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Sharpening Iron to Live Second

Why Men are Leaving Church

men are leaving churchChurch leaders everywhere are scrambling to understand why the men are leaving Church and not coming back.

Historically men have led the church, fed the church and filled the church. As Church attendance across the nation declines and some churches are having to shutter their doors. One trend has become true, the men that once attended are not returning, new men are not coming back. Men are leaving the Church and the Church seems surprised.

The real question every church needs to ask is why?

Men by nature seek a different level of fulfillment at church. Gone are the days of going to church because you grew up in the church. We need more than the readings on Sunday and maybe Wednesday nights. Our spiritual cup is empty and the Church no longer runneth over to refill it.

What is it that men need from the Church?

1.) Brotherhood – Men are better when they have other men to keep them honest. Iron sharpens iron was not just words in Proverbs. It is the truth and the light that men need other men to rely on. Dating back centuries as cave men, as bothers in monasteries, as soldiers, as teammates, men need other men.

2.) Spiritual – As men we are attacked by satan everyday of our lives. We are tempted as in the garden of Eden with fresh fruits. We rely on the spiritual guidance and armor to protect our hearts. Alone we are weak, but with the armor of the Word to protect and guide us we are made strong. We rely on the Church to build us up spiritually. Lately the attacks on marriage and the Church has stripped away the spiritual armor we depend upon.

3.) Leadership – We as men are natural-born leaders. We learn at a young age to take charge, make decisions and lead. Lately the Church has been under attack as leaders fall to temptation and sin. With the Church leadership in question, the men will stray. We look to others to set the examples we are to follow.

4.) Community – Some Churches still offer the comforts of community. In fact I personally witnessed it at a wedding for my cousin where his church family were as close if not closer than his own family. They opened their arms and hearts to strangers and welcomed them with the love of Christ. Meanwhile you can go into almost any church in America and never feel at home. The focus has become more on filled seats and full Offertories than healing hearts and welcoming you home. Men need to feel comfortable where they can unload the weight of the world that they carry.

5.) Action – Men like to be involved, they like a good challenge. When they walk into Church they are looking for something to do. It is difficult for a man to walk in, sit down and be quiet. Many Churches today are trying to survive rather than going out into their communities. With mission work and ministries that appeal to the masculine side, men will feel needed. When a man feels needed, then his self-image improves and he becomes involved.

Each man is different in their needs and how the Church may fulfill them. When the Church can keep the men interested in the scripture as a football game. When they become on fire for Christ as they are dedicated to their Job. Then the new Church will once again fill its pews with men.

Men need a purpose, a reason for attending bigger than themselves. They may go to Church to make their spouse happy. Unless their heart is on fire with the Holy Spirit they only occupy space. Give them direction and allow them to lead. Church leaders welcome the men back to the Church and let them thrive.

I hope some of these insights from my own experiences serve you well. If the Church can find ways to adjust to the men’s needs of today then maybe we might stop the trend where men are leaving church.

Now its your turn: Are you or do you know a man who has left the Church? What would bring you or them back? Comment below and join the conversation on why Men are Leaving Church.

About Charles Johnston

Charles is a Christian, husband and father of fur-kids who shares his walk with others in hopes to help other's along the way.

14 Replies

  1. It seems to me the idea of church being a place of action has been forgotten in many churches, yet if you look at the examples of the OT men, Jesus and the Apostles you see nothing but action!

    1. Absolutely, today church’s are allowing people to be complacent and not involved and therefore not interested. Thank you for stopping by and you valuable comments.

  2. So true! I am having a hard time leading the men in my small group. I don’t think I play the critical role (or as appropriate) in relating with them and building them up in a way that men leaders would. Yet if you scan the congregation you will find few men, fewer who’s willing to serve or lead. I have been asking the support from my pastor (who is a man) to have build a better structure for brotherhood, and praying for more men to raise up as God builds them!

    1. It all starts with leadership and empowering the men to have a part. Many churches focus on the women and allow them to control the events of the church. Meanwhile the men sit back and don’t attend or complain because they were not included. All churches should have a men’s group where men can be men and are able to be a part of the church community as men, Thank you for your insight and comments!

  3. Why not have a real forum for the men and not be afraid of the honest dialog…..Of course I have a view from BOTH sides in which many that actually do leave have great insight and reasons as to why, but the honest truth, most leaders don’t wanna hear it…..Instead of dealing with the root causes of why. Most that leave and don’t return have very valid reasons, but again, 80 percent of leadership will dismiss their reasons as not wanting to be under any leadership or rebellious, when in fact if they could be honest and transparent…..oh well

  4. I think there is a huge difference between leaving the church and walking out the doors of a relatively small community of Christ followers or a building.

    That said, my experience in the last ten years is that people want the men to continue to be involved because of the fact that many Christian families are headed up by men and many are single income or male bread-winner families. Lose the men, lose the money.

    Why should we stick around? Women will do all the work.

    Look at the typical Mother’s Day sermon and celebrations vs. the Father’s Day ones. We honor the heck out of mothers and motherhood, but tell men we need to suck it up and do better. And we don’t stress that the ‘doing more and better’ comes from the internal transformation from the Spirit.

    I have some truly awesome friends, male friends, from inside the church and the encouragement is awesome and multifaceted and mutual. So is the direction when needed. And, sadly, I don’t find that locally. I wish I did. But everyone only seems to care about 14% of the week and there is no life together throughout the week unless one is serving or involved in a formalized ministry.

