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02 May 2014

How do we address the male deficit in the Church?

Carl BeechCarl Beech, director, Christian Vision for Men

“Either the gospel isn’t true, God loves women more than men, or something has gone wrong with the way we do discipleship and mission. At CVM we see no shortage of men coming to Christ but then we’ve developed a male approach. You won’t find me talking about feminisation though. It’s a red herring and tends to polarise rather than unite and engender some effective critical thinking. I do talk about the Romanticisation of the gospel and church culture.”

John RichardsJohn Richards, pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Mold

Jesus didn’t have a problem attracting men to his kingdom work, and turning them into leaders; so what was his strategy? First, He invested time in men, discipled them in small groups and one-to-one. Second, he called them to invest time, give up the playstation, even their jobs. Too often church gets the leftovers from all-consuming jobs and lifestyles. Third, Jesus deliberately trained them for leadership; he pushed them into responsibility, persevered with them when they failed. Fourth, Jesus modelled true manhood; with convictions, yet compassionate; full of grace, and full of truth.

Krish KandiahKrish Kandiah, executive director: churches in mission, Evangelical Alliance 

Figures from the last English Church Census in 2005 seem to indicate there is an in-balance with 57 per cent of churchgoers being female and 43 per cent male but more recent research published last year looking at churchgoing in London presents a much more even spread. If there is a problem; that isn’t based on birth and death rates or including midweek church attendance, this happened while churches are run predominantly by men. Despite this I have heard arguments for gearing the Church more towards men. Personally I think we need a greater involvement in decisionmaking for women as I believe the Church should model to our culture both the equality and complementary nature of female and male relationships. I believe that a Church confident in the gospel will call men and women to the kind of discipleship that challenges the consumerist attitudes that make participation in church life dependent on whether services are provided in a way that I want. The answer is not to be more macho.

Dan SteelDan Steel, leader of Magdalen Road Church, Oxford 

What does seem clear is that both men and women are leaving the Church, but men at a faster rate. Why is this? The argument seems to be (in broad straw-man type brush strokes), that there’s a conflict between a common church culture (which often feels quite feminine) and what it means to be ‘a man’. Think of the way we talk about feelings and concepts, rather than practicalities, or how we set up the church with flowers, banners and pastel shades, or even how we sing... How do we change this? Changing culture is difficult, but we need to, and helping men to witness to other men is also difficult, but vital. And anyway, don’t we follow a man who gathered around him a group of men, who changed the world?

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