The story of the missing men
The Tearfund report shows that in the UK the ratio of women to men in Church as 65% to 35%. So while men still dominate the priesthood or pastership, statistics show that 2/3 of the Church membership are women and if you look at programmes run within the Church much higher percentage of them are led by women than men.
Most people in the Church have little or no say in what goes on. For a Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist or Baptist the leadership of the Church is dominated by men. They dominate not just the priesthood but the positions of Bishops or regional ministers. Yet as the gender gap grows the presence of women increasingly dominates most western Churches. Looking at it from a man’s point of view most activity in the Church is by women for women.
While there has been an imbalance for some time, the recent trend shows that it is increasing. In the last 20 years 49% of men under 30 left the church! At the current rate of loss it is predicted that by 2028 men will all but have disappeared from the Church in the UK.
Yet there are signs that the loss of men from the Church may be speeding up. For example recent statistics on ordination in the Church of England (CofE)show a steep rate of decline in stipendiary (full time) male ordinands. This shows a 43% decline between 2000 and 2006 and data from the 90’s shows a 55% drop between 1993 and 2006, which tells us that this is a recent increase in a longer term trend. In an article on this topic in the Telegraph on 27 th September 2004 Fr Geoffrey Kirk (of the traditionalist umbrella group Forward in Faith) predicted “Once a profession becomes predominantly female, men will stop applying.” If he is right then are we seeing the start of this process?
Why are the men missing?
Its not that men are not interested in spiritual things. There is no gender gap in Islam, Buddism, Judaism or Hinduism, nor is it a feature of the Eastern Orthodox Church. If you look at the Tearfund report, buried in Appendix 1, you find data that actually confirms this.
The details of attendance by gender show less men (11%) than women (19%) attending Church but more men (7%) than women (6%) attending places of worship in other religions. If you look at this in the same way as we looked at the Christan Church this would be 54% for men and 46% for women.
What does this imply?
The implication of this is that the Church in the west alienates men and deters them from participating. Everyone who has a husband, brother, son, or father who is not in Christ should be concerned. This also has a serious effect on Christian women, because for the majority it will be impossible to find Christian husbands. Those who still think that the missing men are not important, should bear in mind research in the USA that shows 93% of families follow a father into becoming Christians while only 17% follow a mother.