Saturday, December 06, 2008

Why it ain't raining men in UK Christianity

His Grace has received the politest of requests to publish this guest post, and he is delighted to do so. It comes from the Reverend Julian Mann, vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge in South Yorkshire:

It's Raining Men! Hallelujah!
It's Raining Men! Every Specimen!
Tall, blonde, dark and lean
Rough and tough and strong and mean

So sang the Weather Girls in 1982. I remember seeing a remarkable performance by these ladies on Top of the Pops.

But it certainly ain’t raining men in UK Christianity. Oughtibridge Parish Church in South Yorkshire, where I serve as incumbent, would be very typical of the situation in local churches on the ground.

Only 25 out of 76 on our electoral roll are male; the proportion is even lower in our regular Sunday congregation of 35 adults – only about 10 are men. The Sunday Club is much healthier with about half of our dozen or so regulars being boys.

According to Christian Vision for Men, a charity set up in 1999 to address the crisis of masculinity in UK Christianity, the official statistics put the proportion of women to men in churches at 60:40, though on the ground many churches would be more like Oughtibridge with a proportion closer to 70 per cent women, 30 per cent men. CVM points out that during the last 20 years there has been a 49 per cent decline of men in church under the age of 30 and a 38 per cent decline across the age range.

Chief executive Revd Carl Beech says: ‘The Church desperately needs to wake up to the fact that we are haemorrhaging men at an alarming rate of knots. We urgently need to ask why it is that our presentation of the Gospel attracts more women than men and ask why our church culture doesn’t seem to grip and excite men in their walk with Jesus.’

It is certainly going to require a concerted effort by local churches against the cultural climate to tackle this crisis. The reality is that any meaningful initiative to reach specifically men at a parochial level immediately encounters opposition from the growing culture of political correctness, even and perhaps especially from within the Church. I recall in my previous parish the opposition to starting a men’s breakfast.

One unpolitically-correct question needs to be asked and another fact to be faced:

1). If an institution is led by women, will men affiliate? If the answer is no or they are less likely to, then in an Anglican context the advent of female incumbents since the 1990s has not helped the situation and the prospect of women bishops could make it worse.

2). Unless an institution can attract earning men, it will struggle financially. Even with the social changes we have seen in the past 30 years, men are still the principal earners in most family units. And the practical reality is that even if a woman who comes to church is herself an earner, it is difficult for her to commit financially if her husband/partner is not himself committed.

It is defeatist to say that normal parish churches will never attract men and that the only churches that can reach them are the newer church plants with a dynamic and risk-taking ‘entrepeneurial’ culture. If the ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ paradigm is correct - according to which men are task-focussed and attracted to a risk-taking culture whereas women are relationally-oriented and attracted to a nurturing culture - then parish churches undergoing culture change are exactly the right environment for male disciples. There is plenty to be done and many risks to be taken.

Certainly, changing the culture of local churches to make them more male-friendly calls for determined front-line clergy worthy of the Weather Girls. The fact that their song does not currently apply to UK Christianity is all the more tragic when one reflects that the apostolic founders of the Church were hand-picked men whom the Lord Jesus Christ inspired to put their lives on the line in His cause.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Canon Christopher Sugden for his generous support in circulating the details of our youth volunteer around the Anglican Mainstream mailing list. This has resulted in a wonderful flurry of interest from Africa, South America and the United States.

60 Comments:

Blogger Botogol said...

I am confused - do you want them for their money, or to save their souls?

6 December 2008 at 09:23  
Blogger haddock said...

There are churches where there are many men in the congregation, and young men at that. To put it simply, they are not run by people in ornate frocks but people who wear ordinary suits or jumper and jeans.
Most of these churches are fairly flush with money.... but that money does not accrue in gilded coffers but is given out to help people.
The message preached in those churches is more robust than the 'Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild", trite, watered down, soppy, be nice to everyone pastiche of 'goodness' peddled by the C of E..... shall we say a more 'manly' approach to the Gospel pays dividends with men, the Lord did not pick social workers or metrosexuals to work alongside him ....but real men.
As Jesus Himself was a builder and was 'God as Man' on earth I think it fair to say, given that probably builders and fishermen then were much as builders and fishermen today, He was well aware of the way men behave and of the man's take on matters..... and even the turn of phrase used by them.
I notice that comment here tends to divide Christians into the Church of England and the others ,(y'know the Mary lot), there are a great many other Christians in other churches, and their congregations have been growing.

ps The Salvation Army seems to have quite a representative sample of men/women old/young in their bands

