Guest Post by my husband, Russell D. Bafford, Sr….
Look around any evangelical church service on a Sunday morning and count the people you see. It is likely women will outnumber men 2 or 3 to 1. Why is that? It is because the Christian churches in the USA have become feminized over a period of decades. Some more so than others, but most have succumbed to the societal trend that shuns, or de-emphasizes, masculine interests, values, and goals in favor of “softer, kinder, gentler” interests, values, and goals of women. Books, essays, seminars, conferences and a host of other forums have acknowledged this phenomenon, and there has been much collective hand-wringing about what should be done to reverse this trend.
Worship music can help men feel welcome, or it can drive men away. More on that later, but let me first share some observations I had as a young boy growing up in the Midwest in a mainline protestant church. None of the men I saw in the church seemed to care much about what the Bible had to say. It was just not relevant to their daily lives … or at least it seemed that way to this impressionable young boy. I never saw my own father read the Bible or pray. Then I encountered a man who had a profound, lasting effect on me. He never spoke to me; I don’t know his name; but what I saw him do has been etched in my memory for at least 50 years. While sitting in the waiting room of my dentist, I saw this man come in, sit down, pick up the Bible from the table, open it, and read it. He didn’t flip through the pages quickly. He actually read one whole page and then the next one and then the next … I was amazed. He didn’t look like a wimp. He didn’t look crazy. He looked like he was genuinely interested in the contents of that book. He looked like a real man, and today I know he was just that.
Nearly twenty years later God would use the contents of that book to draw me, through conviction and repentance, to Himself. As I read the Bible through for the first time, I saw God-fearing men portrayed in a different light. They were courageous, brave, bold, stern at times, stupid at times, compassionate, warriors at times, and they could even be gentle. The first century Christian men I saw in the Bible were not limp-wristed wusses who trembled at every peril they faced. Their courage and boldness came from the Lord in a measure far beyond what they could muster on their own. As a result of what the Bible had to say about men, my paradigm of a Christian man changed.
Fast forward to 21st century worship music. When men are forced to sing praise songs to the Lord that contain romantic lyrics such as those that express a woman’s desire to be embraced by the strong man of her dreams, then many men lose interest. Such lyrics might resonate with a single woman, a divorced woman, or a woman who has an unbelieving, cold husband, and there is a place for those expressions of love and desire in women-only events. However, don’t be surprised if the men in the crowd are less than enthusiastic about mouthing those same words of romantic affection.
Want to really engage the men in your worship? Sing songs about Christ’s kingdom, His power, His blood, His sacrifice, commitment to Him, service for His kingdom, and in general … what He has done for us. Read the words Martin Luther wrote in A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, and you’ll better understand what concepts resonate with most Christian men.
Real men need to worship God with other believers, too. Christian men WANT to do that! Our churches need to encourage their participation without requiring them to leave their masculinity outside the building.
“…not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV)