A More Macho Messiah
How much testosterone is flowing at your church?

Brandon O'Brien, assistant editor of Leadership, has a provocative article over at ChristianityToday.com about the shortcomings of the new Christian men's movement. From worship songs that inspire men to "Grab a sword, don't be scared. Be a man, grow a pair!" to chest-thumping sermons, the de-feminizing of the church may be doing more harm than good. Here is an excerpt from O'Brien's article:

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Seattle's Mars Hill Church, desires greater testosterone in contemporary Christianity. In Driscoll's opinion, the church has produced "a bunch of nice, soft, tender, chickified church boys. ? Sixty percent of Christians are chicks," he explains, "and the forty percent that are dudes are still sort of chicks."
The aspect of church that men find least appealing is its conception of Jesus. Driscoll put this bluntly in his sermon "Death by Love" at the 2006 Resurgence theology conference (available at TheResurgence.com). According to Driscoll, "real men" avoid the church because it projects a "Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ" that "is no one to live for [and] is no one to die for." Driscoll explains, "Jesus was not a long-haired ? effeminate-looking dude"; rather, he had "callused hands and big biceps." This is the sort of Christ men are drawn to - what Driscoll calls "Ultimate Fighting Jesus."

Here's a video with more about GodMen, a ministry highlighted by O'Brien in his article. It was started by comedian Brad Stine to provide space where "men can be men; raw and uninhibited; completely free to express themselves in the uniquely male way that only men understand."

Are you inspired or insulted? Read O'Brien's entire article, "A Jesus for Real Men," at Christianity Today's website.

April 21, 2008

Displaying 1–10 of 45 comments

Kathy

May 07, 2008  12:32am

Actually Leoskeo, many do blame women for this problem. You and I will have to agree to disagree on this point. Also, you said that I am looking at this situation "through the huge lense of defensiveness." I'm sure you didn't mean for this to sound condescending, but that is the way it comes across. Many of us will have different opinions on the problem of the lack of men in the church, and that's okay.

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skeptical

May 06, 2008  10:01am

Another thing, nice use of statistics. To jump from that to a diagnosis of "effeminate" christianity just isn't warranted.

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skeptical

May 06, 2008  9:49am

Wow. Thanks Leoskeo. First off, it's "anecdotal". I don't even necessarily disagree that it's a good thing to get men to church, what I've objected to all along is to cast it as an issue of "effeminence". Diagnosing the problems along these lines is unhelpful and perpetuates stereotypes that cuts both ways. It also trivializes issues of gender identity by making it about the "window dressing" of a church. It also obscures the heart of the gospel and plays into the "spiritual consumerism" that is so prevalent today. I particularly like how you constantly level the charge of "defensiveness". Could it be that you just don't want to look more carefully at your flippant jump onto the latest bandwagon of diagnostic jargon? Then again, if that jargon keeps things "simple" for you, I'm happy for you.

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leoskeo

May 06, 2008  1:01am

Skeptical, your name says it all. Average church attendance in this country. 61% women, 39% men Population split otherwise is almost 50/50. That is a large gap and it is growing. 25% of all married women attend church without their husbands. On any given Sunday there are nearly 13 million more adult women in attendance than men and mid week church activities are 75+% female. (Church for Men) So even if my story about my dad is as you say antidotal, it is also representative of the facts. We can beat up guys as just simply bad Christians but the reality is that approach will get you what we have right now. Kathy, no one here blamed the women. I have served in ministry for nearly 3 decades and been in the church for over 4. I see it all the time. My church right now is about a 50/50 split and I actually have a nearly even split with men and women volunteers. We do some things different. If you read my words without the huge lens of defensiveness, you would find I do not advocate a more macho Jesus, just an intentional and purposeful approach to reach men. In the past few years I have had a number of women thank me for the fact their husbands now attend church, engage in family prayer and even are growing deeper in their walk with Christ. A few have even said, my husband treats me better when he is around here.

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skeptical

May 05, 2008  1:23pm

I think Kathy, whoever you are, is on to something.

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Kathy

May 05, 2008  12:27pm

If a lot of men aren't going to church, then maybe there's something wrong with them and not the church. A little personal responsibility anyone? But oh no, we must blame the women! A tried and true Christian tradition. Church got you down? Blame the women! High gas prices and global warming got you down? It's some woman's fault! They've sissified the economy! Okay, I'm being a bit sarcastic, but really, put the responsibility and blame back on where it's due: with the men who would rather watch TV, go to a ballgame, etc, than to worship God.

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skeptical

May 05, 2008  10:26am

I don't if anybody is saying it's about feminism/chauvinism, etc. etc. What I take issue with is your assertion: that "it is a FACT" that men in general are not connecting with the church. Says who? The story about your father is anecdotal, not research. I have yet to be in a church (and believe me, I've seen and worked in a ton) where Driscoll's description holds water. If there is an issue with connecting with men IN YOUR COMMUNITY, well, we'll pray for you. But I can point you to a ton of churches where this doesn't obtain. To make general comments about "effeminate" Christianity just doesn't wash. And it's offensive to the many others who do not experience Christianity or Jesus this way. To cast things along this "divide" is unhelpful, and inaccurate. And that's why you get the reaction you're getting.

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David A. Le

May 03, 2008  7:38pm

Looks like another version of flashy multimedia "show" ministry with little connection to the Bible and the historical Jesus. I think the history of gender-based ministries (and all of their offshoots–young-single, young-adult, young married, college, career, middle-age with teen children, etc etc. etc.) have done great damage by driving numerous wedges within Christian communities. No wonder men don't/wont feel welcome. It's time our church communities unite ourselves (in ways that cross genders, generations, economic and marital statuses) rather than constantly coming up with groups that dissect and divide the community using some sort of class status. We can learn from each other and we have a lot of common wisdom to share.

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Leoskeo

May 03, 2008  4:13pm

What is sad is that so many of you seem to miss the point entirely. This is not about feminism or chauvinism, This is not about the value of men and women or who is who in the ministry. This is about the FACT that men struggle to connect in the church as it exists in this country. It is not about china, India or some other country. It is the FACT that men in America find that the church is too feminine for them. My dad rarely went to church. his view of church was that it was for women, children and men with nothing better to do. He almost always had something better to do. When I began my church, I invited him, told him that I was working hard to build a church that the average guy would love. He said he would try it out. to this day he is faithful to serve and participate in the life of the body. Why? I chose to alter some small but important things in what we communicate, what we sing, how we expect men to express themselves, added a ton of laughter and excellence. His comment, "if church was like this years ago, I might not have wasted so much time outside of it."

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Garrick Roegner

May 02, 2008  3:48pm

Macho Jesus, huh? What is masculinity anyway? In Kenya men walk around holding each other's hands as a sign of friendship. In China men play with each others hair and hold hands also. Here that would seem very un-masculine. And does the church really portray a hippie, weakling, effeminate Jesus? Mine does not. And I really don't know anyone who does. Sure Jesus got tough sometimes, mainly when speaking up for the poor and oppressed. But "Ultimate Fighting Jesus" is a sub-standard Jesus, just as much as the sissy Jesus is. Great article pointing out the blatant theological, cultural, and contextual mistakes made by well meaning guys.

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