50 Things Men Want In A Church

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I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know the One who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have had victory over the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you have come to know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have come to know the One who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, God’s word remains in you, and you have had victory over the evil one.

-1 John 2:13-14
This is a follow-up to my recent post, Why Men Hate Going To Church (notes from David Murrow).  After that post of notes from what I heard David say, the question was, “What do men want or like and what would make them stay in church?”  This list is the answer.
David has a quiz or survey on his website, to determine how ‘man friendly’ your church is.  An extremely manly church might not be enjoyable for many women or for men who are not jocks, hunters, handy with tools or Nascar fans; to name just a few examples.  But the point made by David is that many of our churches or much of our church culture, in how we function and what we do as the church together, has somehow turned off men, to a large extent.
David’s thesis is that if you build a church that is man friendly, masculine or manly; a church that men will come to, then the women will be happy and happily come to that church as well.  Men who become Christians and grow in Christ is a good thing for society.  
Today, a higher percentage of men have given up on gathering with the church than women have.  Just visit churches and see.  And yes, there are some exceptions.
I took David’s 50 question survey and these are my answers, from being involved in the church in America.  My answers are my opinion of what I would want and what I have heard from my male friends and from what I have observed in church life.  Women want many and even all of these things too, and an irony is that many churches, run by mostly men, do not offer the things on this list.
  1. Men want a man in the parking lot or near the door welcoming him.
  2. Men want Signage: restrooms, parking, sanctuary, classroom, etc.
  3. Men want Facilities that are in good to great shape (not falling apart). 
  4. Men want a Sanctuary not decorated femininely with quilts, feathers, pastels. 
  5. Men want Men on the stage, if you have a stage, 80-100% men is ideal, but at least over 50%. 
  6. Men want A “buzz” of excitement feeling in the room when they walk into a church, not the feel of a funeral parlor. 
  7. Men want good, or very good musicianship, if there is music.  Men don’t want to hear someone sing off key or constantly play an instrument poorly.
  8. Men want less “baby love”, “romancing Jesus”, “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs.
  9. Men don’t want songs where the chorus is repeated more than 3 times. 
  10. Men want sermons that are 15 minutes max and up to only 30 min on extraordinary occasions, unless the speaker is an outstanding orator or very funny. 
  11. Men want (physical) objects inserted into sermons or teaching times and/or film clips to make the point. Words up on the screen or power point presentations don’t count. 
  12. Men want masculine metaphors or illustrations given in sermons (battle, sports, adventure, survival). 
  13. Men are not comfortable or into “prayer requests” being shared during worship services. Sharing a crisis request is fine or allowing people to go forward and privately share a request with a prayer minister is fine.  But men are turned off by a bulletin handed out each week that has a full page in small type of prayer requests from members, members families, friends, neighbors and sometimes former members.
  14. Men don’t want to see the children perform in front every week.  Men love kids, but prefer that kids performances are once in a while.  Men are fine with children helping lead worship or singing solos.  If the church is a family style worship church, men are fine with children participating 100%, but it is the performances by the kids that men would like to be kept to a minimum (less is more).
  15. Men prefer worship services that last 60 minutes or less. Men are fine if there is a set coffee time before the service or something after the service (meal, food, coffee, a place to talk).  Most men do not say that they wished the sermon had been longer, but shorter.  Men want to get up and move.
  16. Men like to laugh and want to be able to laugh at least a couple of times a week at church. The more funny and the more laughter, the better, for men.  Men like a good joke or a funny story told that makes a point.
  17. Most men prefer racial diversity in a church. The more diversity the better.
  18. Most men do not want to be encouraged or pressured to hug or hold hands with others except rarely. 
  19. Men want to be at a quality event/service. They want time well spent and want to say, “well done”, not “amateur hour”.
  20. Men would like something unexpected to happen at church, even something so unusual that it is shocking or startling. A church where there is nearly never anything startling or shocking is extremely boring to men. Men like excitement, things that are thrilling (shocking or startling).  Men like to be surprised and have things be different from week to week.
  21. Most men do not want to be at an emotional event/service where it is routine for people to weep, faint and holler emotionally.  Authentic emotions like getting choked up when speaking about something sad, is liked by men though.
  22. If your church has sermons, men want astonishing and challenging sermons, not boring, irrelevant, check-your-watch-is-he-done-yet sermons.  Men say that if you don’t have much to say that is compelling, then be honest and say you don’t have anything and give the mic to someone who does or keep it real short.
  23. Men want pastors who are manly or jock-like, not Mr Rogers-like; not effeminate.
  24. Same thing, if there is a worship or song leader: manly, jock-like, not effeminate. 
  25. For “men’s ministry”, men want to meet other men.  Men only want once a week or monthly gatherings or yearly retreats if they are for the purpose of and are vehicles for meeting and knowing other men as brothers, so that small groups, or twos, threes, fours and fives can be formed.  Larger men’s gatherings where men do not make friends, find a sponsor or a mentor are missing it.
  26. Men want a church where over 40% of the men are involved in men’s ministry, if they have a men’s ministry.  If less than 40% of the men join in, then the ones who come ask where are the other men and ask what is wrong and want to have something done to attract more men.
  27. Men want a church where over 50% of the leaders in all areas are men. If you have 40, 30, 20 or 10% male leaders, you will not attract men and your church is in decline or will never grow.  Men want to be led by 50% or more males in the leadership of a church, plain and simple.  This is not a threatening thing to women leaders, but is just how men are wired.  If you have a church where the men simply are not stepping up and being in leadership roles, then that is a church that is not going to draw the majority of men.
  28. Men want to be in a church where over 50%, preferably over 60% of volunteers are men.
  29. If you have a mid-week service or event, men want to see 50% or more males there.
  30. If the church has a staff, men want to see a staff that is 50% or more male.
  31. If there is a men’s ministry, men want to see the pastor there always, often or sometimes, if he is super busy.
  32. Men want Children’s Sunday School, if you have that, to be active learning and not a classroom lecture.
  33. If you have a youth group (Jr or Sr High) with a worship time, men want it to be kept short: 5 to 15 min at the longest.  We have over emphasized singing and worship to the detriment of our other priorities.
  34. Men don’t want small groups where there is a lot of looking up passages and reading them aloud times.  This is fine in moderation but a man does not want to do this all the time in small group.
  35. Men prefer a take charge leader, even one they can disagree with, rather than a soft and gentle man, who seems lost and can’t ask for directions.
  36. If your church calls a meeting, men want that meeting to have a purpose and reason or goal that is stated.  How many “very important” meetings have churches called that turned out to be something we already knew or heard last time?  Men are turned off by this.
  37. Men want to be a part of a church that is known or tries and wants to be known in the community.
  38. Men want to be at a church that “makes the news” with something that is going on there, with the larger community, at least once a year.
  39. Men want to join a church that often or always takes risks, does risky things.
  40. Men want a church that men who are unmarried or don’t come with a girlfriend or sister would visit and check out.
  41. Men’s ministries or ministries that use men’s talents that men want in churches are car repair, home repair, strategic planning, financial management, and goal setting.
  42. Men want a church that is 50% or more male.
  43. Men like bigger (mega) churches.  Micro churches have a greater challenge to get men to come and stay, and must ask themselves, “Is this a ladies tea, Bible study or prayer group, that we are expecting the men to join; or do we want a church that men would want to be a part of?”
  44. Men don’t want someone up front leading singing or being a soloist who is a bad singer.
  45. Men prefer conservative theology.  This might offend liberal or progressive Christians, but it is true.  Think Orthodox when you see ‘conservative’ and not Fundamentalist (bigot).
  46. Men prefer casual or anything within reason and good taste, for Sunday dress. Casual jeans and t-shirts over dress up.
  47. Men want leaders who delegate responsibilities to others and share responsibilities and do not like a one-man-does-it-all style of leader that is like a dictator.  Men like take charge leaders who are great at delegating and sharing the work and the responsibility and then the rewards and fruit.
  48. If a church’s particular ministry program is outdated, poorly run or not producing much fruit, most men would say kill that program.  
  49. Men want a pastor or preacher who often, even every week, says controversial things, taking a stand that might offend some people.
  50. Men want congregational life to happen outdoors often or even all of the time and not once a year.  Men like having church outside, in the open air.

Wilderness Before Appearance

The child grew up and became spiritually strong, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

-Luke 1:80
Have you been, or are you in the wilderness?  The wilderness is an amazing metaphor that the Bible uses for time alone with God, or time in preparation for service or ministry.  The wilderness may seem like a punishment and sometimes people are forced there by adverse circumstances not of their own choosing.
The way that vocational preparation, that includes a calling to the ministry, usually works, is that a young adult chooses or believes they are called or they come into an understanding of their desire to do a particular form of work.  They then prepare for that work in schooling or training and then get into that field of work and begin a life of that vocation.
But, what if you want to be like the people we read about in the the Bible, who are named, and who did certain things, that had impact for God’s kingdom?  Every believer is called to live in the kingdom and let the kingdom have impact through their lives.  There are not two kinds of believers.
It is also a mistake or wrong headed to believe that the only ones that truly serve God are preachers, pastors, or missionaries.  On a white board, we could list every other form or kind of ministry, with a list of a hundred or more, and still come up very short.  God is very creative with what he has designed each person to do and his list of ministries is almost endless.
Whatever your dream, desire, or calling is; their is a wilderness component or time, sometimes.  I say sometimes, because it is not that way for everyone.  The wilderness is a place that God often takes his people to, and when he does it is for their good.
Mature believers love the wilderness, because they have learned how to find and live with God there.  God can take a person into a wilderness at any time, in the middle of their life-times, and do amazing things with them there.  True saints desire to go to the wilderness to spend time alone with God.
Jesus and John the Baptist were about age 30, when they began their public ministries.  I remember when I was a young adult and age 30 seemed older or mature.  My dad was pushing 50 and my grandparents were in their 70’s.
I heard someone share that in the first century, that a man could not be a rabbi until he was 30 years of age.  Because at 30, you had a considerable amount of life experience and were considered an elder.  The average life expectancy, in the first century, was about 25 years.  
Many people did not live past the age 10, but if you did, you might live to be about 47.  So, age 30 then was like age 60 now.  Imagine if the church did not allow anyone to be called pastor, as in the position or title, until the age of 60.
What if every person who feels called to the ministry, to be a pastor, had to just do pastoral ministry and raise a family and be part of the community of God, in a sort of ‘potential pastor’ or ‘pre-pastoring’, before they turned 60?  And at the age of 60, they could be a pastor, because they have become a pastor, and they are frankly old enough and wise enough to be trusted as ‘pastor’?
Look around at all the people up front who are under 60, who need to step down, because they are too young.  Stepping down means that they need to just work hard in their communities and raise their families together with others.  They can definitely serve along side of the older men and women.
What if we have it backwards, and our so-called prime years, in our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s are all meant to prepare us for appearing in front of people at age 60?  The senior pastor, solo pastor, lead pastor, or leading church preacher who is under the age of 60 is a modern invention that does not line up with scripture.
Your first and easiest objection might be the first 12 Apostles.  They perhaps were not yet 30.  Remember I am saying that age 30 in the first century is like age 60 today.  You also would bring up Timothy.
Timothy and the 12 Apostles were not pastors.  They were not local church, lead pastors.  They were apostolic workers.
If you have a problem with the word apostolic, for today, think missionary, church planter, or evangelist.  What if it is God’s plan or wisdom for planters and missionaries to be younger?  But those who stand up in front of groups and lead them need to be older, elders, people who are roughly aged 60 and above?
A guy in his 20’s or 30’s is not usually an elder.  People in their 40’s are becoming elders and folks who are in their 50’s are almost there.
When I found myself in a position of authority in the church, in my 30’s; it was very gracious for anyone to view me as an elder.  I was a junior elder, lacking a lot of life experience.  I always sought out people who were much older than I, preferably people who were in their 60’s.
This was purely common sense or perhaps a driving leading from the Spirit of God.  And the main thing that my older friends would do is listen to me and ask me hard questions, then listen some more.
What if God has people, like John the Baptist, who have been in the wilderness?  They have been living their lives, as disciples.  They have been growing and learning, loving and being productive in their spheres.
These people dream of appearing before people, for God, with words or deeds of God through their lives, that will be for God’s glory.  But they have been not visible to many and have been in a wilderness that is depressing at times, because it has stripped away their dreams of service for the Lord, that they thought were from the Lord, and they received years, even decades ago.
The message or lesson in the scriptures is that the wilderness is an in-between place, preparing us for the future, which may be tomorrow, next year, or far down the time-line of our life.  Being in the wilderness does not mean you are done, but it means God loves you.
For further study:

Isolation–A Place of Transformation In The Life of a Leader, by Shelley B. Trebesch

Rabbi and Talmidim, by Ray Vander Laan

Jesus wants the misfits in his church

In the Christmastime TV show, “Rudolph The Red nosed Reindeer,” there is a scene where we see toys that are imperfect and discarded to a place called The Island of Misfit Toys.

