Growing up the son of a Detroit pastor in the 1970s, Bishop Charles Ellis III says he remembers sitting in pews where there was a fairly even mix of men and women.
But today, the head of Greater Grace Temple in Detroit looks out over his flock on Sunday mornings and gazes at a scene where women outnumber men about 2-1. The demographic shift worries him and other Christians looking for ways to draw men back to church.
Nationwide, 61% of those who attend church are women, while 39% are men, according to the U.S. Congregational Life Survey in 2009. The divide is even greater in some African-American and mainline Protestant congregations.
To bridge the gap, churches are developing nontraditional programs to reach out to men ”” from sponsoring hunting trips and car clubs to holding annual men’s conferences. Some have toughened their messages to emphasize power, using masculine imagery in their services.