Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Why a decline in men attending church?

Unless I am mistaken the concept of church and the western leisure related life-style would add to the decline of men attending a Christian based church.  [Figures show this is not so for other religions Tearfund Stats]

The other religions tend to be culturally fixed within their religious practises, [Westerners less so] ,and men are considered more 'important' or 'worthy' than women in such religions.  Not in a subversive way, though sadly it can be and often is, but in a culturally accepted way.

As the western life-style tends to bring female behaviour in line with male behaviour, rather than women striving to achieve or live as they could as women/female, they tend to ape male behaviour, normally of the worst kind - a ladette for example.  The church has to see this and like single parenthood work with it and through it.  No good whining "oh the shame of them".  It is as it is work with it.

The fact that there are [apparently[ more men leaving the church than women can show two things, irrelevance of church moral ethics to them, which are less so for a female, and leadership identification.

If we take the latter, which I believe the why church site is using as the reason, it it necessary to match men leaving churches led by women in comparison to churches led by men.  [I am working on such data]

In all my years of church visiting and attending from 1980 onwards I have noted the ratio of about 3:1 in favour of women attendees.  Reasons given were that the men were: at work, home from work, watching sport, gone to the pub, can't be bothered and leaving it to the wife to take the kids if that's what they want.  To be honest not once was I told that it was because, especially when, of course, women were accepted as ministers by the Church of England, bear in mind that other church denominations have had women ministers for a long time, it was a woman in charge.

Considering the gender gap in attendance then church programs to some extent will and must reflect this, that there are more women to cater for than men ; concentrating on holding events or programs just for those at are missing and might turn up - why would they - is both costly and demoralising.

That does not mean that churches should not try, but it is a circular argument to say that men are not in attendance and then say that it is because most church programs are female orientated or run, and it is because women are in charge. Those two are unlikely reasons in our Christian western culture.  The church attendance by men started declining long before that.  I believe the decline was noted as from 1950 onwards - both a decline in church attendance by men and women, which was not about feminisation of the church, and then a societal change of life style behaviour, which took men away from church as individualism and independence from fatherhood and traditional family values became the norm; and promoted by society, but then ignored then rallied against negatively by the church establishment.  Too little too late.  That is why Independent, Free and some Evangelical churches are seeing an increase in numbers.  What the gender ratio for those churches I have yet found statistics for.  My initial thought is much the same 3 or 4:1.

All comments welcome.

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