When Judy and I take our trips to see the good, old USA , as well as our children and grandchildren, we drive our Toyota Highlander. We love our highlander. As we begin our journey I pray a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude for having health, companionship and the freedom and the means to travel. I also pray for our protection, picturing Judy and I in the hands of Jesus and asking the Father to send his angels to watch over us. Now some of you would not prefer a highlander. But we are sold on their quality, reliability, comfort and affordability. But Toyota wants more market share.
Toyota’s advertising agents know how to market their cars to both men and women. Watch football games and the ads are about the Toyota Tundra. There is a rough, gravel-voiced narrator. A dangerous situation. Huge metal beams swinging through space. Dirt. The sound of motor roaring, tires squealing, metal grinding, and cables snapping. Then there is the crowds of men cheering the truck’s narrow victory. It is all meant to appeal to the dangerous adventure instinct in a man. Yet few men watching the ad can actually drive a tundra in those kind of circumstances. What sells is just the image of doing what the ad portrays. A man on Sunday afternoon, relaxing, anticipating Monday morning, going back to the confined space of corportate life, dreams of the adventure of getting down and dirty with his tundra. Now where I live this is a reality for men. But I assume most of you guys are stuck in a city.
Now look at the ad for women. It will more then likely be a day time show. There are flowers, children, butterflies, a message of harmony and a female singer. It is a ad targeting wealthy urban women who think of themselves as eco-friendly. The Tundra pickup was targeted at men who think of themselves as rugged and hard-working. I doubt there are very many men who image flowers and butterflies, as they watch the big game and anticipate the return to “the Box” of corporate life on Monday morning.
Advertisers know that men and women will respond differently to the imagery of the ad. Of course, there are exceptions, but the genders as a whole are quite predictable. Toyota would never use flowers and dancing children to sell a pickup truck because men would hate it. It goes against everything that is built into a man.
This leads me to make a possible comparison with the churches we attend. Are we creating, without realizing it, a “Prius-like” culture. Can a focus that is heavy on relationships, healing, nurturing, and harmony create some natural resistance in men? Maybe we need to watch how we decorate the church – to many flowers, quilts, ribbons might not fit for guys? What about all the female voices, sentimental music, focus on children during the worship service? I am just wondering. I know as a naturally relationship guy, I might have stressed relationship more then the challenge and actual danger of being a committed follower of Jesus.
Could it be that we have been softening the message of Jesus to accommodate an overly feminized view of being a follower of Jesus? Are we experiencing more of a feminizing culture in the church? (I could get into trouble just suggesting this possibility.) I want men who read this blog to know that I am struggling with presenting a healthy balance between the “tough” and “tender.” On the one hand, men need the challenge of following Jesus on a journey that will be difficult and challenging. On the other hand, men need to be lead to a deep, personal, intimate relationship that will carry them through the journey that will be dangerous and hard at times. I personally want to present this balance. In some ministries it is either being “a tough guy” for Jesus or a “sensitive, feminized” version of following Jesus. There is a better way; a third way. That is what I have been working on in my life for over 30 years. It does not have to be either/or.