Despite the last 30 years of trying to make men and women exactly the same it is still pretty obvious that we are different. This definitely shows up in how we fellowship with other Christians. Women are quick to talk about their feelings, their ups and downs, etc. They are certainly not afraid to be vulnerable. Men on the other hand learn from an early age that vulnerability is not positive, attractive, or beneficial. We don’t like to open up, share our feelings, or say “I love you” to another man. Studies have shown that women use far more words during the course of the day than men do. Most men just aren’t big talkers. The result is that our fellowship among men is often lacking.
So what can we do to get men to experience fellowship at its best? I think for men it comes down to shared experience. We don’t have much to say unless we have something we can relate to. Time constraints and busy schedules keep our iron from rubbing and we miss out on valuable fellowship. We don’t have a hard time talking about similar sports interests or who won the pennant. We made time to know what happened at the ball game. Shared experiences generate discussion and fellowship. One reason I enjoy things like Fantasy Football, service projects, and prayer breakfasts is because we really don’t have much to talk about unless we have shared experiences. First we have to make time for each other.
We certainly do not need to expect men to be like women. That is just not attractive to anyone or really very helpful. But we do need to find more ways to get men engaged in meaningful fellowship with other men. What have you found works well to get men to grow closer in their relationships with each other?
I’m very introverted, and never had many friends. The closest friendships I’ve had are with people who I’ve gone out witnessing with. It causes us to study the Bible together, and take a stand for the Lord together.
In a sense we men are more vulnerable than women. One reason we don’t share is that we don’t want other men to realize how ordinary and mediocre most of us are. We want to preserve our image of being strong, competent, independent, and successful. Inside many of us feel like impostors, but we cannot say so, unless others are willing to admit it, too.
I have found that all it takes is one brave (and maybe foolhardy) man to break the ice, and other men will follow. Maybe that’s the job of the leading men of the church–to get the other men to open up in a safe and masculine-oriented environment.
Bill is right in his approach. Men relate best to each other in the context of shared work. Fix-up days at church, service projects, and evangelist efforts are probably the best ways to approach male fellowship.
I think we also need to couch our talk about our faith and walk in masculine terms. The Bible already does so–the Christian life as warfare or as athletic training or as farming.
I agree with Bill and renaissance guy. The best fellowship for men is ministry work or maybe doing what guys enjoy doing – sports, eating wings, Some of the ministry work can include – evangelism, doing car repair for widows or single moms, doing yard work for seniors, the list really could be quite extensive. But you get the idea.