6 December 2008 at 10:10  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Your Grace.
The problem is relevancy, men who come to church find there is a lack of real things to do, they sit and do nothing for an hour, put an offering in the plate then go home. Of course some will say that there are things to do, and there are but the things the average lay person can expect to be given to do are neither challenging relevant or demanding. Todays culture is not hide bound with tradition, we must stimulate the mind and challenge the populace to view the Christian message from a new perspective. Jesus found the same thing in His day, religion and tradition but no relevancy, the 'church' of the day had it all sewn up as even a short look at the gospels will confirm, His answer, to use dynamic new people to start the ball rolling, a heck of a challenge, but hey that's what we're talking about isn't it?
The church goes in cycles, as history will confirm, it grows then it becomes dry and hard, then a fresh awakening takes place, i.e the methodists, soon this follows its predecessor and a new thing has to happen.
We must not be static or resistant to change but must be ready to ensure that the new crop stays on line with regards to the gospel.
The church is a living body and as such it has to die and regenerate, the same as any other living body.
A bit long this morning but its quite a big subject, I'll finish now as I don't want to bore you all.

6 December 2008 at 10:42  
Anonymous Anguished Soul said...

It's probably because the true living gospel isn't preached anymore. Our churches are full of this prosperity, purpose driven lies, seeker friendly gospel crap from the States. When my church started to preach this nonsense and threw away the Bible, I noticed that the men got spiritually weak and stupid and the women became strident, bitchy, bossy and wore the trousers. Something to do with headship? It's what happened to Adam in the garden of eden. He listened to his wife, rather than God. Fatal. We've been suffering ever since.

6 December 2008 at 11:21  
Blogger Christian-Jedi-Alliance said...

It is the dark Side which keeps men from church. At the end of the day we men have to go out and shoot a kangaroo for dinner every day, which means traversing the dangers of the outback.
The modern church has allowed its self to stray too far from the Light, and is being associated with all things queer.
In the modern world of men it is tricky to show signs of weakness, for fear the wolves will smell the blood. It is the Jedi way to respect the energy Forces of positive and negative. Man's condition is that of continual struggle with negative energy and contention, which has led to a condition of over compensation.
The web site for the Parish Church of The Ascension has a positive connection with the Force. This is a crucial subject and is worthy of major attention and meditation. All Christian faiths must balance the energies in their churches if they are serious about the saving of our manly souls.
The Jedi understands death as the flow of energy back into the universe to be used for a larger purpose, which is fully compatible with the teachings of the Brotherhood of Christ. But until balance is restored in our churches, the The Dark Side will increase with cumulative power.

6 December 2008 at 11:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From David Lonsdale

I became a Christian through Bible based teaching in the C of E. The gospel is exciting and revolutionary and appealed to both my head and my heart.
The church I attended in Bolton was vibrant, lively and flexible. The 1030 service was a traditional C of E prayer book service. At 6.30 in the evening we had a more flexible service lasting around an hour and 15 minutes. After the service the young people would meet in the church school for more praise and worship using guitars and piano. The common thread linking every service was the truth of the Bible
The after church fellowship became popular not only with the youth group, of which there were about 50, but also attracted the mums and dads, including my own. In addition Christians from surrounding parishes came to the After Church Fellowship. There was no shortage of men, either young or old.
The teaching in every service was risky. It was based on the premise that the Bible was the word of God. We prayed expecting answers and were not disappointed. We went out on a limb, in faith, in so many areas. Notably people came to the Lord in big numbers.
Our Saturday night Youth Club for 13s to 16s regularly had 70 young people and on one Saturday we had 96. There was no preaching on a Saturday night but the gospel message of salvation by faith in Jesus was infectious and passed through the young people, one to another.
Although it was not part of C of E teaching we introduced water baptism by full immersion for believers. I had the privilege of baptising my own mum and dad.
If the message is right the churches will fill up.

When I moved to Wilmslow I went to the main C of E church in the town. I only went once. The Vicar gave a wishy washy liberal sermon in front of a congregation that numbered in the low twenties. I am not sure what the Vicar believed but his faith was not in the risen Lord.
After some wilderness wandering I read of a C of E church, also in Wilmslow, that was expanding the size of the Church building to accommodate the increasing size of the congregation. I went along and found solid Bible based teaching and preaching. As I expected the church was full and there were plenty of men.
Now that I live overseas I attend a Christian fellowship that resembles the After Church Fellowship we had in Bolton. The ratio of men to women is even.
I am in no doubt that bible based teaching fills the churches. Different forms of service appeal to different people. I enjoy the prayer book and I enjoy free services with a looser structure. What I would not tolerate is insipid liberal teaching of the type we could expect from Rowan Williams and it seems most of the population agree with me.
The C of E is giving out an uncertain sound. It is a sound which is unattractive to folk with a spiritual desire to seek God. We can go to one church and hear one message and then hear a completely contrary message at another church n the same town.
Unless the C of E can lead people to salvation through faith in the risen Lord it serves no purpose and will wither and die. The liberal gospel of Canterbury, Oxford and Manchester is a doctrine of despair that leads to Hell.
There are plenty of non demoninational churches rising to take its place. In God's plan the C of E is not indispensable.

