I recently read a book intended to be given to men giving them legitimate answers concerning typical reasons why they are not present in N. American churches. It’s called Where Are All the Brothers? by Eric Redmond.
The book is written as a series of short answers to 9 common barriers, or questions, men have that serve as the basic motivations for not being part of a local church. Here is the full Table of Contents:
Introduction: What You Will Gain if You Give Me Ten Minutes of Your Life for Each of the Next Nine Days
1. Isn’t the Church Full of Hypocrites?
2. Wasn’t the Bible Written by Men?
3. Isn’t the Church Geared toward Women?
4. Isn’t the Preacher Just a Man?
5. Doesn’t Islam Offer More for Black Men?
6. Aren’t Some Churches Just After Your Money?
7. Is Organized Religion Necessary?
8. Jesus Never Claimed to Be God, Did He?
9. What to Look for to Find a Good Church
Appendix A: The Fulfillment of Old Testament Prophesies about Christ in the New Testament
Appendix B: The Church Does Not Welcome Homosexuals
Audience: While the book is written almost like a tract – something to give to someone to convince them of something – I found it worthwhile to read as a future pastor who will have to wrestle with the diminishing number of “Y” chromosomes in the church. Redmond has given me, and all of us, some very good, solid, reasoned answers to a number of questions that can keep men from fully engaging in our churches, or even just showing up.
Good: I found this book not only informative and challenging, but extremely easy to read. Redmond begins with a basic plea for readers to give just 10 minutes a day for 9 days, and that is an adequate amount of time to cover this book. If you were to give it to somebody you were trying to persuade to come to church, any church, then that is a reasonable request, and could easily get through the book. If that is your reason for reading the book, make sure you follow it up with some good conversations regarding each chapter.
Not-so-Good: While I don’t want to be nit-picky, I am not a big fan of reading books that overly dialogical. However, I think for what Redmond was trying to do, I don’t know how you could have written it any other way. Its meant to be used as a resource to give to men you have friendships with over concerns regarding church involvement. The dialogical nature works for this purpose.
Highlights: By far, Redmond does a great job all around. I think his chapters dealing with the allure of Islam for men, and the all time favorite, “Doesn’t the church just want my money?” are his most insightful contributions to the issue.
Recommendation: I would say that if this is a concern for you, either in current church praxis or because of friendships you have where this is an issue, then Redmond’s book is a great resource, well worth having. If your interest level is more on the intellectual, sociological plane, then this may be a book worth checking out, though it will not give you the detailed background and academic breadth you’re probably searching for.
Also check out CJ Mahaney’s comments about this book, and a couple of others worth checking out here (Sovereign Grace Blog).