Getting Blokes into Church

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!

23 thoughts on “Getting Blokes into Church

  1. Phil C May 25, 2010 / 3:45 pm

    Who’s in charge makes a big difference. Look at Mark Driscoll: I’m sure guys flock to his church because of him more than anything else.

    Challenging men and encouraging them to take responsibility is attractive as well – even if that means calling them overgrown adolescents and metrosexuals!

  2. John Lumgair May 25, 2010 / 6:14 pm

    We should stop putting estrogen in the coffee at the back of church!

    On the “creative” comment – most creative industries are completely male dominated!

  3. sarah s May 25, 2010 / 10:43 pm

    I would love to do more sporty stuff. I think between the men and women we could at least work up a mixed side for hockey! so why not do sport? but do include us girls!

  4. Guy June 1, 2010 / 1:53 pm

    Sarah – men playing against women is a lose-lose situation, sadly.

    If you win, you get no congratulations for beating girls.

    If you lose … oi vey …

    Disclaimer: This view is not reflective of Christ Church Balham, the Co-Mission or the universal church at large.

    • sarah s June 3, 2010 / 11:10 pm

      good news guy, mixed hockey means you play with women rather than against them. you try to beat the opposition which also contains men and women.

      other sporty options include:
      5 aside football
      ultimate frisebee
      start a crocker friendlies

      If you don’t want to get a sports team going. what about the watching sport angle? o why not do something round the world cup? how many men from church are planning to watch at least one game? Or other big sporting event?

      Interesting point-what is real man? Is what they do, what they look like or the charactertistics they have? so far it’s all about what they do while the bible emphasis character.

      • Phil C June 4, 2010 / 1:16 pm

        Sarah, I can’t speak with much authority on this topic, but I’m not sure contact sports work well with mixed teams…frisbee is great though!

  5. Lauri June 1, 2010 / 3:48 pm

    Perks what is a bloke? What is a Man? I think would be helpful in answering the question more robustly. I mean I guess nether danglers are part of it but there must be more? So I am looking forward to a good post about that if you find the time.

    Phil I think I disagree with you. There is nothing challenging about calling somebody an overgrown adolescent or a metrosexual. Neither does it challenge anybody. In this case its badly applied typology/stereotyping, it is mildly degrading and not very encouraging. It also demeans the DIY-sporty transpirers who have good taste in clothing, music and lest we forget, spot cream (I count myself amongst these). But since it was said in love it must be ok.

    It sort of reminds me of some of the humour used to keep people in ‘check’ in the ‘locker room’. Sometimes its funny but if it becomes endemic to man-lines, which it has to some extent in parts of the UK, it takes on an acidic form, becoming soul sapping and at times (and I am not saying it has here) betrays weakness and fear in the one using the humour to keep people in their place.

    By the way Perks, Estrogen is found in an American English dictionary, while Oestrogen in the British English one. As with most versions I find the American spelling less cumbersome and so encourage John in his usage of it. We rely too much on our Greek/Latin and French roots over here.

    • Phil C June 3, 2010 / 12:45 pm

      Lauri – yes, I should have been a bit more careful to explain my comment. I think men like to be challenged, and like to be encouraged to take responsibility, because we understand them to be positive things – there’s something about men that means that (as a general rule) we respond to that. Being called metrosexual can’t really be said to be part of that, but it is challenging and necessary to point out that many of us are living, in part, as overgrown adolescents. There may be better and more constructive ways to put it but I agree with the general sentiment.

      As to the spelling of oestrogen, our roots are reflected in our culture, and that includes how we spell words. American spellings are less cumbersome than British spellings, but so are plastic chairs compared with well-used armchairs.

      • John Lumgair June 3, 2010 / 5:35 pm

        since my comment I’ve had a few thoughts:

        1) Church spreads by personal contact. Most people you know are through work. In my experience churches are full of people in “caring professions” ie teachers, nurses which tend to be female dominated. May be we need to encourage people in to male dominated careers like building, IT (or animation)

        2) We promote events by handing out fliers – what self respecting man picks up leaflets?

        3) In most churches Christmas is the biggest push for people who don’t go to church- I think Christmas isn’t very manly!

        4) Atheism finds it hard to attract women they have the reverse problem – not sure why.

        5) It’s of some benefit asking sociological questions, but we mustn’t loose sight of God choosing. Perhaps he likes women more than men.

        6) On the (O)estrogen question
        It is wonderful seeing history in language eg. “Beef” is Norman, “Cow” is Saxon. But isn’t it also good the language evolved eg. we no longer have multiple cases!

