'This ain't your grandma's church'

Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor would be so proud. (Insert grunt here. And then a whack on the thumb with a hammer for good measure.)

From the "everything old is new again" files, I give you Man Church.

The Detroit Free Press hailed its arrival in Canton, Mich., with a feature last week. Similar males-only assemblies have emerged in Arizona and Texas lately and represent a new trend in attracting men to worship: Make them more comfortable by excluding women and singing, and ensure there's plenty of coffee.

WWJ News radio in Detroit filed this piece on the church plant, which is an offshoot of Connection Church of Canton:

Homes without fathers or husbands are on the rise, so much so that some researchers say it’s becoming an epidemic. In response, Connection Church of Canton has created something unique they’re calling “Man Church.”

“It’s not a political problem; it’s not a religious problem; it’s not a socioeconomic problem — it’s a man problem,” Mike Bartee, Pastor of Development, told WWJ Newsradio 950's Brooke Allen.

Bartee said there will be no singing, and the evening service will be fast-paced.

“Man church is designed for guys, by guys,” Bartee explained.

“We’re gonna start on time, so we’ll be in and out,” Bartee said. “It’s a half-hour of teaching, and it’s 45 minutes of what we call table talk. So, it’s groups of guys, eight at a table, and they’ll be discussing some pretty hard questions about the teaching.”

“This ain’t your grandma’s church,” he added.

This ain't your grandma's story, either. At least not my grandma. She would have insisted that some other viewpoint be represented in the name of good reporting. No women are quoted, and no men are, either, to offer a perspective on whether excluding females from gatherings is a positive move for society.

The Free Press touches on the reasons organizers say the church is necessary — two of those involving women:

The program will involve mentoring of boys and helping single mothers, but the broader idea is to change a culture that doesn’t always value responsibility and mature men. In the city of Detroit, about three out of four children grow up in single-parent homes.

Connection is a Pentecostal congregation with about 1,500 people attending Sunday services on average. But the Man Church program is open to all men. It’s part of several programs that churches in metro Detroit and the U.S. have set up to address the issue of men going to church; women often outnumber men during Sunday services at some churches. During tonight’s program, Bartee will discuss the 2004 book “Why Men Hate Going to Church.”

So the way to create culture change is to allow men to gather for teaching and worship and exclude their children and families in the process? I wish that question had been in the reporter's notebook.

Here's another: Why do women outnumber men in churches? And are they threatening them somehow, some way?

I had to find the referenced other churches on my own — the Detroit-area coverage didn't cite any by name.

The ones I found in Rockwall, Texas, and Chandler, Ariz., had testosterone-fueled websites. The Lake Pointe Church location in Texas bills itself as "Extra Stout" and serves up burgers and "manly speakers" during its Wednesday night assemblies. I didn't find any press on this one.

Nor did I find any coverage of the Arizona locations in Chandler and some place called SanTan. (A deeper search found this facility is located on San Tan Hills Drive in the city of Queen Creek. Guess that female monarchy part wouldn't have looked good at all in the header!) The church's online presence bills the worship time as "Straight forward relevant topics around the challenges facing men today — not like any other church you have seen. This ain't your mamma's church!"

I could go either way with this trend: Let's see stories done right with some thoughtful coverage on the implications and execution, or let's hope this show runs its course quickly and fades into history.

Aaaaaruuuuuuuph.

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