The Christian ‘Man Church’ December 18, 2010

The Christian ‘Man Church’

Chandler, Arizona is home to a Christian church with special services just for men:

Man Church is church the way a man expects it to be done. No singing, short sermon, time to talk with other guys, no women present, and coffee and donuts. That’s the way men want to do church. The topics of discussion will have a definite manly focus — being the best possible husband, father, employee, leader — being a real man. In fact, every aspect of Man Church is geared for men — not like any other church you have seen. This ain’t your mama’s church!

Wow. A religious service dominated by men.

(As opposed to “normal” religious services, which are also dominated by men…?)

Way to reach out to the silent minority, Christians…

Actually, I understand the aversion to singing and smalltalk. That’s annoying to me and I’m sure some Christians would rather do church without that.

What’s annoying is how the description alone seems to suggest all men must act and think in certain ways (and that women cannot act and think in these ways). If you’re not a macho, motorcycle-riding, grammar-be-damned-we’re-gonna-say-“ain’t” type of guy, we challenge your manhood.

Godless Girl isn’t happy with it at all:

These… guys apparently can’t handle creative expression, women, music, or big words. If I were male, I’d be insulted that my church leadership thinks I am an emotionless, simple-minded grunt who doesn’t crave depth of study and a song once in a while. This sounds [like] fast food instead of a full course meal.

No word on how gay men would be treated in this setting…

You can catch a few glimpses of what Man Church is like here:

After watching excerpts of the sermons from the video, I really don’t get why women couldn’t have heard the same things.

I have never heard of any atheist group — even larger ones, even at conferences — dividing itself up by sexes for any reason. Maybe because we see each other as truly equal. Men are no better or smarter or wiser than women in our world. In the Christian world, the genders have to fit a certain mold (defined by the men).

Sure, many of the more famous New Atheists have been male, but it’s not from lack of awesome female atheists. We just need to publicize the women better than we have been.

Christians have a long way to go, though, before women are really seen as equals in the church.


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  • Ben

    On a side note, the Senate invoked cloture on DADT repeal and now it’s assured to pass. Gays finally get to be who they are openly and serve their country.
    While I’m not gay I think it’s a great day for same -sex oriented people.

  • Pickle

    If I were a Christian, I think I’d like regular church to be done like “man church”. But with women involved of course =)

  • It’s a marketing ploy, nothing more. Churches learned, maybe in the 1970s or 1980s, to differentiate the market and directly market to different segments of their membership. It’s a way to try to increase enrollment (and to express it cynically, to increase donations).

  • Lauren

    Maybe because we see each other as truly equal. Men are no better or smarter or wiser than women in our world

    ummm. bull. Yes. lots of progressives who believe in equality are Athiest. in fact I would hazard that the majority are atheist. However, there is lots of sexism in every movement. Atheism is not an exception. I’ve met countless atheist men who will go on and on about evolutionary psychology. that is not a christian thing. you have to believe in evolution to be that kind of sexist.

  • Gretchen

    Umm, some people try to use evolutionary psychology to justify sexism. That does not mean evolutionary psychology is inherently sexist.

  • maybe the reason it’s guys only isn’t a superiority thing, but rather a comfort-level thing… Some gyms serve to women only, but they aren’t claiming women are better than men.

  • Soul-less

    “If I were male, I’d be insulted that my church leadership thinks I am an emotionless, simple-minded grunt who doesn’t crave depth of study and a song once in a while.”

    Church leadership behaves like ALL of their followers are “simple minded grunts who don’t crave depth of study” and pro-actively orchestrate everything in their power to make them more so, including dictating the (lack of) curriculum in public schools.

    “Depth of study” is the biggest enemy religion has. It’s what made me quit.

  • Anonymous

    These guys aren’t trying to catch up to gender equality. They are trying to reinforce the old division of “gender roles.”

