In her earlier post, "Rise of the Postmodern Feminine: Part I," Sally told the story of her friend Laurel's heartbreaking trauma and her life-changing ministries. This post continues her thoughts. - The Editors
Echoing the small-company, turn-on-a-dime world of Thomas Friedman's, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century, Laurel is finding out just how well wired she is for the de-hierarchied, interactive landscape of the new millennium. She may have spent 30 long years burying huge chunks of her connective, collaborative self just to survive in a top-down model of religion, but no more. Here, in this incarnational space of ordinary life (i.e. stocking shelves at Target and blessing the masses with her e-devotional), Laurel is free to live and lead magnanimously, to function out of her authentic self: savvy, whole-brained, and refreshingly tuned to the now.
Laurel's field of choices and her effectiveness as a result of those choices are conspicuously off the radar in current discussions about women and leadership in the Church. Could it be that women have spent so long trying to climb the ladder inside old church and leadership systems that the very questions they're asking about gender equality, opportunity, and power are stuck?
Perhaps the real questions go more like this: What does it mean for women to pursue the full use of their gifts in the Church in western Christianity has lost its missional purpose? What does it mean to hitch one's star to the Christian status quo, especially if that status quo is a narcissistic, capitalistic perversion of the Gospel? In summary, what does it really mean for a woman to be released into her potential, to be trusted with a ministry role, or to secure a salaried ministry position only to find that, for all her new-found freedom, authority, and seeming equality, she is only rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?
What inspired Laurel to get out of the system and into the world no doubt reflects her own renegade nature. But it might also reflect something that has broader implications. Is it possible that women have been better prepared for the flattened world that is now reality? If so, might Christian women be better equipped to innovate ministry beyond the typical Christendom?