Men don’t belong in church.
As I sit in the cove of my back porch, watching the white pines sway and toss before me, gusts showering small, dart-like missiles in surging waves across my lawn, I huddle into my chair a little deeper. Wind howls through the trees as a siren begins to wail in the distance, reminding that danger lurks out in the vast beyond. Overly aggressive fronts spatter across and into my hiding place, chilling me with cold, hard pellets of water. Impending dark clouds loom in the sky, warning with an occasional menacing boom of their approach. The Florida treasure coast has come alive with a fury that must have once sent the fiercest Seminole scurrying for cover.
I should probably be inside. That is precisely the reason I’m out here.
The deep forest that butts up against my house holds something majestic that beckons me. Perhaps it is mystery of the unknown. Today, perhaps, it is a conquest that reflects a battle within. A battle at this moment I’m winning, as I hunker down and take the brute force of the storm. At times like these, it calls in a way no magnitude of wetness or warning of danger can prevent.
I was born to be here at this moment.
I was born to live free, no, to live or die in a great conquest, a sweeping story. However, my conquest may not be found underneath palmetto brush or in deep woods padded with beds of pine needles. I may be inspired there. But they can never keep me, not longer than the awe of exploring or rush of the outdoors, which wear thin. No, what I sense runs deeper. Something this raging wild before me reminds me of. Awesome and powerful, breathtaking yet surreal, it captures the fierceness of scores of warriors lined up for a combative rush yet the picturesque beauty of a Bride breathlessly awaiting a wedding day.
And I’m sure of it now.
Something more than me, my blanket, my chair, and the wild lingers out here in the cold. Something demanding a response. More than a feeling, it is an ache, a desire or…calling.
Perhaps that’s what I’ve found out here in the storm, as the heavens pelt away at me with friendly fire, whilst I curl up under the safety of my little hideaway. A calling from within that was written on my heart since boyhood but etched in the stars long before.
One so epic it becomes holy.
A calling that leads me to the church.
A DIFFERENT SETTING
But men don’t belong in church.
As I sit staring ahead, listening to the sermon, pondering the back of the person’s head in front of me, while he is pondering the back of the person’s head in front of him, I wonder how we got here. I mean, I got here by way of the parking lot. A smiling man in an orange vest, no doubt cautious of the dangers of reckless, late church-goers competing with time on natural grass turf, waved me in.
And I slid into my spot.
So now I’m here.
But, I have to admit, not much more thought was put into it. And I’ll add, for the majority of us, not much more will be. We’re not lazy, worthless bums or lumps of creamer-fed donut fat, although if we’re lucky we rolled through the local donut shop drive thru (without stopping) and filled up on our weekly ration of double chocolate glazed before we arrived. Late.
We’re good men. We saved halves of cream cheese bagels for our wives and iced coffees to get them through the struggle of wriggling the kids to Sunday School.
Oh, yeah. And I almost forgot. I did my manly duty this morning. I picked out the family pew seat.
And I slid into my spot.
Not much more has been asked of me, and if I stick around, I have a feeling probably not much more will be.
You see, I’m in church.
And, like I said, men don’t belong in church.
Now, I don’t mean men shouldn’t be in church, but that there is no place for them. Not in the current church.
Let me explain. Guys throughout time have longed to fight, to strategize, to lead. To embark. To accept a top secret mission. We dream about jumping in front of bullets or kicking through walls and shooting bad guys who threaten lives of damsels in distress, who in turn fall madly in love with us as we gingerly sweep them off their feet. Without breaking a sweat (or an appendage). And without a post-rampage chiropractic appointment. We want something real. Like that. Well, make-believe real, anyway. Something with action and feet sweeping.
Really, we want an exciting mission that’s romantic. Life or death. The stakes raised. The future resting on us.
And that’s how we feel about church, too. Give us that kind of call, and we’re all in. Set us along the wall with a stack of service bulletins and a hello name tag and we’re…unimpressed.
So what does that mean for men? Where does it leave us now?
Well, in the pages that follow, this book will unveil the simple, clear call of God on every man. It will reveal, through his design, that God has a plan, and the patterns we see in nature, the desires that stir deeply in our hearts, he intended to fulfill a crucial purpose. In every man. That means every man has a purpose in the church. It means you do. If true, this will have revolutionary implications.
If man’s nature is unique, if he was formed with a specific design—a blueprint, perhaps—of strength, initiative, and leadership at creation, then the church needs to change to match that. Not the other way around. In this culture, we often ask men to change to fit the church. Follow the rules, be quiet, fold your hands, find your pew, and please sit down. Or as I was once asked—if you’re going to dance while worshiping, please stand in the back. We don’t want you to distract anyone. When I politely mentioned David dancing before the Lord, I was told I would be welcome to find another church.
Well, this isn’t a book about dancing. It isn’t about styles of worship, the top ten rules of how not to rock the half-submerged boat, or why fitting in is better than standing up. It is a book about men. It is about exactly who we are. But because it’s about men, it’s also about the church. The two are inseparable; one flows naturally out of the other.
And the only way for the church to meet its true purpose is to fulfill the purpose of every person in it.
To empower them in Christ, as men and as women. That is discipleship.
But where does that leave us now? Unfortunately, as I think you’ll see, it’s not very far...