6 December 2008 at 11:59  
Anonymous fr william said...

I recommend reading "Why Men Hate Going to Church" by David Murrow. It is written from a US perspective, for which one needs to make some allowances, but (mutatis mutandis) it is a clear and devastating analysis of the problem. The mainstream churches have for some time been progressively feminising their culture (and their liturgy: it was Cardinal Heenan who predicted that the introduction of the new Roman Liturgy in 1970 meant that "we would soon be left with a congregation mostly of women and children." How right he turns out to have been!)

It is by now simply assumed - as would not have been the case a generation or so ago - that (as Murrow puts it) "true disciples of Jesus should adopt values that are commonly found in women while rejecting those most often found in men." The now normative understanding of the Christian faith is one which tends to leave men cold, to do nothing whatever to address their spiritual needs or their natural ways of thinking. This is a problem not only for the present, but for the future: Murrow's book shows that children of both sexes are less likely to attend Church if the father is not involved. A Church which alienates men is inevitably contributing to a long-term downward spiral in Church attendance and a loss of basic Christian understanding from one generation to another.

Why, when I was at theological college, was it perfectly accepted that the Church had room for that excellent body the Mothers’ Union, and yet the very existence until a few years previously of the Church of England Men’s Society was talked of as having been an absurd and almost disgraceful anachronism and an affront to sexual equality? Why, if it comes to that, is the martial imagery which was natural to the New Testament writers now so deprecated that "Onward Christian soldiers" is now standardly re-written as "Onward Christian pilgrims"? One could go on - and on … I am sometimes astonished that any men at all bother to come to church when everything characteristically male is routinely either neglected or actively deprecated.

6 December 2008 at 12:03  
Blogger Christian-Jedi-Alliance said...

David Lonsdale

"insipid Liberal Teaching"

That caused a fluctuation in the Force, I think you are on to something.

6 December 2008 at 12:09  
Blogger Willie said...

I, aged 56, am one of the last generation brought up with the old liturgy. I used to go to Church and came out feeing uplifted and having confessed my sins at least somewhat cleansed.
I feel uncomfortable with homosexuality, and probably with female priests. Without both, I am told that the Church would find it impossible to operate.
Clearly, as old fashioned and out of touch, I would say that the key problem as I see it is that there are no longer any absolutes as defined by the Church itself. There maybe some but they are breached in the observance. I see no point in attending other than for weddings etc. I would rather discuss my salvation or otherwise with God directly than with those whose moral standpoint I feel is wrong.
How much worse the situation of the CofE would be without the reforms of the last 50 years. I might still go to Church and the Church might still fight its corner against the new Equality Bill.
Some chance.

6 December 2008 at 12:53  
Blogger McKenzie said...

All I can say is that I see the CofE melting like a slug on a mound of salt.
If Dr Williams knows what he is doing then God help us. If he doesn't have a clue, which is what I suspect, then the church may at least have some chance.
Pray that Williams is touched by the Grace of God and receives new communication skills so we at least can see his wisdom when he speaks, instead of utter useless and obscure crap.

6 December 2008 at 13:05  
Anonymous WannabeAnglican said...

Let's see. Where to begin. On Remembrance Day last year, an old shrew gave the sermon at Matins at Christ Church and all but said that Hiroshima was as bad as the Holocaust.

Yeah, that'll attract men.

Liberal pseudo-Christian women are running the CofE into the ground (with help from emasculated men, of course) and running off men. There is a time to tell such apostates to shut up and sit down. But does anyone in the CofE have that sort of backbone? . . . . . . . .

I didn't think so.

6 December 2008 at 13:06  
Blogger Man in a Shed said...

I have to confess to happily attending our Church's men's breakfast.

We do occasionally let a woman cook for us.

The problem is the Church lacks balls. Men can sense that.

What's the proportion of male to female mosque attendance ?

