“Was it worth it?” I asked in the car as we returned from the CVM / New Wine Men’s day in Manchester. “It was a great day” was the reply. Joining in with 750 men for a day, with worship, teaching, seminars and opportunity to talk is not something I’ve done before but it felt important.
Important because it is rare to gather men in church together to encourage and inspire them. Important because a key focus for the day was about how the church can reach out to men; who are under-represented in church life.
We can argue about the extent that the church is feminised (and how this happens at the same time that patriarchal elements persist) but we can’t argue that this side of eternity, gender is part of what makes us human. For some, separate events for women and men seems unnecessary or even play to stereotypical views of what it means to be masculine or feminine. For others, more than we acknowledge in our culture, getting together with people of the same sex is affirming and encouraging.
Having stressed the positive elements of the day, there are a couple of questions I’m still mulling over. How can we ensure that men’s work doesn’t just appeal to those who are searching for some ‘macho’ Christian thing? How can we develop men’s ministry so it promotes the values of a peaceable kingdom, and re-images militaristic metaphors for life not killing. (I'm interested to note that it was evangelical men's work which initially promoted moves away from violence and 'softened' men in the church link ).
Personally I am encouraged by the work that Carl Beech and the folk at Christian Vision for Men are doing. As churches we have a challenge on our hands learning what it means to be male and female, committed to equality and to be determined to see young men and women grow into the people God calls them to be. We also have a challenge learning how to relate to people beyond the church. Days like this are an important ingredient in provoking the church, particularly the men, to respond to the challenge.
CVM's website is here if you want to know more or even join in.