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Jan 03, 2007

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Quotidian Grace

So Mike, got your bongos yet?

will spotts

This article (and the PNS version of the same story), both focus on particular aspects - here 'drums' are emphasized (and irreverant worship). In the PNS story, the multi-racial aspect is emphasized and worship is characterized as joyful.

Another data point stands out here - which is the ratio of active men in the congregation. I'm wondering what the reasons are for this correlation (if it can be called that). I mention it because the large majority of our (PCUSA) churches suffer chronic shortages of men - men may be on the membership roles but are usually far less active participants than women.

Michael W. Kruse

"So Mike, got your bongos yet?"

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum

Somehow I am guessing those weren't the drums they had in mind. I will admit, though, we do attend the contemporary service, which does include drums.

Michael W. Kruse

Good observations, Will. I thought the "irreverent" description was a bit odd and that really didn't reveal why the drums made a difference, doesn't really help much unless you know why.

Our Church (aprox. 200 worship attendance and growing) is right at 50-50. In fact, I think we have more men in study groups than women. In our case I think it is largely pastoral leadership and intentionality.

Culturally, I think women are socialized to more naturally form networks and groups. Men often need a little more coaching and encouragement.

Do you have an thoughts on how to engage men better?

RPS

I just KNEW there was a reason I had that unconscious desire last year when I ordered my Djembe's from Sageman drums in California!

(And Q.G. -- Conga's are in -- Bongo's have become WAY passe'!)
RPS

Michael Kruse

You crack me up Roger.

Quotidian Grace

Darn, Roger! That explains the sparse attendance at our contemporary service. Memo to self: gotta get congos for the guys.

will spotts

"Do you have an thoughts on how to engage men better?"

That is a very good question - and one I have no immediate answer for. It sounds as though your congregation has done something that works . . ..

While this is a very interesting (and I suspect important) topic, there are at least three significant obstacles in approaching it.

1 It is hard to speak of gender differences without lapsing into stereotypes that are at best grossly imprecise and inaccurate - and certainly don't hold true in all cases.

2. While there are clearly gender differences that go beyond reproduction that are not culturally derived, there isn't really good data as to which is which. And, it doesn't entirely matter - as cultural obstacles are still obstacles.

3. There is a limit to what can be altered in our approaches while remaining faithful to Christianity.

As one without good data, I tend toward the naive interpretation that presenting all of Christianity is the best solution. There is a tendency to either feminize or masculinize Christianity (according to cultural trends of the time and place) - that ignores large portions of the truth. Currently we are erring on the side of feminizing, but the reverse is also a problem.

But . . . it may just be that men tend to like drums . . .

Michael Kruse

"But . . . it may just be that men tend to like drums . . ."

LOL

This article seems to make the assumption that the worship service itself (and what goes on there) is the central factor in whether or not men become involved. I don't really care for our congregations traditional service and I find the contemporary service "okay." My connection is with the small group I am in and the relationships I have. The worship service is almost a secondary consideration.

I suspect that there is a correlation but not nescesarily a causation concerning drums and men in worship. I suspect that churches who incorporate drums have figured out some deeper core issues that led them to incorporate the drums.

will spotts

"This article seems to make the assumption that the worship service itself (and what goes on there) is the central factor in whether or not men become involved."

I cannot generalize from myself - I'm not particularly normal (grin). But for me this is almost a complete non-issue. The only times it concerns me are when there is some question as to who is being worshiped. It seems to me that when there are real problems - either in how we treat one another or in basic beliefs - that the first reaction is to try to change our packaging. A novel worship style won't address these issues.

(I tend to suspect that many people could not articulate the belief issue - but they are aware when their beliefs are in conflict with what is being proclaimed, even when the wording is similar. It leaves a feeling that something is not quite right, or a sense of 'why bother?' People are very aware and able to articulate when there are incidents that involve bad treatment of others. This, more than the generic 'division' or 'conflict', seems to me to be a governing factor. And how many of us cannot point to instances in our own churches where people have treated one another badly?)

Neither of these explain a gender differential or address how to get people back, but I tend to suspect that the worship style is relatively minor comparatively.

Maybe you are right about this: "I suspect that churches who incorporate drums have figured out some deeper core issues that led them to incorporate the drums." Though I'm at a loss to identify the core issues concerned.

David M. Smith

As someone who believes most Churches have become waaaaay too feminine, this article makes me very sad. Apparently, the solution to the over-emotionalized feminine service is the over-emotionalized male service. Very sad!

If Churches want mature men to be active members, Churches need to emphasize mature reasoning and mature reverence for what God considers sacred.

As Will mentioned, any generalization will have exceptions, but it seems to me that most men form relationships in order to accomplish goals and most women plan activities in order to form relationships.

When I hear a sermon that includes the word “relationship” more than the word “sin” or the word “sacrifice”, I know I am listening to a sermon my wife will tell me how much she enjoyed and I know I am listening to a sermon without any real Christian meat.

My wife loves Church nowadays; I am getting sick of the salads.

Michael Kruse

David, some of the survey stuides I have seen in the past have suggested that men in the aggregate are more tuned in to the content and substance of the sermon than women in the aggregate are. I am not sure that churches have become all that more feminized but I thinking the content is often just weak. (not feminine vs. masculine, just weak) That seems to have a disproportionate impact on men in our culture (be it nature, nurture, or some combination of the two.)

I personally have a low tolerance of platitudinal, idealistic, or vague preaching. I will also say that among men and women I have heard preach I don't sense any gender difference between preachers on this issue. There are good and bad in both.

David M. Smith

Hi Michael,

I agree with you; the gender doing the preaching has very little to do with the gender being preached. But I do think the gender being preached leans female and I think there is a very rational explanation for why most sermons sound feminine. Men who become Pastors are, for the most part, more relational and more expressive than the average man. I’m not saying they are less of a man, just that they are more likely to use both sides of their grey matter than the average man, hence, a more feminine sounding presentation.

Perhaps this has always been true or perhaps the importance of a good sounding sermon in modern times has made the “relational” pastor more likely. Perhaps a better model would be a husband and wife team or a man and woman team that are able to express concepts in terms that are understandable to members of both genders.

I also agree with you about the weakness of sermons in general, but I don’t hear very many women calling for stronger sermons and I do hear a lot of men wishing the teaching was more engaging.

I also know men who follow their wives to Church and just grin and bear if for the sake of their family.

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