Genre: Gender Studies/Church Growth
Murrow makes many sweeping generalizations of gender differences and occasionally even of denominational differences, many of which I found offensive. He comments frequently that women are smarter than men, more studious, musical, and religious, while church-going men are wimpy, effeminate and unmanly. I see where he’s going with this–that some personalities are fit for “church culture” while others are not–but his gender stereotypes are grossly exaggerated.
I also had a problem with his goal-oriented interpretation of history. Throughout his writing, he briefly explains moments in church history, each time giving story-telling precedence over facts. He has interesting theories, but they aren’t grounded in evidence. In fact, most of his writing is based on observation rather than good research.
If we followed his advice, every congregation would be a mega-church (in style and growth). But is this what we want? It’s not what I want.
But despite all this, he does make some interesting arguments, bringing many insights to the table that would otherwise be overlooked. He mentions, for instance, that a sense of mission and adventure have been missing from the way churches present and carry out the gospel message. I agree. I don’t think this is a gender issue so much as a whole church issue. He also demonstrates that the church operates in a very slim selection of spiritual and practical giftings while many “more manly” giftings are left out. Again, I don’t see this as exclusively a gender problem, but I’d agree that the traditional church set-up does not cater to every learning style or personality. I also liked his criticism of the “romancing” of the gospel. While the Bride of Christ is one of my favorite analogies, it’s taken too literally in many circles, and this kind of Jesus-is-my-husband thinking isn’t healthy for men or women.
This would be a great book for small group discussion. It brings up so many questions and is an excellent starting point for many heated (and productive) discussions–largely due to the the author’s strong and controversial opinions.
I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogging Program through booksneeze.com.