30.11.09

Church and gender

The Tearfund report on Churchgoing, April 2007, demonstrated that more men are leaving church than women.

But now we have the opposite, there have been two and a half times more women leaving the church within the last ten years.

We were given an article today from a book by David Murrow called 'Why men hate going to Church'. Reference was also made to Leon Podles: The Church impotent - the feminisation of the Church

Does the Church in the West alienate men and deter them from participating?

We dwell on this.

If a father becomes a Christian, then there is a tendency for the rest of the family to join the church but if a woman becomes a Christian the parallel does not happen - 93% of families follow a father but only 17% follow a mother (American research).

We discuss men's outreach.

But a friend and I are left wondering:

How much of what we do propagates myths about men and women? If all outreach to men revolves itself around football and the pub are we marginalising those for whom the pub and the football ground mean very little?

So how much do we reach out but end up compartmentalising people at the cost of unity?

This all made for something of a slightly depressing day because we had already spent morning worship praying over statistics about church decline, hoping that the Holy Spirit might turn this thing around so that churches do not end up becoming some kind of museum to a long-forgotten way of life.

I just think that we must not continue separating out the genders and creating clubs within clubs. But we do: Youth ministry and children's ministry, men's ministry and women's ministry. Sometimes, it's needed. I am writing a course for women who have just become mothers, so am I excluding men?

I guess it's all about where we draw the line. It's about not making unhelpful distinctions but it's about meeting people's needs as well.

In writing on Ephesians, chapter one, I decided that Paul communicated essential Christian truths about our position 'in Christ', by using language that the people of his day understood. He sought to unite the Jews and the Gentiles, should we not seek to unite men and women in worship? Are we really that different, emotionally and psychologically?

He used the language of the law courts and the markets. He alluded to Roman adoption laws with which the Ephesians would have been familiar and images of sonship and redemption which would have resonated with the Jews. He spoke of the down-payment of the Spirit against a backdrop where the Ephesians would have stamped goods they intended to buy later with a seal. He spoke to believers in a language that they understood and yet he also prompted the Gentiles to appreciate the heritage out of which their came and celebrate the Jewish story into which they had been invited.

...so keep it relevant - yes?
...do not ignore the past, celebrate it but move forward - yes?
...minister to people's needs but do not create groups which become exclusive - think holistically to think 'whole-istically to think 'holy-stically'.

6 comments:

Rosemary said...

Why separate them into genders? PEOPLE are leaving the church in droves. Why?

Rosemary said...

And keep reading the Bible Rachel. I know you're super busy, but it really does have these answers, so you MUST find time to read it to balance the other things you're reading.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Yes, Rosemary, we always study a Bible based module alongside a Church-based module and the daily office is mandatory. However, I still find I need to meet with God outside the formal structures. Lectio Divina is proving very helpful. Any tips send them my way, thank you.

Iconoclast said...

Interesting comment as to why men don't go to church at

http://www.christinyall.com/articles/men.html

The author argues that what is missing is a sense of 'brotherhood'.

A. Amos Love said...

Rachel

“Does the Church in the West alienate men and deter them from participating?”

This question is a good place to start.

The next question is what is “the Church” in the Bible?

If Jesus is the head of the body, (the ekklesia, the called out ones) “the Church?”

Are men leaving “the body of Christ” “The Church?”

Or - Are men leaving “the institutional religious system” of the day?

“The Church” in the Bible always refers to people. The body of Christ.

Never a man made building, a man designed institution, with a hierarchy.

Did anyone in the Bible “go to church?” To a building? To an institution?

Aren’t I “the Church of God?” The body of Christ? Can I leave myself?
It’s now, Christ in me the hope of glory. Not a building or institution.

Aren’t you “the Church of God.” The body of Christ. Can you leave yourself?
It’s now, Christ in you the hope of glory. Not a building or institution.

God that made the world and all things therein,
seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth,
dwelleth not in temples made with hands.
Acts 17:24

…for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said,
I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
2Co 6:16

Men go into buildings called “the church” and God is not there.
They know something is wrong. Don't always know what it is.

Men wearing long dresses and funny hats is not very appealing,
taking "Titles" not found in the Bible,
acting, talking and praying like they are closer to God.

The “institutional religious system” is boring, dark, religious,
full of rules, regulations, and traditions of men, NOT in the Bible.

Jesus taught “His disciples” out in the streets.
It was exciting. An adventure everyday.
Healing the sick. Casting out demons. Preaching the Kingdom.
Making fools of the Religious Leaders of the day.
That were leading people astray. Jesus had no patience for them.
Hanging out with the sinners and the tax collectors.
The broken and the broken hearted.

I see men are leaving “the institution”
in order to find and enjoy a relationship with Jesus.

More fun than a man has a right to endure.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Thank you Amos

Once again I am seeing things through Jesus' eyes due to your prompting. I am so hoping that the institutional church pleases Jesus and proclaims his name and though, yes, it is made up of men in funny outfits (and women), there are good things about it. Man has always built a house for God despite his declaring our bodies his temple. Jesus died for the fact that we err and the church is indeed full of sinners but it is still something I believe in.

I understand the body to be bigger than the church, as you rightly point out - it spills out - but we are called to be in fellowship with one another and Church (institution) aims to do this - I just hope that it is a place of welcome and not segregation.

Thank you Amos
God bless you
Rachel

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