The title of this post should be said with an Austrian accent while flexing one's biceps.
Your intrepid blog reporter here is noticing a plethora of posts on the feminization of the church recently.
And . . .
My new friend Alex Chediak touches on the theme in a couple of posts:
And . . .
And, it's not new, but it's vintage iMonk in his December 2005 post Prissy Protestants: Why We Need More Men Like Peggy Noonan.
Andy Jackson at Smart Christian is all over this stuff with links to the following articles/posts:
And . . .
Girly-Jesus, the Feminized Church and Absent Men by Donald Sensing from One-Hand Clapping.
And you just know that I can't merely post links without sharing a few of my own thoughts, now dontcha? Keep reading.
At the risk of arrogantly implying that I am way ahead of the curve and that all of these folks are johnny-come-latelies I'll mention that I was talking about the feminization of the church and girly-churches way back in 2004 (here, here and here). But it is good to see all of these folks finally catching up, it makes bearing the burden of being the man who is always on the cutting edge a little easier.
Seriously though, it is interesting to see all of this and it will be interesting to see if this is a real groundswell which will lead to change in churches or if it's just a hot-button of the month type of thing. In my own posting and interaction on this stuff here are a few reactions/pushbacks/observations I have made.
1. I shared some of this stuff on the feminization of the church at a men's retreat a couple of years ago. This was before Murrow's book came out and I was relying mostly on Leon Podles book "The Church Impotent." It was new to most of them, a few accepted what I was saying and a few rejected it. But it did occur to me that our church has a healthy percentage of men who are deeply involved and who have taken up their calling to be godly men. I was also in a church several years ago where I would say the same.
It occurs to me that these two churches had high-content preaching (biblical/theological) and would largely fit Thom Rainer's decription of High Expectation churches.
So, I wonder if feminization is more a problem in low content, low expectation, feel-good type churches.
2. I can remember getting taken to the woodshed by one of the ladies of the blogosphere who had grown up in a very masculine fundamentalist tradition. She was none too enthused to see me and others advocating "masculine" Christianity.
That point is well taken. There is another side to the coin here. There is an abusive pseudo-masculinity in some parts of the church that masquerades as male leadership and it is particularly acute in some fundamentalist circles.
Ultimately, I think Murrow, Podles and those of us who have appreciated their books need to be careful not to let masculinity devolve into authoritarianism.
3. I have noticed this problem most acutely with young men. As a youth minister and now as a pastor keeping young people in the church is a perrenial problem. This is bigger than just a "guy" problem, but I think it is particularly acute with the guys.
In high school, you were baby sat, entertained, shamed, taught how to be "nice," kept busy with lots of programs, told not to sin--(sex, porn, getting drunk, having long hair), went on a 10-day missions trip to Jamaica over Christmas, but never given a picture for your role in the mission of God to redeem His world. Your faith has been totally undermined by a Christianity of privitization: you and Jesus. You were given the monastic vision of Christianity as a life of personal piety alone. Raised to live in the Christian ghetto where it's safe.
Your faith is privately engaged but socially and culturally irrelevant--and this is not the way of Jesus. You have no passion for serving others personally nor in terms of calling, a job, etc. and you're a grown man. Actually many of you aren't passionate about anything (that part of you got emasculated). You don't see yourself as "a man with a mission."
You'd have to listen to the young men in your own life to know if Anthony is correct, but at least some of that resonates with me. I'm afraid my own sons will destroy something if they hear another sex talk and though there are times they just want to do something besides the normal church stuff.
I do think Anthony is on to something here - we've given kids, and particularly young men, a picture where the sum total of the Christian life is: go to church, youth group activities and camps and mission trips and don't do drugs, sex, alcohol, or (secular) rock-n-roll. It just doesn't really inspire them.