I found myself sitting at a church event recently and I realised I was the only man at the table. They were wonderful women to eat with, don't get me wrong, but it got me thinking about the challenge the church has to attract men into its midst. Apparently 65% or so of attendees in the C of E are women. A friend from Vicar Factory was so perplexed and fascinated by this that she did her MA thesis on it. The best known book on the subject is Why men hate going to church. A pal who has been staying with me is always banging on about this issue and is very involved with CVM whose mission in all in their name.
In all the talk of women bishops, I have not heard much debate (if any) on the impact on non-attendees in churches and particularly men who do not yet know Christ. There is plenty of internal noise, debate, stupid comments and genuine passion about this issue but not much thought given to those not coming to church. This is not so much an issue about strong, gifted women and their leadership (there are many such women) but is it also about weak men, their lack of leadership and their apathy?
The truth is I think those not coming to church (particularly men) don't really care about women bishops and a whole host of other matters that church committees debate. A shocking thought I know. This is worth remembering as everyone gets more and more hot under the collar-as they will. One blogger is currently campaigning against the Anglican Covenant? Yes, me too. The truth is the C of E has never been terribly interested in or focussed on those not coming and would in these days do well to remember William Temple's observation that we are the only organisation that exists for it non-members.
Look outwards dear people. Look and see the harvest fields, the broken, the lost and those who have not yet heard the hope of the gospel. Talk about that, think about that, pray about that and then let's get on with it shall we. We need to wake up church and perhaps this starts with the churches many many sleeping and passive men.