1. Rhonda asks: My husband goes to church but he never seems to change. What’s wrong with him?
A lot of men who go to church are unaffected by what they hear. The gospel bounces off their souls like bullets off Superman’s chest. New research into men and women’s brains may hold the answer.
Women’s brains have more verbal resources than men’s do. As a result, women are more comfortable with words; men are more comfortable with objects. The problem for men is that our modern church services are highly verbal. We offer spoken lessons, written study guides, and lengthy verbal sermons. It’s hard for men to absorb so many words.
Jesus knew this, and taught men through parables: short lessons built around an object at hand. When you’re teaching men or boys, keep your lessons short, and build them around a concrete object. The fewer words, the better.
2. Nancy asks: Why can’t I get my husband to go to church with me?
Nancy, there’s an unspoken feeling among men that church is a women’s thing – and research indicates that these men may be right. Studies show that the typical American worship service draws a crowd that’s 61 percent women. Midweek activities are even more lopsidedly female. Volunteer opportunities revolve around traditionally feminine roles: childcare, teaching, singing and kitchen duties. Men have a hard time finding their place in church, unless they have a passion for changing diapers, attending meetings or passing out bulletins.
Plus church has a reputation as something for “little old ladies of both sexes.” Honestly, a lot of men resist church simply because they feel, deep in their hearts, it’s something for women and children.
The best way to break through this logjam is for a man your husband respects to invite him to church. This tells your husband, “Hey, if HE goes to church maybe it’s OK for me to go.”
3. Joann writes: My husband loves the Lord, but why won’t he ever pray with me?
Praying aloud is tough on your average guy. It requires a man to be good with words, and most guys aren’t as verbally gifted as women. A guy may feel he has to use a special religious vocabulary. He may feel inadequate if he can’t “pray like a preacher.”
My wife and I used to talk about things, then try to pray about them, but it always fell flat. We took a huge leap forward when we invited God right into our conversation. It’s so simple – we just shoot quick prayers to God while we’re talking – no closing eyes or bowing heads. We speak normally, as if God were sitting right next to us. It feels less religious and more real.
Joann, let your husband know that he can talk to God using normal language, in the course of everyday conversation. See if that doesn’t break the prayer logjam.
4. Kathy writes: My husband attends our church with me and was raised in the Methodist church. However, he does not have Christ in his heart. I am not sure what his actual thinking is on this matter. “Being born once is enough, I was sprinkled at 12 that’s good enough,” are his platitudes. He is the type of guy who always thinks he is right and can be an island. I appreciate any words of wisdom. We’ve been married for 20 years.
Dear Kathy: Unfortunately, many men who grew up religious were inoculatedagainst Christianity as boys. They were injected with a weak version of the Christian faith. This exposure was just enough to keep them from developing the full-blown disease as adults. Ask these men if they are Christians, and they’ll respond, “Yes, I was raised ___________ (fill in denomination).” They may consider themselves religious or spiritual, but there’s no ongoing connection to a local church. And, truth be told, there is little connection to God.
I’ve noticed that men raised in liturgical churches are most likely to have been vaccinated as kids. Liturgy can be deeply meaningful, but it dampens spontaneity, making faith seem dead to the young. These men are stuck: they believe in God, but they won’t explore a richer life of faith because they’ve already got their religious box checked.
It’s very hard to infect a vaccinated man. How do you get past his religious defenses to help him see his need for Christ? You should start taking some risks for God.
I have a friend who for years lived the safe, predictable Christian life. Cindy’s church résumé included Sunday school, choir, committee work, and more. Her husband, Carl, a burly electrician, had scant interest in church. Then God’s Spirit got hold of Cindy in a big way. He led her to the African nation of Uganda, where she worked with AIDS orphans and abused women. She also began traveling to remote Alaskan villages, ministering in communities devastated by drugs and alcohol.
Carl was watching. He’d seen a change in Cindy. Her religious life had become a real walk with God. It was no longer duty; it was pure joy. One winter night he asked Cindy to take a walk. As huge snowflakes fell, Carl reached out a husky hand, took Cindy’s in his, and surrendered his life to Christ. He followed faithfully the rest of his days.
Men are drawn to risk, adventure and the conquering of territory. Is your walk with God risky? Adventurous? Are you taking territory from the kingdom of darkness?
5. Mimi writes: My husband was once a true believer. In Bible college he was so pressured to be a “good Christian” that he gave up. He decided that he would not believe in God anymore. He stopped going to church. He says he is agnostic but I just think he figured out that he can live a “good life” with out God. What can I do? We have a 2 year old girl.
Your story is more common than you think. I know lots of women whose husbands were deeply involved in church, but who “burned out” at some point. Even pastors, teachers and worship leaders can be shipwrecked, either through abusive situations or simple overworking.
If your husband truly received Christ into his heart, then the Holy Spirit still dwells there. The Spirit’s influence can be strengthened through prayer. I would encourage you to band together with other women in your church who are in your position and pray intently for your men. The Bible says, “Wherever 2 or 3 are gathered, there am I in the midst of them.” The power of your prayers is amplified when you join with other believers.
I discuss this at length in my book How Women Help Men Find God. I’ve devoted an entire chapter to this subject. If you haven’t yet read this book, please pick up a copy today.