Jump directly to the content

Already a subscriber?

Home > Issues > 2012 > Summer > Why Men Still Hate Going to Church

David Murrow's book, Why Men Hate Going to Church, struck a chord when it was published in 2005. Seven years later, male church attendance is still low. So David went searching for the answer. What he found is reported in Why Men Hate Going to Church: Completely Revised and Updated (Thomas Nelson). Drew Dyck talked with Murrow about reaching men and creating a church atmosphere in which they can thrive.

How can churches attract men?

Make very simple changes, mainly in the area of décor, language, and culture. These can be very subtle. Here's a piece of low-hanging fruit: If you want a church full of men, simply bring an object into the pulpit every single week. Take your 25 minutes and build it around an object lesson, and I guarantee you in two years you will have a church full of men because men will pay attention. They'll be thinking, When is the object coming out, and what's it going to be?

Of course, I'm just ripping off Jesus. His teaching was very concrete. He says, "Show me a coin. Whose face? Whose description?" He was so visual. He's walking through a wheat field, and says, "Look, the fields are white for harvest." Or, "Go ahead, Peter. Step out of the boat. Feel the water on your feet. Feel the wind on your face." He was such a concrete teacher. So that's what I'm saying: steal from Jesus. He's more than willing to share.

You write that megachurches have done a better job reaching men. What can small churches do?

My heart is for small churches. I grew up in small churches. Ninety percent of churches are under 150 on Sunday morning. Many of them have tremendous growth potential. Their buildings are paid off and they sit in a strong financial position. But many are graying and failing to reach young people. The problem is that they're trying to reach young people by reaching young women. They do things like improving the nursery or starting a ladies' Bible study. Those things aren't wrong, but you're never going to get guys that way. You might get a few people right away, but what you don't realize is that you're hobbling your church for the long term.

Do you have to be a macho kind of pastor to attract men to your church?

Men have an instinctive BS detector. They walk into a room and within one minute they have a judgment about the man who's talking to them. So if you're not a manly man, if you don't have "man cred," if you're not a risk-taker, men are going to pick up on that.

But no, you don't have to be macho. I mean, Rick Warren is certainly not macho. He regularly tears up in the pulpit. But he is a big vision man. And that gives him credibility with men. You have to be able to inspire men, whether that's through swagger or vision or courage.

Tim Keller is not a macho guy. But he's a big idea guy, and he lives in the capital of ideas, New York City. That's his man cred. Manhattan men are thinkers. They don't make their money by breaking their backs; they make their money with their minds. So they're looking for a pastor who is similarly brilliant. And Keller fits that bill. He has an emphasis on mission and getting things done that men admire. Men don't want to sit in church for 30 years just to listen to sermons and sing songs. At some point men say, "Okay, I've listened. What is there to do?"

PreviousFirstPage 1 of 2NextLast

Drew Dyck is managing editor of Leadership Journal.

Related Topics:MarriageMediaResearch
From Issue:Transformation, Summer 2012 | Posted: October 8, 2012

Also in this Issue: Summer 2012

The New Monk Warriors

The New Monk Warriors

A ministry emerged out of the Texas desert to redirect the lives of college students.
How to Score a Sabbatical

How to Score a SabbaticalSubscriber Access Only

When I requested a sabbatical, I was rebuffed. Today, here's what I would do differently.
Word? Indeed!

Word? Indeed!

Half of adults want more biblical influence on society.

Not a Subscriber?

Subscribe Today!

  • Monthly issues on web and iPad
  • Web exclusives and archives on Leadership Journal.net
  • Quarterly print issues

Print subscriber? Activate your online account for complete access.

Join the Conversation

Average User Rating:

Displaying 1–5 of 85 comments


July 25, 2013  12:53pm

People should read the book before commenting on it. As a guy, I found a lot of Murrow's revelations consistent with my own. It was nice to have someone put into words what I felt. (NO, he does not insult anyone. If you guys read the book, you would notice that Dave addresses the generalities. No one gets insulted.)

Report Abuse

B Koehler

May 03, 2013  7:49am

As a woman, I find these kind of descriptions of how the church needs to change for men a little bizarre. Because I also find sermons boring. I also would like some kind of tangible service in the church (and no, setting out the coffee and donuts doesn't count--building a house for a family in need would). And yes, i also don't like physical contact with people thqt i'm not close to, which is mostly everyone who's not a member of my family. Yes,, there are things in the church that need to change. But they don't need to change for men. They need to change for all people.

Report Abuse


April 16, 2013  6:42pm

Interesting article and more so I am confused that it is under the missional section of Leadership Journal. Sounds like we are trying to attract men to church then keep them. Hmmm, so what are they there for in the first place? More importantly why are we concerned whether our program is working? Do we sell a service? Perhaps....and this is a long shot...maybe we are doing church wrong in the first place. Ever wonder what it would be like if everyone participated in church?

Report Abuse


February 21, 2013  11:46am

All I ever wanted in a church was to bow my head and worship God quietly in my seat, confess my sins to Him and have a men's Bible study and prayer time to grow spiritually in. I don't need endless choruses or hymns, just a quiet time to study and meditate on His word as it's being preached or taught. And I can't stand tearful men.

Report Abuse

Jake T

February 01, 2013  12:46pm

Ugh. I found this guy's original book to be extremely insulting--he has a preconcieved notion of what "manliness" is and if you don't fit into it, you're a girly wanna be who probably deserves to be made fun of and picked last on the playground. I've never come closer to throwing a book across the room mid-paragraph. Funny how Jesus taught that the last should be first. Somehow that just doesn't come up very much. Mostly because "men" wouldn't like the idea.

Report Abuse
Use your Leadership Journal login to easily comment and rate this article.
Not part of the community? Subscribe, or on public pages, register for a free account.
Reader's Pick
Missional Living in a Fraternity

Missional Living in a Fraternity

What it takes to go with Jesus into unlikely parts of the world.
Sister Sites
Christ-Centered Women's MinistryBuilding Church Leaders

Christ-Centered Women's Ministry