I was asked recently to give my five top ways of getting blokes into church. Why me? What do I know? I’m not aware that we are especially successful at CCB in reaching and retaining men. But then I realised. I’d not been asked because I’m successful but because I’m opinionated!
CCB isn’t badly off for blokes. We’re pretty close to half and half. But we’ve had a load of baby girls born recently which hasn’t helped the stats. But there’s not much I can do about that. But it’s worth saying that we’re young. Most of our blokes are in their 20s and 30s.
But, for what it’s worth, here are my five top tips for getting blokes into church.
1. I think it helps to have a deliberately planned evangelistic programme
Churches need to aim at something. So they need to put things in place that are intentionally aimed at reaching blokes with the gospel. Not all men are the same and that’s worth remembering. Our blokes are a bit musical and creative for my tastes. But we’re not only overgrown adolescents and metrosexuals! We’ve got a handful of sporty, DIY types as well; real men who sweat! But by planning an evangelistic programme churches will steer theirr resources and attention towards men’s evangelism. Often God brings people out of left field rather than through our carefully planned strategic programme. But I suspect that he does that just to keep us humble. But plans to reach men communicates that church isn’t just for old women of both genders. We want everyone to know that we’re serious about helping men see the implications of Christ’s death and resurrection. Events like men’s curry nights with an after dinner speaker tend to work well. I’d have more sports events if we had more sporty types to work with.
2. I think it helps to have an existing pattern of men’s ministry
If blokes are going to join a church, they want to know that it’s a church that’s already got them in mind. I don’t want to fill guys’ diaries up with pointless stuff that just makes me feel good that there’s something in the church programme for men. But it does help to have an ongoing pattern of men’s ministry that’s geared to help blokes in their roles as mates, husbands, fathers and workers. It’s worth having a men’s weekend away to cover off some of the issues that we’d struggle to cover in a mixed gathering. Men’s prayer triplets have been a huge help in providing the support and accountability that Christian men sometimes lack.
3. I think it helps to have quality personal work with blokes worth watching
A bloke worth watching is not simply a bloke with promise for ministry. It also includes blokes who are likely to give up on the faith unless someone gives them some sustained personal attention and encouragement. But obviously it makes sense to identify the guys who will ‘take off’ with some training. They can multiply ministry in the congregation by replicating what you do. Give them a vision and a passion for men’s ministry and the ministry workforce has just increased by one. The way to do that is to disciple them in the faith through personal work. And so it’s worth looking through the church directory and working out whom to throw your weight behind.
4. I think it helps to give public prominence to male leaders.
Get blokes running things. Get them up front in church organising, leading, arranging and doing things. Don’t just leave it to the women. If that means encouraging some of these very able women to step back, then grasp that nettle. It’s often not as difficult as you might assume because most women want the men to get up off the sofa to provide some leadership. It’s sometimes harder to get the blokes to step up to the plate. But healthy churches will have servant hearted men leading sacrificially. And we need to provide them with opportunities to do that and encourage them to take them.
5. I think it helps to maintain a musical preference for songs with substance.
I love singing in church. But not all songs. Some of them make me want to curl up and die. And I’m a Christian and so I love Jesus. But I really struggle to sing some of the lyrics that we put in modern choruses. I don’t usually have the same issue with hymns. Sometimes our meetings can feel that someone has arranged them so that they resemble a romantic meal with Jesus. Soft emotive music plays to create a conducive atmosphere. There are long self reflective pregnant pauses where we’re presumably supposed to look longingly into his eyes. And then we even share a meal together at the Lord’s Supper. I know it’s an exaggeration. But I’m not entirely wrong, am I? All I’m saying is that we need to be careful that we’re not excluding men from our church meetings because we’ve feminised our meetings.
So there you go. Five things that might help churches to get blokes into church. I’m sure there’ll be a few comedy responses, so I’m looking forward to those.
P.S. ‘big love’ to any CCB creatives who happen to read this!