What can women bring?

24 Apr

 

Nearly two weeks ago I read Women in Ministry by Rachelle Mee-Chapman from Monkfish Abbey, which features in the latest edition of Next Wave News. Rachelle’s article has got me thinking a lot. I have been asking myself how women are involved in the emerging/missional conversation? And are our voices heard? Now let me make one thing clear, I’m not a feminist, but I do believe in women’s rights, in equality. There are a handful of women I can name who are really involved and respected within bloggoshere/ministry. Yet, I know that there are many women trying to get involved. One more thing I need to make clear is that my intention in this post is not to moan about men. I’m articulating a few thoughts I’ve had, and would love for both men and women to contribute with their thoughts as well.

My thoughts over the past few weeks have been on the differences between male and female approaches to things. I think men are more dominant, more pushy and, to be honest, more respected within the Christian arena. I think women, are generally more gentle, so, as Rachelle points out, people get upset when women become angry, frustrated, and assertive – therfore they are dismissed. I think more men have had theological training, therefore it’s easy for women to feel a little isolated in conversations when too many “big” words are used. It is also, as Rachelle highlights, not easy for women to go off to gatherings and conferences, as we have to think about child care etc. Whereas men can almost come and go as they please.

Another thought I’ve pondered on is whether women are not as prominent as men because of their institutional church (IC) experience? Within IC women are often an after thought, so have we unwittingly taken on this ideology in our conversations/ministry outside of IC? Deep down do we think that our thoughts, our contribution is not validated? Do we feel un-respected? I know from my own experiences I have received many promises from IC’s about how I could become involved etc, but once my husband is within their employment they seem to forget that I exist.

As women, how do you feel about your place within the emergent/missional conversation? Do you feel inadequate, dismissed, or are you happy that you thoughts are taken on board? Do women just need to shout louder? As men, how would you like to see women more involved with the conversation? Do you think women have anything worthwhile to contribute? Do you think women should become more vocal? And how can men help women to feel more included?

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5 Responses to “What can women bring?”

  1. Paul April 24, 2007 at 10:35 #

    thanks lyn, i think you write so fairly in raising such an important conversation…

    I think women play a vital role in the conversation – it is together than men and women reflect the image of God and we need each other therefore to be able to have a fuller expression in our thinking and acting.

    Personally I read as many female blogs as male ones – so i would say to anyone write what you think from where you are and you’ll get an audience. Women have a valid experience and expression of faith thinking and acting as men so i hope no one would feel that they are a second class citizen based in blog land.

    But i also think that if that perception exists than their is an onus on men to actively encourage female bloggers – to link to their sites, to post comments, to engage in conversation and to humbly acknowledge how we are learning as a result. But that is just me, what I’d love to know is what else can I do? How else could I help? What do women bloogers want and need? Then i can make sure that i am being part of the solution rather than just imposing one…

  2. Jim April 24, 2007 at 11:38 #

    What can women bring to the conversation? Everything. Insight, intelligence, wit, wisdom, loving, nurturing, relating, teaching, listening, wondering and on and on and on. I agree with Paul’s comment – I can’t say half the blogs I read are by women, but they’re a sizeable amount, and some of the ones I enjoy the most.

    But beyond the blogosphere, we (men) need to listen and include women more in all things, especially mission. Since mission is about helping others, then if women are supposed to be the more nurturing of the two sexes they have the advantage in that field. But even beyond that, in all things church-related we (men) need to shut up once in a while (a difficult task), turn to those women next to us and ask, “What do you think?” And then stop and listen to the answers, which may come out slowly the first time because the woman’s surprised she’s even been asked. 🙂 I commit to making sure I do this more starting here and now.

    I believe God is challenging us (men) with the model of the church as Christ’s bride. Sure, there is the male side of that – we belong to Christ, etc. But think about the very word used – we, the church, are His bride, a female image if ever there was one. Why? Because Christ wants us all to be loving, caring, accepting, friendly, nurturing – attributes I hesitate to blanket characterize as “feminine”, but most seem to accept them as such.

    Also, don’t ever let some perceived lack of “theological training” hold you back. I am not formally trained – I just read, a lot, about everything. You may read as much or more than I do. The difference? Only that once a man’s read a book, he feels he’s an expert on its subject matter. 🙂 So just push past our bluffery and state what you think. The men around you will listen, if they’re smart they will, anyway.

    Good post!

  3. lynhallewell April 24, 2007 at 12:19 #

    Paul and Jim, thank you for your encouraging responses 🙂 I’m too tired to write any more thoughts at the moment, as I’ve been on the computer for almost 5 hours now doing some research for my course – so I’m pretty tired right now! More later!

  4. Paul April 24, 2007 at 22:14 #

    you’re welcome, and i’ll look forward to your further thoughts 🙂

  5. lynhallewell April 25, 2007 at 12:41 #

    Paul – Yep, I agree. Male and females complement each other in thought, and I think it’s vital that there is a good representation of both sexes within the church community. I know some feel IC has gone too feminine, it’s like the plumb line you were talking about on your blog – we have to try and get it right, but recognise that from time to time it will swing one way or the other.

    Jim – I felt very encouraged when I saw that you had written the words listen in bold. I think a lot of the time women don’t felt listened to, or maybe understood? Very encouraging comments – thanks.

    How can men help – I think to listen, encourage and comment, help us ladies feel part of the conversation. In a wider context it would be great to hear more female voices heard, such as in interviews, speaking at conferences etc.

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