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The (Surprising) Reasons Why Men Don’t Attend Men’s Events

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The (Surprising) Reasons Why Men Don’t Attend Men’s Events

Besides busyness, men would attend if they knew someone else who was going.

As the organiser of an annual conference for men, I’ve heard lots of reasons why men don’t attend men’s events:

  • “I’m too busy.”
  • “I find it too difficult to leave the family overnight/all day.”
  • “It’s too expensive.”
  • “I’m too old.”
  • “I’m too young.”
  • “I don’t like men’s events.”

There are many reasons, but in the lead up to BASECAMP 2017, I wanted to find out which of these are the biggest blockers. Is it cost? Is it the length of time away from the family? Is it something else?

I was particularly interested in men under 45 – these are the men who are usually under-represented in men’s ministry in churches, and I assumed that the busyness of life (work, family, church, sport, etc.) is the most significant factor keeping them from meeting with other men.

This was my conclusion from many conversations, and a recent study by McCrindle backs this up:

“Whilst nearly all men (97%) agree making time for their mates is essential, the majority (85%) of Aussie males are struggling to find enough time for much needed ‘man time’ with their friends.”

So I wasn’t surprised to discover this in a survey I conducted – 38% of men under the age of 45 named “not having the time” as the reason why they don’t attend men’s events.

What did surprise me was the reason that came in at number two:

34% of men under 45 said that they don’t attend men’s events because they don’t know anyone else who is attending.

Besides busyness, men would attend if they knew someone else who was going. 

This shoudn’t have surprised me – when I recently wrote about the 5 challenges experienced by Christian men today, many men told me how much they related to challenge #5 – men don’t have friends. For many reasons, men are often isolated with few strong connections outside of their immediate family. But they want this to change, they want to get to know other men – they’re just waiting for someone else to initiate.

I understand this – if you’re feeling disconnected, it’s daunting to turn up to an event where you don’t know anyone! But if you are personally invited and know you won’t be sitting awkwardly in the corner, it’s a much more appealing prospect.

I decided to do this recently – albeit in a very low key way. I sent out a Facebook message on a Tuesday night, inviting the men at church (those who I am connected with on Facebook) to join me for dinner that Friday:

Gentleman of St Andrew's,

It's good for men to meat together (pun intended). If you're free on Friday night, join me for a steak at the Blue Gum Hotel at 7.30pm. Let me know if you're in, and I'll save you a spot. Feel free to invite other men – I don't have contact details for everyone.

Hope you can make it!

Steve

Three days later, 17 men turned up for dinner, and others would have come if it weren’t for the late notice!

I’ve only been at the church a couple of years and with 2 young children I’ve had very little opportunity to get to know other men – this is why I inititated the dinner in the first place! But I was encouraged by the eagerness of men to spend time together, and the feedback afterwards was “Hey, thanks for organising this”.

The implication for men’s ministry is clear – men need more than announcement in church, or a blurb in the weekly church newsletter to get them along to an event. They need another man to say to them: “I’m going to this – do you want to come with me?”.

Will you do this?

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Dylan

    April 27, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    I don’t attend many men’s events in my local area as I don’t like the culture these events engender. Specifically, there’s a real “boys will be boys” attitude that comes along when people love the idea of having too many beers – but we’re all friends here so it’s ok. Nothing wrong with a beer or two, but I feel many men’s events eschew a culture of blokiness that far more resembles the world than a people called to be set apart.

  2. Steven Kryger

    April 27, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    I can totally relate to this Dylan, in fact, I was going to share this in the article but culled it in the final version.

    It’s easy for men’s events play to a caricatured version of what a “real man” looks like. The Bunnings-visiting, steak-cooking, chest-thumping, pig-killing stereotype that results in men who don’t match that description being left on the sidelines or feeling inadequate.

    Yes, some men enjoy these activities, and there is nothing wrong with them. But others like to listen to classical music, or create oil paintings, or read books, etc. And they are no less of a man than the men described above.

    True manliness should be defined more by who men are (especially when no one is looking), than what they enjoy doing in their spare time.

  3. Ronald Freiburg

    April 27, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    I agree with Dylan but at a different level. Even “big” events annoy me because they seem to always aim for the same theme – as if Ephesians is the only thing men need to hear, and that men only need to hear “challenge” etc etc. I hate it. I really do. Please put a bit more thought into what men live, experience, and what already challenges us, and what will actually help, equip and encourage us to live godly lives. Women’s ministry would be dead in the water if all they did was have loads of flowers and talk about submission, but men’s events have stagnated. Sorry not sorry.

  4. Dylan

    April 28, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Good points, guys. The psychology of this would be fascinating but I’m more tempted to see it as a theological issue. How much are we letting our Christology (what we believe about Jesus) to be coloured by our own culture and experience? Because I think many men view Jesus through a lens of their personal preferences and make Him fit accordingly. They love the Jesus who overturned the temples and fired up, but don’t enjoy the meek Jesus who wept. Anyway – good blog, Steve 🙂

  5. John thomas

    April 30, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Men’s events seem to be focused and presented as manly/blokey type activities -the selling points is that there will always be copious quantities of meat – BBQ, steaks, sausage sizzles and the inevitable beer and wine – or as the article alludes, a get together at the local pub. What happens when you have little (read zero) interest in sport, have not played team sports, and don’t drink.

    The simple answer is you are left out, or more to the point, you won’t attend.

    Why do we even feel compelled to be gender specific in our leisure? Most of my friends are female, so they are by definition also excluded.

    Sorry, not for me.

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