Church Views · Marketing · Serving/Leadership

the masculinity conundrum

For all its obsession with the world’s “leadership” hype, the church’s traditionally male leaders nevertheless suspect a creeping “masculinity crisis” in the church. While one could consider a crisis of this sort a reflection of leadership – (ahem) – today’s leaders seem to have taken one of two approaches: blame women for coming to church more often and in greater numbers than men (feminization), or develop programs and strategies designed to appeal to more… manly men.

Okay, I just re-read that paragraph and wanted to laugh. Good grief – we’re talking about church here. It really shouldn’t be that hard.

What got me thinking about this was a recent blog post, “How NOT to Respond to the Church’s ‘Masculinity Crisis.'” The author articulately addresses Pastor Mark Driscoll’s opinion that “Sixty percent of Christians are chicks, and the forty percent that are dudes are still sort of chicks.” Driscoll states he cannot worship a guy he “could beat up.” Which to me says more about him than it does about Jesus.

And that reminded me of something my friend T.W. (Tech Wizard) at my previous church said, when I asked him about “feminization” versus male leadership. He said:

“It’s because the church leaders have gotten caught up in marketing. And marketing is mostly geared towards women. And most of them don’t know how to lead – really lead – MEN.”

Really, Driscoll is just marketing a butched-up Jesus, one that appeals to “ultimate fighters” and WWF fans. Or, as Rachel said in the link above, a Jesus that’s easier to follow. That won’t fix the perceived “masculinity” conundrum in the church. Because the real problem is our desire for our church to be popular. Great leadership has become equated with great numbers, and slanting the message to target wider audiences has simply created a Jesus that’s easier to follow. And that’s not leadership.

3 thoughts on “the masculinity conundrum

  1. Couple ‘a thots not strung together by a thesis…

    One, I think the church’s masculinity problem may be a symptom/microcosm of a larger masculinity problem in the general U.S. culture that’s been going on 40 years. As the author of “The war against boys” says, “It’s a bad time to be a boy in America,”

    Two, it’s that stupid painting of Christ’s fault. Seriously, could anyone have imagined a more feminine image? Can you imagine that man doing the work of a carpenter? Could he even have callouses? To come even close to a clear picture of Christ, one would have to burn that image of Christ from their minds eye. The person in that picture and the Christ that picked up a whip and knocked over tables and chased a bunch of business guys from the temple can’t be the same. You have to be at least a little scary to get away with knocking people’s stuff over.

    Three: You want an MMA? How about Moses who kills a trained soldier “mano a mano” or King David and his Mighty Men taking out giants and Philistine bad actors? Or Abraham marshaling his own private army when someone messed with his family? And my favorite, the left handed assassin who killed the fat king. And of course Caleb taking on giants in his 80’s.

    Four: That brings up a tension. In the old testament half the heros were pretty rough and tough guys – even the Prophets used language that would get me kicked out of Sunday School. But in the New Testament, everyone gets pushed around, tortured and martyred and its wrong to fight back.

    Fifth: Generationally, there is no comparison to how my father and father-in-law were dads and how my friends and I are dads. They didn’t go to two-year-old birthday parties, they didn’t change diapers much and a whole lotta other things. These changes may be good – but they are changes from past masculine ways of being.

    Sixth: And of course, the marketing of the church to the larger market.


    1. Dang, those are great points. thanks, Robert! I guess you could also add the information age, which turned men from calloused farmers & machinists to white collar button pushers… While I know the church is comprised of people who live in this culture, it seems as if we focus on following it, rather than teaching/encouraging people to live differently within it.


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