He Withheld A Handshake

Posted by on Wednesday, Sep 21, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

I confess when I read this article, Faith- Based Refusal to Shake Hands with a Woman, and a specific religion came to mind. I won’t share which but it wasn’t mine – after all we American Christians are more “advanced.” We don’t believe shaking a female’s hand pollutes or makes a man unclean. “At a business meeting, a man refused to shake hands with me and all the other women in the room, citing ‘religious restrictions.’ He proceeded to shake hands with the men. He was, I might add, otherwise respectful.” I’ll be honest, even though I want to respect other faiths’ view of women, more often than not, I find myself breathing a sigh of “You’ve got to be kidding me? Surely we’ve progressed beyond this.” Or have we? A woman on staff of a conservative evangelical church sent me an email. She was hurting over the rejection she experienced at the hands of one of her brothers in the church. The man was offended that Sally (not her real name) held a pastoral position. Even though Sally was appointed by her male elders, this man, Sam (not his real name) didn’t feel it was biblical. Sally heard Sam was frustrated by her presence on staff so she decided to reach out to him and see if they could meet. Sam then emailed another male pastor on staff and informed him that he was offended that a female pastor would email him and that a male staff member should have emailed him. Not a handshake withheld but still. I found myself breathing that sigh of “You’ve got to be kidding me? Surely we’ve moved beyond that.” Or have we? These kinds of encounters are painful. I wish they weren’t. But they are. It’s painful to realize that your gender is a liability – that being female offends. When I read the article my mind immediately went to “another religion far away” but it’s not something “they” do – it’s something we do and it’s happening right here in our local...

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I Have a Hunch

Posted by on Monday, Sep 12, 2016 in Blog | 2 comments

I have a hunch – a hypothesis waiting to be proven by some taker. We know that the majority of church-going conservative women are what’s called “received knowers.” Received knowers do not construct their own knowledge—they receive it. They rely on an authoritative source (male leadership) to tell them what is right or wrong. To a received knower, there is only one right interpretation—one right answer—to a problem. Ambiguity or paradox cannot be tolerated. Concepts must be predictable, easily consumed, and clearly laid out. (In other words women tend to leave their critical thinking skills at the door of their church. Don’t get me wrong, there are women out there that recognize inconsistencies but have no forum to raise questions without being seen as divisive, angry, or not supportive of leadership. Either way, women’s voices are silenced.) We also know women in the conservative evangelical world are the least likely to be trained in the areas of leading and preaching.  That’s not to say women aren’t leading or teaching bible studies; it just means those who are teaching bible studies are less likely to be trained in those areas of service. (Women are afraid if they pursue the necessary training they will be sinning by stepping over some invisible gender role line, or that people will see them as a feminazi.) I wrote She Can Teach to help women gain the confidence and skill to handle the Scriptures effectively.  We also know that if women are to be trained to lead or teach skillfully, they first must be convinced that they are not only able but also called to do so. By “called,” I’m talking about God’s call on a woman’s life to commit to the work of ministry. Here’s what I’ve seen: Women in the conservative faith community wait for the male nod. When the male leadership nods we see a whole half of the church rise up and risk. Women start to see possibilities and they go for them. They write that book. Start that ministry. Go back for more training. More schooling. They become experts in their fields. What I’m saying is where I see women kicking butt on behalf of Jesus – it’s usually done in the presence of the male nod. Men inviting women to not only engage but go for it. And they do everything in their power to make way for her to do so. She rises up – to the opportunity. And we, the Bride of Christ, benefit and the world receives a warrior Ezer working on behalf of her Savior Jesus. She changes things. Her family, community, faith community, work place, social systems, politics …. I’ve seen it. Not as...

