Is Churchgoing Pink to Men?
The Chief of Police in Bangkok, Thailand has discovered the ultimate punishment for wayward officers: they must wear a pink armband emblazoned with “Hello Kitty,” a cutesy favorite of under-10 girls.
Other punishments have not deterred tardiness, double parking and littering among officers, but acting chief Pongpat Chayaphan believes the armbands will do the trick. “After this policy came out, the police are scared,” he said. “It will be very embarrassing to walk around with Hello Kitty on your arm.’
What’s so bad about a pink armband? This seemingly benign corrective strikes a double-whammy at the heart of manhood. Every man fears being perceived as feminine (pink) and childish (hello Kitty).
Sadly, churchgoing has become a pink armband for many men. It’s a sign of weakness, childishness and femininity.
But churches can break this reputation by intentionally reaching out to men. Christ’s Church of the Valley is one of America’s fastest growing congregations. It sits on a sprawling campus in the northwest Phoenix suburb of Peoria, Arizona. CCV attracts some 12,000 worshippers every weekend to its state-of-the-art facility. It has planted 18 congregations around the world.
What’s it’s secret? Thirteen years ago the leadership of CCV made a policy shift that sent the congregation into growth overdrive. In 1994, CCV decided to target men, age 25-to-45. Since that decision, the church has grown by 20 to 25 percent a year.
A visit to the church’s web site finds men are always mentioned first. Guy pictures and sports images appear on just about every page. Men’s ministry tops the weekly bulletin announcements. This intentional emphasis on men makes guys feel like they’re wanted and needed.
Today, hundreds of athletes from the Phoenix area come to CCV to play on its well-maintained soccer and softball fields. And the church draws many unchurched visitors from its sports leagues. In fact, CCV is known as the “jock church” in Phoenix. Men feel accepted there because it has a reputation as a guy place.
Do women feel slighted with all this attention lavished on men? Apparently not. The Sunday I worshipped at CCV I counted slightly more women than men in the sanctuary. The women I talked to were delighted to attend a church where the men were alive. They felt hopeful that their boys would stay faithful through their teenage years, thanks to the masculine spirit of the congregation.
You don’t need to be a megachurch to reach men. New Life Center in Porterville, CA has been focusing on men by conducting Go for the Guys Sundays twice in the past year. The response from men has been enthusiastic. Pastor Dave Mast says that male visitors are starting to show up out of the blue because they’ve heard it’s a good place for guys. According to Mast, New Life Center’s worship services now attract more men than women.
So what are you waiting for? Declare war on pink armband Christianity. Start targeting men with your worship, classes and outreach. See what God does.
The Power of a Masculine Leadership Model
Have you heard about this church that’s building itself on a military metaphor? It’s led by a general, not a bishop. Their clergy are not referred to as pastors, priests or vicars, instead it’s captain, major, colonel and commander. Officers go through seven years of training and are barred from earning outside income. This church even tells officers whom they can and cannot marry.
Membership requirements are rigorous. When you join this church, you are referred to as a soldier. You must sign a declaration of faith and practice known as Articles of War, and you are required to give volunteer service to the church. You’re required to abstain from all tobacco, illegal drugs and alcohol. The organization’s magazine is called War Cry!
Sounds like some weird cult, doesn’t it? So what’s the name of this unusual church?
The Salvation Army.
You may not realize it, but the Salvation Army is a church. Unlike most churches, it’s not known for its worship services. Instead, it’s known for helping people. And no church feeds more, clothes more or comforts more. The church has only about 600,000 members, but this year alone it will help more than 30 million people. The Salvation Army is at work in more than 100 countries around the globe.
How is it possible to accomplish so much with so few members? While most churches are built around an academic model, the Salvationists are building on a military model. The entire church is structured for outreach. As a result of this structure, this relatively small denomination is able to accomplish more social service than all other denominations combined.
What lessons can the local church learn from the Salvation Army?
* A masculine organizational model is desirable. By using a military metaphor, the Army has resisted the trend toward feminization and liberalization that has plagued other established denominations.
* High standards are good. Call many, choose few. Effectiveness is more important than size.
* Most churches try to be everything to everyone. But a church that focuses like a laser on a particular aspect of the gospel will outperform the multi-focused church every time.
* It’s time to lift the de facto ban on military imagery and songs in the church. How long has it been since we’ve been allowed to sing Onward Christian Soldiers? Military imagery does not create violent men; it helps them focus their passions on the good fight.
* Instead of gender neutralizing our churches, we should celebrate both masculine and feminine expression. Androgyny has no place in God’s creation.
The article “Is Churchgoing Pink to Men?” written by Dale Astore was excerpted from www.churchformen.com web site, January 2010.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”