Sometimes I end up walking through the mall with my wife. It’s one of the places we like to troll around, culture watch, and talk. Occasionally we’ll stop in a store, since, hey, we’re here. And sometimes the store smells like someone detonated a perfume bomb. Sometimes that store is Sephora. My wife likes to go in there. For me, there is some kind of invisible forcefield (powered by odor) that stops me from going in, so I just stand at the door and wait. Usually I talk to another guy who is also standing there. I’ve often wondered if Sephora could set up some kind of non-scented waiting lounge for me, so at least I could sit down while I waited.
I have the feeling church is like that for a number of guys. I talk to a lot more wives who are praying for their husbands to come to church than husbands who are praying for their wives (though I know some of both). I can’t speak for all guys, but after years of leading churches, sometimes churches still feel strange to me. I’ve walked up to churches where a complete stranger gave me a hug, and then I sang or listened to love songs to Jesus, and then I listened to a long talk aimed at self-improvement. None of these are decidedly feminine, they just didn’t make me feel like the place was made for me – somehow it was just made for someone else.
We started celebrating Father’s Day at our church a few years ago. And I mean like never before. The first couple of years we had a sports desk built on stage, and two guys in business suits narrated the whole service like sportscasters calling a game. There was comedy and sobriety, and though it was a risky and out-of-the box thing to do, there was great response. After that we decided to switch it up, and I think we hit on a winner. Father’s Day at our church is an annual BaconFest. We cook over 100 lbs. of bacon and give out bacon to every man, woman, and child who comes through the doors. I try specifically to speak into the lives of men, husbands, and fathers that day in a way that is relevant to everyone who either is or who knows a guy. And I think I can definitely say that when you walk in the door, we finally got the odor right.
Last year we celebrated the fact that two other churches we knew had picked up the idea and were celebrating with us. We called out a “hello!” to them in the podcast. Father’s day is June 19 this year. Hint, hint.
I want to post a few blogs on doing men’s ministry well. In a survey of over half a million worshippers in over 5,000 churches, results showed that the average U.S. congregation is around 39% male, despite the fact that the U.S. population is around 50% male (www.uscongregations.org/key.htm). That stinks worse than the mall. I want to suggest that there are a few things other than bacon that might get guys to church.
But the bacon is a good start…a very good start.