I have read several egalitarian blog posts and have even shared a couple that point to “women planting churches” as the solution to our problem of gender inequality among evangelical church staffs. The guidance to called women is to accept the reality, stop waiting for a ministry position, and create your own.
While there is a lot of truth to this advice and this could be one answer for many called women, “church planting” is not the ultimate solution to gender discrimination in the Evangelical Church.
There was a time in American culture that black people were encouraged to start their own schools because they were unwanted in the white schools. Some white folks were even “kind” enough to help fund black schools. Well-meaning people give advice that seems reasonable in a moment of frustration, but “reason” often lacks long-term “wisdom.”
In reality, black people should have generally refused to start their own schools and white people who cared about this fight should have insisted that they join the existing schools fully and everywhere. Now, in 2015, we are still advocating for black lives to matter as much as white lives.
The truth is that “separate but equal” never benefits the ones who are not wanted and never leads to true equality!
What happens though, is we get tired of fighting with “the man” and we take what little pride we have left and do our own thing. This gives us purpose and community as individuals, but it does not change a broken system for the future. It is a way of sweeping injustice under the carpet in an attempt to shut down the cries of the brokenhearted.
Remember, good-hearted people want to stop the crying because they feel empathy and want to fix the problem, bad-hearted people just want to shut down progress for the oppressed.
I once worked for a daycare for two weeks. It was the worst job ever. The kids were horribly behaved and teachers were not allowed to discipline the children in any way. All we were allowed to do was “redirect” the kids. So, if a five year old was hitting another child upside the head with a lego, all I was permitted to do was redirect the misbehaved child to play with another toy and another kid. I was not allowed to give a timeout; and therefore, the problem child remained a problem child.
The “redirection model” sucks.
It may seem reasonable in the moment because daycares are trying to make a profit and want to avoid upsetting parents who don’t want teachers to discipline their children; but in the long run, redirection does not fix the problem and these daycares lose good teachers quickly.
The sad thing with this model is that teachers often have to redirect the well-behaved child to play with another toy or kid because the problem child is unmanageable, time-consuming and frustrating to deal with.
Telling women who are called to be ministers to plant their own churches is redirection. It is a quick fix, but is not the ultimate solution to gender inequality in the Church.
Women have been well-behaved in the Church, yet we keep getting hit over the head with legos by Bible bullies who do not want to share the pulpit.
Instead of redirecting the Bible bully, we want to redirect women. Why? Because Bible bullies are difficult, entitled, selfish, time-consuming and frustrating to deal with. So, we opt to move women in ministry who generally play nice and are not difficult to deal with. What if we refuse to be moved? What if we refuse to be silenced? Read an encouraging post I wrote not too long ago here.
Women in ministry, you don’t have to plant a church if God is not calling you to do so, but you do have to start advocating for your sisters and speaking up. Men in ministry, please stop directing your sisters elsewhere and start using your male privilege and voice to speak up. Men and women: if you have any sort of influence in your church, start encouraging leadership to hire more women.
We all have platforms. Start a blog. Use your facebook or twitter account. Start discussions with your family, friends, or small groups. Get educated on the subject and use your words. Write. Speak. Our words have the power to bring life or death (Proverbs 18:21).
In the meantime, if no one is listening to you and no one wants your gifts, leave your church or denomination and take your offering elsewhere. But, don’t let go of this fight. Human beings need purpose and many men in church leadership are “purpose hoggers.” If you find yourself in one of those churches or denominations that refuse to change, then “peace-out” and go somewhere where your gifts are wanted.
Listen to the Holy Spirit who is always making a way when there seems to be no way. Everyone has a part to play in this battle. Realize that God is raising up an army of men and women who will not settle for anything less than gender equality in the already existing Evangelical Church.
Ask God what your spiritual position is in this army and take it seriously. Some need to stay in their denominations/churches and some need to go, but we all need to stay in this fight in one way or another. God will lead some women ministers to plant churches, but many will be led in other directions. I know it is frustrating, but refuse to quit and refuse to be redirected by anyone but God.
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