For the sixth year in a row, Immanuel Lutheran Church will offer a men's spiritual and motivational banquet on the last Saturday of January.
"We want to motivate men to learn about and accept responsibility for spiritual life in the community," said Paul Munger, the Immanuel church member who has been a leader in the annual banquets since they began. "We're finding men are stepping back a lot more."
Indeed, on any given Sunday, the typical church is predominately women, according to Churchformen.com, an organization founded by writer David Murrow, author of “Why Men Hate Going to Church,” an instant Christian bestseller, with more than 100,000 copies in print.
Murrow has found the following:
• Typically, a church congregation on Sunday morning is 61 percent female and 39 percent male - in all age groups. It's even worse on Wednesday night at prayer meeting and Bible study where it's generally 70-80 percent women.
• This Sunday, as every Sunday, women in church will outnumber men by 13 million. Nearly 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will be there without their husbands.
• More than 70 percent of the boys raised in church will quit it in their teens and twenties; a significant number will never return.
• Ninety percent of American men believe in God, Murrow said, and five of six men declare themselves Christians. Only one of six attend church regularly.
• The typical Christian college in the United States enrolls nearly two women for every man.
It's this trend that Immanuel Lutheran Church wants to turn around, and church men of all denominations throughout south central Missouri are invited to attend the banquet to help learn ways the local congregations can reach out to men in vibrant ways.
"This year our speaker will be the Reverend Dr. Ray G. Mirly," said Munger. Mirly is the president of The Missouri District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
The banquet will be held Saturday, Jan. 26, and will run from 6-8 p.m. at Oak Meadow Country Club. Cost is $25 per person.
"Last year we had 99. This year we're hoping for at least 125," Munger said, of attendance.
Last year's speaker was the Rev. Gregory Seltz, speaker for The Lutheran Hour. The year before that, the speaker was the Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer, president of Concordia Seminary and former Lutheran Hour speaker.
Before that, the speaker was the Rev. Ken Klaus, another former speaker for The Lutheran Hour.
Mirly will do as previous speakers have done. He'll speak Saturday, then at Immanuel's two Sunday morning services and the Bible class between them, Munger said.
The motivational program started out as a breakfast meeting, which it continued to be for another two years, then it switched to dinner meetings.
Page 2 of 3 - Munger said the church is inviting all men of the community as well as men from St. Clair, Cuba, Salem, St. Robert as well as St. James, and even as far away as Jefferson City and Lebanon.
"We want to motivate men into more participation in church," he said. "Pastor Klaus, when he was here, called this 'the age of the woman' in church. Men are adopting a more passive role, but they have a strong role to play."
Reservations for the Jan. 26 buffet dinner and motivational talk should be made by calling Jana Wassilak, church secretary, at 364-4525.
"We'd prefer to have them pay ahead of time, but we definitely want the reservations and we can take the money at the door," Munger said.
Those reservations should be made by noon on Monday, Jan. 21.
About Dr. Ray Mirly
The Rev. Dr. Ray G. Mirly was born in Cape Girardeau.
He attended St. Paul Lutheran High School and Junior College, Concordia, Mo., and graduated from Concordia University, Seward, Neb.
He completed his Colloquy for the pastoral ministry through Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and was certified in 1977.
He earned an M.A. degree from Concordia Seminary in 1978. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Concordia University, Seward, in 2007.
He served as a teacher at St. John's Lutheran Church, Young America, Minn., from 1966-73; Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Detroit, Mich., from 1973-75; and was pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Orchard Farm, Mo., from 1977-1980; Immanuel Lutheran Church, Olivette, Mo., from 1980-2006.
Since 2006, he has been president of The Missouri District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
He has served on numerous district and synodical boards and committees.
Nine reasons why a man should go to church
By Theodore Roosevelt, www.theodoreroosevelt.org
1) In this actual world, a churchless community, a community where men have abandoned and scoffed at or ignored their religious needs, is a community on the rapid down grade.
2) Church work and church attendance mean the cultivation of the habit of feeling responsibility for others.
3) There are enough holidays for most of us. Sundays differ from other holidays in the fact that there are 52 of them every year. Therefore, on Sundays go to church.
4) Yes, I know all the excuses. I know that one can worship the Creator in a grove of trees, or by a running brook, or in a man's own house as well as in church. But I also know, as a matter of cold fact, that the average man does not thus worship.
Page 3 of 3 - 5) He may not hear a good sermon at church. He will hear a sermon by a good man who, with his wife, is engaged all of the week in making hard lives a little easier.
6) He will listen to and take part in reading some beautiful passages from the Bible. And if he is not familiar with the Bible he has suffered a loss.
7) He will take part in the singing of some good hymns.
8) He will meet and nod or speak to good, quiet neighbors. He will come away feeling a little more charitable toward all the world, even toward those excessively foolish young men who regard churchgoing as a soft performance.
9) I advocate a man's joining in church work for the sake of showing his faith by his works.
— From a pamphlet published by Roosevelt House, which was built by the Woman's Roosevelt Memorial Association with funds collected in the main by the women and children of the nation. The Roosevelt Memorial Association gathered and administered the collections and the library. These two organizations eventually became the Theodore Roosevelt Association we know today.