Sunday, October 14, 2007

Church for Men?

A recent Commentator asked what advice I had for getting men back into church life. I did't have much advice (Peter at With a Grain of Salt might have more), but I googled "men in the church" and found David Murrow's companion site to his book "Why Men Hate Going to Church" called "Church for Men". There they have this image:

It is a good image of many protestant congregations. It would be a good image of the Catholic Church in the West too, but for "Men's Ministry" we should replace "Men Ministers", ie. the Clergy.

"Church for Men" proposes a "new model" which--surprise, surprise--looks like this:

Again, this would be a great model for the Catholic Church too (with the slight modification that some of the male figures in the circle would have little white collars on them!)


At Sunday, October 14, 2007 5:16:00 pm , Blogger Athanasius said...

Hmmmm, David, I don't know. That pink circle looks a little too... "lady-like". If we make it a nice neutral green I'd feel a lot more comfortable.

Seriously, I remember reading somewhere recently (I can't remember where) that the target audience of the average Sunday sermon is a 50-year-old woman.
Based on personal experience, I'd agree. Maybe priests imagine that they are preaching to their mothers.

But that just underlines the fact that we can't afford to reduce ministry to the Sunday Mass. We need more complex and rich opportunities to reach different kinds of people.

Some of the married ministries attempt to meet such needs, but I still think that men need their own space and their own kind of message and language. This is one area we Catholics don't do well.

I wonder if the new diaconate could have a role to play here?

At Sunday, October 14, 2007 6:33:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

"Seriously, I remember reading somewhere recently (I can't remember where) that the target audience of the average Sunday sermon is a 50-year-old woman.
Based on personal experience, I'd agree. Maybe priests imagine that they are preaching to their mothers."

I think you mean 'sisters'. Or possibly even 'nieces'.

At Sunday, October 14, 2007 7:46:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Maybe priests imagine that they are preaching to their mothers.
I laughed out loud when I read this, Anthanasius. Too true, too true. And yes, Peregrinus, you might be even closer to the mark.

I think you might be right about the Diaconate in this regard. Although it won't be a miracle cure. Remember that Anglican's have had married male clergy for centuries. It will depend on how the deacons conduct their ministry and model Christian life.

At Sunday, October 14, 2007 7:50:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Got elders yet?

(And David, watch your plurals -- no apostrophes)

At Sunday, October 14, 2007 10:23:00 pm , Blogger Athanasius said...

Peregrinus said I think you mean 'sisters'. Or possibly even 'nieces'.


At Monday, October 15, 2007 1:50:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok: serious diagnosis.

Roll back to V2. 1960s. Do we really believe in a priesthood? Do we really believe in a male priesthood? What of those relgious who wanted to have a "ministry". Easy: introduce laity, increase their role, make them quasi-clerical. Make them sound like, look like priests. Or, better still, make priests, look like and sound like laity. In dress, in manners, in speech, in action.

So, judging from most parishes, we don't be believe in a priesthood anymore and we don't believe in Mass and understand what happens at it.

That's why our congregations are usually only marginally different from protestant ones.

Not to mention, that the way Mass is celebrated in most places, it could only possibily attract women. There is very little about Mass that is "manly" in most places (look at the hymns, the music, the dress, the role people play, the sentiment (and sentimentality). No wonder there are few men. And fewer youngsters.

At Monday, October 15, 2007 5:57:00 pm , Blogger Peter said...

Thank you David, you prompted me to post on this topic. I had been meaning to do so for some time.

I am preparing material for a unit titled "The Genius of Man" (meant to be a parallel for the whole "Genius of Woman" genre) which will be offered as a unit in the second half of 2008. I have a lot more work to do on it, but I am keenly interested in comments and recommendandations of resources.


At Tuesday, October 16, 2007 2:01:00 am , Blogger Louie Mercer, Frank Mercer and Mike Ellis: The Church for Men Dudes said...

Please check out what we are doing in Daytona Beach, Florida to reach men.

At Tuesday, October 16, 2007 2:44:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

The new political correctness is to denounce political correctness.

At the risk of being accused of not being politically correct (in the new sense), could I suggest that disparity in male and female attendance rates may not, in fact, have all that much to do with men’s self-identity, how they are treated in church, etc, etc?

According to the National Church Life Survey, attendance rates for men, and for women who are working full-time, are pretty much the same.

And down below there’s a discussion going about a graph that David produced showing (among other things) that church attendance is markedly higher among the over 65s. Some of the discussion focusses on the issue of which cohort of the population came of age in the 1960s, but are we ignoring a glaringly obvious point? The over-65s are mostly retired.

Could it be that church participation is more closely correlated with employment status than with gender?

There could be a couple of factors at work here:

- In our consumerist, materialist society we tend to see going to church as a lesser priority, because it does not involve either production or consumption. We’ll do it if we have time left over, so to speak, from the production and consumption that we have to do. Women who are not in the paid workforce can organise their time more flexibly and more efficiently (and women are probably better at this than men anyway) and so are better at making space to go to church. Something similar is happening with the retired people.

- Church participation and employment function as alternative (and therefore competing) mechanisms for providing a degree of socialization and social networks outside the immediate family. Therefore some women go to church, in part, to meet a need which some men meet by going to work. David suggest that this may account for the attendances by the over-65s; could it also account for higher attendances by women?

These are just ideas; they could be quite wrong. But the idea that this has all to do with how men feel about themselves as men, as against how the church treats them or presents itself to them, seems to me at this point nothing more than a speculation, whose only advantage is that it conforms to the new political correctness.

At Thursday, October 18, 2007 8:42:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

They are interesting ideas, Peregrinus. However, Philip Hughes discounts that retirement age has to do with the jump in attendance, as he says that this "spike" has been moving up the scale for some time (apparently, ten years ago, the spike was happened at 55 years of age).

But there is still likely something in what you say--as certainly the Sunday morning "sleep in" becomes important to the person who has to be up at 6:30am every other day.


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