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Monday, March 4, 2013

Men's Ministry is Pathetic

I have been kicking this topic around for a while now. I've mentioned it to some friends and they are universally in agreement. So here goes.
Men's Ministry is pathetic. P-A-T-H-E-T-I-C
Right out of the gate, let me be clear about one thing; I am currently not a member or regular attender of any church. So this rant is not aimed at one church men's group. It's the cumulative observations of 40 years of church attendance, with about 25 of those years involved in some way, with whatever passed as a men's ministry at whichever church I was attending at the moment. Now for the record, I am not a church hopper. Not counting the years I was a resident student at Liberty University and attended TRBC, I have been a member of only four churches in forty years of Christianity. So I am a pretty solid attender who tends to put down roots. On the one hand this means I have not experienced very many different men's ministries. On the other it means I don't let petty things run me off easily and so I tend to overlook most minor shortcomings.
That said...I have to's ministry is pathetic.
Let me explain.
Men's ministry and women's ministry are two very very different things. They have entirely different aims and goals and approaches. Let me sum them up for you.
Women's ministry is about;
     *It's hard work being a mom
     *It's hard work being a wife
     *It's hard work being a godly woman
     *My butt is big / my boobs have started to droop / my kids irritate me / my husband sucks as a spiritual leader/ I have crows feet.
     * I wish I'd finished college and become a professional and had a life outside these ungrateful kids and this spiritually lame husband
     * In my heart I know I was called to ministry and the entire men-dominated religious establishment is against the idea. Except for Beth Moore. Because Beth Moore is too shrill for them to put in her place and besides...she makes a truckload of money for the SBC who owns Lifeway bookstores. light of the above truths, women's ministry is all about helping women cope with the innate difficulties of simply being a women with all that stuff going on. The implied message is "You are doing it all so well. If only your husband was a better man of God"
Conversely; Men's ministry is about;
      * You suck as a spiritual leader
      * You are selfish
      * You aren't manly enough. (Okay actually they never say that. because most men's ministry leaders are barely men themselves.)
      * You are too testosterone laden. Too quick to hunt and fish and burp in public.
      * You are a lousy husband / father / friend / church member / employee / employer
      * You are not "Christlike" (a catch-all phrase that is open to definition depending on the crowd and can mean anything the speaker wants it to mean.)
Basically, men's ministry is built on the premise that whatever it is you are doing in your life, your job, your home, your church, your bedroom, your garage and behind the wheel of your are doing it WRONG.
Where women's ministry is all about helping women "cope" with just being a woman; Men's ministry is all about making you feel awful for even being a man.
Therefore; I hate men's ministry. I hate it. I know it's a strong word, but I can't use obscenities here.
I hate it because it is always...always taught by some wimpy, waxed-lipped metrosexual guy with perfect hair. A guy who has never had a problem in his entire life. A guy whose biggest failure in life was not remembering that his wife was gluten free when he was making her those crepes on day one of their anniversary month celebration.
They always teach the same trifling lessons. Husbandship as viewed in Ephesians. Loving our wives as Christ loved the church. Not falling for the sin of David. Avoiding porn. Watching our temper while we drive.
They always latch on to the same tired themes. Let's have a bonfire and cook hamburgers! Yippee Ky-ay!
Let's have a golf tournament this summer. Let's have a workday at the home of the single mom down the street.
How about we host our own MMA tournament? How about we get together and go to a Pro Wrestling show or a boxing match? How about we forgo hamburgers / hot dogs / brats and eat a salad now and then?

More than about we stop pretending.

How about we stop pretending that we have the easier job in the marriage? (It's equally hard to be or women)
How about we stop pretending that nobody in our midst is hurting, cries tears that nobody sees, feels like a failure or has given up hope?
How about we throw out the phony, perfect leaders that somehow got stuck with us and we with them, and let someone run a men's group who has some dirt under his nails and smells like sweat and sawdust.
How about a man teaches a few lessons about divorce, and single fatherhood, and failure, and loneliness, and broken dreams, and the fears of being a dad, and a husband.
How about we stop reading every book on the market written by some guy we'll never meet, and start teaching ourselves real honest-to-God Apologetics, and Bible study techniques, and we start giving all the real men in our midst the opportunity to teach the other real men in our midst.
How about we talk about how very hard and how very scary it is to try to live like Paul charged us with living in Ephesians. How hard it is to love our wives...or Christ loved the Church. How scary and risky it is to "give ourselves for them".
How about we discuss the real hurts and pains in our lives and team up with other men who feel the same way and pray prayers that pour out of broken, frail hearts instead of spiritual John Waynes. How about we stop with the Jedi Mind tricks of convincing each other to simply grab the latest trends in Christendom, and we get back to the icy headwaters of real, Biblical Christianity?
I have been holding this in since I started re-editing my divorced dads book (Sometimes Daddies Cry) and realizing how little men's groups really deeply care for hurting men. How they avoid divorced men like the plague. How they don't know the first thing about what a divorced dad feels and they don't want to know.
It makes me mad. Because men are slipping through the cracks each day and the men's "pastor" merely bids them adieu.
Men's ministry is an afterthought in the emasculated church of today. And everyone is paying for it. Men's ministry that makes you apologize for being a man does a disservice to men...and women...who hope to find a biblical example of a godly man only to discover that he has been neutered and covered over. Their frustration can't be hidden forever and it ends up showing itself in the fact that the divorce rate is as high or higher in churches, than out of church.
Men are so confused. Their God-given "wiring" tells them to do and say and act one way. The perfect-coiffed pretty-boy men's pastor tells him all that stuff is wrong, and he needs to be a soft, mushy wimp who sits down to pee.
Women are "wired" by the same God, and their wiring desires something God engineered. The very thing that modern men's ministry seeks to eliminate.
So men go, they eat, they exchange business cards and they go home bamfoozled and confused.
And if they were hurting when they got there, they leave even more hurting. Because underneath it all...hurting is not allowed.
Because Men's Ministry is Pathetic.

1 comment:

Thomas Brown said...! First of all I cannot believe you have no comments as this is a 2013 post! Second, I feel like this came right out of my own head. A co-worker and I who have far to similar divorce stories have this very conversation regularly. We have both dropped out of our local "Men's" group due to it becoming a men's version of MOPS. We both feel as f there is no where to seek help or support. In fact my co-worker said he would rather go to his AA meeting because it is real, that's it isn't it? we never seem to find Christ centered support that is real! Well I will be looking further into your blog later to find some of your other nuggets of wisdom. but THANK YOU for saying this. I wish I had searched earlier.
Tom Brown