Book Review: “Why Men Hate Going to Church”

I am a student of history. One of my top strengths is “context” (StrengthsFinder by Gallup–WELL WORTH your time). The most important lesson I gained in college from all of my history courses was this: Context is key–you need to know the hows/whys/whats of how we got to where we are so that you can ask “what now” and act wisely.

I am also a church leader. I have been in various leadership roles for the past ten+ years. I have seen churches grow and I’ve seen churches decline. There are many good books that I’ve read on the subject of how church should be done, but I have to say that David Murrow’s book “Why Men Hate Going to Church” has made the top ten list.

Mr. Murrow begins by giving a history of church dynamics and specifically looks at the role that men have played over the past few hundred years. It’s hard to argue with his facts: the church has become highly feminized, and it’s a cycle that will keep going until we make church a more “man friendly” environment. Ā His fascinating historical overview truly helps us see why we have such a mess today when it comes to the decline of a male presence in the church. He doesn’t discriminate between denominations–he acknowledges that they’ve all seen a decline and discusses why. But he does far more than just offer a commentary on the problem: he offers solutions based on research.

One example: he points out several phrases and terms that are NEVER found in the Bible, but we use them all the time to describe what it means to be a Christian. We’ve made it this almost romantic-sounding relationship (i.e. using words like intimate, personal relationship, etc.), when in reality the Gospel is a mission. We are God’s ambassadors, His agents in this world, and we are called to action. We are here for a purpose. Those are the types of things that get men fired up–not mushy worship/talk. Yet, because the churches are typically filled with more women than men, the messages have conformed to the gender-gap, and this isolates men even further.

For church-planters and pastors especially, chapter 13 alone is worth buying the whole book. As I read this chapter (as with many others), I was struck by the truth of his words in terms of how our Kingdom focus has changed so much with the feminine influence in the church. We’ve become far more focused on making church a “family” than a mission-control for the Kingdom work to which we are called. As such, pastors spend so much time dealing with internal conflicts rather than reaching out to our communities who are in need of the Word.

I know that many of my friends who are feminists will likely disagree with much of what this book says…but I have to agree. Changes need to be made, and we need to follow the biblical example that Jesus gave us during His earthly ministry. He reached out to 12 MEN primarily, because He knew that those men would become leaders that both men and women would follow. We need strong male leadership once again in our churches, and this book offers many suggestions that will change the course of your church forever.

This book is worth your time–and keep an open mind…it just might surprise you. šŸ™‚

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneezeĀ®.com <http://BookSneezeĀ®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissionā€™s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : ā€œGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.ā€

Three Years…

Just a few thoughts on this Monday morning…

Time seems to crawl so slowly as you are living day by day, but when you look back it is amazing how fast it seems to fly. This year marks ten years since high school graduation, nine years since my first summer in Williamsport, PA as a missionary, six years since college graduation, and three years of living in Pennsylvania.

Three years.

It truly feels like yesterday that I packed everything into my car and headed across the country with my mom, taking our time to enjoy the beauty of the United States. It doesn’t seem possible that it has been three years now.

In those three years, I have changedĀ SO much. I am still trying to figure out what “career” fits me best, but determined two years ago that politics are not for me. That’s a huge change from who I used to be.

I traveled to Haiti last May and was forever changed by the realities there…I will never look at wealth/poverty the same way again. I traveled to Brazil last May and my church planting philosophy was forever changed…I want to plant churches the way that Jesus did: by being missional, not attractional.Ā 

I’ve had one full-time job, two part-time jobs (at the same time), have been a temp and have been unemployed. Ā I’ve moved three times already (not including the move to PA) and will move again in September.

I’ve grown in my photography skills and have learned what I like to photograph and what I don’t enjoy.

I’ve established incredible friendships with godly, supportive, encouraging women here, unlike any friendships I’ve ever known. They have blessed my life in countless ways and have helped me grow through challenges.

