I’ve been tossing this one around in my mind for awhile, discussing it with a couple of people, and even reading other people’s thoughts on it. So it’s time to throw it out there for people to consider and even comment on. As we have been visiting churches I’ve noticed a phenomenon I don’t care for – and it really bugs me. At first I started seeing it only subconsciously, but now that we’re visiting lots of churches I’ve actually started looking specifically for it: do the men in the church sing? Let me lay out a couple of assumptions/beliefs so you can understand where I’m coming from on this:
- Worship is a response to God, as such it is not initiated by us (I’m not even going to link to a specific post on this because I’ve written on it so much – if you click on the tag “worship” you’ll find more posts about this than I can count)
- The Bible calls men to be leaders in the church and in the home. I’m not saying this to down-play the role of women or sound chauvinistic; I’m simply stating what the Bible says (and I’m not going to get into a long drawn-out discussion about it because that’s not the point of this post). I’m also not saying women can’t hold leadership roles – because they can and do; if you disagree with this statement just bear with me and I think the context will help explain it.
- Men, by nature, are designed by God to be initiators; women are designed by God to be responders. Now, this is a broad (very broad) generalization, but it helps me make my point so I’m going to keep it in here.
You’re probably wondering why I pay attention to whether men sing in church when we visit: after all, shouldn’t I be focusing on God and not the people in the room? I look specifically because I want to see what the leaders of the church do in worship: what do they model? I’m not talking the formal leaders (deacons/elders, pastors, musicians, etc). I’m talking the leader of every household is standing in the congregation – I’m talking about the men. I look to them because people do what the leaders model, so if men aren’t singing it says a lot to me about the church.
Now as I was researching this topic a little I realized I wasn’t the only one to have noticed this trend over the years – in fact, I stumbled across an entire website dedicated to getting men more involved in church (including singing and worship). In fact, this website has multiple pages dedicated to helping churches design their ministry to encourage men to participate (at least that’s what they say). Posts like Men Vs. Praise and Worship or Why Men Have Stopped Singing; they even have a so-called “Guy Friendly Test” for churches to take to see if their culture is too feminine for men to feel comfortable! Then there’s this page I stumbled upon named “Why Do Men Resist Getting Into Worship?” or one worship pastor’s thoughts from his blog. Apparently I’m not the first person to wonder about this question.
And these people make some great arguments – saying that music is too feminine, or too emotional, or too performance-oriented. It’s great reading, but I’m not going to re-hash it here since I’ve provided the links above. In all honesty, they offer some pretty decent suggestions for churches to consider in designing services that men would feel more comfortable in.
But that’s not what I want to talk about – I don’t want to talk to churches and church leadership (pastors and worship teams). I want to talk directly to Christian men. Here’s the bottom line, guys: I don’t give a darn what type of music your church is using – if you don’t like it get over yourself, get over it, and start singing. Grow up and be a man – stop being a baby and pouting every Sunday morning. I have been to too many churches in the past four months (at least 8 by my most recent count) and I am sick and tired of seeing men in the service standing during the songs with hands in pockets or arms crossed, lips not moving, and just staring with disgusted looks on their faces. Do youreally think that when you stand before God after you die and he asks you “Why didn’t you worship me in church” he’s going to accept some lame-a** excuse that “I felt the song was too feminine and emotional” or “I just couldn’t get the tune” or “Singing is for women – I’m a man” or any of the other excuses identified by the writers mentioned above?
We are the leaders, so we need to lead by example. My girls need to see that men sing – and we sing our hearts out. Not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus has done for us! Why is it men will do the absolute dumbest things at a sporting event but then check-out when it’s time to cheer for the God of the universe? Do you think he’s not looking? Not only do my girls need to see that real men sing and real men worship (so they know what to expect in a husband), but the young boys in churches – two of which will one day marry my daughters – darn well better see what they are supposed to be so they can adequately lead as husbands. If we don’t do it guys, no one will.
It’s not easy and I’m not going to pretend it is. Go back to points 1 and 3 above: if they are true (and I believe they are), then worship itself will in many ways feel un-natural for men. If worship is response and we are not by nature responders, then we’re going to have a hard time worshipping. But anyone who says they can’t do it is lying not only to themselves but also to God on High. If you can cheer for your favorite team you can cheer for your Lord and Savior. I get excited to see the Cubs play – even though they haven’t won the World Series in over 100 years (no, I’m not bitter!). I wear hats and shirts with their logo on them – and I don’t even live near Chicago anymore. And I know I’m not the only one who feels that way about a sports team. If I can do that for my favorite baseball team I can certainly do it for my Lord.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not equating worship with singing, because worship is so much more than that. But singing is one of the most visible ways we can worship. And we don’t worship for others to see us, we worship for God. Yet at the same time when we refuse to sing we send a very strong message not only to Him but also to those around us.
I mentioned that I look at this because it tells me a lot about a church – and it does. One of the things it tells me is how seriously men take their walk with the Lord. Do they really believe what their hearing? Are they willing to look like a fool for the one they love? Does the church evaluate what they are doing in terms of preaching and worship (because if all the men are disengaged obviously they aren’t evaluating their effectiveness very hard since they aren’t very effective)? Do I see men who challenge me to draw closer to God and become more like Jesus? Do I see men modeling for the boys the type of man I want my daughter to marry? Yes, I really do believe you can make an initial assessment of the health and vitality of a church just by looking around it to see if the men are singing. It’s that big of a deal.
So men, this Sunday at church (which for me is in just a couple hours by looking at my clock), stand up and sing. Don’t worry about how you sound, don’t worry about if you like the song, just sing. Let your kids see you singing and praising God. Let others’ kids see you singing and praising God. But most of all, let God see and hear you singing. Forget about the lights you don’t like, the music that’s not your style, the song you may or may not know, or the distracting whatever on stage (fill in the blank there: drum set, dancing worship leader, etc). Just sing to Him and for Him.
It will not only warm his heart, but it will also warm the hearts of those around you.