Thursday, July 24, 2008
A manly man's church!
Many have lamented the lack of men in the church. Look around in most evangelical churches and you see tons of women, and not many men. The men that are there often look like they were dragged against their will. So what is the church to do? According to USA Today, one church in (of course) Grapevine, Texas 121 Community Church has started to make the church more "manly"
One church, 121 Community Church in Grapevine, Texas, outside Dallas, was even designed with dudes in mind, from the worship center's stone floor, hunter-green and amber decor and rustic-beam ceilings to woodsy scenes on the church website.
No pastels. No flowers. No sweet music. No sit-with-your-hands-folded mood. Women are welcome, but the tone is intentionally "guy church" for a reason, says Ross Sawyers, founder and pastor of 121.
"I have read that if a child comes to Christ, 12% of the time the whole family will follow," Sawyers says.
"If the mom comes, there's a 15% chance the family will. But if the man comes to church, 90% of the time the family will come along behind.
"That's the reality, and that's why we do this."
I get what they are trying to do, I really do. That church building sounds cool, and I dislike flowery stuff in church. But that caters to the natural man in me that seeks what the natural man finds appealing, and a life of submission and sacrifice ain't it. There needs to be more men in the church, more husbands and fathers leading their family in worship and serving in the church. But this is not calling men to a life of service for their Savior, it is yet another way of peddling the Gospel and confusing evangelism with marketing. It is easy to cater to sinners, it is harder to call in the sheep. Only the Word of God is up to that task.
Why do so few churches have a Biblical model of elder rule? Because they have so few men that are eligible. Either they have no elders, which is wrong, or they appoint men who are unqualified just so they can say they have elders, which is also wrong. We need more men! But this is the wrong way to bring in men, because it is not reflective of the Biblical pattern of manliness. For a great blog post on this very topic, check out Grow Up. Be a Man. at Team Pyro.
There are lots of people who see what is wrong in the church, and lots of extreme ways to try to fix it by our own wisdom that often go bad. The house church movement is full of devoted Christians, but I think it is wrong to abandon the "steeple house" as unredeemable. Great men of God ministered to sinners in "steeple houses", men like Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Calvin, Martin Luther. They ministered where God's people were and ministered in a way that showed the unbeliever Christ and Him crucified by the preaching of the Word. Others try to make the church more appealing, whether in this sort of misguided effort of making "masculine" churches or in passing out lattes. When the focus is off Christ and becomes an effort to market to sinners, the Gospel suffers. So what is the church to do to call men to Christ? How about calling them the way men were called by Him. On his radio show today (where I first heard about this article in USA Today), Paul Edwards listed the three ways that Christ called men to Himself:
1) By proclaiming bold truths
2) By preaching long, doctrinally deep sermons
3) By risking His life and calling others to do the same
If the church will do as the Savior did, we will see men who love to come to church because they love Christ, not because the find church manly. Then and only then will we have a healthy, Biblical balance in the church where the men serve and lead, and where women don't have to because the men are nowhere to be found.
I love sports. I love to hunt. I am not much of an angler but I know how to fish. I drive a pick-up truck. But those are not what make me a man. Often what makes a man a true Christian man are the things I have done most poorly. But what I need to strive for is not to belch more and eat more red meat, but to honor God by loving my wife and my children as Christ loves the church.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV)