Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Reaching men

There seem to be lots of discussions regarding Church being viewed as feminine and the decline in numbers of young men in Church congregations.

Well, I am a young (ish) man, aged 29 in human years. I have male friends in my Church who are around the same age as me. There have even been young men saved and added to our number.

What is the secret? Erm, there are no secrets. I would suggest though, that there are 5 key points I have learned for reaching young men (20-35) in modern Britain.

1) FOOTBALL IS GOOD: We play it, we watch it, we talk about it
2) FOOD IS GOOD: We eat it, lot of it, curry, chinese, pizza, then we eat some more
3) THE PUB: Ah yes, Sky footie on in the background, a nice Shropshire ale and put the world to rights. We do talk about our feelings, we just don't do it much in groups of people we don't know.
4) DIGITAL DISTRACTIONS: Wii, Xbox, PS3, you set it up, we will be there
5) MEN'S MINISTRY: Some blokes are very passionate about "Men's ministry". Most I meet could take it or leave it, they just want some friends to play football with, before going to the pub, then for a curry then stay up into the night playing Pro Evolution Soccer.

This is a deliberately tongue in cheek post, yet actually, has some pretty stark relevance.

One lad who plays footie with us has just agreed to come to the carol service. Two came on the Alpha Course last year. I am not particularly a "man's man". I don't run up hills dragging logs or drive a big truck. I don't pump iron, say words like "grrr" or talk about kicking the devil in the backside. Nope, I just do what I enjoy doing, with other guys.

And if you are thinking to yourself "Ah yes, but those are all just stereotypes of masculinity and not all men are like that" then you probably just missed the whole point of this post.


ianjmatt said...

The problem is that I hate football (with a passion), and am ambivalent about the goodness of tribal sports.

I don't go to the pub much - with three kids at home, church and work commitments etc, I think it would be unloving to my wife to go out there as well. |I look forward to the free evenings spent with my best friend - my wife.

I have a PS2, PSP, DS Lite but spend a few hours a month at most on them. Just don't have much time - and I think that many games which glorify violence, suffering, illegal gain or exploitation are seriously morally questionable.

Food - now that is a different matter ... Oh yes!

However, I am not 'blokey' and honestly find it all a bit patronising (as my wife finds much women's ministry patronising as well). The non-christian men I know and am good friends with find it rather embarrassing when we try and make the church 'blokey' to reach them.

Here is another interesting slat - not that I agree with it all though:


Blue, with a hint of amber said...

The non-christian men I know and am good friends with find it rather embarrassing when we try and make the church 'blokey' to reach them.

I agree and that is kind of my point. I am not "trying" to do anything. I am doing what I enjoy and engaging other blokes while doing it.

Anything which tries to be a package "for men" automatically tends to exclude lots of men.

On the flip side of that - the activities I described is what lots of blokes my age do.

So I am not faking anything myself. And I am not forcing them into anything.

A friend of mine would blog how the game of chess and being part of a chess club is a great way of reaching men. It does nothing for me though.

Jongudmund said...

Personally I think the real issue is genuineness. E.g. 'Let's do a a pub quiz' - I'm there, whether it's in a church or not. But it has to be a quiz, not a covert operation to get me in church.

One reason 'men's ministry' struggles is because men are naturally suspicious...