Ray H. Hughes, Jr.
According to a recent study by George Barna, noted church pollster, most unchurched men believe that church has nothing of value to add to their lives. There simply is not enough return on their investment of time and energy to warrant affiliation with a church.
What are these unchurched men looking for from churches? Barna’s survey of 2,000 unchurched men revealed five things:
- Men are looking for understanding. Those surveyed said they would like a church that helped them understand the Bible in a systematic way rather than from sermons and Sunday school. This bodes well for them to be introduced to a small group Bible study sponsored by the local LifeBuilders Men’s Ministry.
- Men are seeking relationships. Though men find it hard to admit, many of them are lonely. According to Sonderman, author of How to Build a Life-Changing Men’s Ministry, “men like to hang out with men just like them.” They want to feel connected in a non-threatening setting.
- Men want instruction for their children. Strangely enough many unchurched men would like for their kids to have a positive Christian learning experience. In the survey men cited a poor or mediocre church experience growing up as the reason for not sending their children to church. Most fathers are in a constant struggle raising their children and want help from the church; however, if they feel the church experience is not positive or does not seem to work for their children they will not keep them in church.
- Men are seeking solutions. In the struggle to be successful in life, millions of men are suffering from stress. They want to find a church that will help them solve the difficult problems they face on a daily basis. They are more interested in what makes life work than spiritual principles.
- Men want to know God. Although millions of men have given up on organized religion, they still express that they want to know God. They simply do not know how to go about finding Him. Since most of their peers share the same dilemma, they have no one to turn to for answers.
Sharing the Christian faith with skeptical men who reject the Bible as the Word of God, contend that there are no moral absolutes, deny the Resurrection, and do not embrace the basic tenets of the faith, is the enormous challenge we face. What can the church do to reach these millions of unchurched men? They are frustrated with life’s problems, turned off to organized religion, seeking understanding, relationships, and solutions; yet, they refuse to turn to the church for help. We must attempt to recognize the special needs of men in the ’90s and meet them at their point of need. Then and only then can we begin to address those needs and reach them for the Kingdom.
George Barna in a recent article titled “The Battle for the Hearts of Men” offers several suggestions how this might be accomplished:
- Make the atmosphere friendly. Learn to respond properly to male visitors. Guide them into male oriented programs. Men will gravitate to churches where they feel safe and the programs are sensitive to the needs of men.
- Put your beliefs into an understandable context. Often we assume people understand church talk such as “washed in the blood,” “born again,” etc. We should take the extra time to make sure that those who have not grown up in the church are presented the Christian theology in meaningful terms.
- Pray that God will replace our weaknesses with His power. In order to combat the spiritual void among men it will take the zeal and wisdom that only Christ can supply. As believers we must bond together in prayer and face the forces of spiritual darkness.
If your church does not have a LifeBuilders Men’s Ministry this would be a good place to start developing programs to meet the specific needs of men. For those who already have a men’s ministry start the Pastors Prayer Partners program. The time is now to become serious about reaping this vast harvest of millions unchurched men.