Do men hate going to church?

We are airing a fascinating and funny interview on Interfaith Voices this week. It's a conversation with David Murrow, author of a newly revised book, Why Men Hate Going to Church.

Most observers know that it's sometimes hard to find many men in the pews of Christian churches. Women also predominate in lay leadership (though in Catholic churches, not on the altar!).

Murrow's book is not directed at Catholicism per se; it's directed at Christian churches in general. And he offers workshops with local groups about suggested changes aimed at getting men back in the pews.

While I would not give him high scores on feminist consciousness, he did make some points that are interesting and worth sharing. For example, he tells the story of a Midwestern Methodist church with a woman pastor who is trying to attract men, and having success. She began by eliminating what he calls the "Victorian parlor décor" in her church: the pastel colors, quilted banners, boxes of Kleenex, etc. (Kleenex in church? Must be a Protestant thing.) In her preaching, she stays away from talking about how Jesus "touched" people, or is a "personal savior," etc. Instead, she focuses on Jesus' leadership and sense of mission.

But most interesting to me were the churches that have set up lay ministries within which men would feel comfortable. Murrow points out that most men don't relate well to fixing potluck dishes for parish suppers, or wiping children's runny noses in "crying rooms" during services. But men did relate to a "car ministry" in one church. They took cars people no longer wanted and fixed them up for people in need. Of course, women can also be mechanics, but men really related to this opportunity.

Then Murrow talked about a large group of Baptist men with chainsaws who went to Joplin, Mo., after the horrible tornado there in May. Lots of trees had been felled by the wind. But within two days, these men had all the timber cleared so that rebuilding might begin.

Who knew men needed affirmative action? I don't agree with Murrow on everything, but he has ideas worth considering. Here's the link to my interview.

After that, you can hear my conversation with Thupten Jinpa, the English language translator for the Dalai Lama.

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