6 December 2008 at 13:08  
Blogger McKenzie said...

I don't know if anyone bothered with that link to Taize I put up the other day. But it had a video on it with Williams talking about the founder. All he could find to say was that 'he was not a great intellectual'? Why the hell do you need to highlight this man? Taize attracts thousands of young people every year! I think this man harbors secret thoughts that Jesus was a moron. Jesus, the Son of God was no great academic, theorising intellectual, he was a carpenter, the son of a carpenter. His message was a simple one. It is the intellectual theorisers who have obscured this message to the point where it is not discernible by the very people who Christ was sent to teach. His ministry was amongst the poor and the less privileged, but this message seems to have been hijacked by the wealthy and comfortable in order to justify their self indulgent and narcissistic sense of superiority.
God Frig us.

6 December 2008 at 13:22  
Blogger Damo Mackerel said...

The Church is dying because of its' effeminate clergy. They simple don't appeal to the hetero male. Add in women priests and bishops and the problem is re-enforced. This crisis is going to get worst when gay marriages are allowed in the Church itself.

I often read sermons from this site here:

http://www.st-michaels.org.uk/

Enjoy.

6 December 2008 at 13:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The church of anal sex and lactating priests. Not a good thing to be associated with eh? Best keep it under wraps.

6 December 2008 at 13:40  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Its always going to be a difficult question about women priests.
Islam is a man's world and can be very sexist and exclusive to women. But it's a sensible thing to consider that God created Adam first. And in order to serve the necessary justice, God did not send His only begotten daughter, or His bisexual trans-gender rubber-clad feakling, He Sent His only begotten SON, which kind of says something about the order of things really. Not in any derogatory way about the nature of women, I am sure that men can be an equal pain in the neck to women as visa versa. Men and women are not the same, they are to be deemed equal, but they are frigin different. I am one who fully appreciates the fact that his mother is a woman, their is great wisdom in this for me. And like wise, that my father was a man, equal amounts of wisdom here too.
There is great comfort in the universe when the natural order of things are felt to be in place.
Both men and women should have the right to make choices, but we all need to know, and understand that you cannot have your cake and eat it, or at least you cannot claim to have tasted it and experienced the full flavour of it.
Would it be deemed correct if I underwent a series of psychological tests in order to satisfy the medical fraternity that I really do believe that I am from the planet zod, where all beings have equal amount of male and female sex organs, thereby allowing me to undergo the necessary operations which would produce a new orafice and the required lumps on the chest? Or would they just prescribe anti hallucinogenic medication?

6 December 2008 at 14:11  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

Orthodox Church is only church that has gender parity

6 December 2008 at 14:43  
Anonymous Alexandrian said...

Following the advice of Damo Mackerel, I went to seek the counsel of the Revd Peter Mullen, and found this interesting address.

http://www.st-michaels.org.uk/Sermons%202008/Sermon%20Trinity%20VIII%20Women%20bishops.pdf

6 December 2008 at 14:59  
Blogger len.allan said...

Jesus said"I came that you might have life and have it abundantly. That is what a relationship with the Living God is.
However if you have a relationship with the church, or with religion you will find that is one of the most booring and fruitless experiences.
Choose Life!.

6 December 2008 at 16:29  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

I make no criticism of what may then have been preceived as a policy that would deliver "in touch/relevant" priests, but for a number of years young men considering the priesthood were advised to go away and do something else for a while.

I suspect that this policy may have some responsibility for having removed the young enthusiastic male priests from the Church at ages which would presumably have approximated to those of Jesus and the disciples

6 December 2008 at 16:31  
Blogger Christian-Jedi-Alliance said...

We have an opportunity here to make changes in the Force. However, it is crucial to have a relative grasp of the theory behind the nature of observation and action for change in the Ten Dimensions.
Observation alone can produce change at the fundamental atomic level, but both observation and action are required to fold between dimensions and probable outcomes.

6 December 2008 at 17:49  
Blogger Christian-Jedi-Alliance said...

The Ten Dimensions

6 December 2008 at 17:52  
Anonymous A Saved Sinner said...

I attend a Psalm singing church which sticks to the Regulative principal. I have no desire to use the instruments of rock to worship a Holy God.
True believers are those born again of the Spirit and worship in spirit and truth.
Its not a numbers game as God in his providence has elected those whom He gave to Christ. These are the sheep and none will be lost. Those lost are the goats.
So the real issue is do we acept the gospel of God. "Ye Must be born again".

