I was raised and educated in church communities and traditions that held a complementarian view of women in ministry. So when I helped plant Evergreen, our community here in Portland, I did so with complementarian values. My original vision for our community included a male "elder" board that handled the "shepherding" and a co-ed "leadership team" that handled the details of administration and ministry.
But a funny thing happened: I changed. I went back to Scripture, prayerfully re-examined what it said and what that meant against the backdrop of the culture at the time, and I came to different conclusions.
My process started when I heard someone describe the thesis of William Webb's book, Slaves, Women and Homosexuals. Webb argues that when we compare Scripture against the cultures in which it was written, it is always progressive on the issues of slavery and women—Scripture consistently challenges culture to raise the status of women and slaves. But more than that, there is movement even ...1