Why do women outnumber men in the church today? What’s going on?
Commanded to Worship
It’s not a male or female thing in regards to worshiping God. As long as we worship God in spirit and in truth, He will accept it (John 4:24), but many today are doing just what the Bible forbids, and that is, they are failing to assemble together as the Body of Christ which the church has done for over 2,000 years. Church attendance is falling; more churches are closing than opening; and the Internet and cable TV have replaced the weekly worship service with “worship in your pajamas,” but is that the same thing as worshiping corporately? No, absolutely not. The author of Hebrews wrote, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:24-25). It’s hard to stir up one another when you’re not with one another. The fact that there are almost 100 “others” or “one another’s” in the New Testament, tells us that we need one another. We were made for relationship…with God and with one another. The Body of Christ doesn’t function well when it’s dismembered or has members missing from the Body. A hand’s a beautiful thing…until it becomes detached from the body, then its grotesque.
In other parts of the world, there isn’t such a discrepancy between the number of men and women who come to worship services. In fact, if more men went to church, it is very likely that more women and children would come, but if a man refuses to attend church, then the chances are better that their children will not attend church once they become adults and can freely choose to go or not to go. Surprisingly, most choose not to go if the father doesn’t and this creates another generation of un-churched people, and as the numbers of men decline, so do the number of children attending, and eventually, as the children grow into adulthood, they will believe (by example) that church was not important to dad so it must not be important at all…even if the mother goes. A recent report by the charity Tearfund revealed that churches in England are made up of 65 per cent women, so are women inherently more religious? Is God calling and saving more women than men? Are women more spiritual? Do they respond to God in a more intimate way? For one thing, women live longer and woman, as a general rule, are more relational and they seek closer, more intimate relationships at church than most men do, plus more men work than do women, so men may be more fatigued or they may have to even work on Sundays. Of course, women work just as hard as men do, either at a job or at home, but most at both, so men being tired on Sundays’ doesn’t really hold water as an excuse not to worship.
Is Church More Feminine?
The idea that church is more feminine, and thus, more women are attracted to church and more men are repulsed by the so-called “feminization of church,” has not been established by research but many men believe it is a fact, but to generalize about women and men leads us to a slippery slope because everyone is different. Some men are more sensitive and driven to tears than women, and there are many men who attend church without their wife, but if the man attends and the woman doesn’t, the husband may have a harder time bringing the children to church, but if the woman is the only one to attend, the children may be more likely to go than if only the dad goes, but if dad goes to church, more families are likely to go together. Two men who I spoke with said it is because of the legalism established by “church ladies” that deters him from coming. One lady actually told him before services, and where others could hear, “Does your mother approve of what you wear?,” so he sees it more as a ladies club than a church since the women greatly outnumbered the men in the church he used to go to.
Bible studies just for men might be a way to capture and hold the interest of men. Men and women are certainly different and what a woman seeks to learn in a Bible study may not be what men are interested in, so to have a generic Bible study or Sunday school group that glosses over the differences between men and women may make the men feel inferior or as if their spiritual needs are not being met. There are more women Bible study groups in churches today than men Bible study groups from what I’ve seen. The other friend I spoke with said that he felt “beaten up” when certain sermons or topics were brought up in messages and Bible studies. Since men are the head of the household, the expectations to be the spiritual leader and head of the home are difficult to reach. For example, how many of us husbands have loved our wife like Christ loved the church and Who willingly died for her? Christ loved the church, so “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself” (Eph 5:28). Proverbs 31 is often unfairly used against women when there are no women I know who fulfill perfectly every single characteristic mentioned in that chapter, but men who have a domineering or dominating wife are much more likely to avoid church because they feel they’ll be the main target of the material taught, with an occasional elbow to the side of their husband when the pastor makes a point. Some men grow so frustrated by their wives “ruling the roost” that they simply give up trying. The Bible teaches that the one thing women need most is love, but the one thing men need the most is respect, and when that’s missing in a marriage, it may be less likely that the man will even feel comfortable in church, not to mention in the marriage. One friend said he squirmed when the pastor was teaching about the wife submitting to her husband, as unto the Lord. He wouldn’t even take notes because his home life was where he was the one submitting. A couple of his friends in church even looked at him during the sermon, as if to say with their eyes, “Too bad your wife doesn’t submit to you.”
Ultimately, it is God Who calls and God Who saves…and Him alone. It’s not that more women respond to God’s call and fewer men don’t. It’s more about their being comfortable in a church where men are sometimes made fun of and end up as the punchline in a joke. They might laugh outwardly, but the men are hurting. Men see their being respected as being loved while women see their being loved as being respected, so perhaps the pastor or church leaders should meet with some of the men and ask for their input. Bible studies or small groups don’t always have to meet in a church. Sometimes a home creates a better atmosphere for a small group Bible study and one where more men might attend. Studies that focus on how they can be better husbands and fathers is great, but it’s also important to teach them what the Bible actually says true masculinity is; humility, servanthood, protecting, providing, and sacrificial living. I think we’ve highly undervalued fatherhood. It’s no wonder that people spend 21 billion dollars on Mother’s Day when compared to Father’s Day (less than one billion), and motherhood is elevated over and above fatherhood disproportionately by the media, by advertisements, and by society. Of course mothers are invaluable to society, particularly in relationship to their children, but when men are overlooked as contributing to the welfare and wellbeing of their family, and they are not respected, they become discouraged and simply give up.
Take a look at this article on similar topic: Why Do Churches Close or Die?
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.