140 - Understanding Your Church’s Man Code
|Written by Patrick Morley, David Delk, and Brett Clemmer|
|Wednesday, December 10 2008 12:25|
Adapted from No Man Left Behind by Pat Morley, David Delk, and Brett Clemmer (Moody, 2006)
Quick...in a phrase or sentence, what’s the dress code in your church? Is it business casual, suit and tie, or cowboy boots and blue jeans? (At our training, one group from Hawaii said “shorts and thongs.” They meant sandals, of course.)
How do guys know this? Is there a sign in front of your church: “First Community Church, Shirt and Tie required”? Do you have fashion police standing at the doors? Of course not. Men are smart. It doesn’t take more than a week to figure out what to wear.
Just as your church has an unspoken—but well-known—dress code, it also has an unspoken “man code.” The man code is the environment your church creates for men. Within a few weeks after beginning to attend, a man understands what it means to be a man in this church. Just like with the dress code, men soak it in from the atmosphere.
What impression does your church give about the importance of men? “Men Are _______ Here” “Important?” “Tolerated?” “Needed?” “Leaders?” “Supposed to do the hard work but leave the thinking to the women?” These are some of the answers we’ve gotten from leaders who have attended our training. One man said their man code was, “If you’d like your wife and children to go to church, bring them here.” Another said, "Successful men wanted here.” Finally, one man said their man code was simply, “Hi.” Obviously, we’ve also had many positive man code statements as well.
What about your church? Imagine a new man comes to your church three or four times. In a phrase or sentence, how would he honestly sum up what he thinks it means to be a man in your church? Write a draft of your man code in the space below.
Since it’s not explicitly stated, how exactly do men figure out the “man code” of your church?
In Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Murrow points out that every church has a “thermostat.” Unfortunately, many churches’ thermostats are set to “Comfort.” Men, says Murrow, need a thermostat set to “Challenge.”
Here are some ways men learn about the environment of your church:
They look at the leaders.
This is particularly important to men who are either young or new to your church. When you hold up a man as a standard, does he look boring, tired, and half-dead? Or does he look vibrant, excited, and wellspoken (regardless of age)? Men should be able to look at the visible leaders in the church and say, “I want to be like that.”
They listen to the music.
They read the bulletin.
Be sure the bulletin makes concrete statements about what God is doing through men in your church. “Bible Study, Wednesday night, Room 202, 7:30 p.m.” is not appealing to most men. But “Disruptive Jesus: A Bible Study for Men. Come learn how Jesus challenged the norm, and how He can change your life and our community”— that’s a Bible Study that has a chance at catching men’s attention.
They listen to the pastor.
They look at the décor.
Get some guys on the decorating committee! Fight (nicely) to make the physical environment of your church manfriendly. This is as simple as leather couches, striped wall paper, earth tones—even some black and white nature photos on the wall.
Men are extremely sensitive to quality.
They listen for humor.
A note of caution: Humor at the expense of men sends the wrong message. Don’t make men—or an individual man—look stupid for a laugh, especially in mixed company. You would never tell racist or sexist jokes, so be careful about “stupid men” jokes.
They listen for the vision.
Why is this so important? If your church’s dress code is business casual, what would it take to get every man in your church to show up in a suit and tie? It would be pretty difficult, wouldn’t it? You could make an announcement that you were having “Suit Sunday,” the pastor could preach about it, but you would have a hard time convincing men to actually wear suits.
The truth is this: It will be just as difficult to get men to break out of the man code that the atmosphere of your church has defined. No matter what you say in your announcements, no matter how you address men in your personal conversations, no matter how passionate you are about a ministry or an opportunity, their understanding of what it means to be a man in your church will already be set by your church’s man code. Get this wrong and everything else will be a lot of hard work. Get it right and everything else will be easier as you seek to reach and disciple men for the glory of Christ.
Click here to learn more about our new book No Man Left Behind.
Pat Morley is the Founder and CEO of Man in the Mirror.