Speak your truth. Church, are you listening?
Oprah’s speech at the 75th Golden Globes has rallied millions of women. The first black woman to receive the Cecil B DeMille award for outstanding contribution to the entertainment industry, Oprah used the platform to encourage woman everywhere that "a new dawn is coming". A world where women have a voice, where they will be treated as equals, where they will be honoured and respected. Church, are you listening?
This past year we have seen many, many women speak up about issues of sexual abuse. The #MeToo campaign, popularised by those in the entertainment industry, and the following flood of social media posts made sure that no woman felt alone as a survivor of abuse, including me. Sharing these stories wasn’t easy, it took me days to have the courage to post mine, but it eradicated the loneliness and isolation those experiences had planted. Suddenly we weren’t individual victims, we were a community that wouldn’t be silenced. The sheer number of posts was enough to stand up and scream to our world, "Something must be done!" Church, are you listening?
We have seen the church called out for their response to domestic violence. Pastors called out for failing to protect women in their communities, for failing to hold men to account. Churches have been called out for their ignorance of what goes on in their communities. We have seen the faithful response of some and the defensive response of others. We are called to heal the broken, victims and perpetrators alike, not excuse them. Church, are you listening?
So this is Oprah’s call, speak the truth. Unashamed. Boldly. Do not be silenced. Women, continue to speak up. Men, will you listen? Church, are you listening?
I’ve had the joy of reading an advanced copy of Jo Saxton’s ‘The Dream of You’ (Available end of January, 2018) and she speaks similar truths. “Many of us know what it feels like to hide our identity in order to survive”. She speaks about the need to recover who God called you to be, before the world shaped, bent and broke you. Women know what it’s like to be bent and broken. Women in leadership in the church perhaps even more so.
Particularly directed to all women, Jo’s book encourages all of us that in order to speak the truth in our world, we need to know the truth. To know who we are as God’s loved children, what God’s dream for us was. Jo suggests that “it is impossible for you, me or anyone else to live beyond what we believe to be true about ourselves”. Do we believe we are valuable? Do we believe we are called to lead? Do believe we have a right and a duty to speak up and speak out?
To have the courage to speak up, we need to know who we are. So women, let’s encourage one another in this. Let’s call out the beauty in each other, without fear of comparison or competition. Let us know our God given identity, so that we make speak with gusto and confidence in our churches and to our world. Let us know be driven by a spirit of fear, but by boldness and love (2 Timothy 1:7) for we know the love that drives out all fear (1 John 4:18).
Enough is enough. It is beyond time for the Christian community to lead the way, rather than lag behind. To encourage and enable all believers to be the person God created them to be. To lead unashamedly, to lead respectfully, to lead humbly, to seek to love and to serve one another, irrespective of gender, but acknowledging the gender imbalance that is our reality.
Encourage a woman around you in her gifts.
Share your platform to give a woman a voice.
Pull a woman alongside you to give her an opportunity to grow.
Sit and listen to her stories.
Pray with her through her fears and self-doubt.
Be the trusted and safe voice who restores her faith in humanity.
Call out her gifts and give her space to use them.
Church, are you listening?
Bree Mills is currently the Associate Pastor at Glen Waverley Anglican Church. She is a Ridley Graduate who has been worked in youth ministry for 12 years at various churches, until moving into her current role in 2013, overseeing missional discipleship at GWAC. She is undertaking Postgraduate study at Morling College in the area of Missional Leadership, with a focus on congregational change, and is involved with various missional movements around Australia. She has worked with both large and small churches to reinvigorate youth ministries, and launch missional communities. She is passionate about equipping the church to engage with the local community, encouraging women in leadership, and building healthy and sustainable teams.