In this July 18, 2016, file photo, Willie Robertson, CEO of Duck Commander and Buck Commander speaks during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Men are disconnected from the Bible and need to return, experts say

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Evangelical publisher Robert Wolgemuth says one problem with Christianity in the U.S. is men — not what they’re doing but what they are not doing.

“American men are tragically biblically illiterate, even guys that have gone to church all their lives,” said Mr. Wolgemuth, author and editor of more than 20 books, including “Dad’s Devotional Bible.” “And many men are very daunted by this book, overwhelmed by it.”

Many Christian scholars and writers regard reading the Bible and understanding its message as essential for spiritual growth, but the American Bible Society’s most recent State of the Bible survey found that 59% of men say they are “disengaged” from Scripture and only 15% say they are actively engaged with the Bible.

Why aren’t men accessing the Scriptures as they once did? Timothy Spivey, vice president for spiritual life at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, said part of the answer lies with the rising generation of men.

“In the 1990s, when I was a student, it was a more traditional era. Spiritual leadership on the campus was largely (but not exclusively) male back then — in concert with the traditional norms of that time,” he said. “Many 18-year-old young men today are living in a different era that doesn’t equip them as well to build relationships in the same way that people used to.”

Mr. Spivey said young adults need help developing close friendships.

“I think it’s harder and harder for young people, male or female, to build friendships that transcend [the] social chaos around them,” he said. “So, the more we can help young men find each other relationally and build real friendships, that’s an enormously helpful thing.”

Friendships and engagement with the Bible can help young men who either lack a male role model at home or have been bombarded with sitcoms and movies showing fathers as bumbling, inept characters.

“Many did not grow up with a father in the home,” Mr. Spivey said. “The stereotypes offered in media are terrible. So, where can they find examples of what a godly man looks like? In church, certainly, but even more in Scripture. Scripture is also a place that provides examples of how men sin and find redemption.”

As those men move into marriage and family life, they may face other challenges, said Jamie Tuttle, lead pastor of Dwelling Place Church in Cleveland, Tennessee.

He said men are sometimes driven from the “spiritual leadership guidance role” that God intended, perhaps believing that providing for the family is all that’s required.

“There’s a battle of good and evil, and evil is fighting for the souls of men because men are the foundation of the growth of the family,” said Mr. Tuttle, whose annual King’s Table conferences aim to instruct men in their responsibilities.

Too many men believe that once they accept Christ as their savior, they can leave the spiritual management of the family to their wives, but that’s not what the Bible intends, he said. Women are crucial to the equation, but a father’s leadership is essential.

“I believe that men need to be brought to the realization and even the revelation that ‘I have a major calling and purpose on my life’ outside of just saying, ‘I’ve got my heaven ticket,’” Mr. Tuttle said.

Willie Robertson, who starred in A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” reality TV series with his family, said men often don’t know what to do with their Christianity once they accept the Lord.

“I think some people may come to faith or think that they’ve come to faith and no one ever explained … what exactly the mission is,” Mr. Robertson said. “I think we have men who were, they’re kind of ‘missionless,’ they’re like, ‘Something happened. Maybe I raised my hand, and I said, ‘This sounds good to me, but no one ever explained to me exactly what exactly I’m doing and what I’m supposed to do and how I’m supposed to live and all that.”

He said a solution is to ask men to tell their stories and share how their lives have been shaped. He then presents the Gospel as the “good news” for those who have tried everything else and outlines what a Christian life entails. Some may reject it, but others will accept it while understanding their future spiritual responsibilities.

Next month, Mr. Robertson will publish “Gospeler: Turning Darkness Into Light One Conversation at a Time,” a book that explores the need to evangelize and disciple people in their new beliefs.

Mr. Wolgemuth has sought to “make the Bible more accessible” to men. He was general editor for the “Men’s Daily Bible,” which includes the full text of Scripture, articles for men from noted Christian leaders and 260 devotional articles designed to be read Monday through Friday.

He said responses to the new volume have been positive.

“My favorite is a woman who gives this thing to her husband and says, ‘I’ve never seen him sit down with the Bible in our marriage.’ This is good,” Mr. Wolgemuth said.

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