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How Do Men Learn Differently From Women? :: Keith Drury

A modest research to get us started…

It is no secret that the church is more attractive to women than to men, especially Sunday School and small group Bible studies. While some argue the American Christian church is made up of 70% women and only 30% men, the ratio varies widely depending on the age, location and program of a church. Mainline denominations, older churches, and downtown churches all have a lopsided ratio of women over men, while other churches are more equal (though seldom are there more men than women, and by far the men in these churches are usually married men). Even taking the most generous figures, the American Christian church is at least 60% women.

So, where are the men? Are men “naturally” less religious? Or is the church somehow failing to connect with men? The students in the Fall 2001 the Adult Christian Education course at Indiana Wesleyan University pondered this question and decided to ask around. These students developed a survey instrument and personally interviewed 60 men and 62 women who were presently active in churches in five different states including churches from 75 to 3000. What follows is their findings. While these findings are not PhD type research these students probably discovered some preliminary indicators that will be useful to others doing more serious research.

Here’s what they discovered.

The women we surveyed said…

 What women said about how MEN seem to differ from women in learning

  • Men are logical
  • Men enjoy problem solving
  • Appeal to a man’s intellect
  • Men like facts
  • Men prefer lecture
  • Men would like more visuals
What women said about how WOMEN seem to differ from men in learning

  • Women are relational
  • Women enjoy sharing
  • Appeal to a woman’s friendship
  • Women like fellowship
  • Women prefer discussion
  • Women like to talk and be intimate
What women said about how the church MIGHT ATTRACT more men

  • Find activities that interest them
  • Give them hands-on projects
  • Find applicable subjects
  • Use sports
  • Use visuals in teaching
  • Have good male role models in leadership positions
  • Food
The men we surveyed said…

 What men said about how MEN seem to differ from women in learning

  • Facts—logical and concrete
  • Activity oriented interaction
  • Visual learners
  • Need practical application—how does this apply to my occupation?
  • Direct—to the point
What men said about how WOMEN seem to differ from men in learning

  • Relationships—socialize
  • Bonding oriented interaction
  • Auditory learners—discussion/dialogue
  • Deeper understanding
  • Interested in details
What men said about how the church MIGHT ATTRACT more men

  • Classes with applicable topics—show importance and practicality
  • Offer all-male classes (but women won’t like it).
  • Organize activities that men would enjoy (camping, sports, hobbies, etc.)
  • Visible male leadership—have men invite other men—have men do the follow-up
  • Atmosphere: Music that relates to men—style—have more brooding, not all happy songs—let them sit and listen if they want to—avoid the popular “Jesus is my boyfriend” music, focus more on music with the themes: King—God—Warrior—Service, supported with images. Show movies in class
  • Food!
  • Activities outside of the church building—not always learning by sitting like “good little boys.”
OK. You have the “raw data” from the students now listed in order of frequency responses. Now, what would you say are the preliminary “findings” from this mini-research project?

  • What differences do you see between how woman and men see each others’ learning?
  • What differences do you see between how women and men think the church can attract more men?
  • Using only responses where both groups agreed list the most prominent learning preferences of each gender.
  • Given this data, what would you actually do in your church to attract more men into worship and discipleship?
So, what do you think? Do these findings ring true to you?

Author:Keith Drury

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