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Women, Identity and Churches of Christ
By : Alan Matheson
Rating : Average Rating : 7.64 From 14 Voter(s)
Views : 876
On Australia Day, it’s time for a “more meaningful sense of ourselves as a nation…to be clear eyed and realistic about our problems….we should examine how real the story actually is that we tell about ourselves as Australians” (Sunday Age 21.1.07). It’s time, I believe, also for Churches of Christ to explore who we are, where we’re going, and who’s guiding our journey? How real is the story we tell about ourselves? Nationally, a new constitution is being written; state conferences are restructuring; international consultants are busy, and the new format of the AC provides a unique opportunity for an inclusive discussion. A serious challenge however, is that the current changes in our churches are largely being driven, organised and funded by men. It’s profoundly depressing to examine the degree to which men dominate and women are marginalised in the structures of our churches.

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Comments / Feedback
Keith Skillicorn
As one who has been ministering in Islamic communities for over half a lifetime, I am being constantly bombarded by Muslim friends who say - "Don't criticize the Koran for its treatment of women; what about the way women are treated in the Church" ? To a degree, their charge is quite valid because we still do not treat women as Jesus did. There are helpful thoughts on "Jesus and the Ministry" at the following website :-http://www.webspawner.com/users/jesusministry/ - When our Lord views humanity, He/She does not see Sex / Sexuality. He/She sees People. When will we learn ?
Jo Evans
As a female theology student who has been involved in various church leadership activities since I was 15 I have often thought and discussed this issue. Tragically at age 23 I am still not all-knowing (to my suprise) but some observations come to mind.
One thought is that women and men, though equal, are different. Passionate Ministry flows from the heart and my heart is very different to that of my 50-something male senior minister. I can't look to the way he does leadership and see a model for me. I would do it differently. Perhaps other young women look at the way men do ministry and decide it's not for them - not realising that the same ministry would take on different characteristics if she were a part of it. We almost need gender translators. This is not to say that a woman would put flowers where a man might put grid lines - it is about how we relate interpersonally, how we resolve conflict, how we approach power, knowledge and community engagement.

There there is the sort of time women have and the sort of support. I am at a distinct disadvantage if I ever had children and wanted to pastor a church. Nearly all senior ministers I know, and this in anecdotal evidence but perhaps you see it too, have wives who either don't work or work part time. I would need to run church, kids and home by myself with a little assistance from my full time working husband. The way it goes in my church, all the men have the full time positions (except the youth minister) and all the women work one or two days a week. Correction. They work 3 or 4 days a week and are paid one or two days.

There are several encouraging things however: There are some really fantastic female lead ministries popping up all around. Shaz' Mullens' brain child, the Fresh Youth Theatre for at risk teens is a thriving part of One Community Church' outreach to youth in the Blackburn area. Janet Woodlock's ministry with Churches of Christ helping young women find mentors and connections with women in ministry is a terrific idea and I see a lot of good work done by female school chaplains just to mention a few local things.

Perhaps there are more women getting involved than we think, but they are shunning 'senior minister' positions for the more exciting, flexible, pioneering roles that are currently out there in churches seeking to go beyong the walls. Perhaps the answer is that "Senior Minister" are a dying breed in general as we look to new models of ecclesia. I know that if given the option I would much rather run that funky youth theatre than spend my days in meetings and sermon writing. Does this then suggest that we women aren't silly enough to want to be senior ministers?? I'll leave it up to you to decide ;-) .
Jim Reiher
Even when Christians agree that women should be allowed to contribute in any way that they have gifts and passion, many still - deep down - think that final church leadership should be male. I believe they are mistaken, but their theological and Biblical questions or concerns need to be addressed. I have attempted to do just that in my recent book "Women leadership and the Church" (Jim Reiher, Acorn Press, 2006). It tackles not just the affirming verses of scripture that liberate women and demonstrate full equality. It also tackles the apparantly negative verses and shows how they can be seen in the light of the affirming verses: consistently lining up with the position that women and men can both be leaders and should be released into leadership in the church. People need their minds to catch up with their hearts on this. We have a gut feeling that women with the gifts and abilities and call should have the same opportunities as men with gifts, abilities and call - but we trip up over I Tim 2 or I Cor 14. I pray and trust that I have been able to answer those concerns.

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