There seems to be a consensus among many Christians, especially women, that the most fundamental tenet of Christianity is weekly church attendance. Go to services at any church that takes verbal prayer requests, and you are sure to hear some women bring up “missing members,” or ask for prayers that her friend/son/husband/coworker will “start coming to church.” Churches seem much more interested in weekly attendance than in the words of Jesus.
Of course, the idea of church is really attractive on the surface. Get together once a week with other people who love God and are trying to follow the teachings of Christ, study the Bible together, challenge each other with new and different perspectives and ideas, grow spiritually, and mentor new believers. The problem is the difference between the concept of church I just described, and church as it actually occurs.
The more churches I visit, the more obvious it becomes that church has become a social club of women, for women. Group Bible study and frank discussion and debate is relegated to a short study before the “service” that few show up to. Even these studies often feature a teacher who reads a lesson while the “students” sit quietly and listen. If you bring up a point that was not mentioned in the lesson, the response is “let’s not get sidetracked, we need to finish the lesson.” If you ask why finishing the lesson is more important than understanding the topic, you are given bullshit answers about how if the lesson is finished, it will magically give all the “students” a complete understanding of the topic, presumably because there is nothing that can be possibly learned outside of the lesson or without the lesson. All hail the almighty lesson!
A disturbing example of this occurred to me recently. As I was sitting in the class, the “teacher” asked from the lesson, “what can we learn from Jesus’s suffering in Gethsemane that we can apply to the hard times in our own lives?” A woman immediately piped up “I think it is so beautiful that Jesus didn’t know he was going to be resurrected. He trusted God even though He didn’t know what was going to happen, and that’s what we have to do to.” The other women present immediately began an emotional masturbation session about how much that idea “spoke to them.” When the circle jerk began to abate, I spoke. “There is absolutely no way to argue that Jesus did not know He would be resurrected.” The women were aghast. “What do you mean, the lesson just said that He didn’t know!” I read the class Matthew 16:21, 17:23, and 20:19. Then I flipped to Mark and read 8:31, and Luke to read 18:33. I concluded “It is impossible to argue that Jesus was unaware of an event which He himself predicted multiple times.” The teacher then told me “that’s very interesting, but we need to get back on track with the lesson.”
So, after an hour of listening to one person reading a lesson, punctuated only by occasional stops to allow “group discussion” consisting of the teacher asking a question from the lesson and allowing people to respond (so long as they only respond with the answer clearly insinuated in the wording of the question), you move on the the “service,” which consists of some songs and then a monologue that may or may not be Biblically sound but which cannot be questioned. After that, when you might expect people to mill around and discuss the monologue, dissecting how well it meshed with scripture, everyone leaves. The man who wants more than to be told what to believe in the feminine manner of a public school propaganda lecture is left without any debate, discussion, or serious study to broaden and deepen his understanding. Sitting in church twiddling one’s thumbs begins to make less and less sense when one could be at home actually engaging in profitable Bible study.
More and more dedicated Christian men are choosing to attend church less and less, because they find church to be spiritually draining, a place where they are bombarded by the most obvious heresies disguised as churchian cliches. Rather than a breath of pure oxygen such as would be offered by true fellowship, study, and discussion, church has become an environment that requires an SCBA. Church has become a hostile environment for Bible-believing men.
Yet, instead of making church a place that where Christian men can find the fellowship, discussion, and study they crave, the response of the church has been to yell at the men who are in church, warning them of the “danger” of failing to show up every week for their required indoctrination. Not showing up to church, men are told, is a sure sign that they hate sweet baby Jesus. Of course, this kind of ridiculous shaming only makes the men who do attend church more likely to skip church in favor of a cigar and Bible study on a comfortable chair on the front porch.
Christianity will never die, but churches may. The lack of men in most churches is not indicative of the spiritual health of men, as most churches would claim. On the contrary, the lack of men in a church is indicative of the spiritual health of the church. There are plenty of men who are dedicated to actually following the teachings of Christ and the Bible. If they aren’t showing up to church, it’s because the church has worked to drive them away, because most churches find Biblical teaching uncomfortable.