Ask them to speak


To this day I can remember the 1st time I heard a woman invited to pray aloud during a Sunday Service.

It was Mother’s Day in the early ’90’s when our Pastor asked Sister Peggy to pray. Even as an adolescent I recognized how startling and powerful the moment seemed. I waited many a following Sunday and Mother’s Day to hear it happen again. It’s been nearly 20 years and I can’t recall it happening again.

Permit vs Pursue

Then I discovered Jen Wilkin’s (@jenniferwilkin ) article “The Complementarian Woman: Permitted or Pursued“,

Imagine if we swapped the language of pursuit for the language of permission in our church bulletins: If you need community, you are permitted to join a community group… Now consider if we applied the language of pursuit to the way we speak about women’s roles. We would have to alter our speaking—and our thinking—rather dramatically… It is one thing to say women are permitted to pray in the assembly or give announcements, and quite another to ensure that they have a voice on the platform.

Where are the models of female champions of faith within our church bodies? I can attest it is certainly not because they don’t exist. We think ourselves progressive due to our willingness to allow women to serve and speak yet we are not intentional about pursuing them. My daughter might easily surmise that she is permitted to serve in the nursery, as a children’s teacher, or a Women’s Bible Study leader but I’m concerned that the primary female champions of faith she would routinely encounter are the names of Dixie Jackson and Lottie Moon. (Mission offerings on Christmas and Easter.) Where is the model which introduces the radical notion that she could follow in the footsteps of Dixie Jackson and Lottie Moon?

But doesn’t the Bible say…

I don’t propose to understand the full interpretation of Paul’s instructions regarding women’s appropriate roles in the church. I do believe that based on the qualifications found in scripture that Women should not serve as Pastors or Deacons but as for the rest….

  • 2 of the better studies I’ve ever had the pleasure to lead were penned by Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer.
  • 1 of the best testimonies I’ve ever heard was given by a lady in our church at a Women’s conference (where I was gratefully running sound).
  • The insights I hear from the ladies in my small group and our Pastor led study on Wednesday nights are an incredible blessing.
  • I know I get a thrill each time it is a ladies time to read our Psalm during the Sunday AM service.
  • I know that it probably takes more faith to be a missionary, missionary’s wife and mother to 3 in Papua New Guinea than it does to be a man that goes alone to translate the Gospel. (Kel I stand in awe)

Further to go

This is not an indictment upon your church or mine but rather a call, even an aching, that we might more intentionally pursue the Godly women in our midst and edify them. I long for the day when my girl sees a woman pray, serve, or testify in a manner that causes her to expand what she previously considered possible through Christ.

I think the church needs it more than my daughter.

{image credit: spare tomato}