Wednesday, May 12, 2010

No Songs Please, We're Blokeish

Church Mouse has a snippet from a survey done by Sorted magazine, on mens attitudes to church. It finds that 2/3 of them feel uncomfortable in church (more than would feel uncomfortable in a lingerie shop: Thongs 2 Songs 1), and the most off putting thing is singing, which again 2/3 feel uncomfortable about.

The findings aren't too surprising, when I think about the response of the average wedding congregation to being asked to sing 'All things Bright and Beautiful'. Again. Most churches seem almost designed to put people off: big dark forbidding doors, no jolly signs outside, seating reminiscent of a Victorian classroom etc. You have to work quite hard to make it feel comfortable.

the trouble is that we know this but we don't do anything about it. I don't think the answer is to scrap singing, but there might be other ways of doing things. Another church in Somerset started up a pub group: short Bible passage and discussion questions on a laminated 'menu' card, pints round a table to talk about it, and prayer requests shared at the end. Speaking of pubs, and making men welcome, Banksyboy is worth a read.

We only have 1 recorded instance of Jesus and the disciples singing, the rest of the time they walk, talk, do things and go fishing. Each to their own. I'd rather visit a lingerie shop than go fishing. Which just goes to show that when it comes to men, you can't generalise. There's also a danger of portraying an ideal 'mans man' image - of which there's a hint in Sorted - which many men may feel they don't measure up to. Just as most women aren't Scarlett Johansson, most men aren't Bear Grylls. And that's ok.

Update: more discussion of this over at Tall Skinny Kiwi.


  1. It's interesting that they're so critical of church being a 'feminine' place, but the church is predominantly run by men, so what's going on there? I'm a woman and am just not into corporate singing so to say that not signing is a blokish thing is misleading, particularly when so many guys are very happy singing at a football match. It's about context.

    I think your point about the diversity of men is really important in this discussion. Instead of asking 'why are men missing from church?' I think it's more illuminating to ask 'what kind of men are missing from church?', along with 'what kind of women are missing?' as well. Women at home with small children, and older women who have followed a more traditional path find church a great place to be - there's lots that they can connect with. Women who work, or who juggle work and parenting, or who want to share life more equally with their partners, or who have positions of leadership and responsibility in the workplace but are expected to make the tea at church, can all find church alienating - that was my experience anyway.

  2. The men who read Sorted magazine are maybe missing from church. My husband goes to church but only reads Gardening magazines. Men I know who go to church (under 40's) read Computer magazines and watch the Gadget Show. This(Sorted) magazine is given free to the Armed Forces, so I think has a good chance of being read , and If one man turns to Christ because of it ,it has been worth it.
    My son(30) who doesn't attend church said recently that the old building /pews/hymns ambiance is beginning to appeal to him.(He works in a very busy M and S in the City of London). Conversely my atheist/unchurched son in law went to 'Cafe Church ' recently and thought it was great. Lets not get too hung up on pleasing people into a relationship with God. Just lets pray for our men to find Gods hand which is already stretched out to them in many sundry places.

  3. @Anonymous "Lets not get too hung up on pleasing people into a relationship with God."

    Agreed, but as we are all human, the environment and other factors are important. The medium is not simply a container for a message, it is actually a part of it. And our buildings, layout, language, worship style etc. are all part of it and convey messages that may be at odds with what we might otherwise want to say.
    Old buildings/pews/hymns may speak of God who is part of our history, and this may be what some people need to hear in order to be open to a relationahip with God. For others the cafe church or pub settings may speak of God who is present in our everyday experience and meets us there.

    "Just lets pray for our men to find Gods hand which is already stretched out to them in many sundry places."

    Amen. Amen.