Let us play

Bible man
The gender gap has prompted it to consider new and innovative ways of appealing to males.

The Church of Scotland has teamed up with a Christian charity to hold a unique fun packed conference aimed at attracting more men to the pews.

The event, aimed at tackling a gender imbalance, will feature a hog roast lunch, rubber dart guns and fast paced talks on topics including social media evangelism, sports chaplaincy and online gambling.

Organised by Christian Vision for Men in conjuction with Dr Murdo Macdonald of the Church's Society, Religion and Technology Project, it is a response to the fact women now significantly outnumber men in congregations.

Innovative

Official figures show that almost two million fewer men than women in Britain claim to be practising Christians.

The gender gap has prompted it to consider new and innovative ways of appealing to males.

The first ever so-called Quickfire event in Scotland is being held in Barclay Viewforth Church in Edinburgh on March 4.

The 15 minute TED Talk style sessions will be controlled by Klaxon and Nerf gun to prevent speakers from running over time.

The topics have been identified as ones that many men will be interested in to try and engage them in a wider discussion about Christianity and church.

Women who work with men's groups are also welcome to attend.

The following article, which sets out the case for the conference, was first published in the January edition of Life and Work magazine

Why is it so difficult to get men involved with the church?

We don’t have to spend long in many of our churches up and down the country to realise that, in many congregations, there are a lot more women than there are men. Why is this, and is there anything that we can do about it?

Perhaps standing in rows and singing is OK at a football or rugby stadium on a Saturday afternoon, but not at 11 o’clock on a Sunday morning? Or is to do with the fact that guys may feel uncomfortable in situations where they are expected to be open or vulnerable? The reasons are no doubt many and complex- the question for the church is: how do we address this imbalance?

Relaxed and informal

As Stephen McGuire, the Scotland Director for Christian Vision for Men (CVM) explained, the latest findings from a YouGov survey* in 2014 highlighted what we can all see evident in our churches. The main summary of the analysis reported the following:

  • 1.8 million fewer men than women in Britain say they are practising Christians
  • Un-partnered men, especially the working class, are least likely to attend a place of worship and attend less frequently.
  • Men with no dependent children present in the household continue to say they are practising Christians but attend less often.
  • Middle class single men in the minority – Double the number of middle class un-partnered women attend than un-partnered middle class men.
  • ½ million – The number to bring men up to the same percentage of regular attendance (once a month) as women.

CVM have come together with the Society, Religion and Technology (SRT) Project of the Church of Scotland, to organise the first ever “Quickfire” event in Scotland.

As Murdo Macdonald, Policy Officer with the SRT explained: “Our lives are often shaped by technology- especially digital technologies. In many areas- such as online gambling- men are more directly affected.”

“Science and technology bring us all great benefits- but often present us with challenges. We are very excited about the opportunity that the Quickfire event will give us to explore a number of issues relevant to our Christian faith, in a more relaxed and informal setting than you might find in church”

Stephen McGuire continued: “This is where Christian Vision for Men (CVM) come in. We have a clear vision to introduce 1 million men in the UK to the life transforming message of Jesus.

“Our strap line or mission statement is simply “Introducing men to Jesus and the Church to men.”

“We work and partner with all denominations of church in the UK, providing evangelism and discipleship training, the latest thinking and a whole suite of ever expanding resources to equip those on the front line.

“Our flagship event The Gathering (http://thegatheringformen.com) in June 2016 attracted over 2000 men for a weekend of camping, bible teaching, music, comedy and more.

Isolation

Over 150 men made first time commitments to Jesus during the course of the weekend and 200 more recommitted their lives to his service.

We could fill the remaining space that this article allows with stories of men whose lives have been transformed by an encounter with Jesus, but we realise that we are still just scratching the surface of what still needs to be done.

We see men in church struggling in isolation, not knowing who to turn to for advice or help when the going gets tough.

Issues such as pornography, debt, online gambling and mental health are crippling men and they are embarrassed to seek help even amongst their peers within church.

I know from first-hand experience that this is true and the damage that it is causing to men up and down the country.

Christian men are struggling to deal with the issues in their life, let alone have the confidence to actively proclaim their faith to their family, friends and work colleagues.

We need to put the confidence and grit back into men so that they can actively and effectively evangelise and disciple the men within their spheres of influence.

This is why we are excited to be partnering with the Church of Scotland Society, Religion and Technology Project to bring Quickfire Scotland to Barclay Viewforth Church, Edinburgh on Saturday 4th March 17.

“Quickfire Scotland” is a unique event, and a first for Scotland, that brings seven of the top speakers in their field together for a day of fast paced, mini ‘TED Talk’ style 15-minute klaxon (and NERF gun) controlled talks.

Whilst dealing with some serious topics there will be plenty of fun as the speakers avoid running over time and being fired upon by NERF guns.;

Throw in a hog roast for lunch and we have a great day in store for all who come along.

Speakers

We have lined up some great speakers to speak into a whole variety of topics some of which we don’t hear too much about in church.

  • Ian Black – Social Media an effective tool for evangelism
  • Paul and Nicola Reed - Internet Pornography. What’s the harm?
  • Justyn Rees Larcombe - Internet Gambling. A few quid won’t matter!
  • Neil MacLennan - Bridging the Digital Divide. What can the Church do?
  • Steven Turnbull - Men and Their Sheds. Do we all need a cave to retreat into?
  • Richard Johnston - Battle For The Mind
  • Bill Sharp - Sports Chaplaincy Evangelism

For more information go to www.cvm.org.uk/quickfire