WHERE ARE THE MEN?
I have often wondered--where are the real men in Christianity? Somehow you can find them in the world, but where are they in the church? Someone once responded to the question of where are the men by saying, "We have asked them to become women."
While working in a steel mill back in Pennsylvania, men were challenged and were competitive. We did things together. We worked together, drank together, fought together and played together. There was a sense of competition, adventure and camaraderie.
When I was drafted into the military, I signed up for airborne training…. for the extra drinking money. Yes, when you jump out of planes in the military they pay you a little more money. I was a scrapper, a drinker and a womanizer, and that all cost money. But there was adventure and a sense of being important.
I heard a man once say, the military can take a young rebellious man for four years and give him a career, stability, and a place in society; the church has a man for twenty years and he is no more than a pew warmer. He is touchy, indifferent and alone. He just believes what he is told and sits quietly in the pew only to drop a portion of his hard earned pay in the basket in hopes of heaven at the end of the trail.
In the military we developed meaningful relationships. Men could be men. You were proud to be a paratrooper, you put up with the hard training because you were made to feel like a man. Dangers and challenge drew us together. The fight to be better and to achieve was a motivating force. When there was a fight, we stood with our buddies. We didn't rat on one another and turn one another in. There was an unwritten moral code of conduct. If you violated it, you were forced out and marked by others.
When I gave my life to Jesus, my expectations were high. I read of love, fellowship, function and a purpose for my life. I read about fighting the good fight of faith. I read of men laying down their lives for one another. I read of community and power. I read of participation in a body and a place which God purposed for me to fit. The more I read His word, the greater the distinction I saw between the church today and the Bible I embraced. Who was wrong? Or did God change His plan? Was the Bible just a reference book to review doctrine and provide material for Sunday messages by professional orators? Rather than experiencing church life and biblical relationship which were meant for iron to sharpen iron, we experience idealistic messages having nothing to do with being a part of a functioning group of brothers. We settle for information rather than transformation.
As a man, what was meant for transformation became frustration reduced to information coming from only one source… the pulpit. I learned quickly I was too dumb and not articulate enough to participate in this highly qualified field and trade of professional. As a man, the church presented no challenge, no fight, no purpose, no function and no sense of belonging.
The terrorist attack on 9-11 brought forth the need for men. The world looked on and watched the fireman, the policeman and the soldier. The world saw men in action, teaming together, experienced, trained and it became important for them to see men in men's positions. The switch quickly turned away from the rich and famous to the soldier and fire fighter. We became proud of our fireman and soldiers.
The world is looking for real men, men built together like a team and that team joined throughout the city and nation. Not men marked by the division of denominational labels, but the unity found in Jesus only. Our lethargy and division has completely turned off the real men in search for meaning. While the church is becoming more irrelevant and audience driven, there is a call for men to leave the institutional and traditional way of doing church and come together to return to the biblical standard of being church that God intended. It will take real men with a real burden. It will take a heart completely given to the Lord and a desire to see His will in the body of Christ. I can hear the call from the Lord today, "let my men go."
Men tell me of their wonderful men's meetings in their denominational division, but we are not changing, growing and demonstrating His unity, His faith, and His love in our cities. We have our little men's retreats around small talk led by "lay" leaders in search of their own significance. I want something more than that; I want to pray all night with a group of hungry brothers in Christ. I want to be one with a group of loyal and committed brothers. I want to get away from the professional entertainment of Sunday with its false hand shakes and phony hugs and I-love-you-brother rhetoric. I want something with depth, sacrifice and a bold commitment.
I am tired of seeing names plastered on church billboards with slick slogans. I don't want to be a part of a group where the greatest challenge is waking up for the morning Sunday services. I am tired of programs that center on man's self-centered needs. I want to become a man… a fighting man, a man of adventure, a pathfinder…. A man conformed to His image.
Church, let the men go. Pastors today are the main problem; they refuse to let their men go, they need the Sunday show to keep their careers afloat, and the large audiences to maintain their identity and significance… not to say anything of their salaries. The building must be paid for; we must build bigger building with the people’s money. The business must go on. We have relegated all ministry to a well organized impersonal machine to spread the gospel through slick professionals who are trained to look good and not make any mistakes. We are bound to organizational professionals to make sure everything is done correctly. Oh God, I cry for Him to send someone to set us free from the bondage of this institution created by the traditions of men.
