Why are our men noncommital to Church?

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I believe the greatest "disapperaing act" is neither the Las Vegas illusionist tandem of Siegfried & Roy, NBA players who squander millions of $$$ or the characters in Terry McMillan's novel of similar title. This dubious distinction is now associated with the plight of black men in black churches. We all know that most of our churches are disproportionately populated by women. I would estimate the percentage ranges from 2/3 to 3/4 of the total congregation. The WMS is indisputably the most influential connectional society of the AMEC becuase they have the sheer numbers to get folks attention. Now compare that with the male equivalent, Sons of Allen. Truth be told, there is no comparison. The WMS simply dwarfs the Sons of Allen in practically everything (commitment not withstanding).

Why are our men AWOL? Why do so many of my fellow brothers choose to be derelict in their spiritual duty and allow their wives, mothers and sisters participate in the liberating work of the Gospel without their involvement? It seems like I run into more men on the golf course or in the barber shop than in church on Sunday. This problem transcends denomination. It is equally true in COGIC, Baptist, United Methodist, Epsicopalian, Church of Christ, etc. The irony I find is that many of the women who are most dedicated to the Gospel are married yet their spouses are virtually invisible Gospel partners. There are some married women whom I've know for 5, 10, upwards to 15 years yet I have never, not once, formally or informally met their husband! I can't fathom being married to someone and never taking time to share with my partner's personal interests. On the other hand there are some married couples who I do know yet I will only see their husband at the usual social events like fraternity/sorority functions, football games, political fund-raisers, etc. While attending church should not be viewed as being obligatory, I don't think it is asking for too much for more men to support their spouses, mothers, sisters and significant others in this important activity.

I serve and love the Lord by choice, not compulsion. The barber shop allows for good male bonding. I play basketball and sporting events with the guys because it is fun and helps keep my weight under reasonable control (LOL). However, the true esprit de corps comes from the fellowship of saints who are interested in things with eternal value and life-changing experiences. Unless men accept the Lord's service as a priority in their life this trend of absentee attendance will go unabated. QED

-- Anonymous, April 15, 2002


I've also witnessed similar things Brother Dickens. The reason the women are leading the way is because many men have abdicated their roles as leaders, forcing women to take up the baton.

I think part of it has to do with the example we received from our own fathers growing up. Praise God my dad was more than faithful in this area. Going to church was never a question. Everyone went, everyone tithed (even the kids), everyone ministered, and everyone received tremendous Christian education (Sunday School and Bible study).

I wasn't saved until I was in my 20's, but that didn't matter. I read my Bible every day, went to church, tithed, and was taught anyway because Mom and Dad made me, and practiced all of these things themselves. Interestingly, even after I left home and fell deep into sin for a while, I still went to church and read my Bible because it was an ingrained habit. It made finally coming to the Lord so much easier, and when I did, I wasn't unschooled in the things of God like most new Christians.

It's now the same with my kids. If anything, I'm raising my own a little more strictly.

Stong fathers leading the way in spiritual things is the key. Developing Christian men is something that is very difficult for a woman to do. That's a job that must be done by men, preferably fathers in the home. If that's not possible, then we must find other means. That's why ministries for Christian men such as Promise Keepers are so important.

-- Anonymous, April 15, 2002

Brother's are attending church, but they are attending churches where they are being "fed". When I ask brother's the question that you proposed, basically "fed" means that the church has ministries/outreach programs that directly address the needs of black men. Unfortunately, some black men have told me that unless you are called to the ministry, an Itinerand elder or get the coveted position of a Trustee/Stewart, there is really no place for the "everyday" black man in the AME church. So, unfortunately, many of these men are attracted to places like the Nation of Islam or non-AME churches where their ministries/church organizations are not limited to those listed in the AME Discipline (YPD, Missionary Society, Sons of Allen). I have noticed, at least here in the greater Chicagoland area, that those AME churches that have "Men's Ministries" and more creative ministries are overflowing with men. Something for those churches that do not have men to consider.

-- Anonymous, April 15, 2002

Greetings My Brother I find your situation the same as well. However I have found small pockets of Churches where the men are both active and fed.I believe that as men we have allowed ourselves to be put on a line only slightly divergent to the holy spirit. Satan would want us to believe that we are not wandering off course. But the further down the road, the further away from God. This is evidenced by the continued waning numbers of men in the fervent service to God.

The difficulty is that we have forgotten the importance of our spiritual role. The word head comes from the greek term vessel. If we understood our role as the head (or vessel) of God and spread that word, we might enlighten others. I thank God for Pastors like the Rev. Sylvester Beaman of Bethel Wilmington and Rev. Dr.Grainger Browning of Ebenezer (Fort Washington) Maryland who have dynamic Ministries for men. They teach and preach the role and responsibility of men in service to God. I am sure there are more but we must go after our Brothers and speak in the name of Jesus. That task is probably the greatest challenge to the Sons of Allen today.

-- Anonymous, April 16, 2002

Professor Dickens,

You have asked a very interesting question. I don't have any empirical evidence to support your anecdotal observations but I have noticed a similar percentage of men in the church. I wonder if this situation is similar in other cultures such as Africa or in the predominately white congregations in this country.

As a child, I remember that my father rarely went to church except to attend a funeral. I also noticed that quite a few other men in the community did not attend church. It would be interesting if someone would survey christian men and non-christian men why they don't attend church on a regular basis. Of course, I can't speak for all the African-American males in this country, but based on my father's behaviour, I would surmise that some African- American men don't attend church because they don't see the black church as a relevant institution.

What do you mean that the black church is not relevant? Some black men don't see it as a proactive institution which addresses their needs. For example, men tend to think in terms of meeting their basic survival needs. If I join this organization and invest my time and money, what will I get back in return? Will this organization provide something tangible to me? Positive and negative re-inforcement are a major contibuting factor to everybody's behavior. Acts which are positively re-inforced tend to be repeated and acts which are negatively re-inforced tend to be eliminated.


-- Anonymous, April 17, 2002

In the churches I've attended you'll generally see a father with his family. What breaks my heart though is the large number of divorced families, with single moms and dads bringing kids to church alone.

-- Anonymous, April 17, 2002

We are dealing with this problem by having the men of the church witness to the brothers inside and outside of the church. This provides a venue for men to not be ashamed to open up and witness. It gives some control for the men to discuss ways and ideas of having a fellowship meeting the needs of men. Instead of Mens's Day once a year, we celebrate once a month via a fellowship breakfast. We call this "Bring a Brother With Ya (Breakfast)." I have witnessed the numbers growing at a steady pace. Brothers are witnessing and encouraged to not be ashamed of expressing themselves upon the Joy of Jesus! Next month, we will have fried catfish along with our grits...and bible study!

-- Anonymous, April 20, 2002

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