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A Church with a Spine

Blog title card; topic is masculinity in the church
A Church With a Spine

Every church needs strong men. Our church is blessed to have several. However, it is important to define what makes a man strong. A church doesn’t necessarily need men who are members of the thousand pound club (if you know, you know). Instead, churches need men with spiritual strength rooted in biblical conviction. In other words, just like healthy families require biblically strong male leadership, so healthy churches are built on the foundation of male leadership. Healthy youth groups, too, are led by spiritually strong young men. 

American culture does not recognize the value of male leadership. Rather, culture has attempted to feminize men. At times, that cultural influence affects the spirit of local churches. Perhaps some specific examples come to mind. Have you attended a church’s service and noticed that the church that had a soft, feminine spirit? That kind of church lacks confident male leadership. The males who attend are apathetic and AWOL from their spiritual responsibility, and the church suffers. Because the men do not lead, women and children have stepped in to fill the void of leadership.

Soft, effeminate churches should not be the norm. Instead, “a church with a spine” should describe local American assemblies. The man who introduced to me the term “a church with a spine” described such a church as one that not only pushes back against wokeness and carnality, but also has men who lead their women and children. The pastor of such a church can shepherd even the bossiest of the women.

The ideal pastor of many modern churches has a personality like Mr. Rogers, the 20th century children’s show host. Their model for a pastor demonstrates an imbalance in their thinking. These churches have overemphasized what they perceive to be the “soft” attributes of Jesus—love and grace—to the neglect of attributes like His holiness and His truth. This imbalance is unbiblical, for Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).   

The Lord Jesus is certainly the lamb of God, representing the grace of God to man. However,  He is also the Lion of Judah, an image which communicates His strength and truth. Imbalanced, soft churches and pastors present Jesus as a Lamb, as if He is comfortable to snuggle with, and fail to communicate how He is also described as a powerful Lion who should not be trifled with. 

This imbalance is a symptom that churches have been feminized. After all, men are generally predisposed to value truth and justice, while women are generally predisposed to value grace and forgiveness. Jesus Christ was not one or the other; instead, He was the perfect balance of all those characteristics. Godly men imitate this Christlike balance, while godly women crave leadership from Christlike men.

How are we do recognize a godly, Christlike man? There are two primary characteristics. First, godly men are men of the Book. A godly man does not need constant reminders to read his Bible; he’s already doing it. Not only will he read personally, a godly man will also teach his family to be people of the Book.  

Second, godly men love the church, “the pillar and ground of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). A Christlike man does not need his wife to motivate him to gather with the redeemed. His children do not have to plead with him to take them to church. Instead, Godly men raise their families so each member knows that, when the church gathers, the family will be present. Godly men prioritize corporate worship with the church family because those opportunities are important to them.  

Simply put, men lead. They were made for it. They lead spiritually by their example and, as a result, they impact the next generation for Christ’s sake. Far too many men resemble Homer Simpson, and it is a shame. Manhood is much more than belching and giving into baser instincts. Instead, may God give churches more men like Stephen, John the Baptist, Paul, and Peter: men that are Christlike and full of conviction not for conviction’s sake, but for Christ’s sake; men that are Biblically informed so that we’re bold when it is time to be bold and tempered when it is time to be tempered. American culture does not like such men of conviction. Rather, the culture has told men to take the back seat. The consequences of this role reversal are evident. 

While culture tells men to stand down, the Bible tells men to “watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. And, let all your things be done with charity” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).  

To the men reading I say that we must conduct ourselves with courage. Our family needs it. Our churches need it. Our country definitely needs us to act like men, all for God’s glory. To the ladies I say that, if you have a godly man like I just described, praise God for him. If you do not have a godly husband, do the best you can to apply the instruction of 1 Peter 3:1-6. 

Finally, to the men once more I exhort you, if you are not the godly man you know you should be, to yield yourself to the Spirit of God and let Him lead you so that you can effectively lead those that have been entrusted to your care.


The above article was written by James C. Johnson. He is the pastor of NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email us at

Every Tuesday, SFL publishes relevant Bible-based content. Check back next Tuesday to read the next SFL article.


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