    (If anyone hasn’t seen this yet, I recommend The Women Of The “Stay At Home Daughters Movement”
    (warning: tl;dr)
    http://jezebel.com/5708306/the-women-of-the-stay-at-home-daughters-movement)

  • Lauren

    let me rephrase. I have been in direct contact with sexist men using evolutionary psychology to tell me that women are like “such and such” and men are inherently “such and such.” I’ve read articles that say such things, from “trusted” news sources that reach many many people. And I am not alone in this observation.

    My point still holds. We should not pretend that atheism as a belief or as a movement is free from sexism.

  • church full of men only… sounds gay to me.

  • Larry makes a good point ^. They’re pandering to men because in a lot of families that are more likely to go to church, the man is usually the breadwinner. Also, in lots of those families the father is seen as the leader, the decision maker. Just like the statistic thrown out in the video, if the father goes to church, the family has no choice but to follow. Any other member of the family starts going, and meh, who cares?

    Lauren also makes a good point. However, I don’t think Hemant really thinks there is absolutely 0 sexism in the atheist movement. He’s speaking relative to the Christian group.

  • proto-fascism. take the “sappy” “limp wristed” stuff about communion and compassion out of christianity, ignore the complicated and sensitive theology that uses big words, emphasize the “jesus will come with a flaming sword” parts, all while encouraging disparaging sexist locker room talk about women. nothing new for christianity, of course, but yet another link in the chain that is dragging this country down to a very real and not mythological hell.

  • What about men who come to church to meet women?

    And all this fuss about being manly strikes me as really weird.

  • One of the things that I really hated about Islamic Sunday School was the segregation of boys and girls, with girls sitting in the back, and this reminds me of that. There’s this idea that men have to be a certain way and women have to be a certain way.

    Also, given that so many religious doctrines favor men, having a church specifically for men just seems like a way to reinforce discrimination.

  • Ryan

    I find that there are a lot of assumptions in this post. Some of those assumptions are probably fair for more fundamentalist churches, and I have no idea if this church can fall into that category. There are lots of broad generalizations made on this site of what Christians think, but the gender inequality one bugs me the most because it really is a small wing of the church as a whole.

    Most churches are at least 60% female. The campus fellowship I was involved in last year had one other man and seven women on its leadership team. And it is because the style of church and of campus fellowship does (as a broad generality) work better for women. I would argue that it would be better to change normal church to be a bit more balanced, rather than create a separate Man Church, but I found the assumption here that it is to exclude men to be a bit ridiculous. It is smart marketing – they know their regular service is a male minority so they do something to target them. It isn’t really any different than women’s groups, which most churches have, but it is automatically sexist if men do the same thing. I understand the historical reasons for calling it sexist, but saying we’re different isn’t the same thing saying we’re better.

  • Alex

    What no beer, cards, smoking or porno? I don’t see how they will motivation men to attend, since it takes women to get men to go to church anyway or single men looking for single women.

  • let me rephrase. I have been in direct contact with sexist men using evolutionary psychology to tell me that women are like “such and such” and men are inherently “such and such.” I’ve read articles that say such things, from “trusted” news sources that reach many many people. And I am not alone in this observation.

    What conclusion are you drawing from your observation? It’s a fact that men and women are biologically different, and our brains are part of our biology. If it’s scientifically accurate to say that men and women are inherently different, or that they’re statistically more likely to behave or think a certain way, that’s not a value judgment on those thoughts or behaviors, any more than it’s a value judgment to say that people of African descent are more susceptible to sickle-cell anemia or people with light skin are more susceptible to sunburn. While it may be sexist to determine how we should treat people based on evolutionary psychology, the fact that evolutionary psychologists can find an evolutionary explanation for generic differences between most men and women is not sexist.

    My point still holds. We should not pretend that atheism as a belief or as a movement is free from sexism.

    Personally I don’t think we should pretend that atheism is a belief or a movement, but I know what you mean and I agree.

  • Richard Wade

    This has Saturday Night Live sketch written all over it. A manly church in a manly way!

  • And all this fuss about being manly strikes me as really a lot like what closeted self-denying homosexuals do.

    fixed your typo.

