This is a situation that many people find themselves in, especially if they became Christians after they got married or after they started dating someone. In other cases one spouse may decide that they no longer want to go to church which can be very confusing to deal with.
But usually there is a reason why they don’t want to go with you and often they don’t know how to express this to you. It’s also possible that they know how to express this to you but they don’t want to offend anyone. Either way, here are the top 10 reasons why your male counterpart might refuse to attend church with you.
10. The church does not engage his mind
It might be hard to understand why this is important since many people go to church to “feel” God or to socialize but men are different creatures. We need to have our minds engaged. We want to learn something. We want to be challenged even. We want to hear solutions to life’s problems. Someone who has been a Christian for a long time will learn to engage the mind on their own both in church and away from church. Additionally, they will be much more engaged with the typically “non-engaging” parts of the service because they have a deeper root in the faith and church culture.
I strongly suggest trying to get him involved in a Bible study or a mens group and let God deal with him. Once he connects with other males who attend the Sunday service he will be much more likely to tolerate a non-engaging event as long as he is with good company. Alternatively, you can find a church with teaching or ministries that are mind-engaging. It’s also possible to double-dip and go to the Sunday service of your home church and go to a Bible study or men’s group at another church.
9. The service is too long (sometimes waaaay too long)
As someone who came to know Christ via a church that runs 2+ hours any given Sunday, I can say that a long service greatly affects how someone feels about attending. The reason why this matters is multi-fold. First, men don’t have the same attention span as women. This is not meant to be an insult; it’s just a scientific fact. This attention span will be shorter depending on how mentally engaging the service is. Secondly, kick-off time doesn’t change just because the service wen’t long. As someone who looks forward to my day of rest, I want to start resting as soon as possible. Lastly, most church services are long because they are full of boring filler. If it was exciting filler then they wouldn’t care. No one likes being bored, especially when they could be home in a hammock or catching up on family time.
Unlike many of the items on this list the only solution is to change services or possibly churches. There is no easy fix for this. Perhaps if he becomes very connected and involved with others at the church he would be willing to tolerate the longer service but chances are slim.
8. The church service is designed to target female attributes
The great majority of church-goers are women. Most surveys put that figure at roughly 60% or 65%. So it’s great if you’re your a single guy and want to find a Christian woman but this statistic is true for a reason; namely that the church service tends to emphasize more feminine features. From singing, to praying, to hugging people, these are things that males tend to not look forward to. That doesn’t mean that all men dislike them. It just means that they will tend to attract more females than males.
As noted before you need to find a church that is mentally engaging and has other men for your husband or boyfriend to network with. Additionally, some churches are more balanced between male and female attributes. I suggest finding a church that is balanced and that both of you enjoy.
7. The service is confusing
I find that this problem usually occurs when someone has little church background or married into a tradition drastically different than the one he came from. I find that converts to Catholicism or some of the reformation era denominations have a hard time enjoying the service because they do not understand the process. In fact, the phrase “hocus pocus” was coined as a joke about Catholic services in Latin, when the priest would say the incantation over the body of Christ (Hoc est corpus mum = “This is my body.”). Besides people not understanding Latin they also did not quite understand the doctrine of trans-substantiation. Thus, “hocus pocus” eventually became the phrase that people associated with gibberish and magic tricks.
Needless to say, if your guy does not understand what is happening then he will have a hard time engaging in the service. He will be less likely to fully participate in the service when he is unsure about the “what” and “why” of things happening.
Luckily, this problem is easily solved. Most mainline denominations and the Catholic church offer Catechism classes. In these classes they are taught the basics of the faith as well as the denominational practices. Naturally, you will have to convince him to attend the Catechism classes but if he does the classes he will find the service much more enjoyable. Another solution is to find a church that operates in a way that make sense to both of you.
6. He doesn’t like having his personal space invaded
Let’s be real for just a second. Sometimes guys prefer to love others from a distance. Not every guy is okey with hugging people or being forced to meet and greet. For some people this is the most awkward part of the service. It does not mean that your guy is unfriendly or does not like other people. It just means he has some personal space preferences. However, most church have a problem with invading people’s personal space.
It can be helpful to show up to the service with enough time to find a seat that is not scrunched between other people or show up late and carefully select a seat that is not right next to a bunch of people. I would also suggest that you let your guy know that it’s perfectly okay to not participate in the meet-n-greet. I would also suggest that staying with your guy so he’s not left isolated and alone during this period is perfectly acceptable.
