David Murrow starts off by observing that churches throughout the Christian world (not just in the U.S.) have about 12% more women than men, and started wondering why. Ultimately he came to the conclusion that Christianity, as a whole, seems to have lost a lot of the masculine values, so what is left are the largely feminine ones. For example, which seems more “Christian,” being nurturing or confrontational? Being comforting or being risky? In a survey, most people chose the feminine values, yet Jesus exhibited many male traits, too. He confronted the Pharisees with shocking bluntness (“you whitewashed walls!”). He was risky (going to Jerusalem when he knew people were out to kill him). He even attacked the temple marketplace with a whip.

Consider how the church tends to function. We emphasize sharing with each other in our small groups. We sing worship songs that often sound like top-40 love songs: “hold me close to you,” “Oh Lord, you’re beautiful”. We emphasize having a relationship with a man named Jesus. Whenever there is a picture of Jesus, he even looks feminine (long hair, thin boned, no beard); it’s hard to imagine that Jesus attacking the Temple and the religious leaders with a whip. Men follow other men, they do not “have a relationship” with other men. They would never dare to call another man “beautiful,” or ask him to “hold me close”; how can a man worship with lyrics like that? Why would a non-Christian waste time at a service like that?

Additionally, the church culture actively discourages some of the things which motivate men: risk, change, quest for quality, constant challenge. Seeking high-quality worship by suggesting that off-pitch Mary might be better suited elsewhere is likely to raise concern about not being sensitive to her, as she’s worshipping with her heart. Pastors suggesting such programs that take a risk for the kingdom are likely to be met with concern that it might be too confrontational,or too unsafe. Giving a sermon that challenges people to follow Christ is likely to be perceived as too confrontational. A couple women at one church objected that the youth men’s ministry was going on a paintball outing (not really “Christian,” and it emphasized violence), so they did something safe like study 1 Timothy instead. Pastors are on much safer ground planning a nurturing children’s ministry.

The solution is not to throw out the feminine values, because we do need nurture, community, safety. We do need to know God personally. Murrow’s suggestion is to bring back masculine values. Realize that men need to be challenged, so make sure there are things to challenge them. Give them risk, give them responsibility. Expect men to lead. In fact, Murrow suggests that male leadership is essential, otherwise feminine traits will dominate and all the men will leave. (Although he does not mention it, Paul does mention this expectation in several of his letters)  But, the women will have to help the men out, and let the men lead like men. Although this will probably not look like what they were expecting, as it will probably be challenging and a little less safe, he gives a number of examples of where churches that did this found that, in addition to more men, more women also came.

Murrow generally cites many compelling statistics and has a lot of sources, with John Eldridge and George Barna figuring prominently. Sometimes, however, his assertions about male tendencies seem a little questionable. For example, he says that the culture of learning in the church reflects a femine tendency; men apparently don’t learn through books. Since academia has been dominated by men throughout its long history, I find this hard to believe. However, this reviewer found the large majority of the assertions to be true in his life.

As a long-time male Christian, this reviewer found this revelation illuminating, and it explained many of the difficulties I have had with worship services and loving God—I was trying to love God like a woman would, but I am a man. Instead of trying to worship God with love songs, worshipping God in the wild outdoors is likely to be far more successful. Instead of trying to feel “in love” with Jesus, simply following Jesus as a leader seems much more natural. It validated my frustration with not feeling challenged by the church, with not having an avenue to risk failure or be attracted to success.

This is an intruiging book. Murrow suggests that Christian values, Christian culture, and Christian service largely reflect feminine values, leading to a lack of men. He gives a very comprehensive description of male traits. He is a little lighter on solutions, which are largely considering the needs of men in addition to the needs of women. However, there are many suggestions that can be drawn; simply look at all the things he identifies as turning off men and consider how to change that. This book challenges how I think church should look like. As a man, it both freed me to stop trying to squelch the male traits, and it challenged me to fully embody the male traits. I recommend it for church leaders, women who wish their husbands would go to church, and anyone looking to understand more about how men follow God.
Review: 8.7
I found this book to be challenging, illuminating, and freeing. I think Murrow has a lot of insight. However, it sometimes feels like a brain dump—lots of thoughts scattered all over the place. There is some structure, but I think the book would benefit from some judicious removal of material. Also, I think that Murrow needs to identify the difference between the traits that modern American men have (anti-scholasticism, for example) and men in general. I doubt this book will be around in 100 years simply because it reads more like strongly suggestive ideas than lucidly explained principles. Of course, I hope that it will not be necessary to save this book 100 years from now because I hope the church will learn to embody masculine values as well as feminine values by then.