The Emergent Zeitgeist

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David Murrow has a new book out, Why Men Hate Going to Church (Thomas Nelson) that sounds intriguing. “Explains why men find institutional Christianity so unappealing—and calls the church to respond to men’s God-given, masculine needs and gifts. It’s Sunday morning. Where are all the men? Golfing? Playing softball? Watching the tube? Mowing the lawn? Sleeping? One place you won’t find them is in church. Less than 40 percent of adults in most churches are men, and 20 to 25 percent of married churchgoing women attend without their husbands. And why are the men who do go to church so bored? Why won’t they let God change their hearts?” According to Nelson, Murrow’s book isn’t calling the “world’s largest unreached people group” back to the church, it’s “calling the church back to men.”

Okay, that book sounds like a relatively safe “gamble” to my inexperienced acquisitions ear. But then, would we have said that before Wild at Heart? I wonder. I worked on Dr. Dobson’s Bringing Up Boys project and I can say it’s a hot topic, this abandoning of masculinity by the culture. And it seems the church is following right behind, as usual.

Which brings me to the point for this evening. No, not that the sordid church often follows the sordid culture and compromises the gospel. That topic’s been covered. I think it’s time we pointed out who the emergent church is really attracting. Check it out for yourself. I’m not a trend-watcher, really, though I do play one on TV. And the “movement” is still too new to prove numbers, but Relevant mag and books, Nelson and Zondervan, Youth Specialties, and the rest of the gang of current-shifters are attracting GUYS, folks. I think this is a fact and a truly collosal one that also has immeasurable impact on you ladies as well. If men are finding their way back to the true faith through the new happenings under the pomo umbrella–an umbrella, I might add, that acts and feels totally unlike any umbrella Grannie’s ever seen, but looks damn cool to all the wet dudes hanging at the bus stop–then it isn’t just the newest slapped-together invention in a back-sliding church. If masculinity is finding it’s acceptable to be a man in front of God again, it isn’t simply a man-made movement we’re talking about here. It’s a revolution, in the truest sense of the word.

But maybe numbers and population data aren’t enough to convince anyone yet. It still feels fairly speculative to use the revolution word. But my hunch, just in my limited experience as a sheltered pastor’s kid with 18 years of Evangelical Christian education behind me, is there’s a whole continent of Holden Caufields out there, disillusioned Dostoyevskys, Tyler Durdens (main character of Fight Club), and broken-hearted Don Millers wishing with their last thread of hope for this “emergent” thing to be real.

And that sort of umbrella doesn’t stay a secret very long.

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4 thoughts on “The Emergent Zeitgeist”

  1. Hi Mick, I just discovered your blog. Dude, you’re deep. All I do is whine on my blog. :-)
    On this “revolution”: First off, I don’t have much experience beyond the youth work I do at church. But from what I can see in my youth group, this umbrella is hit-or-miss.
    The Christian media and teaching resources available to staff workers seem to attract guys. But at the same time, the girls are more “masculine” than previous years and are attracted to the same riff.
    Some guys dig this stuff, some don’t. Some will think ANYTHING Christian is a bunch of hooey, some will only want what they want to hear. And some will embrace it despite thorns and difficulties, because the person of Christ is too compelling to give up.
    So I guess I’m being typical post-modern and agreeing but not.
    Rock on dude!
    Camy from California
    who hopes this doesn’t post twice

  2. We started attending an “emergent” church a year ago. My husband was a pastor’s kid–in church every time the door opened–and as an adult served in all kinds of leadership positions within “church”. After a few weeks at our new church he told me it was the first time he felt like he’d found a “fit” in all his years of church going. And he’s in his 50’s. Guess he fits your stats.

  3. if the men are finding themselves, then it won’t be long till we see the clash of the titans in authority issues. i’m a throwback to when women were submissive, and i am praising God men are FINALLY rising up. there is a job only men can do, and there are jobs for the ladies. the real men, they praying men, the anointed pastors of the church, the worshippers, the levites, the men who stand before God for their family, country, and churches are a rare breed, i thought they were extinct. it is an exciting time. taking too long, but praise God for eldredge’s waking the dead. eh?

  4. I’m all for men becoming more spiritually attuned, and sensitive to the Holy Spirit. It is, indeed, about time.
    The problem is that we’re also well on our way to being stereotyped the other way. One church calls its men’s ministry “Iron Mill,” another calls its ministry “Forge,” and I don’t care for either model.
    Yes, men can be strong. But what’s wrong with being both strong and sensitive? The Holy Spirit has a much better idea of what a man should be than the men setting the course.
    It takes strength to be gentle and to choose the best way to handle any situation. Want proof? Read the four gospels and watch how Jesus handles all the different people he meets. This is a real eye-opener.
    So, yes, let’s be men. But let’s let the Holy Spirit teach us what that means, rather than the church.

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