I’m working on a new article called “That’s Not How We Do Things Here”: American Men’s Ministries in an Australasian Context. In short, most men’s ministries are based in North America. For some years I have been talking about these in Australia and New Zealand, and have met a common complaint from both academics and clergy: “that’s not how we do things here.” Their argument is twofold: First, I present a caricature of evangelicalism that does not bear witness to its diversity; second, I do not acknowledge that evangelicalism (and therefore evangelical men’s ministries) looks different in Australasia compared to North America.
Australasian men’s ministries, these critics claim, are more subtle: less prone to soft patriarchy, less prone to appealing to sport and military images to entice men, and consequently less prone to the problematic masculinities they promote.
My counter-argument is that while it is true that North American evangelicalism in general is not the conservative monolith once identified by progressive critics, within the context of men’s ministry the evangelical caricature holds firm. Furthermore, while Australasian evangelicalism has its own particular flavor, Australasian men’s ministries show a striking resemblance to their North American counterparts.
A great example of this popped into my inbox just this morning from Promise Keepers, who have teamed up with NASCAR to offer the Victory Weekend. As you can see, the graphic used is a classic masculine signifier of sports cars in which participants are asked to “rev up your family and faith”:
Compare this to the most recent men’s ministry conference in Australia:
Again, men are appealed to via sporty cars (the site also refers to a “‘show & shine’ car & bike competition”!), and instead of being asked to “rev up,” the conference is called “Full Throttle”.