Thursday, July 24, 2008

Looking for a few good men

No, not the Marines, your local church. Saw this on the Deacon's Bench and thought I'd put in my $0.02 on it: a USA Today story entitled "At nation's churches, guys are few in the pews."

A quick quote:

Blame the church, not the men, says David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church.
Warm, nurturing congregations ignore men's need to face the epic struggles of living for Christ, writes Murrow, of Chugiak, Alaska, on his website,

While this story mostly focuses on the e-free types, I've definitely experienced problems with this not only at our current parish, but with my mindset growing up in a rural community. It's so easy for farmers and ranchers, in particular, to label religion as "women's work" and claim they can't get away from the cows and the crops for 1 or 2 hours on Sunday morning. To be honest, that's probably the biggest reason I got cold feet about going back to the family farm. The non-Catholic members of the family figured I'd only be able to get to Mass about 1/4 of the year due to seasonal workload, and the Catholic (male) family members weren't in any mood to push the issue.

It's really affected my ability to meet and make friends with guys my own age in our current parish, too. Of the dozen or so women who are pretty active in MM's "young women's Bible study group," only three (besides MM, by my count) are married to men who are Catholic and attend Mass on any kind of regular basis. Some of the other husbands are actually fairly hostile to religion in general. So, it kind of puts a crimp in some of the men's ministry type of things, not to mention general male bonding and whatnot. What has been the experience of any of you who might read this?


Whimsy said...

One of the greatest benefits to moving is that our designated hitter has a group that meets every T and W morning. The T group focuses on the following Sunday's readings, and the W group is more like a bookclub for Catholic men. He has met some dynamic, faith-filled counterparts that are found in every economic strata. In our previous location, his only real contact with other men was the husbands of my friends. And, while they were not antagonistic to church, they were not aspiring theologians.

Christine said...

I don't really know what John's experiences are but I do know that he doesn't use find an open and active men's ministry anywhere we go. The one exception was the parish run by the Dominicans in Charlottesville. But John is not a joiner so things like the Knights or other groups don't tend to grab him. One parish we went too had basketball every Sunday night and many of the other husbands of wives who went to the Mother's group went and played. He got to know quite a few of the practicing Catholic men at our parish that way.

But I would have to say that the percentage of women who really want to be involved at most of our parishes are pretty small too. Just a thought. Maybe we've just been really blessed - because we've always found enough community for us at whatever time we needed it.