Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Hmm, another book where it's tough to know where to begin. I guess with a summary:
This book is about why men hate going to church. Specifically, it walks through some historical and psychological reasons men don't go to church, and then through some possible solutions.
This book is well written, so it gets three stars (my rock-solid rule of book rating is that if you can string two sentences together in a way that keeps me reading, you get the average- it's a rare enough skill that it ought to be praised when encountered).
Having said that, I do not actually recommend any of the content of this book. Let me just suggest three reasons why:
1) Ultimately the theme of the book is that men don't go to church... because they are men. Which wouldn't be a problem, other than that Murrow believes that the church since the Victorian Era has been in a steady process of feminizing. He points out that the vast majority of church programs and institutions in the 20th century are either geared towards women or require more feminine virtues to implement. This drives men away, or at best makes them grudging attendees. What Murrow fails to point out is that most of these men wouldn't go anyway not because their biggest problem is their gender, but because they are sinners. It is not our masculinity that keeps us from God, it's our rebellion against him. We don't go to church because by nature we hate God and don't want anything to do with him.
2)The bulk of the statistics he quotes are from mainline Protestant churches, as are the majority of his solutions. The fact that he focuses on theologically liberal churches is in itself enough to skew the book to the point where it essentially has no value for a Christian. If churches where the Gospel is being regularly and faithfully preached are having problems keeping men in the seats (and they might very well be), that's a very different issue than a bunch of social clubs who gave Christianity the boot a hundred years ago (and hence really lost the right to be called "churches") having trouble keeping men interested.
3) There is no Gospel in this book. Not only in the sense that it is not shared, it does not work its way into Murrow's writings even by implication, nor is it part of his proposed solution. In one sense, Christians should be like Sunday School kids who know that the answer to every question is the atoning work of Jesus. Murrow thinks that t he solution to the lack of attendance at churchon the part of men is making church more attractive to them. He never once points out that the problem might be with the men. Maybe we don't go to church because we're lazy, or because we're proud, or because we're simply distracted by other good things that we think are more important. To any of these problems, the solution that Christianity has to offer (and has always had to offer, it's not like this is a radically new thing) is the Good News that our sin has been paid for on the cross. Our laziness, our pride, our distraction, all of our sin in wanting to forsake the church has been completely paid for, and not by us. That, and that alone, is the message that we should be relying on to bring men back into the church. Of course there are other things that we can do better, but if the Gospel is left out we might as well lock the doors now, because we're not doing anyone any good, men or women. Without that, this can't even be classified as a "Christian" book in any sense of the term that would have any meaning.
I have to confess, this is a somewhat difficult review to write, since I agree with the bulk of Murrow's points. More men should go to church; praise bands do kind-of suck; I don't like being put on the spot to pray; lots of functions in the church are more geared towards women than men; and so on. Nevertheless, I can't recommend this as anything other than a well-written book. Hence: 3 stars.
Personal Disclaimer: I intend no comment one way or the other on the state of David Murrow's own relationship with God. Saying this is not a Christian book is not the same thing as saying he is not a Christian personally. That is not information to which I am privy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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