And, perhaps the most obvious change:Ā I am married. Eight months after moving across the country, following God’s calling, I met my now husband. How amazing our God is–that when we follow His call and live according to His Will, He blesses us more richly than we could ever imagine! We have grown so much as a couple in the past nine months of marriage, and I am SO excited about the growth to come! Brennan is my greatest support, my best-friend, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Pennsylvania is my mission field. This is where God has called me to serve Him and to build His Kingdom. I came here with only that purpose in mind, a purpose from which I have strayed in the past year. I’ve allowed life to become “too busy” and realized recently that I need to constantly remind myself that I am here to help plant churches, to proclaim Jesus in every aspect of my life, and to bring glory to Him and Him alone through my actions/activities. Everything elseĀ needs to takeĀ second place to my mission here, now “our” mission here.

Three years…and what a fabulous journey these years have been.

Living with Intentionality…

2011 is our year of living with intentionality…

I have set many personal goals for the year (NOT “resolutions”), and many of them tie in with Proverbs 31. Yes, like many, I am also going to focus on being more in shape this year, but that’s because I’m walking 60 miles in three days in October, and must train in order to survive! More importantly, I am striving to be the best wife to Brennan that I can be…to love him like he deserves to be loved. šŸ™‚ Because I’m an organized person, I needed to map out what that would look like in terms of goals. So, I made a list, and I am working hard to become more Christ-like in everything I do, especially when it comes to my husband.

As a couple, we also set a few goals…

We are being very intentional about spending time with certain friends and family members, recognizing that in the past year we often let months go by without seeing them. This also includes an intentionality of time together as a couple, because we recognize the need to continually invest in our marriage.

We are being very intentional about living frugally, in an effort to be debt-free. As of now, we will be debt-free as of September 2012 at the latest, and we are running toward that goal with “gazelle intensity”, as Dave Ramsey says. šŸ™‚ This is playing out in our lives in different ways: budgeting every dollar (like Dave Ramsey says to do), seeking extra income, planning out meals and using programs such as the Angel Food Ministry to save on groceries (and COUPONS!), and making little sacrifices along the way (“Live like no one else so that later you can live like no one else!” –Dave Ramsey) because we recognize that being debt-free is a far better achievement than the things we might choose to spend money on now.Ā  Once we are debt-free, we will hopefully buy a home and start a family. That’s our plan, but God may have other plans, and that’s okay, too!

We are being intentional about serving others and serving our community. I am still the “Community Project Coordinator” for our church(es), but that’s the only church responsibility I hold now (after stepping down from worship team for a MUCH needed break after doing it every Sunday for two years–plus practice every Saturday morning). This will allow me to spend more time seeking projects to benefit our neighbors and to demonstrate the Kingdom of God in Harrisburg, PA. We are still involved in a church plant (The Well at East Shore), and are praying about becoming involved in another one later this year. Wherever God leads…

We have really simplified our lives, cutting out things (even “good things”, like church activities) that were making us “busy”, and that were keeping us from clear ministry opportunities that God was putting in our lives. There are people in our livesĀ that desperately need the love of Jesus, and we were too busy to notice until now. So, now we are being intentional (there’s that word again! šŸ™‚ ) about investing in those people…

2011 is going to be a great year…and we are open to whatever God brings our way!

*Side note on the Angel Food Ministry program: they offer amazing deals on food that is perfectly good–not expired or bad quality, as some assume–and it’s open to anyone of any income! We ordered two boxes of food/fruits/vegetables for a total of $68, and one lady figured out that the $41 box is worth $120! I figured out that the fruit/veggie box ($23) is worth close to $50! Best part is that once I sat down and created a menu for the month of February using the food in the boxes, I was able to get 15 meals out of all that food (for two people), with only having to buy a few items at the store to supplement the meals. We are SO excited to be living frugally, supportingĀ  a ministry, AND still eating good, healthy meals in the process!