Wednesday, August 20, 2014

If womens voices were heard in the church, it would be far healthier

Most churches have all male leadership - which I understand as most (but not all) evangelicals in the US are of the complimentarian rather than the egalitarian perspective. I do not intend to enter that debate here but to suggest that it often leaves out a significant voice in the average congregation. Men and women often process situations and issues differently. Thus, when the voice of women (50+ percent of a local church's constituency) is not heard, there is often a serious deficit in wisdom, decision making and perspective.

Not long ago I consulted with a congregation that had experienced major problems. In interviewing many people I found that the women in ministry positions (paid and volunteer) had a far better grasp of the issues in the church than the elders did. Yet they had never been asked for their perspective or wisdom. Ironically, there was more hands on ministry taking place among the women than the men, yet there voice was not valued or heard by the majority of the male leadership. 

Thankfully, that has changed and there is now a leadership community that includes both men and women - even though the church is complimentarian in its theology. They have found a forum to include both the voices of men and women without violating their theology. It indicates wisdom because no church will be healthy without the voice of both men and women being heard in appropriate settings.

It saddens me when women are marginalized in the church. In most churches they are the group that prays the most, serves the most and in many ways cares the most. Yet their voice is often not heard. Wisdom would be to ask the women ministry leaders in every congregation if they feel heard, valued and included. And, to ask them what issues they see that should be heard and considered by the leadership. You might be surprised by the wisdom you hear!

I suspect that Jesus listened far more carefully to the women who followed him and gave them far more respect than many male church leaders do. It gives one pause.

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1 comment:

Curt said...

First, want to let you know how much I appreciate pretty much everything you say and write about. I'm regularly forwarding your articles to people in various leadership positions within the church where I work.

Second, this article about hearing women's voices is very good and something that I've/we've been wrestling with as well.

We're a complimentarian congregation with male only eldership. I've brought up the idea of creating an Executive Ministry Team that would include women, but be under the formal and official leadership of the elders, as a way to create a place for women to be involved and to be heard.

I'd be interested in hearing more about the church you mentioned in this article - what they did, how its set up, what kind of actual influence they have, etc.