Does 'Complementarian' Equal Anemic Women's Ministry?

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Amanda has yet to figure out what she believes about gender roles in the church, but currently she worships in a complementarian setting without any discomfort (as I do - though I have great respect for those who disagree with this position). But the idea of becoming a leader in women's ministry is beyond the scope of her interest because of the reality of what it means.

Women's ministry has come to be known to younger women as a place where the older women to gather for "a breath of fresh air." The activities have become a retreat from everyday realities instead of source for spiritual maturation that might contribute to actually dealing with those realities. This isn't just my view of things, this is what Amanda sees. And the Amandas of the church today have the unfortunate experience of associating the complementarian perspective with the spiritual anemia among women in the church, and egalitarian as a bolder option.

Holding to a complementarian view of the church and family does not necessitate that women's ministries focus primarily on social activities, discussions how to feed their families, or fill in the blank bible studies. There is room for young women like Amanda who want to bring solid methods of biblical interpretation and theological reflection to women's lives, and we can talk about more theological topics than just biblical womanhood, though we should certainly talk about that as well. We say that our faith is deeply personal, but it cannot be lived vicariously through the faith of our husbands. This is especially important to realize since it is the case that a large segment of women who attend church are without their husband. They cannot wait for them to find Jesus before they sit at his feet to learn.

So for the Amandas in the church today, I encourage you to make yourself known and communicate your desires to minister to women if that is your calling. For those of you who are women's ministry leaders or a team member, take a closer look at the women who are not participating and ask yourself why. Obviously women are incredibly diverse and no women's ministry can meet the needs and interests of every woman, but right now, it serves primarily one woman. There must be a shift in the culture of women's ministry if it is to be a viable resource for women on their spiritual journey.

February20, 2009 at 4:39 PM

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