Last week I participated in the Continuation Committee meetings for the North American Christian Convention. It is my first time on this committee, so I tried to observe more than speak (which is difficult for me). My friend Bryan Meyers, a veteran of this committee, pointed out that the role of this committee is not really to have input or shape the convention, but to be informed supporters of the NACC.
That said, we did get to break into smaller groups and discuss possibilities for the workshops for the 2014 convention. I was in the Women in Ministry group, because I have a longstanding interest in this, especially as the Dean of colleges that train women for service in the church. Again, I was more listening than speaking for most of this meeting, which was capably run by women who knew what they were doing and didn’t need my help. But, after discussing nuts and bolts, the discussion took a turn to talking about the roles of women in the church (I did not bring this up, I promise). Within this context, the discussion shifted to the relatively minor question of whether or not it is proper to have women serve communion and offering plates in a worship service.
I think this is something of a test of an individual church and its attitude toward women. When I expressed this opinion, one of the senior women on the committee answered me by telling this story, “When this question comes up, I remember a time in my husband’s church when a single mother and her little son were visiting. When the men came down the aisle to serve communion, the boy said, ‘Look Mommy, the daddies are coming.'” Nice story. Touching, even. But I failed to see that it had anything to do with letting women be servers in the worship service. So I answered with a story of my own, “When my daughters were home for Christmas and attended my church, they noticed there were no women serving. They said, ‘What’s wrong with your church?'” I am sure I was rude in the way I responded, but I do not apologize for the point: If we don’t get this fixed, we risk losing a generation of young women who will not have anything to do with a church that needlessly minimizes the role of women within the church.
At the end of the day, I fall back on Galatians 3:28:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile,
neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
I think this is a Giant Theology text. And I might remind anyone who wants to manipulate this Scripture to make it non-applicable for roles in the church, you must do the same thing for the Jew/Gentile and slave/free division. So let’s get beyond this silly relic of the 19th century, the unjustified subjugation of women in the church. Let’s recognize the equality of men and women, and unleash the potential of 50% of the adult membership that is now relegated to the sidelines in many churches.
Nebraska Christian College