Church is for girls…

I have been following a discussion with interest over at www.rodneyolsen.net on why men hate church, and have just finished listening to this mp3 about the topic on 98.5 Sonshine FM.  Now not being a man, maybe I am not suitably qualified to comment, but it seems to me that there are a few assumptions being made.  Firstly, that the current church paradigm is appealing to women (ironic really as it is developed, delivered, and often actively preserved by men).  Secondly, that men only want to sing battle songs about an oddly shaped red leather ball etc (this seems to me to be a stereotypical image of manhood that is not necessarily inclusive of all males), and thirdly, that the problem is the fit between men and church culture, rather than the problematic fit between expressions of church and culture more broadly.  I don’t dispute the inherent challenges of the current dominant church paradigm for attracting men (or anybody for that matter) – I just think that the problem is broader than merely a gender issue.  The way we do church in the west is fairly tame – lots of cosy bring a plate dos, rosters, singing, listening, sitting – the comments on the mp3 are fairly realistic in their depiction of church.   But is this what church is meant to be?  Is it perhaps a cop out to say that men are not in church because it is too feminine?  I am not sure that Jesus and his apostles established this kind of church.  In the mp3, there were talks about BBQs and other ways of bringing in and engaging men.  Sounds great, as long as it is not just a more macho version of the same thing – a cosy rugged Christian club that is focussed inward.  The early church was all about mission – mission that demanded your life, all of you, and quite often – your life literally.  They spent time learning, fellowshiping and in worship, but the drive was ever outward with more people to be reached, often at great cost.  It was life on the edge.  Dangerous, exciting.  Now if the pulse of church these days was constantly elevated by the risking all adventures seeking to be Jesus to our culture, maybe the men would be on board.  And women too.  I for one want to be part of church like that.  One does not need to be male to feel that passive cosy church is somehow missing the mark.  I don’t think the problem is the feminisation of the church, we have just forgotten what church is about in the first place.

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3 thoughts on “Church is for girls…

  1. Christina,
    You have some interesting thoughts here. One thing I would add is that I’m not sure that the focus of the early church was as external as you represent it here (more likely than not, you are using a bit of hyperbole to make the contrast between the early and the modern church)

    I’ve blogged about a related subject lately, and while I do think that the early church had a strong outward focus, I believe it was because their inward priorities were in order.

    Anyway, I thought you had an interesting take on Rodney’s post, I just wanted to throw this out there.

    Have a good one,
    Charles

  2. Thanks for your comment Charles! I am not sure that the Jews had such a strong distinction between “church” (inward) and rest of life (outward). The books of the law make the point clearly that all of life is under God – from eating to sex to worship to farming etc. This is the context of the early church. The letters from Paul certainly reflect a recognition of the need to “get the house in order” – but the nature of its growth suggested moving ever outward, with perhaps both inner and outer growth happening together. I am not sure they would have seen them as distinctly categorised as we do. Alan Hirsch (www.the forgottenways.org) speaks about (amongst many other things) the way we divide the sacred and the secular, and suggests that in Hebrew culture this distinction did not exist. I am not sure that this divide helps us in our spirituality either – in our churches, homes, and general life.

  3. I absolutely loved reading this. You are right. And wow, I got so stirred when you were talking about how in the early church it was dangerous, outward focussed , on the edge.
    That’s what I want. I don’t want to live the lovely christian life. I want to be out there , I want to do what Paul and Peter did! I want to see people healed on the streets, I want to see the power of God, I want to be on a daily adventure with God!
    I’m sick of passtivity.

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