5. The other men at the church are the opposite of him
Some guys don’t have a problem making friends and being personable yet many struggle with friends compatibility. However, all men like to meet other men that have some interests in common. Some guys like to work on cars and bikes and some guys like to go to wine tastings. It doesn’t matter what kind of man you have; he’s going to want to connect with some other guys at church who have some similar interests.
Quite often the men at church have more overlapping interests than they know but they have not had an opportunity to find out. This is where it can be helpful to find a good men’s ministry in the church or even outside the church to get him integrated with other men. Double dates with other couples at the church also help greatly.
4. He is not ready to open up about deeper issues
For many guys feelings are hard to discuss. In fact, sometimes talking about anything is difficult. A good church will most definitely try to teach on deep issues and the small groups will double down on that. Some guys are just not ready open up.
This is a difficult issue to address. You cannot force a person to open their heart. All you can do is love and encourage them. When they are ready you’ll know. I would also recommend introducing him to a Bible study or a men’s ministry that won’t give him a hard time about his feelings or going to the Sunday service. In time you may see the softer side of Sears.
3. He had a bad past church experience
I’ve known more than a handful of people who have had bad experiences with a church or a pastor. This is an unfortunate situation for far too many people. Bad experiences come in all shapes and sizes. The hardest part is that often people are unaware of these bad experiences because the victims are reluctant to open up about the experiences.
There is no easy solution to healing past wounds. Many times seconds worth of wounding takes years to heal. Like people who have had bad relationships, they need time and they need to witness a good relationship. Most people who have been hurt by someone else are not fully recovered until they meet someone who can come along and walk the long path of healing with them.
This person will need to be introduced to mature Christians or ministers who are familiar with such situations. Often people have residual issues and triggers that will need to be observed. Someone who was sexually assaulted by a church member or even a church leader will have large hurdles to overcome because memories will come rushing in when they see or hear certain things. Once again, there is no easy fix for these situations.
It’s important to remember that people who have been hurt by a church are often still believers, they just can’t bring themselves to go to church. If your guy is still a believer then I would recommend getting involved in safe and controllable para-ministries. Never push them to do something they are uncomfortable with and never patronize their feelings.
2. He doesn’t like people who call themselves Christian
This is somewhat similar to the previous point. The difference is that most people who don’t like other Christians usually don’t know many good ones or they just think they are better than everyone else. They see too many news reports designed to attack religion and they hang out with people who have nothing but negative things to say. They also usually tend to thing they are smarter than other Christians (if they are Christian).
If your man is saved then I would point out 1 John 4:20.
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. (1 John 4:20)
I would also suggest that they consider what the Bible has to say about pride.
If your man is not a Christian then usually they just need to be introduced to some Christians that they respect and can be friends with. The majority of adult men who become involved in church do so because they connected with other men who they enjoyed being around. I work with a guy who got started in church through a cycling ministry. I know another who got into church through an outdoors ministry. In both cases they eventually came to know the Lord.
1. He doesn’t believe
It’s hard to convince a non-Christian that they should go to church with you. It’s a senseless trip for them. My best friend growing up had a mother who was a Christian and a father who was not. It took many months of asking and debating before he agreed to go to church with her (and the kids) until the kids were grown an out of the house. He kept his promise too. It was going to church with this family that actually lead me to the Lord. Her diligence in making sure the family was in church on Sunday had very far-reaching results. But I digress….
You cannot force a person to go to church and probably won’t convince them to go if they are not saved. You might be able to make an agreement with them for a certain time duration but nothing is certain. However, non-Christians still love a good potluck or a church picnic. As a youth pastor I have also seen many non-Christian parents get involved in youth activities because of their teens.
On this particular issue I want to emphasize that many non-Christians still understand that it’s perfectly okay if their children participate in the church and many of them encourage it. From a parenting standpoint your kids can be involved in the church but they can also be involved in drugs and sex. Since the church actively preaches against such things most parents encourage church attendance for their kids even if they are not believers. Most non-believing parents are also active enough with their kids that they will attend youth events and things like baptisms. They will also notice the way that Christ as moved in their kid’s lives. This alone is enough to soften a guy’s heart.
I do not wish to belabor this point but I want to make sure that the reader understands; the best witness to a non-believing partner is the profound affect that Christ has on his family. He loves you and he loves his children. If Christ is doing great things in their lives he will notice.