Look at the following chart and think to yourself which set of attributes best describes Jesus and His disciples. The left column "A" and the right column is "B."
I obviously don't know which set you said best describes Christ and His early followers, but I do know that over 90% of the time, Set B is chosen (the title of this particular post may have shown my hand a little bit).
But it gets interesting.
This test is actually taken from the book Why Men Hate Going to Church (p. 7), but the chart itself is taken from Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Guess which set of common characteristics were connected to women...yeah, the same set that people usually connect to Jesus and the disciples.
The conclusion, then, is as Why Men author David Murrow puts it, "Most people think of Christ as having the values that come naturally to a woman," (p. 7).
Netresults.org contributor Dr. Woody Davis conducted a more scientific study, setting up focus groups to discover the key themes of the Christian faith. According to the report, "The ten most mentioned responses all came from American culture's feminine set, including such themes as support, nurture, humility, and dependence," (Woody L. Davis, "Evangelizing the Pre-Christian Male," Net Results June 2001).
What does this say about today's Christianity (especially in America)? Well, frankly, it says a lot.
The big idea is that it gives the impression that churches should be made up of softies. Church-going people are supposed to tip-toe around everyone's feelings so that they don't break any eggshells.
Don't come off as a motivated, straight-forward soldier on a mission with a list of objectives. Be tender.
"Brash" comes to mind.
When a few guys get together, they can be incredibly enthusiastic and impetuous in their speech because they know that there's a slim chance they'll offend the other guys. They're brash.
However, when a few guys go to church together and find themselves in the middle of a Bible study or committee meeting with women present, their vocabulary changes drastically. The way they handle themselves in presenting and reacting to scenarios is altered. In fact, some guys shut down completely and barely participate in church.
Why is this?
The American local church has formed into a women's club.
These are generalities, of course, but for the most part, men know they are out of their element in a church setting. Ponder these questions --
- When's the last time you were in a church that didn't have flowers/wallpaper/doilies?
- Have you ever been in a church committee that made decisions quickly and efficiently, sometimes taking a risk?
- Are there any churches you know of that appeal to people who are not naturally verbal, studious, or sensitive (most men)?
- How many ministry opportunities are there in the American church today for men who don't have the gift of teaching? (Compare to child care, cooking, decorations, event planning, etc. for women)
- 57% more likely to participate in adult Sunday School
- 56% more likely to hold a leadership role in the church (excluding pastor)
- 54% more likely to participate in small group studies
- 29% more likely to read the Bible, attend church, and share their faith
Thus, there are gender gaps in American churches today across all denominations. An official "gender gap" means that there is at least a 12% spread between men and women in the church (at least 56% of either men or women, as opposed to at most 44% of the other).
According to 2007 stats, 70% or more of all Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and Episcopal churches in America were gender gapped in favor of women. Baptist churches were at 68%.
Unfortunately, it can only be imagined that the numbers have gone up.
Men are not particularly favored in most churches, thus they are not showing up in most churches. On Sunday mornings, most guys are out fishing or at home watching NFL pre-game shows. They want to go to church about as much as they want to hold their wife's purse in a crowded mall.
Look at some of the men described in the Bible: John the Baptizer wore camel's hair and ate locusts and honey. Paul said he wished that those preaching circumcision would cut themselves [yes, "it"] off.
Jesus did this, an act that would surely get him kicked out of any given church bookstore or lobby coffee shop today.
I'm not saying all of this to argue that church should be more of a boys club, it's a place for both men and women. It's a place for tough and tender. For Set A attributes and Set B.
There is so much more to say on this issue, so feel free to leave comments here or on Facebook to generate conversation!
More to consider:
This is an Acts 29 church in Chattanooga, TN that Melissa and I visited earlier this year. Check out that decor! Not quite your grandma's church...
Here's a young Driscoll with good things to say: