Church men's groups in most denominations declined in North America in the 1960s and 1970s. Men's groups in some Mennonite denominations followed the same pattern of decline in this period. Television developed rapidly at this time and may have been part of the competition for men's time. Also the increase of two-career families that demanded more sharing of housekeeping chores, the increase of single-parent families, night classes or a second job eliminated for many men the leisure time available for church men's groups. Lyle Schaller also lists civic, professional, social, political, and other church groups (for Mennonites these might have been Mennonite Disaster Service, MCC relief sales, the small group movement and other developments) competing for time that once was used by church men's groups. Further reason for the decline may have been the drop in church attendance and membership in the 1960s and 1970s and the wider acceptance of secular service clubs by Mennonites that meet at the more convenient times of lunch or breakfast hours.
In the late 1970s and 1980s church men's groups have been increasing in number in a variety of denominations. Lyle Schaller has isolated six possible reasons. (1) A religious "revival" in North America reflected in the many men's Bible study and prayer groups that have replaced the more formally organized and elected officer-led groups. (2) A clear purpose: currently church planting for Mennonite, Lutheran, Southern Baptist, and other denominations is the distinctive purpose of the revitalized men's organization. (3) A sense of belonging for adult males who need a group just as much as participants in the church women's group, youth group, choir, children's clubs and classes, young couples' groups and ministers' organizations. (4) As congregations grow larger, small groups providing a face-to-face experience are needed. Men's groups help to fill that need. (5) Among all the groups for couples there is also a need for groups that could accept single men. (6) As female church leadership became more widely accepted, men who were displaced needed a place to use their gifts. Men's groups helped slow down a tendency for a male exodus and the "feminization" of the church. In addition longevity has increased and more men with leisure time are seeking a significant place for service and fellowship. Among Mennonites the clearest example of decline and renewed interest in men's groups is found in the Mennonite Men (GCM) organization.
Schaller, Lyle. "Don't Write Off the Men's Groups. Leadership 6, no. 1: p. 94.
|Author(s)||E. Stanley Bohn|
Cite This Article
Bohn, E. Stanley. "Men's Work." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 21 May 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Men%27s_Work&oldid=89620.
Bohn, E. Stanley. (1989). Men's Work. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Men%27s_Work&oldid=89620.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 553-554. All rights reserved.
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