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My Sermon Preached @ The Summit

Posted by on Thursday, May 5, 2016 in Blog | 1 comment

We didn’t record the Sunday morning message at the Summit. Many of you have asked for it so we’re blogging it instead. Not the same as hearing but for those of you who heard it you can imagine the wind blowing, noise at the table, smell of the grass and the cadence of my voice as these words were heralded. Mostly, upon reading this, I hope you are reminded of what the Spirit said to you that weekend. May you be ennobled, equipped and emboldened to respond. There’s no time for shrinking back, we need every one of us fully deployed. Fully deployed. When I was 38 I broke my back in two places. Wish I could tell you some fancy story like I was doing a flip while skiing on the Alps, but the truth is I was on the floor using my legs to move around big armoires in my bedroom. While recovering that summer, I read every book on women in the church. I was irritated by one author’s accusation that women were priestesses in the early church. I set out to prove her wrong. Not that I was ever going to tell her that, I just needed it for my own clarification. That’s when I stumbled upon the fact that there were conservative evangelical theologians who believed in Jesus and bible, and also they were orthodox Christians who upon study had concluded something different about the role of women in the Church. I came to Dallas Theological Seminary as a new Christian, and I didn’t know there was an issue. I was focused on figuring out how Jesus walked on water. But without knowing it, I had breathed in their complementarian position. While I was so grateful for my training at DTS, I was becoming aware that there was something else to consider. Suddenly I was reading smart theologians and mostly those writing for Christians for Biblical Equality, (CBE) and they believed the same orthodoxy as those at DTS yet concluded something different about the text surrounding the role of women issue. I had cognitive dissonance. Unsteady. What happened? What if I’m being led astray? Like Sue Russell mentioned earlier, we’re in a state of liminality. We are separated from what was before, but we haven’t arrived at our new destination yet. It is an uncomfortable place to be; however, it is also a scary place for some of us. If our theology shifts, we could lose our jobs. People may disrespect us. We may be called liberals. We may be accused of throwing the bible out. Some of you may have experienced that this weekend. I think Nicodemus experienced this when he questioned the idea...

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Men Make Me Better

Posted by on Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

First night of the Summit came to an end and my spirit was unsettled. Ray listened as I tried to figure out “what was troubling me.” He summarized, responded then gently challenged. This is what developing leaders looks like. Grateful for men in my life. Men make me better. Women make them better. We need each other....

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Blessed Alliance Board

Posted by on Thursday, Apr 28, 2016 in Blog | 1 comment

I rarely say yes to being on boards as I often find them boring. However, the members of our board defy boring. Here’s how we roll. Debbie Dunn, our board chair hosts a dinner/board meeting in her home. Buddy, her husband, and Steve, my husband, do the cooking, serving, and cleaning up. How many board meetings have you been a part of where the HUSBANDS of the chair and president cook, serve, and clean up the meal? The blessed alliance is present at our board meetings.  The dessert is even served by the men! On a fancy plate! I forgot to mention that before we started our meal we had a wine tasting. Pete Wells, whose daughter getting married in June, wanted our board members to vote on the best three wine options for the wedding. If my memory serves me, the bottle on the far right won. Linda, who is a strong bible student and also Pete’s wife, has written our salon on Submission. She has challenged Pete to reconsider the Bible’s stance on women. After Pete did due diligence, his view shifted on women in the Church. Pete and Linda’s marriage models the blessed alliance. Pete serves on our board with a burning passion to reshape our view of women and our view of men. He is burdened by how men in the conservative church are being choked by the biblical manhood teaching. After meeting Debbie, it doesn’t take long to realize that we need her to be a part of The Marcella Project. We need her wisdom, leadership, and administration skills. But I need her geekiness. She is a student of the Word. She loves to think and talk theologically. Me, too! She also brings it down to its impact on family, friends, life choices, and faith community – just like me. Having a geek friend on the board is water to my soul.   Another board member is Ray, a national leader in the Vineyard movement and my life coach. Ray is soft-spoken, constantly working to state things in positive uplifting ways. He challenges me to face my gifting for what it is, not to make it smaller or less. He makes me reckon with what God has given me. He says things like “brilliance/exceptional,” and I blush. In all my years in ministry, I have never had a man mentor me. I have never had a male grab me and say that I am gifted and then offer to help me get where God wants me to go. Ray demonstrates how the blessed alliance lives out in ministry. On behalf of us sisters, I want to say something profound happens when our brothers come alongside and ennoble women. This past weekend at the Summit several decisions had to be made, and I was getting...

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