  • Jason

    If I was still catholic id agree to 2 of those points. No singing and shorter sermons.

  • Anonymous

    Movement Calls Out Immaturity in Men, Stresses Christ-Like Masculinity (Oct 28)
    http://www.christianpost.com/article/20101028/movement-calls-out-immaturity-in-men-stresses-christ-like-masculinity/

  • Jeff

    @Ryan: I find that there are a lot of assumptions in this post. Some of those assumptions are probably fair for more fundamentalist churches, and I have no idea if this church can fall into that category.

    What’s to know? It’s an evangelical church with a “manly focus”. It’s Promise Keepers for guys whose wives won’t let them go away for the weekend.

    Next.

  • MH

    The lack of men participating in churches has been freaking out religious denominations for a while now. So it sounds like they’re trying to tweak their product to counter the demographic slide.

    I doubt this will help, there’s plenty of studies that show that men are simply less religious than women.

  • What’s annoying is how the description alone seems to suggest all men must act and think in certain ways (and that women cannot act and think in these ways). If you’re not a macho, motorcycle-riding, grammar-be-damned-we’re-gonna-say-”ain’t” type of guy, we challenge your manhood.

    It doesn’t imply ALL men are like this, but it’s a good marketing strategy because it will surely attract ALOT of men. Just like putting hot women in commercials will make men want to drink beer, not ALL men (like Elton John) but ALOT.

    If some men don’t want this type of church, then don’t go. There’s nothing wrong with offering a product that some people like and some people don’t.

  • Rebecca

    I wonder if they watch sports and drink beer while attending “church”? That would sound like a ‘manly’ thing to me.

  • Miko

    I don’t see a problem with this. The atmosphere and the types of conversation possible are definitely going to be changed if the meeting is segregated by gender, and if they feel that this will enhance what they’re trying to do, that’s certainly their right.

    Additionally, this should in no way suggest (a priori) that they’re relegating women to second-class citizen status, just like a rape crisis center’s decision to accept only women as staff doesn’t suggest that they think that all men are rapists. In both cases, they’re just creating an atmosphere in which people will feel free to express themselves in certain ways that they otherwise might not be willing to express themselves.

    That said, in this case, I don’t think this church is likely to succeed long term. They’ve basically guaranteed nonattendance from the married sector, which is a huge demographic for churches as well as a way of indoctrinating the children to assure a continued membership in the future.

  • Dave

    When do they get to the girls on trampolines?

  • NotYou007

    Dave Says:

    December 18th, 2010 at 6:00 pm
    When do they get to the girls on trampolines?

    I loved the Man Show when it first started out. It became lame after a couple of years though.

    As for the video I had to stop watching it but they do love doughnuts.

  • Ron in Houston

    Well, it’s rather silly the way the theists do it, but in actuality the premise needs to be examined.

    The male brain is vastly different than the female brain. Women are much more relational driven while men are not.

    What sort of pisses me off about this is that atheists should be saying, “well, they may have a point.” In the big scheme of things evolution did not make men and women equal. Instead of trying to reduce ourselves down, we should be embracing the beauty of our biological differences.

  • I don’t get the appeal. I spend the week at work away from my family and partner. At the weekend I like to spend time with them. Why would I want to cut the women in my life out of a social activity?

  • Johan Stuyts

    The only thing I saw was:
    …..
    Donuts
    …..
    Donuts
    …..
    Donuts
    …..

    I love this group. Where can I join?

  • Carlie

    The lack of men participating in churches has been freaking out religious denominations for a while now. So it sounds like they’re trying to tweak their product to counter the demographic slide.

    Yet in almost every denomination, men are solely in charge of everything from the service to the sermons to the bylaws. So why do they need yet another way to marginalize women in order to feel accepted? They already own and run it all in the first place.

  • MH

    Carlie, your claim is probably true for conservative denominations, but not liberal ones. I’ve met many female clergy who were Unitarians, Reformed Jews, Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), or UCC. I also know the local Reformed Synagogue has expressed concern of lack of male involvement. But I haven’t seen any statistics this up.

