21 February 2011

Book Review: Why Men Hate Going To Church by David Murrow

First of all, what is this book about? It is part sociology, part church life. It is not a theological tome. The basic premise is that even though men dominate the pastoral and similar key leadership roles within church, the majorioty of the church is female-dominated and that is driving men away, thus perpetuating the problem.

In a very methodical manner, he then looks at the reasons why men don't seem to want to go to church. That would seem obvious, given the title of the book, but thanklfully he does go further than that. He looks at what it is that fulfills men's needs and contrasts this with what the church provides. Finally he sets about giving some practical advise on how the church ought to change in order to attract men to it.

So this is not the book for you if you think the church is fine and you want to find ways to change men to make them want to go to church. This is stresed from very early on in the book. However, if you look around your congregation and notice a lack of men, particularly those in the 18-35 age group, then this is certainly valuable reading for you. Note that this is not just a book for men to read; this has just as much in it for women to read.

We cannot pass without a few downsides, though these are relatively minor. While valiant efforts are made by Murrow to expand his viewpoint beyond american boundaries, it still retains a very american feel to it, and though, as an Englishman, I can see hints of the issues he looks at, there is a slight disparity between what he sees in american churches and what we have here in the UK. In a few places, he goes a little overboard with the statistics, even though this is not a comprehensive study. It can be easy to be blinded by statistics and at times I felt he made the same point a few too many times in a short space. And in one or two places, he does seem to single out liberals and environmentalists for some unfair criticism, thus showing his slightly right-wing politics where they don't belong.

Practical, engaging and broken down into a very logical, readable structure, it is quite well-written and relevant to many people in many churches, though perhaps not all. As I am myself, one of those perculiar creatures of an unmarried man in my late 20s, I can guarantee I will be a rarity in most churches I set foot in. However, given the strong message promoting masculinity in quite an Ed Cole sort of manner, this is not an anti-feminist book at all. Murrow is very much about recognising an imbalance and restoring that balance rather than promoting a male-dominated church.

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't mind borrowing that please... thank you. Andrew.

    ReplyDelete