Maybe it’s just that I had a lot of experience with the issue of women in ministry during undergrad, but I’m kind of tired of this issue. My freshman year roommate believed women should not be in ministry or leadership [he also had Confederate flags in our room and wrote his thesis in high school on a biblical basis for Slavery in the South] – and I disagreed. So I took Biblical Issues for Women during Jan-term of my freshman year at Whitworth; the course was taught by Gordon-Conwell professor, Dr. Catherine Clark Kroeger. After the course, went back and forth on the issue, and then finally realized…WHO AM I? Who am I to say who can be in leadership and who can’t? Don’t quote me 1 Tim 2: can you say “cultural context?”
So I was a bit surprised during my weekend spent with Allelon-folk, that we ended up discussing women in ministry for an entire morning. It seemed to me, for pomo / emergent / missional / whatever-the-heck-you-want-to-be-called Christians – this issue should really be a non-issue. However, people seemed to still be struggling with this issue [and by that statement, I’m not attempting to make a judgment on anyone and where they are on their theological journey, but…] and that is discouraging. Why can’t we MEN just get over ourselves and be open for the Spirit of God to work in whomever He/She wants to?
I first met Lilly Lewin a year ago at the Emergent Convention in San Diego. Got to hang out with Lilly and her husband, Rob Lewin. Amazing couple – had many great conversations with them and loved getting to know them. Lilly and Rob went to Mayhem and had an interesting experience.
Lilly first posted a few thoughts (in the form of a rant) here. Then I think Chris Marshall posted a quote from Lilly here, and then the conversation really got started. Since then, many others have joined the conversation: Amber Bishop, Rachelle, Bill Bean, Mollie Bean and Jonny Baker (he has had many posts the past week on this issue).
So what started off as an innocent rant into the blogworld has spurred on discussions on many, many blogs. On one hand, I feel that this discussion does need to happen. As has been mentioned before, those in the Emergent network are primarily middle-class, white males (myself included). I think we need to ask ourselves how we allowed this to happen, and make sure it doesn’t happen again. On the other hand, I continue to think this should be a non-issue for those who are asking themselves how to do church differently. As we approach a new ecclesiology, a new vision for what the church will look like – we need to stop boxing in God and deciding who God can speak through…
A lot of this discussion has been about people who are “up front” during church, events, conferences, etc. Some are saying that it doesn’t really matter who is up front, women who are doing behind-the-scenes ministries are happy to be there (and some women are saying that). However – whether or not the women feel they are truly ministering behind the scenes, what message is this sending to those women in the congregation when they see only male-leadership up front? I have a friend who is interning at a church and issues relating to this are truly only semantics. I can’t remember the exact words, but I think her pastor was okay with her “facilitating” worship – but not “leading” worship…
Jen Lemen (whose blog I just recently found and really enjoy) will be having a discussion on her blog about women’s roles within an emerging church context (at least I think that’s right, Jen correct me if I’m wrong) – and I look forward to that. Nothing really profound here to say, just wanted to make my readers aware of this conversation, throw out some links and encourage us to be open to the Spirit of God.