Worship for red-blooded males! Part2

In the first article I discussed some of the background to the issue. Here, I will explore some of the details in the expression of worship that may enable men to more easily access worship.

Males and females are obviously different. This is not going to be an extract from a biology textbook nor is it to be a reference to “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”. I am just acknowledging the differences.

In a scene from “Sleepless in Seattle”, Tom Hanks and his brother-in-law watch Tom’s sister dissolve into tears as she recalls the final scenes from “An affair to remember” starring Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant. Then they mock her emotion as they pretend to cry recalling a certain scene from “The Dirty Dozen” where men are being blown up and it’s a really funny scene especially when you watch the young boy watching the adults being so emotional!?

My point is – males are looking for something to respond to and in this they are no different to females. In the church context however, women are found to be more outwardly responsive to the work of the Spirit and more likely to be outwardly expressive in worship. This is certainly not to say that men are not – it’s just a general statement acknowledging that there are exceptions. This being the case we ask why?

The most likely answer, I think, is that women sense most emotions positively. Indeed even negative emotions are to be expressed openly as a means of processing them.

Men do not regard emotion with the same equanimity. For men, emotions come in two forms – not negative and positive but acceptable and unacceptable. The unacceptable are not to be expressed but internalised. Yet, they find in the sporting arenas, plenty of acceptable opportunities for their emotions. Here they can express anger, frustration, fear, passion, joy and sadness.

And all of them openly.

Yet, in the worship context, most Australian men find it to be a place where emotional display is unacceptable.

As I mentioned in my first article –there seems to have been a “feminising” of the worship in our churches. However, this is the negative argument. That is, we feminised worship that’s why men don’t enter in to it.

But that’s too simplistic.

I think the problem is that our worship lacks something – we have in a sense, lost our balance. If we accept that males like to express emotion but are choosing not to when they are in church then we actually have a bigger problem.

Worship is essentially a response to the stimulus of the grace of God. If males cannot express their response to God for His grace and they don’t have a ministry or mission expression can we really be surprised that they regard the church as irrelevant.

If a red blooded Australian male comes to church he usually encounters a worship which is essentially about being nice and finding intimacy. That may be a little unfair – perhaps it is – but I sense that this is what is happening for men when they visit the church.

So what is to be done?

I suggested a first step is to get the theologians with the song writers together and not allow song writers to simply write what they feel any longer.

That done, what themes are likely to be relevant?

I mentioned in part one of this article three descriptions of Jesus – heroic, courageous and insightful into people.

These are, I think, male descriptors. Let me be clear, I am not saying that females don’t acknowledge the appeal of these aspects of Jesus’ person, only that these are particularly strong points which appeal to men.

For females, intimacy, yieldedness and resolution are key themes and all of these find ready expression in our worship already – over and over again!!

Again, I’m not saying these points do not have their appeal to men, only that these are particularly feminine. I fear that most Australian men who come to church services struggle to come to terms with worship because of the dominance of these “feminine” themes, especially when there is no tangible experience of the presence of the God who is Creator and Saviour.

Too many times we meet but have no recognisable experience of God’s presence. That means we leave without really knowing that we have met with the Lord and His people.

Females adjust to this better than men I think. It means they understand that a relationship with God involves earnestly seeking and this is good for them because if they don’t experience the manifest presence of God there is a capacity to understand this and not be deflected.

Men, on the other hand, need this manifest presence because the real experience impacts them and challenges them in ways that nothing else can. And, when they don’t experience this it creates doubt and internally they become disinterested.

I’m not saying this is okay – actually it’s immature really, but when revivals strike immense men of faith are born because of the manifest presence of God. Then, these men are not distracted during periods where the presence of God is not “felt”.

However, most of our red-blooded Australian men have had no experience to bring the break through in their lives. Once again, this key ingredient for men will addressed in revival and I think that this is what explains why many men come into the Body of Christ as a direct result of revival.

I want to be clear. The issues I am addressing particularly concern men who are presently outside the church and the grace of God. They don’t presently have a worship experience outside of the sporting arena and these are the ones we have to be conscious of – at least as much as we are concerned for the issues of those who already claim to be submitted to the Lordship of Christ.

Of course, the big issue for worship is that the culture of the church is that worship is to be a key experience for me – I need to get something out of it. I concede this issue is being addressed but I believe that too many of the faithful are far too disappointed when they “don’t get anything out” of worship.

This selfishness doesn’t help us face the far larger issue of mission and the role that worship plays in it.

In the end we will continue to struggle with this issue because we are too far from the experience of revival and what it does for worship.

As a believer of long standing I long for the experience of God’s manifest presence because then (and I write this as a song writer) – the song doesn’t matter!!

~ by Colin Stoodley

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