Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Ever watch James Lipton and Inside the Actors Studio? This is Inside the Pastors Studio.

This past weekend was a little bit of tightrope from an audience-demographic perspective. Part of the art of crafting a message is about two things: the truth and the receptor. Relaying truth is one thing. Relaying truth in a way that deeply considers the receptor is something else. And therein lies the challenge.

In his book, “Why Men Hate Church”, David Murrow wrote about the cultural and communication gap between the Church and men. Murrow describes the breakdown like this:

“…Today’s church has developed a culture that is driving men away. . . . When men need spiritual sustenance, they go to the wilderness, the workplace, the garage, or the corner bar. They watch their heroes in the stadium or on the racetrack. They dig into a book or sneak off to a movie. Church is one of the last places men look for God.”

“(Churches) . . . use man-repellent terminology. For example, you have two kinds of people: the saved and the lost. Men hate to be lost – that’s why they don’t ask for directions. If you tell a man he’s lost, he will instinctively resist you! And the only thing worse than being lost is being saved! The term drips with passivity . . .

“Although Jesus used the term saved a number of times in the gospels, if you carefully examine the text, He never called anyone to be saved. Instead, he called men to follow him. Hear the difference? Follow gives a man something to do. It suggests activity instead of passivity. But being saved is something that happens to damsels in distress. So why not use the descriptor Jesus himself preferred? By calling men to follow Jesus, we put Christ’s offer in active terms that appeal to everyone.

“Another term from the feminine side is ‘sharing’. Christians are constantly being asked to share, as in, “Steve, would you please share with us what the Lord has placed on your heart?” Regular men don’t talk this way. It sounds too much like kindergarten. Imagine a gang member saying…, “Blade, would you please share with us how you jacked that Mercedes?” “. . .

There are millions of men who attend services under duress, dragged by a mother, wife, or girlfriend. Today’s churchgoing man is humble, tidy, dutiful, and above all, nice. What a contrast to the men of the Bible! Think of Moses and Elijah, David and Daniel, Peter and Paul. They were lions, not lambs—take-charge men who risked everything in service to God. They fought valiantly and spilled blood. They spoke their minds and stepped on the toes of religious people. They were true leaders, tough guys who were feared and respected by the community. All of these men had two things in common: an intense commitment to God, and they weren’t what you’d call saintly.”

Regardless if you see this as a slippery slope toward chest-thumping and drum-beating, it’s obvious that men have not bought into the Church; the gender stats prove that out. Which led me to a conundrum of sorts.

In talking about the Emotional Life, I could talk about emotional healing or I could build the talk around an apologetic for emotions, since emotions seem fairly stifled in evangelicalism. I decided to spend more time on an apologetic and set it up with a “guy” slant. Hence, the first five minutes were spent on setting up some stereotypical “guy” observations, the point simply being to draw men into a talk that otherwise could have felt like an old Dashboard Confessional cd.

I would liked to have spent more time on why we downplay emotions in typical evangelical settings. Too many times I’ve heard the sports analogy used: how come we don’t get as excited about God as we do about the Steelers or Cardinals? There’s some legitimacy in that. But one has to consider the social context as well: are churches (for whatever reason) more like a sporting event venue…or a library? A classroom or a concert club? A formal dining room or the kitchen? A cathedral or a cafĂ©? A social construct and atmosphere has developed. How does the architecture support that vibe…or vice-versa? Even more interesting is how our theology affects it and how we even fell into that particular theological view. And why?

Anyway, it’s just interesting to me the neuron paths communicators follow…and how God engages in that process. And how over-analytical, obsessive and geeky we communicators can get.


  1. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I have felt more free to show emotion at VCC than in any church I have attended. I think that you did a good job with the talk. However, I do think that it could have been a two-weeker...easily.

  2. Dave, Great post. Loved the thing about saved-lost and the one about sharing. So true. It was also good to see that someone else spends 17 hours a week in prep and two hours after saturday night. I'm not the only slow one. If you don't like Dave Workman, you need a personality transplant!--Ken Wilson

  3. you say all this but there has not been a men's conference at this church since the old building that i have gone to, which is because its never brought out in the services or said anything about.

    But women have conferences all the time. Enough said.

    btw, i am beginning to be bored with this church. i do not know what is going on with me but i keep getting pushed away. I really have a problem with some of the women in leadership. Used to be active but find it so much more and easy to stay distant.

  4. Anonymous,
    After being involved with church ministry in different capacities for several decades, I find that people often get bored in three-to-four years when two things aren’t happening: (1) they haven’t found a place to use their gifts and (2) they’re not inviting people to join them on weekends. Using our abilities in a growing servant community absolutely brings life and energy to us. And inviting people who don’t yet know Jesus causes us to see church through fresh eyes. After all, once you’ve heard a pastor speak for a few years, you’ve pretty much heard their “life theme” packaged in different ways. Our church experience has got to be more than input.

    Three quick thoughts: if people are driving you away, it’s time to honestly look internally at what’s causing that. Second, don’t take boredom lying down—maybe it is time for a change. There is a season for everything—just be careful not to fall into a whining mode; it’s cancerous. Third, sounds like a personality clash with some of our women in leadership. Hope you’ll speak to them directly about any real issue you have.

  5. Dave,

    I have a million questions to ask, and I'm probably the shyest person at VCC. I can never muster up the courage to ask anyone in person. I've heard of you talk about email in your sermons at least once before.. Is there anyway I can contact you via email to ask these things? I promise, I can narrow it down to much less than a million :P. There is so much my heart is crying to know. My soul aches, I want to let God heal me.


  6. Sarah,
    Absolutely. Email: All of the staff at VCC have our email addresses on the website:

  7. I'm blown away by Workman's style of leadership. How a pastor from a BIG CHURCH is accessable and responds to the concerns of the people he leads.

    Lead the way Mr Workman!

  8. “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.” Heb 11:1. But if your faith is built upon evidence, then it’s not your faith that is the evidence of things not seen, it’s the evidence upon which your faith is based that is the evidence of things not seen. And that’s faith within any endeavor, any inquiry, any science or any theology. So Heb 11:1 must be a mistake, then… Do I hear an ‘Amen!’ from anyone out there? :-)