    Now, if I thought I could get 3-4 guys to show up on a Friday night for beers and burgers, I’d be all over that in a heartbeat.

    1. Nail + Hammer = you nailed it Roman, that is the core issue. Thank you !

  5. Great topic and post. I think for me the challenge lies in several areas: 1 the holier than thou pastors who have not an once of humility.

    2. I don’t worship through the songs. Honestly, I think 99% Christian music is often fake-sounding and uninspiring. Many other men feel this way. Standing around singing is not how many men worship.

    3. Society has accepted a massively watered down version of Christianity and then it often doesn’t connect with many men. To picture Jesus as a lame, wimpy rule follower is not an accurate portrayal IMHO. Jesus actually shattered the status quo to pieces and would not ever settle for mediocrity. In many ways Jesus was more of a radical than we realize.

  6. Great insights for sure, Charles. Families are under spiritual attack, so it is only obvious that the leader is the biggest target. The media is also doing a great job emasculating men and placing them under societal ridicule. I only gave birth to daughters, but I urge moms to raise strong men so that we can be strong as a society again.

  7. Thank you, Charles, for your insights into this concern. To encourage other Christian Poets & Writers in our Facebook group to address this in their writings, I highlighted your post on the Christian Poets & Writers blog – God bless

  8. James Rogers

    I left the church after two years. I went to Gateway in Southlake, TX. I was demeaned and screamed at by men in men’s groups. My sexuality was attacked, yet the pastors refuse to hold women accountable for their sins. Single moms are absolutely worshiped as if they are perfect. I was unemployed and was told to man up in a condescending voice by quite a few people. Basically I am just lazy and stupid to them. I asked for help in person, via men’s groups and through prayer requests ….not one single person attempted to offer any help. They have limitless help for married people and single moms. A single man is essentially trash to them. Oh and don’t forget how mothers day is lie the macy’s parade yet fathers day is just a sermon shaming men to marry loose single moms. I like most men resent being blamed for everything and talked down to by these people. I’m also tired of these churches rudely asking why men are not married. None of your business. I even had a church member refuse to pay me after I did work. Nice church guy there. CHurches are feminist now and they worship women. No wonder men don’t go to church.

  9. I have seen churches become a social club rather than a vehicle for spreading the gospel. Many lean toward the emotional (feel good) aspect versus the vision and purpose of the church. We don’t go to church to feel good. We go to be freed from our sin so we can have the hope of eternal life. That process of repentance is rarely a “feel good” moment. But it seems many will glaze over the tough stuff (where we NEED men to lead) and become content with watered down Christianity.

    1. The social club is why we left our last church as it was more about appearances and who knew who. Men definitely need to step up and demand tough Christ-like love and leadership from our churches. Therefore enabling them to lead their families rather than as you say the watered down Christianity that is failing families worldwide. Thanks for your valuable comments.

  10. Lots of good insight here! My take?

    I came to Christ a bit later than most. I was one who was raised “culturally christian” but that was about it.

    After a crippling drug addiction, the loss of my mother and having to “start over” at the age of 39; I started looking for and asking the questions of “there has to be something about Jesus, I mean if it was just a silly myth, or a way for morals, purpose…it would have died off”

    I was fortunate enough to have a few men when I started attending my church to, guide, correct, talk to me, let me vent, cry, ask, and teach.

    I wasn’t easy to minister to at first (and still I have my stubborn moments, I know…..we Christians are supposedly perfect people 😉 )

    The biggest thing is to “walk deeper” today and not just “Jesus loves you, have a nice day!”

    It’s gonna take work, time, and a lot of prayer…..something many Christians DON’T want to do.

    First? Pastors are gonna have to stop just shaming men WHO ARE IN CHURCH NOW with “man up!” quotes. Stop belttling them with “put down the video games” and “I know so many wonderful, beautiful, single women who just want a ‘real Christian man’ to step up and take them on”

    If the church wants men to step up, if the church wants more marriage, and Godly men……the shaming needs to stop. Yesterday. There are times when a man needs to be told “hey, you really need to grow up on this or that”

    But always? Blaming porn for the problem. Calling them out from the pulpit as “weak” and “girly men” and getting thunderous itchy ears scratched by the women with LOUD applause and laughter won’t help.

    Why would a man who might be “curious” or might want to learn and grow come to a place where this is all they hear??????????? This happens in my church too…..and I have to hold to my own Salvation harder, and ignore these voices.

    TEACH these men to lead, and not just with men’s “bible study classes” (these help, and are important, but men need to see ACTION that other men actually care about them in a true, Christ-like manner. HELP these men. Many men who are single were raised by women with no dad around……they DON’T know how to pursue a Christian woman. Shaming them about their lack of machismo drives them away TO the video games.

    We don’t need to make Jesus into a “guy’s guy” or “Jesus the dude” to get men back, or grow the ones there into “Bible-bad-boys”

    We NEED to have men who seriously want to listen, walk, help, teach and show a genuine interest in them.

    Churches want the easy way, or want to pin-point it on ONE thing.

    I was won for Christ with time. Patience. Love. Respect. Questions being answered. Something that takes TIME.

    Make the time. Satan has got a solid grip on the world, and churches in general don’t want to change their tactics.

    Great post!