Where have all
the men gone?
The Sunday Times yesterday
reported that the number of women due to be ordained next year
will be higher than the number of men for the first time. The
conjectured figures being 124 to 123.
The article does not cite its sources not clarify the figures
used but this presumably represents the number of expected tipendiary/Non-Stipendiary
Clergy ordinations in 2005. I believe that in the other two categories
used (Permanent Non-Stipendiary and Ordained Local Ministry -
both of which tend to attract older people) the number of women
has been higher than men for the last few years.
The figures appear to suggest that in 2005 there will be 124 men
ordained to stipendiary/non-stipendiary ministry. This compares
to an average of 267 men per year being ordained as 'full-time
stipendiary clergy' over the years 1991-1993. Therefore, over
the decade or so since the legislation to ordain women was passed
the number of men going into full-time ministry has more than
The paper goes on to report: "As the number of women priests
has increased, so has the proportion of women attending church.
Church researchers say that the 45% to 55% male to female split
in parish congregations 10 years ago has now shifted to a 37%
to 63% split in favour of women."
If these figures are reliable then, using the statistics in Religious
Trends 4 published by Christian Research, in 1990 on an average
Sunday the average CofE church had 31 men, 39 women and 14 children
in the different Sunday services The projected figure for 2005
will be 22 men, 37 women and 10 children.
On the basis of the figures in RT4 the number of children has
dropped by around 28% over these 15 years, but using the combined
figures the number of men has fallen even more, by closer to 30%.
Why are men leaving the Church of England so rapidly and why are
so few men now coming forward for ordained ministry? Here we leave
statistics and enter conjecture and anecdote. However, it seems
clear to me that part of the reason that some men have left and
othes not joined is that the God-given pattern of male headship,
is being broken in our churches. Whether consciously or unconsciously
I believe many men feel this deep down even if they do not understand
it; that is how God made us.
Moreover, although a lot of attention has been given to the decline
in the number of children in our churches it seems reasonable
to suggest that if we get back the men we will get back at least
some of the children because those men who are also fathers will
want to take seriously the responsibilities laid on them as head
of the household.
The Sunday Times article can be found at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-1247466,00.html
Christian Research is at
David Phillips General Secretary, Church Society