6 December 2008 at 19:15  
Anonymous Preacher said...

It's interesting to note that when the gospel is preached and lived in full the church is revitalised, the balance is restored and people of both sexes grow spiritually.
As in all walks of life men and women have different roles but both are complimentary, when this balance is upset we crash and burn.
In desperation many turn to the sort of hysterical rubbish that poses as charismatic christianity but in reality is just a pale imitation of the power of Almighty God, it is a fizzy frothy feel good for five minutes fake. As soon as paople realise this they leave 'church' in droves, feeling used and abused, never to return. Alternatively as I said earlier many more leave the church through sheer boredom. In truth there is no need to suffer either fate, all that is necessary is the right balance of word and power, but it takes men (and women) of boldness, faith and power to deliver to deliver this, anything else is a recipe for disaster.

6 December 2008 at 19:57  
Anonymous Sam said...

I resent the implication that us women like watered down sappy "lets all be nice to each other" Christianity.
No-one likes that, just women have more patience than men ;)

6 December 2008 at 20:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come to the Orthodox church. It's much more butch.

6 December 2008 at 20:53  
Blogger Rachel said...

Wow - amazed by some of the comments here about your fellow sisters in Christ and you all charging them with an imitation Christianity - perhaps if it's men like you lot who are leaving our churches, we should breath a sigh of relief or at least begin to pray even harder that you might find a way to be at least courteous to the other half of humanity that God created. I read this post, agreeing with so much of it, hopeful that the comments would not pan out the way that they have but unfortunately there is a verbal violence here that has me running to God for cover.

Devastated
Rachel at Re vis.e re form
Beginning to realise some of the things I might be charged with, unfairly, if I consider ordained ministry - wow - it's gonna be tough out there!

6 December 2008 at 21:04  
Blogger Dave said...

to Rachel:
The post is about why men are leaving the church. It is not, repeat not about being anti-women.
Please read the article again, then read the responses. Almost all the responses are from men like myself who once attended church but no more. So, consider why this is, why the combination of liberal theology, wishy washy preaching and the perhaps but not necessarily unrelated introduction of women ministers have coincided with the decline in male attendance?
And then, consider whether your proposed ordination would be part of the problem or part of the solution.
Yours courteously,

6 December 2008 at 21:49  
Blogger Dave said...

One further thought. Rachel's post speaks of "verbal violence".
I suspect that the feminist political correctness brigade would have accused our Lord and Saviour of that!
What! How dare he call those poor people "whitewashed sepulchres"!
How dare he go into the temple and turn over all those poor trader's tables and drive them out!
How dare he say to the people "Not everyone who calls me Lord Lord will see the Kingdom of heaven. Indeed, many will come to me on that day and say Lord Lord did we not perform miracles in your name? And I will say- "Away from me you evil doers- I never knew you." (a bit of a paraphrase but it's from memory)
Jesus was very male, very strong, so strong he could show weakness (something strong women cannot do). He inspired people to follow him. As for almost all the leaders of the church today- I wouldn't follow them anywhere- which says a lot for their leadership skills doesn't it.
Word verification- I kid you not=
Flogs

6 December 2008 at 21:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rach, you have turned everything that has been said into the usual women haters line.

Why fucking bother eh. Keep your church, and keep your Andrew Lloyd Webber goatied, limp-wristed, shirt-lifting, "praise the Lord" every three seconds """MEN""".

6 December 2008 at 22:06  
Anonymous Rebel Saint said...

Everything in this post and the comments is more adequately covered by reading "Why men hate going to church", visiting the accompanying website, or listening to this talk. They all hit the nail on the head for me.

6 December 2008 at 22:36  
Anonymous fr william said...

I'd be fascinated to know where Rachel gets her notion that we are "all charging them [women] with an imitation Christianity" and are engaging in "verbal violence". It seems to have nothing to do with the comments, but everything to do with wanting to defend the development of a radically anti-male culture in the church. (It reminds me of the Liturgical Commission document on so-called "inclusive language", Making Women Visible, a title which sounded sufficiently laudable in itself, but which in practice turned out to have as its agenda the rather different aim of "making men invisible".)

And yes, Rachel, ministry is tough - if you're seriously considering it, you should be under no illusions about that. And when you do find it tough, don't try convincing yourself it's because of your gender - it's something our Lord warned us all to expect, male and female alike. If you think what you've encountered here is "verbal violence", I fear for your ability to cope in real front-line ministry.

7 December 2008 at 00:22  
Anonymous Hettie said...

McKenzie said:Jesus, the Son of God was no great academic, theorising intellectual, he was a carpenter, the son of a carpenter. His message was a simple one. It is the intellectual theorisers who have obscured this message to the point where it is not discernible by the very people who Christ was sent to teach.
--
Now hold on a moment. Jesus was brought up in the Jewish tradition. He could read, write, recite the Torah and was familiar with the commentaries and traditions (teaching using parables for instance). He also taught in the Temple (wasn't he 12 years old at the time?), and argued with fellow Jews. He was a brilliant, fearless intellectual in every sense of the word. There's no need to make him look like some down to earth sweaty man whose message was simple, he could be both a brilliant scholar and a carpenter, and contemporary men could learn a great deal from His example.

