Very few people are actually paid to talk about issues related to gender reconciliation and women’s roles in the church. For most of us, it’s something we have to do in our spare time.
Around once a week, I get an email from a woman asking me to walk with her as she figures out her calling or as she recovers from how a church or family member has sidelined her.
To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t have time to answer these emails. And I don’t have time to invite them to have a phone call or coffee with me. As a wife and mother and lead pastor and writer, I don’t get paid to respond to these women in pain. And neither do most of the other female leaders who also get these kinds of emails on a regular basis.
But we take the time. Because most moments of change in the Church over the centuries have been led by people working in their “spare” time, for the love or the pain of it, for the sake of the mission.
This week, when I took the time for this kind of meeting, I heard a very familiar story of a gifted and passionate woman feeling unheard and unvalued by her church. She said something which made me feel a need to write this article.
Her church leaders had told her they didn’t have time to reconsider their position on women elders and preachers because “it wasn’t an issue of salvation.” There were more pressing issues at hand.
Two Reasons “the Women’s Issue” is a Salvation Issue
1. Salvation is not just about getting into “heaven,” but joining God’s mission to bring heaven to earth.
If we think that figuring out our posture on whether women can live out their gifts is not a salvation issue, we underestimate mission. Salvation is not only about getting into God’s good books but about joining him on mission. It’s not just an issue of belonging in the kingdom but of inviting others into the kingdom. And for all of us, that feels like a very personal draw from the Spirit of God to be with him in this work he’s doing in and through us. From my own experience engaging in that mission with God, that is very much the place where I live out my own faith and learn it more every day. And so to tell a woman she has to say no to the Spirit’s call in her is, for her, a salvation issue.Salvation is not only about getting into God’s good books but about joining him on mission. It’s not just an issue of belonging in the kingdom but of inviting others into the kingdom. Click To Tweet
2. Men and women know God more fully through the unique ways God expresses himself through his daughters.
This week a woman ministered to me in a way that showed me a side of God I’ve never before seen. With warmth and strength, she revealed to me a nurturing, life-giving God. Without going to extremes of goddess worship, we can all acknowledge that God in scripture is described with maternal characteristics—a woman in labor and nursing in Isaiah, a hen gathering chicks in the Gospels. Today I know something about God I’ve never known before because it came through the face and hands and voice of woman. That’s not something that only women need from women, but something women and men need, especially when family relationships are so broken. What if there are women and men not only in your congregation but in your neighborhood who need to know God in the unique ways God expresses himself through his daughters?Today I know something about God I’ve never known before because it came through the face and hands and voice of woman. That’s not something that only women need from women but that women and men need. Click To Tweet
These are only two ways I see “the women’s issue” as a salvation issue. There are many others. Which is why I ask God every week to help me find the time to respond to the questions and pain of women who approach me.
And it’s why I’ve made the time to be the Director of the SheLeads ChurchTogether Summit on November 10. It will be a time for men and women to share what’s difficult about these issues and to imagine a way we can be on mission together.
Won’t you take the time to participate in the Summit, for the sake of the men and women you lead?