Come on Men!
A couple of people have posted on the problem of the feminisation of the church recently. Jollyblogger has written a long article here and a follow up here, while Discoshaman, while reflecting on 5 years in the PCA, has written some interesting comments on feminisation in the charismatic churches.
These are written from an American perspective, but the UK is not insulated from the same problems. In summary of these two gentlemen there are three obvious symptoms, perhaps reflecting three stages of decay (?):
1) Liberal dying churches where the women are in the majority. They are doctinally ruined. This may mean >70% are women. Men are few and far between. I have had experience of this many times. I have found after such a service, some women coming up to me and telling me how wonderful it is to hear a man's voice sing. Now, I don't have a great singing voice or anything, but I can belt it out with the best of them! So I stand out. Most men have taken flight. Mothers bring the children. So the boys learn that church is for girls.
2) Loosely evangelical churches where there is a better balance of men and women. However the active people are the women. Men have simply stepped back from responsibility. As a result there are women place in inappropriate leadership roles. Women will even teach in church. The concept of pastoring is seen as a feminine thing, but is reduced to helping out with practical needs, listening to problems, but lacking the skill to apply biblical doctrine to real life. Women are only too willing to do this work. Men back out.
3) Evangelical churches with good strong teaching ministry, yet are concerned that men bond, share struggles etc. The strong emphasis on the relational however, is causing men difficulties. Some will like this, but frankly many are driven away by it. Here's Jollyblogger:
And, when the Christian faith is expressed in such sentimental and emotional terms, it will be a turn off to men. Along those lines, think of how it plays to men, when we call the Christian life a "love relationship with Jesus." That sure sounds something like a marriage relationship, but does this mean that I, as a man, am to have that kind of relationship with another man?
I have a lot of sympathy with this. And there is the problem: the Christian life is not a "love relationship with Jesus" but a covenant bond to God in Christ. If anyone asks, "What's that?" then at least you're asking the right question. It is the answer to this that needs to proclaimed from the pulpit week by week. What does it mean to be "in Christ"?
I once heard a preacher tell of how he had been to the Urbana conference in the US. He related how, when he was speaking, he had pressed the need for real "manly godliness". When the transcripts were published, for PC reasons they had changed "manly godliness" to "vigorous godliness".
But the preacher was right the first time.