John Wimber had a vision of a conveyor belt with potatoes on it. People were setting aside the ones that were flawed in some way and God spoke to him that those were the ones He would send to John’s church.

Steve Sjogren had an experience where he saw a very dirty and worn penny on the pavement that he picked up. God said something to the effect that if Steve would accept and welcome the rough people that He would send, He would bless him.

I’m thinking about this today because I just read the message from a church planter who gave a talk basically saying that if you have any problems, don’t join our church. A bunch of people cheered him on, basically saying, “You are so right… I hate it when those people with problems come to our church.” Another older gentleman read the younger church planter’s post and responded that the guy (in summary) does not want the kind of church described in the New Testament.

I love a good discussion (142 comments and counting). I can agree with much of what the young church planter guy says, but many of his points seem short-sighted and shallow. Now, I am hoping he will read and respond to the older gentleman and others. WE so often talk past each other and have dialogues of the deaf (Paul Tounier).

If you start a church (or a Rotary etc.), people will come that are difficult for you to be around or with their agendas. This is just people stuff. How to respond to them is where church happens and it doesn’t come from the one guy or even a select group or tier, but from everyone. “You give them something to eat”, said Jesus (Luke 9:13).

How to start a church

“You have a Bible? You can read? Then you can start a church.”- Felicity Dale (House2House Ministries)

Perhaps the reason that starting a church (they call it planting) is made to be so difficult, in our western culture, is that there are a bunch of assumptions that we make that are false- totally not biblical. God is not Greek, nor is he a businessman.

People have designed lengthy curriculum, books, and guides on how to plant a church and be nurtured as a church planter. It’s all complex, with hoops to jump through and barriers to keep out many and wash out the unfit. Like landing a man on the moon, only the best and the brightest or the specially and specifically gifted ones can make it.

Perhaps the reason it is so complex is that the church that we know in the west is so much more complex than the way Jesus did it and his disciples did it and their disciples did it. Maybe the key is to return to Jesus as the model of the church to find out how to be the church from looking at him. Why not go to the source and author to get direction?

church planting notes

I’m working my way through Devin Hudson’s blog where he writes about his experiences as a church planter. It was funny to read his thoughts on the people who will join your plant, because he was so right. He talks about unhealthy Christians who want to join you who need to be known and recognized. Underline the word need. Unfortunately we sometimes label these souls as “church hoppers”. The other “watch out for” category he writes about are growing believers who are new to the same area where you are planting and want to join you, but have a different vision in their hearts and will seek to steer the plat towards what they are familiar with.

Yesterday I was reading Shaula Overholt’s blog, where she wrote that, “During the start-up phase of planting, Robb and I read a book by Steve Sjogren in which he suggests that all church planters should go to therapy in order to deal with the rejection that is faced. I thought that was comical until we actually got into the throes of planting. Now I understand.” I think that’s funny now because I too now understand this after having gone through it a bit. In my sense of humor, remember a passage where Paul is bumming about all the people that had left him, so you’re in good company.

The third post that got me was from Steve Sjogren about getting a heart for the area you are planting in, where he wrote about an impartation that happened where he went from not knowing what was up with the community, to reeving God’s compassion and crying in prayer for hurting people. Charlie Wear has been writing at the same site about going through your local mall and praying to receive God’s heart for your community. I’ve heard Steve talk about doing this on his podcast before. It makes a lot of sense that if we are partnering with Jesus, then we want to get his take on things.


From Jason Clark:
“…partying. If you asked me, as I know you want to, ‘Jason what is one of the most important things for planting a church that you have learned?’, I’d reply. Make sure you party, celebrate, eat meals together as much as you can. In fact I think our church has been built on a foundation of relationships over meals, andparties, and celebtrations.
From the day I became a christian I have been involved in churches that were highly relational, and centred around hospitality. We’re relational beings….”
The whole article, Partying: Relationship and Task in Church Planting.

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