I’m sitting here as I type, wondering how in the world I, as a 25-year-old female research assistant, have any authority to admonish pastors and ministry leaders. But, when your pastor (and co-founder of 2ProphetU) asks you to do something, you say, “Yes, sir.” However, a conversation this afternoon in his office sparked this article, so maybe I can throw the blame back on him.
The church of the 21st century has seen many changes—seeker-friendly services, felt-needs messages, sermon podcasts, mainstream music included in the worship service, relaxed dress code, coffee bars in the atrium and a host of other trendy influences. However, one not so trendy change has been the fading of male leadership within the Body of Christ.
For a large majority of churches in America today, women outnumber men in worship services, prayer gatherings, mid-week Bible studies and service areas. Women are usually quick to step up to the plate, often dragging the male “leadership” behind them. A March 2000 Barna survey indicated that women are:
· 100% more likely to be involved in discipleship than men
· 57% more likely to participate in adult Sunday School
· 56% more likely to hold a leadership position in church
· 54% more likely to participate in a small group
· 39% more likely to have a quiet time
· 33% more likely to volunteer in church
· 29% more likely to read the Bible, and
· 29% more likely to attend church altogether. In fact, women make up 60% of the congregation on any given Sunday in America.
Many men complain of the emasculated church in today’s society. But, it’s hard to distinguish which came first: the absence of male leadership or the feminization of the church. I will be the first to agree that many of our church services are more suited to the emotional female than to today’s modern male. Nonetheless, we cannot cast all the blame on the pastor and worship leader while scores of men sit with their arms folded and allow women to charge ahead.
The truth that many men may not understand is that women crave their leadership. Yes, there are some women in our churches who walk down the halls singing Irvin Berlin’s Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better, but the majority long to see men stand up and be men. I sat in many Women’s Ministry classes at New Orleans seminary listening to Women’s Ministry leaders grapple with the quandary of declining male participation within church life. They begged for creative ways to get men involved in their local churches, but many were striving to no avail.
I do not think the answer to our dilemma is another program or activity or even a thriving Men’s Ministry. All these things can certainly enhance the spiritual maturity and involvement of the men in our pews, but they will only treat the symptoms without providing the cure. I’m sure it’s easier for men to continue floating along as usual. It’s always easier (and much more comfortable) to grow stagnate than it is to be refined. Please allow me to speak for thousands of women all across America for a moment. We need you. Often times, we as women will pick up the ball just for the sake of picking it up. However, we would much rather see you taking the lead in Bible study and prayer in the church and in our homes. We aren’t concerned with your getting in touch with your emotions or your feminine side. It’s your rugged, warrior spirit that attracts us, so don’t try to hide behind an effeminate veneer.
My prayer for men in the Body of Christ is that of David for his son Solomon. As David neared death, he urged Solomon:
“Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man. And keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn,” (1 Kings 2:2-3).
God has so uniquely crafted men and women to complement one another. Cast off the excuses and the cloak of passivity, and arm yourselves for battle. You have a charge to keep, a God to follow and a church to lead. We aren’t asking you to be anyone less than men of God. Please, stand up.
A charge to keep I have,
a God to glorify,
a never-dying soul to save,
and fit it for the sky.
To serve the present age,
my calling to fulfill;
O may it all my powers engage
to do my Master’s will!
Arm me with jealous care,
as in thy sight to live,
and O, thy servant, Lord, prepare
a strict account to give!
Help me to watch and pray,
and on thyself rely;
assured, if I my trust betray,
I shall forever die.
© 2006, Stephanie Thompson