Monday, 7 July 2014

Men for God: What not to do

Have you ever heard of men's crėches?
They have sprung up in some of our shopping centres. There was one in Cramlington, Northumberland, maybe it's still there. Ikea have a few as well, so I understand. They are 'play areas' for blokes, with Sky Sports TV, video games, snacks and 'lad mags'. The idea behind them is to let the wives and girlfriends get on with doing the shopping while the blokes can amuse themselves without getting into arguments. The term 'men's crėche' is exactly the right one. After a generation or three of fatherlessness, many of the men in our country are nothing more than big babies. It's just that their toys are a bit more sophisticated. It's not surprising we still treat them as such.
It's easy to look with amusement or bemusement at what the world is doing. The trouble is, we are doing it in our churches as well! I'll come back to this point in a moment.
There are now organisations out there such as Christian Vision for Men, books aimed at men, such as Wild at Heart by John Eldredge and Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow. There are also men's breakfasts and conferences springing up. I have been to my share of these, and read a book or two. I'm glad that people are recognising that there is a need here that needs to be addressed.
Here's an interesting set of facts from CVM:

Thought provoking? How is it that our Lord and King, Jesus Christ, was able to build his church on the foundation of young skilled manual labourers and we can't seem to touch them? Where are we going wrong? The only thing here that I take slight issue with on here is the bit about being comfortable in church. I don't believe church should necessarily be a comfortable place for unbelievers. See below, for example.
The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.
Acts 5:12-14

But many of the things these people say are right. Church has become quite effeminate in many respects, such as the music (too slushy) and the decor (too flowery). But I am dubious about much of the material that is out there too which is designed to attract men. The marketing people, spin doctors and branding consultants have been out in force to see how they can make the Gospel attractive to men.
So to begin with, here's a list of what we don't need:
- beautiful, polished motorbikes put on display in the entrance of the church
- sexist jokes
- invitations to do extreme sports
- tribal shouts or chants
- more electronic gadgets and noisier music in church
- rodeo bulls
- Mexican waves and Harlem shakes
I have first-hand experience of most of these things, including the first on the list! I feel patronised by them. The trouble is, church people are being little different from the shopping centres and Ikea, with their men's creches.
So what are we to do?
Well, for a start, we need brave men who will live sacrificially, stand up for truth and righteousness, suffer for the truth of the gospel and lay down their lives for their brethren. Why don't we just obey what Jesus said instead of worrying too much about how 'attractional*' we are?
*This strange word only ever seems to be used in the context of making church attractive to outsiders.

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