18
Sep
08

Men and the Spirit

In preparation to facilitate a support group at our church, I had an opportunity recently to read some material worth reflecting upon. The group is a men’s grief support group, made up of men who have experienced a significant loss in their life. It is an interesting and diverse group with a wide range of loss experiences. We spent part of our time together talking about some of the ways that gender becomes an influencing factor in the grieving process. One resource I used was a paper by Sabine Buchebner-Ferstl (not sure of her credentials, actually) that points out some of the “Of course!” reasons for the differences between the genders. Women tend to spend more energy building social networks, for example, and so are in a better position to be supported in loss than men. As a rule women tend to be more emotionally oriented in their coping strategies while men are more problem-oriented. When this has been the lifelong pattern for a person it simply stands to reason that in the event of a significant personal loss the woman would already be pretty familiar with the “terrain” of the emotions and perhaps have a better feel for navigating in it.

Makes sense.

But here is where I really began to ponder and am really interested in hearing any ideas or inputs that you might feel impelled to offer. Are there significant differences between men and women in the manner in which they navigate the spiritual realms that might factor into the issue of grief? My immediate focus right now is in the area of grief, but I really am interested in considering ALL of the ways the sexes might diverge in their approach to spiritual matters. We have all seen those stories about the pastors who have crafted their worship services for the “cave man” sensitivities, designing the inside of worship centers to look like a sacred hunting lodge, decorated with beaver pelts and antlers. So there are obviously some folks out there who really believe that there are such realities as “male spirit” vs. “female spirit” and that the two really don’t mix and match very well.

I really do believe there might be something to that notion, but I am not convinced that the differences are as profound as some might lead us to believe. What is really behind the statistics suggesting that our congregations being more heavily female than ever before? Blogger Gene Edward Veith says that in the average congregation on Sunday, 60% of the worshippers will be female, with that percentage edging upward all the time.

Is there something here worth pondering? Are there stylistic dimensions that have worked their way into the way we conduct worship that appeal more to the female vs. the male mindset? What are those? And what is the difference in the core make-up of people that would create such differences?

I am just throwing it out there to see if anyone wants to offer up a cogent thought or two of your own. This could really be a subject worth batting around.


1 Response to “Men and the Spirit”


  1. September 18, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    There is a mega-church (I can’t recall which one) built around the idea that if you can attract the man of the house, you will get the whole family, whereas if you attract the woman of the house, you will probably get the children but not necessarily the man. That’s an interesting idea and they’ve done very well with it. Only problem is, the idea is demonstrably false. I can cite counterexamples for every church I’ve been in where the man of the house has been involved but not the woman.

    I see value in affinity and support groups around gender, but I don’t think we should design a whole church around a gender-based strategy. In Christ there is no male nor female.


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