What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Men and Christian Community

One thing I thought about some over the Christmas break was the issue of men in Christian community. In InterVarsity nationwide, our numbers of men, particularly white men, have gone down while other numbers have gone up or remained relatively steady. This problem, of course, is not simply relegated to IV. The church around the world is largely made up of women. I was asked to participate in a panel at our National Staff Conference to present ways to get and keep men in our chapters.

I think one piece of the puzzle might be the VARK proportions.

There are four different learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Reading/writing and Kinesthetic. Church services (along with InterVarsity large group meetings) tend to be high on the Auditory. The sermon (at least in most Protestant circles) is the high point.

But the problem with that is that men tend to be visual and kinesthetic learners. So if we're not finding ways to engage them with images and give them opportunities to actually move somehow in response, it makes sense that they stop coming to our meetings and disengage from our communities.

I think that in order to engage men we've got to find ways to increase the use of images in worship and in our teaching. And I think that we've got to find ways to invite tactile response. I love that in our Anglican service each week we take communion. It's an active response to the preaching of the word. In my large group talks I've been trying to be more active as well for response times: exchange a slice of cheese for a cup of water, write your vow on a Duplo block and add it to others as an altar to the Lord, etc.

The Lord has made many men (and not only men but women too, obviously) to be visual and kinesthetic learners. Why do we not tap into our God-given creativity to find ways to engage men more effectively with the gospel?


TwoSquareMeals said...

We don't engage boys in school either. They all get labeled as ADHD because they don't want to sit in their seats and listen like girls. Just one more reason for us to homeschool our boys and to stay Anglican. Actually, I think the males in my house would go all out Orthodox if I let them. They love those icons!

Liz Hundley said...

Agreed that tactile response is engaging (to both men and women). I think people appreciate the chance for movement and involvement.

There's an interesting book along the lines of this post called "Why Men Hate Going to Church" by David Murrow. I haven't read it personally, but my dad did and enjoyed it. Might be worth at least checking out the first few pages on Amazon.


Ashleigh said...

Being more experiential, I think, is a generally good move for postmoderns as well. (Did you already post on this and I gave that same comment a year ago or something? I've having deja vu...)

What's funny is if we are actually helping people engage in mission on campus, that is theoretically the most experiential teaching tool out there. Things like taking people on spring break to live the Gospel in a new way while simultaneously talking with them about the Gospel. I think there are probably some significant ways we could invite people into that kind of thing more regularly, as well, making experiential learning attached to Scripture study/prayer a more foundational part of evangelism/discipleship.

I would share some brilliance about how this might look practically, but I have been been feigning brilliance on the last pesky question of the staff app tonight and the brain is done.

I am glad national is thinking about this stuff though. I am so jealous ya'll got to go lead/listen to so many cool seminars...

Abby said...

This is really interesting. I've wondered about this for a long time, having noticed the dearth of men in Christian circles; this is certainly a plausible explanation. Glad to hear you've been thinking about it too!