Where Are the Men?

Family / Ministries //

In the last two weeks, I have taught in four different conferences; in each one, my topics related to children’s ministry and parenting.  In each one, the vast majority of attendees were women.  In each one, I would have loved to have seen a better balance between men and women.  I wrote about that in my latest book, “Rock Solid Children’s Ministry”.  Here’s what I said about the need for men:


I am part of a minority.  As a middle-class male of European descent in America, my minority status is not connected to my ethnicity or my social strata, but rather to my life-long participation in working with kids.  As a male, and—shall I say—“a more mature” male, I am not only a minority, but am part of a “super-minority.”  The world of those who influence kids is hugely out of balance—and it is an unacceptable, untenable situation.  Here are some facts:

  • Men are a minority of attendees in the church.  Various polls and surveys show that a large majority are women.  I believe no one is happy about the lack of male involvement; however, it is interesting to me that all the remedies proposed are related to what you do to attract adult men, not what you can do while those men are boys.
  • Men who are involved significantly with their own children are a minority.  More than ½ of the children in America will spend a significant part of their childhood without a father present in their life.  The results are devastating—and are well documented.   The National Center for Fathering states, “physical fatherlessness…affects more than 25,000,000 children. Emotional fatherlessness—when dad is in the home, but not emotionally engaged with his child’s life—affects millions more.[1]
  • Men are a minority in our schools.  Less than 3% of preschool and kindergarten teachers are men; only 19 percent of elementary teachers are men.[2]
  • Men are a small minority of children’s workers in the church. In Group’s Children’s Ministry online newletter, Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, in his article entitled Olympic-Style Volunteer Training[3], proposes that 91 percent of children’s ministry workers are women.

Suppose a single mom desires a positive, mature male role model for her children.  Where does she go?  Likely, the natural father is not going to provide it.  So, she sends her children to school…but nearly everyone there is female.  How about church?  Shouldn’t she be able to find some men who will take an interest in her kids and provide godly guidance to them?  So she takes them to church…but nine out of ten of the workers there are women as well.

What does she do?  There is little she can do by herself.  And as a result we raise another generation of kids who have no first-hand knowledge of what it means to be a responsible man.  The imbalance is dangerous.

The imbalance in the home has been put in the spotlight by sociologists and educators—even by our Presidents.  But little is being said about the imbalance in children’s ministry.  It’s time that we not only took notice, but took some steps to correct it.

In his article, “Real Men Do Teach,” my friend Gordon West has this perspective:

The absence of men in most children’s ministries communicates a message we don’t want to pass on. It’s a hidden curriculum that subtly teaches children that Christianity is women’s business. Little girls are subconsciously programmed to believe that few men are truly capable of being spiritual leaders. And little boys leave Sunday school subtly convinced that real men rarely get involved in church and are almost never excited about God.[4]

We need to do something.

I’ve proposed some action steps in my book; what would you suggest we do?

[2] Current Population Survey, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table 11. Employed persons by detailed occupation and sex, 2007 annual averages, p. 30.

[3] Olympic-Style Volunteer Training, by Eugene C. Roehlkepartain,





About the Author

Larry Fowler serves as executive director of global networking for Awana and KidzMatter. Both organizations are committed to helping churches and parents raise children and youth to know, love and serve Jesus Christ. For nearly 30 years, Larry has pursued this mission in a range of capacities, including local-church Awana volunteer, missionary, speaker, author, teacher and executive director of international ministries, program development and training. Larry is an author of four books – Rock-Solid Children’s Ministry, Rock-Solid Volunteers, Raising a Modern-Day Joseph and Rock-Solid Kids – and a speaker to audiences worldwide both inside and outside of Awana. He is also a recognized expert in issues facing families and churches in the 21st century. Larry and his wife, Diane, have two grown children and five grandchildren. The Fowlers reside in Riverside, California.