In the church, I have been ratted on, betrayed, exposed, cheated, marked, kicked out and unforgiven. My desire for challenge and adventure has been persecuted and renounced. My desire to be built with other men has been scandalized and ignored. We have become so dysfunctional in Christianity that we don't know what it means to function as a body. We are killing our wounded and often get shot in the back by our comrades in arms.
In becoming a Christian I have lost my masculinity. I have become suspicious and expect relationships not to work. I have quickly learned we can only function as a crowd or a group in a sterile Bible study where we brag about the depth of the study and brilliance of the teacher. Where are the prayer warriors? Where are the men who encourage one another and stand by one another and do things together?
Though the world has taught me how to be a man and stand by others on the job and military, the church has failed to teach me how to be a man. I feel like a paraplegic who has no use for my arms and legs, and atrophy has set in through the lack of use. I want to heal the sick, cast out demons, prophesy, challenge the world, see sinners "repent," not just "repeat" some unbiblical sterile sinners prayer… I want to truly know Jesus! I want to give Him all of my heart and all of my soul; I don't want to be forced into a pew-sitting career, a tithing number, a source for the benefit of the church staff and building. I don't want to be good or righteous without His power and His presence. I want to know Him!!!! My spirit wants to soar to greater heights in Him. I want to be with men that will stand in the battle and not leave and go AWOL at the first disagreement or challenge. I want to be with committed men who believe our relationship can turn the world upside down again. Let us pray till the power comes down. Let us seek Him until He restores His body without spot and wrinkle. Nothing in this world is worth living without His kingdom and His will. Hell is more than eternal banishment from the presence of God-- its flames are being felt today in a disjointed, divided and dysfunctional body.
I am tired of being with emasculated males acting like frail women. Excuse me ladies, this is not a statement against you, we just need men to be men again.
Many men today are unfulfilled, frustrated, depressed and angry. The church today doesn't know how to handle real men. It throws them a little bone now and then in a men's Bible study or retreat. Most Christian men are about as interesting as the fat man in some poster eating ice cream. Am I angry? Yes! I have been cheated and I want my calling back. I want to see Jesus back in the lives of real men. The church today in America has lost the battle for the hearts of men, and I want to see it back. I want discipleship and respect brought back to men. I want brotherhood and fatherhood back. I want to see men in the prayer trenches together again, men in the upper room waiting for the return of the power, and men in the streets together again. I want to see men with power and prestige.
Oh, to see women deeply appreciative of how well their men have loved them, and children modeling the example of God's power and presence they see in their dad. Our options are limited. We can either become a pastor or have a part in the church band. We have fed the ego of the few at the cost of demoralizing and demobilizing the rest. Statistics have shown that men are leaving the church in the droves. You would think this is some kind of a new move of God. Men have left the church right and left seeking something to fulfill them. They have gone back to their friends or have found some fulfillment on their jobs. Many have become badly wounded by the impersonal institutional system.
Our children are time bombs, waiting for the real shock of graduating from Sunday School coloring books and entertaining youth meetings, to face boredom in the church service in the main auditorium. They too have left and gone to the more exciting things the world has offered. We have tried to entertain our kids to keep them in "church," only to discover we have institutionalized them from the reality of "being" church. We have destroyed them with form without power. The military has taken our rebellious teenagers, got them to make their beds, show up on time, learn a trade, fit into society, have someone scream in their face and take it, and yet feel a sense of belonging and pride. The church has offered little or nothing to our young. Role models, older brothers, family and father figures are as rare as the humpback whale. Teenagers today can't wait to become old enough to leave the church in search of something more engaging. Twenty years in church makes for little change and adaptability. I know there are the exceptions, but the exception is not the rule.
The world has been lost in this battle also. They have been taken captive in addiction, divorce, the occult, pornography and the entertainment craze. We have replaced the power of the church with para-church institutions and self help programs; all of which have left the seekers without the reality of Jesus and the church.
So what are we to do? There is only one thing to do…. "become" the church and stop "going" to church. We must get out of this system which is designed for division, lethargy, and passivity. We must be brave enough to find the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. As long as we stay and support a derailed system, we will never find the truth. We need some brave and bold men to call a spade a spade and come together to seek out His pleasure.
Men of truth today are a rare commodity and are often looked down upon. They are usually men who have refused to compromise and have often been persecuted by institutional thinkers. Their quest is often met with frustration and failure, a search today of which there is neither model nor path.
I pray that men will become men again.
by Andy Zoppelt