Saturday, 9 May 2009

No hugs please, we’re men

Hugging, handholding and discussing feelings are big turn-offs for male churchgoers, a new survey of 400 men reveals. Three-quarters said they wanted worship to challenge them intellectually and spiritually and almost the same proportion chose the sermon as their favourite part of a service. Sixty per cent said they enjoyed singing but preferred ‘proclamational’ hymns to emotionally-based songs. Findings of the research, conducted for Sorted magazine, will be discussed in a seminar on men in church at next week’s Christian Resources Exhibition (12–15 May). The Sandown, Esher event is expected to draw up to 13,000 people from all denominations.

Sources: Daily Telegraph (5/5); Methodist Recorder (7/5)


PamBG said...
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PamBG said...

Try again...

And, to be honest, I can't remember EVER having 'sat in a circle holding hands and talking about my feelings' at church. Part of me wonders whether this is a stereotype of church that those outside of it hold who don't actually know what happens.

But definitely get rid of sanctuaries painted pink and 'Jesus is my boyfriend' worship songs (many of them inexplicably written by men).

truffler said...

I feel that there are not enough displays of emotion in church. After all do we not come to church to celebrate the impact of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and live it in community.

Intellectual pursuit at the expense of emotion smacks of a privatised personalised religion.

Maybe some churches could learn from the pentecostal churches and wonder why they are full each Sunday instead of painting a cynical picture of pink sanctuaries etc.

Olive Morgan said...

At our Disciple 4 group meeting last week we were encouraged to share our feelings in a caring Christian community as a means to lift any burden of sin or guilt. Our manual told us that many people have found that this made people feel that a great weight had been lifted. But the general feeling of our members (from seven churches) was that the fellowship in our churches was not close enough for such revelations to be made. How far we have slipped from what was said of the early Christians - "See how these Christians love one another."

No, Pam, I have never experienced expressing my feelings as described and neither have I known 'sanctuaries painted pink' nor 'Jesus is my boyfriend' worship songs. Did you come across the latter here or back home in the States?

Truffler, I am with you on this. Our worship is far too restrained and often lacks the joy and celebration that the good News of Jesus generates. I am wondering whether, even in the selection of people candidating for the Ministry, intellect may be given a much higher status than emotion - thus pointing us to a more intellectual style of worship.

I know that I was very much in need of a hug when you and your wife came to minister to us five years ago and Charlene gave me her South African-style hug! I'm missing these while you are on sabbatical! But you and I, Pam, are women so it would be good to hear what some of the men feel about this, please.

PamBG said...

A friend of mine here in the UK was assigned to a church that is not only painted pink but has pink chairs and pink carpet. I think it's Angela Shier-Jones who has talked about this as well.

I understand 'Jesus is my boyfriend' songs be songs that focus on the relationship between 'me and Jesus'. An expression of individual salvation and, I think, best used sparingly in worship.

The way I'd personally put truffler's statement - recognising that he is entitled to his own opinion - is that I think there needs to be more genuineness shared in church and we could do with being 'more real'.

I belong to a prayer group where people share both their thoughts and their emotions. The problem comes, I think, when there is huge peer pressure to do mainly one or the other. I hate being chivvied to express my emotions when I don't know people and/or don't feel safe. And I also grew up in a congregation where feelings were total anathema and one was not 'allowed' to express them.

Both my feelings and my thoughts make me who I am. And, personally speaking, most of my own personal 'a ha!' moments with God have come from study.

PamBG said...

Can I clarify that I misremembered something from a report on the 'Sorted' article.

I remembered 'Sixty per cent said they did not like flowers and embroidered banners in church,' as 'pink churches'. I apologise. (The way my brain works as I'm not a detailed person.)

The point of my original post was that the things the men said they don't like in the 'Sorted' article - except for the flowers - don't tend to be features of my church experience. So, I too, am wondering where this image of what happens in church comes from. I was NOT trying to 'paint a cynical picture'.

As to the accusation of 'not trying': I would have thought that most ministers know darn well that they and their congregations put a lot of effort into trying to communicate and spread the Gospel. It generally seems to be on the internet that people feel free to throw such hurtful accusations around. Maybe because we can be anonymous?

Olive Morgan said...

I am so sorry that both of you, Pam and Trufler, have misunderstood each other, especially after truffler's very first comment on any blog! You are fortunate, Pam, to belong to such a good prayer group and I'm glad of that. Truffler's present congregation does not allow feelings to be expressed - much like the one in which you grew up. I have heard him talking about bridges for five years and I'd like to build a bridge between you two, if you will both let me.

PamBG said...

I'd certainly agree that if a congregation does not 'allow' feelings to be expressed, then the momentum needs to go the other way.

I'm quite happy to 'walk half way across the bridge'.

Olive Morgan said...

I was sure you woul, Pam. Thanks.

truffler said...

Hi PamBG I am sure that we can meet each other half way across the bridge.
We are both talking about the need to be more genuine and real.

In our church denomination we often talk about the missing generations of younger (and now older)people.

Many young people have found a home in the more pentecostal type churches. We need to ask why? Dare I say that we need to learn from these communities.

However another thought about being emotional. From time to time I am invited to football matches by season ticket holders. (Now they think I am a bit of a "Jonah" because the home team loses each time I go!!)

I am not avid follower of football. However I am struck by the emotion at a live game. The hugging and celebrating happens just because of one wee goal.

Something in me says that I wish there was a little of that in Sunday worship services. After all worship is about celebrating something that we Christians regard more than just scoring a goal on a football field.

PamBG said...

Many young people have found a home in the more pentecostal type churches. We need to ask why? I agree that we need to ask why. But I think that the answer is a LOT more complicated than 'because they show emotion and we don't'. And, it would be my personal opinion that 'not showing emotion' isn't the primary reason.

But I also resist the idea that Methodists aren't asking why. We're asking why on the internet. We're asking why at Connexional level. And we're asking why at District level. From where I sit, this seems to be our obsessive focus and we've not come up with any convincing answers or solutions yet. (Doesn't mean we should stop trying, but I think it means the answer is a complicated one.)

The reason that I don't think 'emotionalism' is the primary reason is because I see this as characteristic of one kind of personality type. But there are other kinds of personality types as well. It doesn't make sense to me that the Christian Church should be seeking to only cater to one kind of personality and should be seeking to either ignore other kinds of personalities or change the people.

Sally said...

emotion is a strange thing isn't it, some people revel in it, others want to run a mile at the first suggestion. I know people of both genders who react in different ways. I do agree with Pam though, the image of church as a hand holding theraputic society does not do us justice, so come on the media, how about highlighting social projects/ campaigns etc instead, or as well!

Sally said...

As for meeting half way across the Bridge I think that Pam and Truffler have proved my point!