So much great stuff in Proverbs 27!
Isn’t it great that the Bible is not just about getting us ready for heaven, but living better now? Just had our Friday morning men’s meeting here and waved the guys off. One of them, is off on holiday for a month in Bermuda (nice!) so this will be his last one.
We carried on our study from Carl Beech’s Spadework – what a fantastic book for this kind of thing!
At the end we reflected and prayed with gratitude for seven and a half years of 6am meetings – lots of laughs and tears. Nobody teaching – but everyone learning. Some of us are going to keep on going a few more weeks yet, but as they left I read verse 17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
You could of course modernise that and talk about ‘one person sharpening another…’ In fact, yesterday the news was full of legislation presented by the lady one paper called ‘Harriet Harperson,’ – the new Equality Bill. However wrongheaded some feel parts of this may be in my opinion, nobody should argue that men and women should be treated equally. But that doesn’t mean they have to be treated the same. And I think that’s the case in church. We can accept, value and celebrate our distinctiveness as males and females – the differentiation is part of the glory of God’s creation.
It’s really important to have men’s ministries in church:
Cholesterol heavy breakfasts
Curry and chips
4 x4 driving
Golf days and so on
But such things are just gateways – not the end product. Sometimes I get to speak at such events and realise that many men go to them just to get their (Christian) wives off their backs for a while about God. They’ll have a meal and a pint occasionally and even put up with a ‘God-slot’ – as long as they don’t have to get too involved with Jesus! And they see churches as clubs for the ladies.
May God bless women in every church who are serving the Lord. We’d be in big trouble without them, but that has meant men can end up as passive spectators. Men now make up only 30 to 40% of churchgoers, and descending. In Why Men Hate Going to church David Murrow states – ‘…you cannot have a thriving church without a core of men who are true followers of Christ. If the men are dead, the church is dead.’
The 2007 Church Attitudes Survey revealed that 54% of Christian women thought that UK church services appeal more to women – and 67% of Christian men agreed.
A lot of attention has been given to the decline in the number of children in our churches, but if men become Christ followers that often has a very strong impact on the whole family. Click this link for a report detailing a fascinating study which states that it’s the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from the Church of the children.
Let the iron sharpen the iron! We need to be able to repent of abuses of patriarchy and masculine excesses, without vilifying or condemning masculinity itself, and men need to hear God’s challenge to be a man of God – in the home, in the church and in the community.