“If a child is the first person in the family to accept Christ and join the church, the rest of the family will
do the same only 3.5% of the time. If the mother is the first, that percentage goes to 17%. But if the
father is the first to accept Christ and join the church, the rest of his family will follow 93% of the time!”
It was this little statistic, confidently taught to me very early in my ministry journey, that heavily
influenced me and all that our church would set out to do. It was based off this stat that our church
focused primarily on men, believing this strategy would attract the most people to faith thus bringing
the most church growth. I was naive enough to fully believe this idea and for years upon years there
were consistent weekly conversations asking if our services had enough "man code". The goal was to
ensure that everything we created, wrote, produced, and presented appealed more to men than
women and if not, alterations would be made. This idea was further enforced by over 95% of the
preaching and teaching being done exclusively by men.
Recently, completely on a whim, I happened to research this formational statistic and found something
shocking. This stat at worse was a completely bogus claim or, at best, some conflated ideas extracted
from a Billy Graham crusade speech in the late 80s that was taken as fact. Ugh. I cannot tell you how
many of these "rules" I've come to learn were not true facts just ideas caught in a moment and used for
church growth strategies or for shaping a community into what was considered ideal at a given moment
Now please don't misunderstand me. I believe in growing churches, getting the beautiful, good news of
Christ to as many people as possible, and loving and serving our communities in the transformative name
of Christ. I also believe that men need to be met in their unique circumstances with distinct approaches
to foster a deeper faith journey. But when we start to prioritize one segment of the population over
another, especially men over women, and marginalize parts of our community because of a growth
"strategy" it is dangerous and can cause harm, even if it is unintentional.
When we study the third chapter of the book of Genesis, we discover that the first act of the evil one is
to separate God from humankind and more specifically men from women. One of the greatest
subversive sins and continuous battles within the church and within society exists between male and
female, and it all started with evil seeking to divide and separate bone from bone, flesh from flesh, God
from humankind. If we are to ever gain true peace, I believe it will start between individuals and God
and between men and women.
A few weeks ago, I got to sit down and talk with someone I consider a friend and a mentor, Carolyn
Custis James. She is an author of multiple books, a wonderful speaker, and an overall amazing thought
leader. She has spent decades studying and reframing the theology and conversation about women in
leadership within the church and the ways in which God truly designed men and women to function as
equals. She calls this the “blessed alliance”. Her ideas have been seen as threatening to the church
(mainly by men) and she has received so much harsh criticism and battering over the years, yet she
continues to battle for a better way for not only women but also men. She is a true spiritual bad ass. You
can listen to the podcast conversation here.
I pray during this month of Women’s History we are reminded of the importance of this original design
and how we are to believe and fight for this blessed alliance.