        In the end little Englanders can fight our American Friends but in the end American (Californian) English will win. It’s now the standard being taught around the world and British English merely the variant. Firefox agreed with my phonetic spelling, and I’m sure Microsoft and Apple would too.

      • Lauri Moyle June 3, 2010 / 5:56 pm

        I agree. A good challenge is a good challenge. I just don’t feel this was a good challenge, but neither was it meant to be. Targets, goals, direction AND knowing what Manhood looks like will help in creating an environment where men are challenged. I need help knowing what it looks like to be a man. Calling somebody an overgrown adolescent is all well and good, but what does it look like to be a man. To this end I started a facebook group about it. Sadly the contributions have been pretty slim. I have a film that deals with the question if your interested. Have not seen it but comes recomended from my Father. Its called Lars and the real girl and is about Lars and his doll-girldfriend. (You know, the sex doll verity they like somemuch in Japan)

        I laughed your analogy. It was good. It is true. America does produce some plastic junk, junk which I know you know I would not want in my own house. But the analogy I think is flawed. The cumbersome nature of an armchair is a merit. Its justification is comfort. The oedipal ‘o’ at the head of oestrogen is rather harder to justify. The point being that it was not the fact that the spelling was American which made estrogen right, but rather that right spelling (which I am notoriously bad at myself) derives its nature from something other than origin. Here making a word less combersom. Like for example the use of the word web to discribe WWW. Saying World Wide Web actually takes less time than saying WWW because the full name has less silables. Try it.

      • Phil C June 3, 2010 / 9:00 pm

        On spelling, you should Google GK Chesterton’s essay on phonetic spelling!

        Lars and the Real Girl is great, by the way. I might do it for a film night.

  6. Tom Stanbury June 2, 2010 / 11:14 am

    As a single guy comfortably into his 30’s. It is hard not to live the prolonged adolescence lifestyle, I think this is because it is easy to end up not being accountable or committed to anyone or anything.
    Marriage and children give obvious responsibilities and commitments which is why they are so good for men, churches and society.

    I think the 5 headings particularly apply to retaining. So most imply you have got the fella to church. And we can each play a role in the retaining.
    I am not successful in recruiting mostly it is my lack of boldness. Only last Tuesday over a dinner I had a you’re trying to convert us conversation with guys I play football with. I had to agree I was but did point out they brought up the subject. I decide to listen a lot of the gripe was they don’t like being sold to.

    In respect of the creatives I have benefited massively from their in put in my own life. Creative thought/design isn’t my natural arena. The gardening that I am starting to enjoy is my output for creative expression! If pulling up weeds, cutting things back and watching things grow counts as creative expresssion.
    I can’t but admire the talent of our musicians. I would argue we have the most godly and gifted bunch in London.

    I have reached the conclusion that the modern beauty regime of men shaving was the the first mass metrosexual act of of beauty care. Why do men shave every day? Other than to make themselves look younger and beautify themselves.

  7. Pete Matthew June 2, 2010 / 1:13 pm

    And yet Tom you manage to look young and beautiful even when you don’t shave!!!

  8. Tom Stanbury June 2, 2010 / 6:17 pm

    Pete, but have actually realised a beard doesn’t mean one is less vain. Potentially there is less preening going on with the straight forward every day shave.

    • Lauri Moyle June 3, 2010 / 6:01 pm

      Indeed and act of (a)esthetics! I love your point about shaving being a metrosexual act. It is an act of Aesthetics. I tend to get uncomfortable (and you are not saying this) when having high aesthetic standards (subjective or objective it doesnt matter) is linked to vanity. A care for beauty is not vanity (and again, you are not saying that it is but rightly pointing out that there is a danger and that beauty attracts vanity.)

  9. Ros June 5, 2010 / 2:59 pm

    Perks, you’re famous! The Church of England newspaper featured this post in their round-up of the blogs yesterday.

    • theurbanpastor June 5, 2010 / 8:34 pm

      you know the scene better than me – is that a good thing?!
      perhaps i need to be more circumspect about what I say if others are going to bother taking it seriously!

  10. Lauri June 11, 2010 / 9:08 am

    As if others don’t.

  11. sarah s July 17, 2010 / 5:16 pm

    the secret to man church is chat, coffee and donughts. mmmm. and an very early start!

  12. Les Seager December 30, 2012 / 1:51 pm

    I’m a man that loves walking and climbing, I am also a counsellor and Play Therapist. I agree that man need to learn to be man and real man do not just ‘sweet’ real man not how to be intimate and know hoe to look into the eyes of Jesus in an intimate and loving way, until this happens they are only a shadow of who they really are. Les

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