However, by then most men were not attending worship services in their churches. By 1994, many congregations had less than 10 percent male participation.
The decline in male involvement didn’t occur overnight. Churches experienced a large decline in the 1970s through the early ’90s:
o An entire generation of men left the church during the Vietnam war.
o The decline in male participation and leadership opened a door of opportunity within the church, which corresponded with the rise of the women’s movement.
o As the jobs men had learned became obsolete, retraining became necessary, and men also became more mobile. Traditional family roles and responsibilities changed.
o The workplace became 24 hours/7 days a week, depriving men of discretionary time and energy formerly devoted to church activity.
But the men were still there on the rolls! Today, many of these same issues are bringing men back into the church:
o Men began to find traditional jobs declining, but personal identity by one’s profession empty.
o Starting in 1995, para-church groups raised the visibility of men’s spiritual needs. The men were moved by their experiences at these gatherings, and came back to their churches for support, growth, fellowship and mission.
o Men looked to the church to re-establish their personal identity on the solid base of Jesus Christ.
The men’s movement is growing again within all of the major denominations. Today we see 40 percent male attendance in many PC(USA) congregations.
Today Presbyterian Men are especially active in their church programs, such as:
o In Edmonds, Wash., men collected and brought food to a local pantry and soup-kitchen. Today, they also supply Bibles along with the food.
o Near Detroit, 40 men, from several churches, prepare and serve dinner one day each week to an average of 450 people. They also coordinate medical and social services, all donated.
o In Pittsburgh men from several churches established a credit union in a very disadvantaged area which banks had shunned.
o In Atlanta, one church men’s group presents scholarships for college to every graduating senior within their church.
o An older men’s group, called the “Metallic Club,” mentor young people starting their first job, or establishing their own businesses.
o Men, frequently including young people, go on mission trips abroad, some medical, others as work groups.
The 1 million male members of our churches are becoming connected again: in mission, in Bible study and in Spirit. They are openly discussing specifically male physical and emotional problems, and their personal spiritual growth. Visit the Web site of the National Council of Presbyterian Men at www.presbyterianmen.org and scan the list of more than 4,000 PC(USA) churches that have active men’s groups.
Attendance at national and regional gatherings is climbing rapidly. You can now take Presbyterian men off the “endangered species” list.
posted July 9, 2001
Bert Eakin is membership chair, National Council of Presbyterian Men.