Men, Ministry, and Sephora

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 never359.jpg 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.

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5 thoughts on “Men, Ministry, and Sephora

  1. Personally, I wonder if the issue with men belies a deeper issue with our whole approach to church. Jesus says deny yourself (including your sex/gender) & take up your cross. Then we turn around & tailor church to men, women, age groups, interests, etc. In short, anything about my self (that Jesus said deny) the church designs a program around to make church more appealing. That said, I know God made us who we are, & there is value in connecting with each other around commonalities. I just also wonder if we preach the cross enough. I mean, what is more manly than that? 😉

  2. My 2¢…

    If the church wants to do a better job of embracing men, then it must do a better job of embracing masculinity. So much of our culture today denounces masculine traits and behaviors as bad, unenlightened, or just plain wrong. It’s as if to say that the traits God imparted us with are somehow sinful, violence-fueled acts of micro-aggression, aimed at making women’s lives miserable (at least that’s how my wife puts it).

    But I digress…

    Here are some ways I think we can put some masculinity back into church:

    •Provide classes on carpentry, woodworking, welding, or anything else that helps a man to use his hands to create something. (no computers, or app building)
    •Provide space for and/or facilitate sports league-type programs (slow pitch softball comes to mind)
    •Provide mountain-top experiences. Some can be retreat-center based, some could be actual hikes to mountain tops.
    •Provide a venue (classes, speakers, etc) about how to be a masculine Christian man. Not just a “good Christian”. As it talks about in “Wild At Heart”, the church seems to be in the business of producing “nice guys.” We all know where nice guys finish.
    •Facilitate firearm safety classes, unarmed defence classes, and other ways to equip men to protect their families.
    •Provide resources (books, blogs, classes, etc) to help men become better communicators, leaders, workers, and lovers.
    •Provide a venue where men can talk about their sin in a non-judgemental way. Masculine sin (especially lust and other sexual sins) are labeled as somehow being worse than feminine sins (gossip, triviality, disrespect of boundaries, passivity, etc.) and this can cause many men to retreat when it comes to the challenge of confession and “iron sharpening iron”.
    •And since a lot of men have visions of grandeur when it comes to their careers/businesses, it would be cool to have successful Christian businessmen give talks, provide group discussions, teach classes on being a successful Christian businessman.
    •Empower men to be heroes at home. Ideas include providing childcare for all men’s ministry events (giving mom a break, while dad gets to hang with the guys), create some sort of “shared work” program; Men who like to do things with their hands can sign up to be a part of a team that help other men in the church get small jobs done around the house, or even hold classes that teach what a man needs from his wife. I know that last one seems to be a taboo in today’s modern church, but sometimes a guy just needs some lovin’, a cold beer, and an hour to feel like he’s worth his wife’s affection and respect.

    Well, apparently I had a lot to say on this subject…

    Thanks for the original post, though. I’m glad the subject has been breached!

      1. Thanks Jim. This is actually an area I’m very passionate about. In fact, my mind hasn’t been able to stop wandering back to the subject for the last 24 hours. I’m definitely willing to help make any of this happen, and I know a few guys who would love the same.

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