held the promise of strict discipline, high expectations, and male camaraderie. My church was a soft and accepting place that was busy erasing men from hymns, liturgy, and Scripture.
Reading the Bible only made things worse. Its pages were bloodied with bold men taking huge risks for God. Jesus tore through the New Testament like a rogue tornado, challenging, offending, and rebuking with abandon. But my church was a cautious place, and as an elder I was expected to be a careful man who kept the peace. A good Christian was sweet, relational, and above all, nice.
I began to wonder if I could be a man and a Christian at the same time. Then it hit me: by my congregation's definition, Jesus Himself would be considered un-Christlike. At best, He'd be considered unfit to lead. At worst, we'd ask Him to leave our church.
Seeking risk, I embarked on some foreign mission trips. I found a modicum of adventure, but I also encountered the same numbing routines in overseas churches-only the services were twice as long.
Back home again, I remember walking through the church atrium in a daze. As I looked around at all the nicely dressed, smiling people drinking coffee and being nice to each other, I thought, No one would hang on a cross for this. There's got to be more.
Then I began to notice I wasn't the only man who felt this way. I saw the vacant stares, the boredom, the lack of passion. Most of the men were standing in that atrium for three reasons: it was a habit, it was good for the kids, and it kept their wives happy.
Thanks be to God, my faith held. But a holy discontent gripped my heart. I began searching for a book on this subject. None existed. So I began praying. I spent many nights and weekends doing research. Three years later saw the publication of my first book, Why Men Hate Going to Church. Men love that book. Almost every day I get grateful e-mail from men who love God but struggle to find their place in the earthly communion of saints.
Men are beginning to understand how they can love God but hate Christian routines. Women, now it's time you understood as well.
1. What's your number?
2. Generally speaking, are there more committed laymen or laywomen in your church?
3. Do you think the church shares the blame for men's disinterest in Christianity, or is it mostly the guys' fault?
4. Men and women are obviously different physically and emotionally. Do you think they are different spiritually?
5. The author believes the modern church system is not designed to meet the spiritual needs of most men. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
Ask a man, "What's your opinion of Jesus Christ?" Then ask, "What's your opinion of church services?"
<%TOC%> Contents Introduction: Women, Men, and God....................ix
Excerpted from HOW WOMEN HELP MEN FIND GOD by DAVID MURROW Copyright © 2008 by David Murrow. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
PART ONE Church Culture vs. Man Culture....................1
1. Where Have All the Good Men Gone?....................3
2. Man Laws vs. Church Laws....................13
3. The House of Horrors....................27
4. The Stars vs. the Scrubs....................39
5. How We Lose Most of Our Boys....................49
6. How the Grinch Stole Youth Group....................61
PART TWO A Prescription for the Local Church....................71
7. The Kinds of Churches Men Love....................75
8. How to "Man Up" a Worship Service (Without Driving Women Away)....................85
9. Men Can Learn-Really!....................97
10. How to Get James Bond to Go to Church....................107
11. The Mystery of Male Bonding....................117
12. How One Woman Can Awaken Her Congregation....................131
PART THREE How to Reach the Men You Care About....................145
13. What You Do ... What God Does....................147
14. How We Get God off His Holy Duff....................159
15. Your Words Whisper; Your Life Shouts....................167
16. How to Talk to Men About God....................177
17. How to Lead Boys to Faith....................187
18. Reaching All Those Other Guys (Who Don't Live Under Your Roof)....................201
19. How to Support a Man in His Walk with God....................211
20. Your Mission ... Should You Decide to Accept It....................225
About the Author....................247