Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
The male-depleted congregations of many of the island's churches have become increasingly worrisome to some members, and at least one pastor believes the Church is to be blamed for being less-than-welcoming to men.
In some churches, females outnumber males three-to-one, and the dream of many Christian women to find Christian husbands is becoming more improbable year after year.
The Reverend Don Stewart, pastor of the Portmore Lane Covenant Community Church in Portmore, St Catherine, said churches must target and tailor their activities towards men, without abandoning the loyal female congregants.
"You can't expect young, strong men to come to church week after week to sit down, sing and clap hands and listen to a pastor speak. There is no fun in that. They have to be involved. Men like macho activities and they are constantly on the go," he told The Sunday Gleaner.
"Men love action, arguments, issues, talk. There are many issues on which they have an opinion, and it includes sex. When they come into a church that refuses to confront issues, including sex, they can't be comfortable. They prefer to go out a road and fight," he offered.
AFRAID OF ISSUES
According to him, the Church is losing potential male membership because pastors were uncomfortable talking about several issues. Many individuals depend on their churches to shape their views and pastors' discomfort could lead to views being shaped by unwholesome means.
For Stewart, the leadership of the Church must ask itself who it is here to please.
"Churches must find a way to be spiritual, and not spooky," according to Stewart.
Ronald McKenzie is nearly 50 years old and has been in and out of church.
McKenzie, who recently returned to Jamaica, said one of the issues facing churchgoers - both men and women - was the Church's need for money.
"I have seen large groups of young people, men and women, who decide that they are not going back to particular churches. There is too much pressure on church people for money. They want money for offering, tithe and church-building fund. Sometimes if you follow them, you give everything and have nothing," he told The Sunday Gleaner.
A member of a church choir in Curaçao, where he resided up to weeks ago, he said: "It was all about money."
That was his biggest "turn-off", in addition to the "fact that men appeared to be left out of a lot of general church activities".
He acknowledged that many churches had a men's ministry and men's fellowship, which provided opportunities for greater interaction among males.
Only recently, however, a pastor was heard chastising his membership for insufficient funds to purchase a water tank for the church after several attempts.
A third-time visitor to the church, Neal Robinson, said on the three occasions it was the same argument.
"Every week, the pastor [is] seeking collection for something. Trust me, I am not going back," he said.
MAGIC CAN'T RUN CHURCH
Last week, on one religious radio station, a pastor was encouraging the membership "to give cash, kind and time" as magic could not run churches.
For Robinson, some churches were behaving like a "dissatisfied babymother".
For him, it's scary.
Gospel artiste Omari Edwards said he was a non-denominational Christian and has admitted some churches are a turn-off.
"It's because of love why God sent His Son to die to save the world. It was tough love, but it's still love. But sometimes some churches are offensive to people, and it shows in their body language. Their body language is pure condemnation, and trust me, that's not welcoming," he told The Sunday Gleaner.
He said the common desire of God was for everyone to have eternal life, and the one enemy to eternal life was the Devil.
"But if the churches are turning you off, you could miss the opportunity for eternal life. The truth is that in a lot of ways, the churches are not men- and youth-driven.
"They are more women-driven and I have said so time and time again," he stated.