Dear Church, we are letting down the body of Christ when we suppress, silence and minimise the women in our church. Dear Church, this should not be, we should do better, we can do better, we must do better.
When we don’t amplify the voices and stories of women in our churches, in our bible studies, in our conferences and in our Christian groups then we all miss out. Our women, especially our young women, all of our women need to hear these voices and stories and our men, especially our young men, but all our men need to hear the voices and stories of women. We need to hear their challenges and triumphs, their sorrows and their joys, their experience of faith and their experience of doubt, their success and their failings. We need to hear their stories, to learn from them, to better support and love them and to grow in our love of Christ together. And we need to hear them not in the corner of the room but from the front, from the pulpit or the platform.
I have heard of churches who don’t let women give children or youth talks or read the bible or pray or lead the service or preach. Dear Church, this should not be. We need to not diminish and hide the gifts of women in our churches. We must not devalue the work of God in their lives. Our sisters in Christ have insight and experience and gifts and the same Holy Spirit at work in them. We need to see them. We need strong women role-models of faith who share their life and stories with men and women so that we might all continue to press on towards the goal. We need the next generation of women and men to see the value of their sisters and not fear them. We can’t be sceptical of the work of God in their lives equipping them for his service. We must not shy away from their gifts of teaching, preaching, evangelism, discipleship and many more. Dear Church, we should do better, we can do better, we must do better.
Pastors I know that some of you will come to different conclusions to me of women preaching in church. But I offer you this challenge, work hard to do your research! Being unsure of what you think about women in ministry is not an excuse. Read the reasons of why strong, biblical, evangelical churches have made decisions to permit and encourage women to preach. Ask questions, wrestle with the scriptures and don’t assume you have it right and others wrong. And if you decide to still not allow women to preach then you are going to have to work even harder to ensure stories of women are being heard and valued in your community. Pastors, we need to hear stories of women in the bible, to see how God used them to fulfil his purposes. We need to hear stories of women in the history of the church, the way that God worked in and through them to bring glory to his name. And we need to hear stories of women in our congregations, bible studies, conferences and Christians groups.
Dear church each time women stand up to preach, to lead, to share their story, they can feel like a pioneer for women. They are also often judged as such, there is no margin for error in fear that the church will respond with “that’s why we don’t let women up the front”. But, in reality, we are standing on the shoulders of women who have gone before us, this is not a new conversation, but it is a conversation that needs to be brought to resolution, with the full inclusion of women in our churches. So that in the future women wont feel like the first but will be surrounded by role models and mentors who have gone before them that they can look up to and grow from. Dear Church, we should do better, we can do better, we must do better.
Dear Church, we need women in our committees, in our conference planning teams (and not just conferences for women), in positions of leadership, in our vision teams and at the table of decision making. Not just asking the ministers wife for her opinion but for seeking the voice of the single woman, the stay at home mum, the working mum, the young woman, the mature woman. We need the voices their experience, their ideas and their passion. It is not ok to assume you know what women need or want in church, you need them!
Dear Church, in light of #MeToo and #ChurchToo and the revelation of domestic violence in our churches we now more than ever need to hear the stories of women, to believe them, to uphold them and enact love and compassion on those who are most vulnerable in our communities. Change must start now. Dear Church, we should do better, we can do better, we must do better.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
I am so thankful for the church that I am a part of which amplifies the voices of women. I pray that it will continue to do so, just like many churches I know are doing. My deep prayer is that more and more churches, bible studies, conferences and Christian groups would see the blessing of the women in their midst and amplify their voices and their stories. For we are all a part of the one body and we desperately need to encourage those in our body to be all that God is calling them to be, to the glory of God. These words have been ringing in my heart and mind and I pray they would be an encouragement to you and, wherever you are at, God is with you, he knows you and in him you have incredible value.
Dear Church, we should do better, we can do better, we must do better!
Louisa lives in Carlingford, Sydney with her husband Simon. Louisa is currently studying a Masters of Divinity at SMBC. Louisa also works as a registered nurse. She has a heart to see women pursue their callings in serving God with their whole life.