Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Men's Ministry

The Messenger
Grace Episcopal Church, Madison NJ
October 2008

Men’s Ministry

In Christian magazines and books there has been a good deal of ink spilled over the issue of men in church – or, more accurately, the troubling lack of men in church. Probably the best known book about this subject has the provocative title Why Men Hate Going to Church. The author, David Morrow, offers some sobering statistics on his website For example, on Sunday the typical congregation is 61% women and 39% men. And then there’s this: “More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only two out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church.” And finally Morrow claims that fewer than 10% of American congregations are able to support “vibrant” men’s ministries.

In many ways Grace Church is an exception to the bleak picture painted by Morrow and others. As you know, many men regularly attend church and are often very active in all sorts of ministries from singing in the choir to serving as a youth leader to maintaining our grounds and buildings. We are very fortunate to have many men who give so much to the church and the wider community. However, since I think our distinctively men’s ministries can be more “vibrant, I want to remind you of what is already available and to begin thinking about future possibilities.

First, I want to invite all the men of Grace Church to our Men’s Breakfast, which assembles every Friday morning at 7:00 at the Bagel Chateau on Main Street. Eliot Knight, Bruce Rudin and I are the most regular attendees but others stop by from time to time. This weekly get-together has been a real highlight of my time at Grace – low-key, relaxed, agenda-free and often a lot of fun. The conversation ranges from the church to the economy to what’s going on at work and at home. If a Friday morning stop at the Bagel Chateau works with your schedule, I hope you will join us.

Second, I hope more of the men of Grace will consider joining the Grace Church Men’s Book Group, which meets monthly. In recent months the group has read and discussed The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene, The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, and The Beekeepers Apprentice by Laurie King. Ask Eliot Knight, Bruce Rudin, Steve Hauge or Jim Van Leuven for more information.

Finally, in recent months the newly reconstituted Grace Church Men’s Group has met twice – first at Surrey Lane and then at Bruce Rudin’s home. Both of these casual gatherings were well-attended and gave many of us a chance to meet and talk together for the first time. I learned that, partly because Grace is a fairly large church, many of us do not really know one another. I also learned that there is interest among at least some of the men in having a retreat – something that once was very popular but has not happened in the past couple of years.

We will be having our third meeting of the Men’s Group at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 10, at my place. Once again there will be snacks, drinks and conversation, but this time we will talk a while about some of our concerns, think about other ways we could serve Grace Church and the wider community and begin to plan a men’s retreat. Considering the stress and strain that many of us are under in these uncertain times, I think getting away together for even a short time of prayer and rest would be worthwhile for many of us.

Let me know what you think and I hope to see many of the men of Grace Church on the 10th.