As you might have guessed, I’ve talked to a lot of guys who’ve quit going to church. Their reasons vary, but a significant number fell away when they became disenchanted with their preacher.
My own father was among these men. Dad became angry with our minister over some petty disagreement. We stopped going to church when I was seven years old. Dad never attended regularly again.
Women see things differently. They are much less preacher-centered. When you ask a woman about her church she’ll tell you about her women’s group. Or the wonderful children’s ministry. Or the great worship music.
But when you ask a man about his church, the first (and often only) thing he talks about is the pastor. He doesn’t talk about the facilities. He doesn’t talk about his friendships. He talks about his pastor and the quality of his sermons. “Oh, Pastor Jimmy is just a regular guy. His sermons are awesome!” Or, “Our new pastor is a lousy teacher. I’m starving to death.”
Men don’t follow religions. Men don’t follow philosophies. Men don’t follow ideas. Men follow men.
Why is this?
For millennia men have organized themselves into hierarchical units to achieve their objectives – hunting, battle, seafaring, etc. Their very survival depended on the strength and wisdom of their leader.
So for men, competent leadership is subconsciously linked to survival. Men are greatly comforted when led by a man they trust. But they panic when their leader shows signs of incompetence.
As a result, men tend to lionize heroic leaders. This is why men pay $10 to watch cinematic heroes like James Bond, Jason Bourne and Iron Man. We are drawn men who can make the right decisions under pressure.
We bring this hero-worship into our daily lives. If an employee loves his boss, he loves his work. If a soldier loves his commanding officer, he loves the military. If an athlete loves his coach, he loves his team. And if a parishioner loves his pastor, he loves his church.
Pastoral competence isn’t the only criterion by which men judge their church. Good music, a nice facility and of course, a palpable sense of God’s presence all figure into the equation. But in most cases a man’s love for his church depends in large part on how he feels toward the minister.
So what are men searching for? A leader they can look up to and respect. They want a father who will instruct, encourage, and guide them. They seek a leader who is strong enough to confront him them the truth—without crushing them under a hammer of judgment.
So how about you? Does your attitude toward church rise or fall based on your respect for your pastor? If so, repent. You may be worshipping your pastor — not Jesus.