I don’t think this is what Promise Keepers had in mind.
At the most recent meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Rodney Stark — a University of Washington sociologist — presented a paper in which he argues that the reason men don’t attend church as much as women is not lack of relevance — it’s lack of risk.
The good professor observes that we testosterone-laden fellows have an affinity for risk. We are more likely than our female counterparts to try risky behavior for the sheer thrill of it. While women have the good sense to come in out of the rain, we guys would rather stay outside and dodge lightning bolts, according to this theory.
He notes a similar trend in the field of criminology, where more men than women commit violent crimes. The reason, he believes, is that testosterone leads to short-sighted risk taking.
“Being irreligious is risky,” says Stark, since one is rolling the dice on an eternal location. In support of his theory, he argues that the male-female attendance gap is less pronounced in Judaism and in denominations which don’t preach much about heaven or hell.
I’m probably not the best judge of this theory, given that I have a fairly cautious nature about risk. For me, investing in an internet stock is about as much of a thrill ride as I can handle. Nevertheless, if it will bring more of the brethren into the fold, I’m willing to “crank up” the testosterone level of my preaching so that risk-seeking men will be drawn into church.
There are several “testosterone-friendly” church models we may want to consider.
The Monster Truck Service. Prepare for worship by listening to the revving of 20,000-horsepower engines. Sermon topics might explore the relative superiority of Ford vs. Chevy. The offering is collected via hubcaps in lieu of traditional plates.
The NFL Service. Since so many members spend more time watching football on Sundays than in church, why not move the service to your local NFL stadium? Preachers will like this, since they can pull out all those old “life is like football” sports analogies. Pastors will be renamed “Coach” and ushers will offer high-fives after a particularly striking sermon illustration.
The Hunting Service. Upon arrival at the outdoor “chapel in the woods”, worshippers will be offered their choice of a shotgun or small-calibre firearm with which to shoot small animals. After each kill, parishioners gather to thank God for His creation, then to make stew. The sermon consists of handy tips for preparing delicious meals over the campfire while fashioning lovely ensembles from the pelts.
The Country Music Service. Worship music consists of an assortment of country-style songs and … wait, I forgot. This one’s already being done.
I’m sure there are other alternatives that will appeal to men. As for me, I’ll stick with the worship style at our church. But I have been meaning to talk to Pastor Phil about installing some recliners in the balcony, preferably with remote controls.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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