7 December 2008 at 02:15  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The Church has become Socialist in all its bureaucratic forms. Often it resembles the Rotarians with fund-raising and postcard lobbying for public money to be given to some cause or another.

Most prelates appearing in media seem weak, wet, and suited for no other post beyond administrative social work. For men who face hard-nosed problems in their working lives there is no icentive to listen to a "civil servant" spout platitudes from The Guardian or back issues of New Society.

The problem in Western Christianity is Complacency - a love of ritual rather than an ardent Church Militant seeking to plant Faith.

The whole emphasis of the C of E is on Personnel - whether gays, women, or assorted groups, policies, feel the Church is in conformity with secular values. God has been re-written and re-scripted and has left the Church building to be a House of Baal....many men find God is outside the Church

7 December 2008 at 07:46  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Show me His great works of scholarly writings?

All carpenters are stupid sweaty individuals who are not capable of reading from a book in a synagogue.

Did I touch a nerve there oh comfortable narcissistic one?

7 December 2008 at 11:22  
Blogger len.allan said...

The point being missed here is people are leaving the church because they are fed up with the emptyness and the boring rituals practiced in many churches.
If you have found a Holy Spirit filled church you are blessed!
Many people are leaving the church to follow Jesus Christ because they don`t feel the church is the best place to do this!
This is not an attack on women , why should it be?
As I said many churches are not led by the Holy Spirit and are led by ritual.
The Spirit brings life but without the Spirit these churches are dead!

7 December 2008 at 13:00  
Blogger The last cause said...

Well, it would seem to me the first thing to do is to discover when the decline began, if it was a generation ago, then the women who are attending with their children are not inspiring their young boys to continue attendance.

That is half of any sort of solution though, the other side would be why aren't men finding the message of Christ appealing nor motivating to attend?

7 December 2008 at 13:02  
Blogger Christian-Jedi-Alliance said...

Len Allen is correct here. We are all obviously concerned and feel passionate about what is happening, but the cause is not something that can be explained in simplistic terms.

The Holy Spirit is the key to all of this. Christ did not have any need of scholarly activity, He spoke with authority because He is the (deleted) authority. A flame needs air before it can burn, and similarly, before any light can shine, it needs a permissible environment. Some people seem to have reached the zenith of their spirituality and enlightenment because they have restricted the conditions in their heart thus preventing any light from shinning for any significant period of time. They have felt the power of the Holy Spirit and crave the higher order, but they miss the point about how to achieve. They have closed the door behind them, when they need to once again knock.

This is the message which our Lord gave to us, that we must be as little children with open minds and hearts (not skipping around with ropes and playing Cowboys and Indians), displaying humility, love, charity and compassion.

But God wants us to get groovin in the creation, He wants us to experience the universe and treat life as a continual pilgrimage of learning and enlightenment. There is NO STEREO-TYPICAL Christian, this is the (deleted) whole point, we are here to interact with each other and learn the qualities of the higher order.

The Holy Spirit is mysterious, of course, but sometimes part of our pilgrimage requires an action of faith, a knock on the door. Very often what we hear is not what we want to hear, it makes us extremely uncomfortable. If this is how it makes you feel, THEN (DELETED) GOOD, because you are on the right path!

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH US

7 December 2008 at 13:24  
Blogger Rachel said...

'When my church started to preach this nonsense and threw away the Bible, I noticed that the men got spiritually weak and stupid and the women became strident, bitchy, bossy and wore the trousers. Something to do with headship? It's what happened to Adam in the garden of eden. He listened to his wife, rather than God. Fatal. We've been suffering ever since.'

'an old shrew gave the sermon at Matins at Christ Church'

'Liberal pseudo-Christian women are running the CofE into the ground ...There is a time to tell such apostates to shut up and sit down.'

'I have to confess to happily attending our Church's men's breakfast. We do occasionally let a woman cook for us.'

'The church of anal sex and lactating priests.'

These comments are the sort of thing that led me to comment on a 'verbal violence'. But keep it up, I don't think anything will put me off - if I have to suffer then bring it on - just amazed it has to come from other Christians.
AND

'Rach, you have turned everything that has been said into the usual women haters line.

