By Craig Thompson
Pastors, we have to reach men, but it will not happen by accident. It is easy to blame men for their lack of concern in spiritual matters, but much of the blame for our lack of impact on the male population may be behind the pulpit rather than in front of it. Men want to be led by masculine men with masculine traits and tendencies, and whether or not we want to admit it, pastors are not often perceived of as masculine men.
Spurgeon once wrote,
“I am persuaded that one reason why our working-men so universally keep clear of ministers is because they abhor their artificial and unmanly ways. If they saw us, in the pulpit and out of it, acting like real men, and speaking naturally, like honest men, they would come around us. . . .We must have humanity along with our divinity if we would win the masses. Everybody can see through affectations, and people are not likely to be taken in by them”
Spurgeon is not alone in his diagnosis. Phillips Brooks warned,
“Resent indulgences which are not given to men of other professions. Learn to enjoy and be sober; learn to suffer and be strong. Never appeal for sympathy. Let it find you out if it will. Count your manliness the soul of your ministry and resist all attacks upon it however sweetly they may come.”
Masculinity is not a trait for which we should apologize; it should ooze out of our lives and out of our sermons.
Most pastors would agree that it is important to remove unnecessary offenses to the gospel. Bible translations are selected with the hearers in mind, distractions are removed from the sanctuary, and illustrations are chosen to connect with the congregation. However, pastors need to remember that their life speaks more loudly than their sermon venue or their selection of appropriate illustrations.
Do men perceive of you as a godly person or a godly man? Men follow men. Pastors, we must resist the temptation to sacrifice our masculinity for a gender-inclusive form of Christianity that appeals to women and children but alienates men. Men come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and masculinity is not defined by any one particular trait, but we must embrace it if we are to reach men.
In Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Murrow offers some suggestions to pastors to restore the masculine spirit to the church.
- Pastors should be masculine, strong, and resolute. Men disrespect other guys who are “overly verbal, expressive, or sensitive.” Pastors must work to overcome the stereotype of femininity that surrounds the ministry.
- Men appreciate certitude and conviction. Are you standing firm on the Word of God and in the direction God has given you? Oprah invites people for conversations; Army generals give orders and expect them to be followed.
- Men like pastors who have the trappings of manhood. Find out what the men in your context do and appreciate and be involved in those things.
- Men want a pastor who is a regular guy. Speak openly about your struggles and your victories. Hebrews tells us that Even Jesus was tempted as we are, and the pastor is no different.
- Avoid preacher-speak. I have people who call me to account when my preaching voice becomes very different from my speaking voice. Our message appears fake to men when speak different in the pulpit than in the street.
Pastors, do not be people of God, be men of God. There is a difference, own that difference, and watch men respond.