Friday, January 29, 2010

Churches Becoming Too Feminine


Real Men Find Church Too Girly

Ruth Gledhill
Times Online
January 27, 2010

Real men don't like going to church because they don't want to "sing love songs to a man", because the "vicar wears a dress", because they feel like "mongrels on parade at Crufts" and because they want to be waited on by women rather than queue for coffee after the service.

A number of distinctly non-pc ways to get men back into church are among those being advocated by a charity, Christian Vision for Men, which has discovered that the Church has lost nearly half of its men aged under 30 because it has become too feminine.

The charity admits some of its ideas might not be seen as politically correct.

But on a questionnaire on its website aimed at finding out why so many men have left church, they suggest a number of ways of making men want to return to church again.

These include redesigning the interiors of church buildings to make men feel more at home.

Instead of the usual flowers and statues of the Virgin Mary, they suggest, "How would it go down to decorate with swords, or pictures of knights, or flaming torches?"

The charity continues: "Maybe it's not 'politically correct', but men quite like the attention of women! They also like to be waited on - so long as they are not made to feel guilty. Instead of having to queue for coffee, why not ask some of the women to go round with trays of coffee and biscuits or chocky bars? Coupled with a charming smile, many men would find that very attractive!"

Then there are the hymns, or modern worship songs, themselves.

Quite apart from the sheer embarrassment of having to sing out loud when the tune might go too high or be in an unfamiliar key, the charity advises clergy just to look at the words.

"Jesus, I am so in love with you," or "Beautiful one I love, beautiful one I adore," - many men wouldn't sing that to their wives, let alone another man, the charity advises.

It continues: "The image of church is 'women and children' - action songs or kid's plays just emphasise this. The decoration is often very feminine - flowers, embroidered banners. The vicar often wears a dress... It can be embarrassing to be next to someone in uninhibited delight of worship, or in tears."

Men don't want to feel brainwashed by reciting words that they don't believe: "The language can be offputting, even the word 'love' has undertones of the love of a man for his woman - they'd rather 'admire' or 'respect' another man. Think how they will respond if called to be Jesus's lover, or to be 'intimate' with him. Don't play into Satan's hands by using language that he has corrupted."

Among the changes recommended by Christian Vision for Men, a member of the Evangelical Alliance, is to use the World Cup to boost falling congregations. The charity wants vicars to erect big screens above the pulpit during this summer’s World Cup in South Africa and even serve beer during games.

Carl Beech, General Director of the CVM and Baptist Minister, said: “The World Cup is when pretty much every bloke in the country bonds over a common goal.

“Why can that not be done in a church? The decline has been steady for a while but has accelerated over recent years.

“The problem has become male culture versus church culture. Too many sermons talk about Jesus’ love, compassion and grace which are great but not male concepts. Men want to know about his great decision making and leadership. That is what they recognise. Churches are very pastorally driven whereas blokes are looking for decisions not discussions. The breakdown in most churches is now 70 per cent women to 30 per cent men.”

The charity, which also recommends subjects as "pornography" are discussed in church men's groups, has also launched two Christian-themed men’s magazines in a further bid to lock into male culture.

Bishop of Lewes Wallace Benn admitted there was a problem. “The relatively small number of men in our congregations is one of the pressing issues facing the church today.

“Within our Christian concern for all ages, both sexes and every ethnic group, we need to address reaching men with the good news of the Gospel as a key concern.”

The Church of England have tried to address the slump in the last five years by encouraging services to be held in alternative venues such as skate parks, coffee shops and pubs under their "Fresh Expressions" scheme.

A spokesman said: “It is of concern. We do know there appears to be a higher proportion of women to men in church."

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