Book Review: Murrow, David 2011. Warum Männer nicht zum Gottesdienst gehen
werner [at] forschungstiftung.net
From a female perspective, the review of this book would have to be different, but gender-related issues are notoriously controversial. Murrow has summarized his observations and findings on the topic of “church/community and men.”
As head of the institution www.churchformen.com (a website worth reading), it has come to his attention that Christian churches / congregations do not reflect what he calls the “masculine spirit” in their environment. “Masculinity” with all its manifestations is not in demand in the church, he said. He observed that the rather few men in congregations are in majority passive or bored and somehow uncomfortable (Introduction). He legitimately questions whether this could be an unintended consequence of the current structure and orientation of the church/community? It is reinforced by the opinions he often hears “religion is a women’s issue” and “masculinity plays no role in the church.”
What about men in the church? Contrary to the accusations that the church is patriarchal and male-dominant in its nature, the practical activities in the congregation tend to attract female workers. Children’s work, cleaning, prayer, pastoral care, music, it is ultimately the faithful women of the congregation who determine continuity and ultimately the structure of the congregation. This dominant female presence has ultimately, in the minds of men, given “the church” the reputation of a women’s club. Above all, the male factors of fun, challenge, and adventure are not sought after in churches. Controversial issues are not raised, unanswerable questions are immediately preached to, the typical churchgoer is humble, neat, dutiful and above all: nice. This conformity does not fascinate men; they stay away or are passive. Murrow is realistic, many men like to indulge their own god outside the church (selfishness, addiction, crime), but revivals have shown men are religious. There is a lack of long term challenges to attract men to the church. Many current church forms are clearly not challenging in this regard.
Even if you don’t agree to all of it, it is a book worth reading. Even if everything is different in “our” church, it challenges one to think through this issue. Some of the numerous suggestions for shaping church, in terms of male participation, could be taken up at any time (e.g. linguistic conventions, testosterone elements in worship, forms of prayer).
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