Why fucking bother eh. Keep your church, and keep your Andrew Lloyd Webber goatied, limp-wristed, shirt-lifting, "praise the Lord" every three seconds """MEN""". '

Wow - I can't reply to this one.
Rachel

7 December 2008 at 18:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christian -Jedi,


"MAY THE FORCE BE WITH US"

And also with you.

Must go -I've got my light sabre on charge.

Iconoclast

7 December 2008 at 19:02  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Rach:



Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.


Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.


I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.


Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His day is marching on.


I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
As ye deal with My condemners, so with you My grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.


Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Since God is marching on.


He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.


Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.


In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
While God is marching on.


Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on.


He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.


Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.


MUSIC

7 December 2008 at 19:53  
Blogger Rachel said...

Father William - thank for your concern - but I'm pretty tough!

David, courteously, what would you have me do with all this energy and passion that I have for Jesus and his word? I have all these opportunities to do this - all these doors opening and this strong calling - do I really have to hide my light under a bushel for the sake of a few men who will think that because I'm a woman I come to share the 'quite' good news?!

7 December 2008 at 20:00  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Rachel:

You need to take a day off from wandering around the countryside taking photos of dead apples with your Hooray fellowship group, and get down to your local Salvation Army shelter and, well, take care of some dead apples. Its not quite as interesting, or self gratuitous, but its more useful.

7 December 2008 at 20:08  
Blogger Rachel said...

Point taken, McKenzie. I don't very often take photos of dead apples, you know. :)

Why do you presume that I don't 'get down to my local Salvation Army shelter etc etc'?

My fellowship group certainly aren't 'hooray' - far from it - you should hear their testimonies!! I have raised at college my concerns more than once that very often it all feels very self-indulgent, all the prayer, silence and contemplation. I've never had so much time to think before in my life. I think you are raising interesting theological questions about churches whose focus is mission and churches whose focus is educating its flock with clever biblical exegesis. I've just left one church which dealt nearly wholly in the latter for one which deals more in the former. Surely it's about combining both.

I will keep my countryside strolls to a minimum!:)

Thanks for the hymn, I'm supposing you chose this one purposely to highlight the fact that there are some gutsy and godly women out there.

7 December 2008 at 20:27  
Blogger Rachel said...

Perhaps I get it now - is it this 'photographing of apples' stuff that you guys can't stand? Have I just acted all 'limp-wristed and effeminate' - I know what will fix you all - a good dose of Mark Driscoll theology - I'm not sure I'm allowed to join in - me being a women and all - but all that beating each other up with large wooden sticks stuff looks like great fun - and if you ask me even more indulgent than photographing apples - wow - I need to give that up and get a piece of the real action!

7 December 2008 at 20:40  
Blogger McKenzie said...

You've passed. :)

XxxX

God must know what a swine I am cos He made me. I will be watching for disturbances in the Force.

7 December 2008 at 20:41  
Blogger Rachel said...

Fantastic

X

I'll leave this thread now and get back to real life.

A good way to wrap it all up.

7 December 2008 at 20:46  
Blogger McKenzie said...

APPLES

7 December 2008 at 20:57  
Blogger len.allan said...

Rachel:proverbs. 27:17

7 December 2008 at 21:01  
Blogger Rachel said...

Absolutely Len
Peace, but, you know, with a good hard slap on the back as opposed to a limp-wristed hand-shake! ;)

7 December 2008 at 21:14  
Blogger len.allan said...

ok, ouch!
We christians face many oppositions, many challenges, but Jesus is always with us.
God Bless you,don`t let the fire go out!

7 December 2008 at 21:51  
Blogger Darren said...

Bizare.

Some interesting points about men and Church. BUT to you guys who (perhaps rightly) lament that we struggle to get the guys... but don't go to Church, trotting out excuses why you've been put off, or drive a distinction between Jesus and Church have missed a very big point.

Church is commanded! Church = the body of Christ, 1 John 1:1-4 (well all of 1 John really) shows fellowship with Father and Son, leads to Fellowship with each other. Hebrews 10 commands we meet together.

So even if Church absolutly sucks - if you are a Christian, you go. You may need to find one that is a bit more bloke friendly, we need to work at reforming to reach blokes.

It is one thing to think about why we aren't reaching men. But to excuse our own absence just doesn't wash.

8 December 2008 at 10:40  
Blogger len.allan said...

Jesus said I am building mt ekklesia, my called out ones,not I am building my steeple building where people can practice religion!.
There is a vast difference between organised religion and the body of Christ.
The `church` Jesus is building is constructed of living stones not bricks and mortar.
The sad thing is many people are serving religion and think they are serving God.

8 December 2008 at 13:42  
Anonymous miserable sinner said...

When a church goes into a membership decline, it can be very difficult to turn it around once it reaches a certain point. A man who visits a service which has only a handful of other males in attendance will be worried that if he joins, he will have to be on too many committees, pressed too hard for donations, etc. Similarly, women don't want to dread picking up the phone because somebody wants her to help out yet again with endless cooking and cleaning and nursery duty. If the church is getting "elderly," and you will be the "spring chicken" then as older members become unable to do various things, your burden will increase with every passing year.

My aunt left her small church a few years ago and joined a larger church simply to avoid this situation. Once she joined the larger church, her husband started attending church with her, which he had never done since their child was young. (They are in their 70s, and used to live in a much larger city.)

I would agree with a lot of those who posted above that the wishy-washiness of the church drives men away, which is undoubtedly the first step in the overall decline of the church.

As someone who previously attended an Episcopal church with a female pastor on staff, I will say that I think that there is a weird dynamic with some of the female/gay male priests in which they HOPE that the congregation loses lots of members. As long as they have their stained glass windows, clerical collars and pension rights, they are perfectly content, as long as the church can stay afloat somehow until they retire. If some of the church members are uncomfortable with female or gay priests, it makes THEM uncomfortable. It's better if those parishioners disappear, even though, sadly, they take their tithes and offerings with them.

The Episcopal church over here is going to be in deep financial trouble pretty soon. My guess would be that wealthy Episcopalians are no longer writing wills in which the Episcopal church is a beneficiary.

8 December 2008 at 18:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My aunt left her small church a few years ago and joined a larger church simply to avoid this situation. Once she joined the larger church, her husband started attending church with her, which he had never done since their child was young. (They are in their 70s, and used to live in a much larger city.)"

Is this an example of manliness and courage or of a man following a brave woman?

Some of you are really weird - talking about a parallel world I just don't see. At my church where an openly gay vicar is presiding over a rapidly growing church of straight men and their wives and children we talk about all sorts of stuff and make space for people when they aren't ready to deal with it - not dealing with 'stuff' is fine but arguing that it isn't there in the first place is just daft.

There's a lot of aggression and anger and frankly hatred above that it took a brave woman to challenge; I think Jesus stood out, head and shoulders, from the men around him in his relationships with women not because he was a 'real man' in the sense many of these posts used but because he wasn't angry, bitter or afraid of difference.

Some men stop going to church (and I can only talk about my UK experience) because their congregation expects them to deal with the emotional stuff going on in their lives in order to experience Christian tranfiguration. People have always found that scary - when it comes up front in a frock it's no longer ignorable!

Hating people is always wrong even if you think God is on your side!

9 December 2008 at 20:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds more like a social club!

9 December 2008 at 21:06  
Blogger Darren said...

Len Allen - I know

I'm not talking about a building or even a club. I mean Christians are obliged to gather.

There's lots wrong with the Church etc. on top of what's mentioned here. But that doesn't mean that we can ignore the straight forward command of Scripture for God's community to gather. That's what the whole Bible is about, God gathering his people and the local Church is an expression of it.

We can say what we can do to stop the rot, but we can't absolve our own disobediance... can we?

10 December 2008 at 20:15  
Blogger len.allan said...

My allegiance is to Jesus Christ not a bunch of people gathering in a building!
Anyone can start a church, does that mean that it is being led by the Holy Spirit?
I have no objection to meeting with a group of born again believers to preach the gospel,but to sit in church and listen to endless sermons , to what purpose?.Jesus said I will build my ekklesia(called out ones) not I will build my church) If you are truly born again you are a new creation born of God( God is not gay) so how do gay priests come in?I think you need to re-think your situation.

11 December 2008 at 20:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is interesting that in the States that churches with traditional liturgies are dying and those with creative liturgies, modern music, video/computer graphics, and non traditional architecture are thriving. The emerging churches are attracting young people and their families to the point of overflowing. The creativity, sincere seeking of God, missionary spirit are electric. We have many young men who want to spread the Gospel. The secret to success: Talk about how to build a relationship with God and renew relationships. Get people involved. Do outreach..eg Surfing Ministry, Christian Coffee Houses, Home Churches. Walk the talk and build the kingdom of God on Earth.

8 March 2009 at 01:16  
Anonymous Jonathan P said...

I always got the impression that the C of E has been increasingly feminised over the years. Are heterosexual men REALLY wanted? I'm a bit doubtful, but it's all academic as they aren't going to get them.

Certainly every belief seems up for negotiation. The Archbishop of Canterbury seems to find the idea of being a Christian all very embarrassing .

16 June 2009 at 00:04  

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