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James Thurber captioned one New Yorker cartoon: "I love the idea of there being two sexes, don't you?"
As Thurber was wryly suggesting, not only do we not have a lot of choice in the matter, the reality is infinitely more interesting than the mere idea.
Gender issues have provoked extensive discussion, especially in the church. Is there a difference between what women and men experience in congregational life? How significant is this gender gap, and in what direction does it run?
To determine the way gender impacts church life, LEADERSHIP surveyed one thousand subscribers, and nearly 30 percent responded, representing churches across the spectrum of size and theological orientation.
Average Sunday morning attendance of these churches:
100 or fewer (33 percent)
101 to 200 (26 percent)
201 to 500 (23 percent)
More than 500 (18 percent).
(In this summary, "small churches" means churches averaging one hundred or fewer; "large churches" means churches averaging more than five hundred.)
Respondents were asked to identify their theological or doctrinal preferences, and they flow out of different ecclesiastical streams: Charismatic, Conservative, Evangelical, Fundamental, Liberal, Pentecostal, Traditional Confessional, and the ubiquitous Other.
These responses were tabulated and analyzed by the research department of Christianity Today, Inc.
Here are the results.
Overall, women tend to compose the majority in church life, almost 60 percent of the general church population.
What is your best estimate of the percentage of males and females on your church membership roll? Respondents reported an average 57 percent female and 43 percent male membership.
The female majority was more pronounced in the averages for worship attendance. What percentage of adult males and females are typically in Sunday worship at your church? According to the respondents, the typical service contains 59 percent females versus 41 percent male attenders.
When the results were analyzed according ...