    However, what completely bends my mind is that statistics have shown that women are more religious than men. Even in religions that are misogynistic.

  • R

    I research church groups from time to time. Turns out there is nothing new here. Probing the website, Man Church is not a “church”; it is a men’s fellowship of a church.

    There is also a women’s fellowship called “Women’s Network”; as well as groups for singles, young adults, students, even motorcycles, etc. “Man Church” is the silly title that goes along with the attempted semi-serious/semi-humorous description. (“This ain’t your mama’s church!”)

    From the video, some of the members were recovering from certain addictions. And this is their mechanism to reinforce their recovery.

  • is one of their mottos: “Real men rape lesbians to show them the way”

  • Or could it be that this church is reaching a segment of society that might never consider a Christian service? Just like there are churches where the sermons are given in another language, it exists to reach people from a particular culture, background, or interest. I don’t necessarily agree with the whole “men-only” distinction, but hey, I don’t see what the big deal is.

    Also, I contend with the idea that a person who knows Jesus perceives the sexes as being unequal. If a person is made in the “image of God,” there is no way that one sex can be amplified over another sex. Such distinctions are not supported by Jesus and have actually existed since before Christianity became a known theology. I’d caution against making claims based on the handful of people you know who have twisted a theology to support their own agenda.

  • I almost — almost — wish I lived there so I could walk in, snag a few yummy looking doughnuts, then sue their asses off when they kicked me out probably calling me dyke for daring to confront them.

    I hope someone hits them with one soon but it’s doubtful. Could the discrimination be any more blatant? Or are churches exempt from discrimination? They shouldn’t be.

  • @Ron in Houston: There are differences within the sexes as well, though. Not all men are the same as each other and not all women are the same as each other. I think what some people are pointing out is that they have a stereotypical idea of what men should be and what women should be. Too many times, religious groups try to enforce the ridiculous idea that there are some people who are being men and women the “right” way.

    @Donna Hamel: I’m uncertain. I think they may be exempt from some anti-discrimination laws, considering that there are churches which discriminate based on sex when hiring people for certain jobs (e.g. preachers).

  • ludovico

    Hey, wait a minute! Did I spy a pink donut?? In a manly church??

  • TheirSnowGod

    This is not new. I think I knew where the idea may have come from. There are womens only and mens only Alcoholics Anonymous groups whose meetings go just like this, no singing, coffee, donuts…

  • Vas

    hoverfrog Said:

    I don’t get the appeal. I spend the week at work away from my family and partner. At the weekend I like to spend time with them. Why would I want to cut the women in my life out of a social activity?

    Oh man I thought you, (hoverfrog) were female for years! My bad, or… maybe not, I’m confused so I’ll just ask. Hoverfrog would you share your gender with us? The avatar is of no help.

  • Vas

    Also…
    What exactly is the problem with guys having social activities with “just the guys”?

  • Vas, its the hair isn’t it? The manly hat isn’t a giveaway? Come on. Actually I don’t mind being mistaken for a woman online. The Internet has that moat of anonymity that keeps real life apart from virtual life. I’m more than happy to stay here and wave from my safe spot.

  • Vas

    Yeah it’s the hair… along with the blurry avatar, and the hat is well… a bit less than manly, kind of on the smallish side. Mostly it was me, I just looked at the pic, my brain told me “chick” and I never looked back. Mostly the shock was that I have spent the last few years with a bad assumption and never questioned it. I felt kind of dumb and read your post on this thread over and over trying to figure out if you were a gay chick or a dude, not that it really matters, but I just felt kind of stupid. So it’s meat and potatoes… got it.

  • My hat has a skull and crossbones. You don’t get more manly than that.

  • Aman

    Thanks for the feature on Man Church. Hey what’s wrong with wanting to hang out with other guys? Seems that in the West there’s any anti men thing going on …. it’s just natural to want to hang out with other guys whether at church or whatever … men and women need a bit of breath space from each other …..