Listen to Her: The Voice and Ministry of Women

Jenny Armstrong photoAs we near the end of our God Cares About His Women Series, I have been longing to share the fabulous writing of my friend and writing buddy, Jenny Armstrong. Jenny has written a couple thought provoking articles that I believe we should all read, contemplate, and then prayerfully take action.

She answers the question, “Why We Need More Women in Ministry,” at Relevant Magazine:

Women are leaving the church faster than men—and it’s time to bring them back.

 

In 2011, Barna released findings that shook people’s assumptions about religious life in America. Women, traditionally considered the more spiritual sex, were leaving the Church faster than men. A requisite month or so of uproar followed. Experts dissected the research, the blogosphere exploded and various theological traditions were blamed for the exodus.

A few provocateurs claimed it was a necessary correction, blaming “the feminization of the church” for the demise of Western Christianity. Then a book was released on the subject: Jim Henderson’s The Resignation of Eve: What if Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church’s Backbone?

Henderson’s zinger of a title summed up the problem. The church has always relied heavily on the contributions of women, from the female disciples who traveled with Jesus and funded His ministry out of their own means to the nameless grandmother who showed up early to brew the coffee you swigged down before church last week. But women are growing increasingly disenchanted with the Church, and even when they do show up, they’re sure not going to brew your coffee. Female volunteerism plunged 31 percent over the past 20 years. Continue reading at Relevant Magazine.

And over on our Redbud blog, Jenny is asking us to “Make Space for the Feminine Voice”:

Women are natural communicators. No one doubts this, really, and a quick, unscientific glance at the blogosphere confirms the female desire to enter into the conversation about important issues impacting our world. But why are so many of these bubbling female voices still running underground, or being siphoned off into their own little “women’s quarters” of Christian society?

For instance, I watched “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers” on Saturday. It was a funny, compassionate movie that all Christians would do well to watch. But the next morning, it struck me: while several women were interviewed for the film, none of the Christian leaders, the ones who spoke more or less on behalf of the establishment (for better or for worse), were female. Even among people who are working hard for a more just society, who are talking about things like compassion and reconciliation and listening to others, the female voice was strikingly absent, or at least lopsided in the way it was presented.

I’m sure this was a simple oversight, but it’s an oversight that plays out time and time again. Too often, the established power structures don’t even think to ask for a female perspective, to seek out a healthy counter-balance in areas that have traditionally been the domain of men. And that’s too bad. Continue reading at Redbud.

Do you believe women are leaving the church faster than men? If so, what can we do about it? How can we all do a better job of listening to the various voices God wants in the arena for us to see and understand Him and the world in which He has called us to live better?

 

 

2 thoughts on “Listen to Her: The Voice and Ministry of Women

  1. I’m not sure if that is the case, but I personally can understand why women may be fleeing conservative evangelical churches. There’s too much emphasis/pressure being placed upon women to meet men’s perceived needs, sexual and otherwise. Look at the literature/media in these churches, the pastors’ blogs on marriage or manhood, etc. It’s a trend.
    For some reason, it was okay in the past to tell women that their needs will never be met solely by their husband (or another man) so look to Jesus. I definitely don’t hear men being told this. But the male leadership treats men as victims and women as saviors (which is just not going to happen. . . women can’t save men, only Jesus can). My husband and I are disappointed that this is the case at pretty much all the churches we’ve been too in the last decade. Illuminating men as victims is not helping. Women are looking for strong leaders with dignity. . . Men want respect, but as long as they play (or are portrayed as) victims they won’t get the kind of satisfying respect they want. Demanding, guilting, manipulating, and accusing women of being the problem is going to have a horrible backlashing effect – more feminism. Until women are treated as equals (for example, at my church, I am told I have equal access to Jesus, but my own pastor won’t usually acknowledge my questions or concerns unless it is voiced through my husband.) Women want to spend their worship and fellowship time in a more uplifting place, I think. Propriety and dignity have flown out the window. For me personally, I don’t go to church to have a common experience that I could have watching ESPN on cable TV.
    My husband and I are feeling called away from our own church. . . for the safety of our marriage and our children.

    1. Emily, Unfortunately, I understand all too well your concerns. I was just sharing them again with a few women this evening. You and your husband are wise to stand together and make the best decision for fellowship that provides a safe community for your marriage and children. Blessings, Natasha

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