Sunday, May 15, 2011

Church

Greg and I have agreed to visit his sister's church that their family recently started attending. I've been reading up on it this morning, and I have decided that I don't want to be a part of any church that doesn't have women involved in leadership.

That doesn't mean a woman has to be head pastor or even on the pastoral team, but if you have several elders and women aren't included, then to me that means that you have a core group of leaders and decision makers that are exclusively men.

I've seen so many churches with structures like this. They almost always have a Women's Ministry leader who is supposed to represent all women in the church or something, and maybe they'll have a Children's Pastor (if the church is REALLY conservative they'll call her a "Children's Director" because of course they can't actually have the word "Pastor" or "Minister" after a woman's name on their program.)

This particular church I'm researching has two of seven women on staff, not bad right? But the titles are 1. Students/Girls and 2. Financial Administrator.

A couple things jump out at me here. I thought maybe the first title was actually code for "youth pastor" with a girls group thrown in, but they have a guy whose title is "Worship/Young Adults" so I assume he is the equivalent of a youth pastor and the "Students/Girls" person is in charge of the Children's Ministry and probably also leads a group for preteen girls or something like that.

There is no mention of a Women's Ministry in anyone's title, and I do hope that a church wouldn't refer to women as "girls" at least on their website (I don't think always inappropriate, but it depends on context; i.e. "Hey Greg, I'm going out with the girls" is different than "We need something for the girls to do in the church.")

The second thing is that I think it's funny that the Financial Administrator's bio is last considering that's probably the most important person in the church after the lead pastor. If a church is squandering money or not making money, or spending too much money, or hoarding too much money... that church is going to fail. Like it or not, churches need money to operate. That doesn't mean I think all churches want is money (in fact I believe most churches have good intentions about money) but any church who denies that money is important to grow their ministries is in denial.

I'm not saying I think modern churches today are sexist chauvinist pigs. But I think it's more subtle than that. I can't help but wonder why churches will let women count their money, minister to their kids, and have all kinds of women's ministries and retreats where ladies can speak to other ladies, but when it comes time to lead the church as a whole and discuss mission and direction, they don't have women on board making those types of decision. (And I don't mean the "But I'm sure they all ask for their wives' opinions" BS).

I mean that I want to see a church where a woman is on the regular speaking rotation. I want to see a church where women are amongst the elders. I know there are churches out there that have that, so maybe I just need to do a better job of seeking them out.

I'm still going to go visit. I might even like it. But I seriously doubt I will give any of my money or become a regular attender unless I see that their leadership actually does include women in a real way.

2 comments:

  1. I am not asking this to start a debate or have anyone assume that I disagree with you because honestly I'm not sure whether I do or don't, but have you studied the biblical passages on elders in the church and women in ministry leadership and come to any conclusions based on that? I am honestly interested in what your thoughts would be. Personally, I think the consideration of the Bible in most important when discussing issues, and I understand that everyone may not agree with me on that, but I think if we're talking about church, the Bible is a good place to start.

    Also, if you went to the Bible with an open mind and heart and concluded that women are not called to be elders, would you be willing to accept that? Again, I'm not saying women are or aren't because I don't know for sure, but I am asking in order to know where your heart and mind are. This is kind of a personal question, so whether or not you reply here or even at all is totally up to you, and I am not offended if you choose not to share. I just like to dialogue about these things, and you brought up the whole issue :), so I thought I'd ask.

    Personally, I am also irked by the "director/pastor" distinction when it comes to the titles women have when they have a leadership role in the church, and I would love to sit down with a leader at a church that does that and ask why. (Actually, the church where I serve does that, so I should find the proper person to talk to... For me, it is not a deal-breaker for being a part of a church or serving there, but I'm still curious.)

    I don't want to quote your whole paragraph, but the eighth one, about the places where women do and don't have a voice, is something I have also wondered about for a long time. To me, teaching children is extremely important, but somehow this is not as important as the vision and direction for the church as a whole? I wish the connection would be made that these children are an important part of the Church (big C) now and in the future, so why is the person who is overseeing the support of their spiritual growth somehow less important?

    One last thing, my guess is that the "Worship/Young Adults" guy deals with people out of high school. The people that I know in "young adults ministries" are out of college. So the lady who leads "Students/Girls" might actually be the youth minister/pastor (::gasp::), although I don't understand the differentiation between students and girls, haha. However, this is a total guess. :)

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  2. Jess - thanks for your comment. Yes, I have studied the passages in the Bible that discuss women in ministry. I may not have studied them as much as someone like yourself who went to school for something ministry related, but I think it's fair to say I've studied it (more than just 'I've read it') both in the past (high school/college) and recently (not recently like last week, but within the past year or two).

    I know it's hard to find good sources online, but I've actually combed through http://www.cbmw.org/ (Biblical Council of Manhood & Womanhood) a few times to get their take; I've read articles on both sides of the fence in regards to the leadership policy of major churches like Willowcreek (I believe they do have women elders). I have also read some thoughts in the so called "emergent" community.

    But actually overall I have probably read more commentary against the idea than for it because the criticism is more interesting to me.

    Basically I've found that I am able to find arguments both for and against women in church (Church?) leadership from respected authors and people I respect that have studied the Bible. I don't think there's a "right" answer...so by default I think women should be in leadership especially since the population of most churches that I've been to tends to lean slightly more female.

    And yes, young adults probably is college and students probably is youth pastor (I didn't find out for sure), but that does irk me too.

    I guess it annoys me when people say they know FOR SURE what the Bible says about a certain issue and they know FOR SURE which passages were to applied within the context of Biblical times, and which are to be applied in the context of how we should live our lives today.

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