What Kind of Church I Want for My Daughters—and My Sons
October 26th, 2016 | John Chandler
We’re hosting an event on Saturday called #SHEleads, and I hope you can participate. Check it out here.
I think it’s important. The reason why has to do with my kids.
I don’t have any kids—yet. But since we started Austin Mustard Seed, we’ve had about 15 babies born. Between them and their siblings, the largest segment of our church is probably toddlers.
I’m like a lot of those in my generation, which has recently become known for defining their religious preference as “none” or, more sadly, “done.” I’ve struggled to carve out a faith that isn’t defined by my church baggage.
So, I spend a lot of time thinking about what kind of church I want for our daughters—and our sons.
A lot has changed in our culture over the last few decades. We used to be more of a society where jobs were tied to physical labor. This led to more men in the workforce, and women at working to create a home. Today we have different kinds of jobs, leading more and more women to flood into the workforce. I think we’re better off for it!
Having women in leadership is forcing us to reimagine organizations and companies. It’s forcing us to reevaluate what leadership is. It’s forcing us to recognize how so many the practices that were considered “normal” were hurtful or sexist.
Change is slowly taking root in our culture—but not always in the Church.
Talking about women in the Church is like walking into a landmine. On the one hand, you have scriptures that seem to command the silence of women. On the other hand, you have the examples of Mary, Priscilla and Junia. These incredible leaders and teachers held important roles in the early Church. However, many churches today don’t allow women to take the lead like these women.
But no matter how you interpret these scriptures, I believe we have a bigger problem—and it worries me when I think about our daughters and our sons.
Our culture is full of stereotypes and prejudices, and often they get imported to the Church. Sometimes these seem harmless, like “men like sports and women like crafts.” Sometimes they are clearly hurtful. We talk about women as objects. We judge women on standards beyond their work, often on their looks or demeanor. We expect men to be “strong” and even shame them when they struggle to support their families.
These standards have nothing to do with Scripture. They have nothing to do with Jesus.
So, what kind of church do we want for our daughters and our sons?
First off, we want to be a church that “practices the way of Jesus.” This means that the teachings of Jesus are more important than the conscious and unconscious prejudices of culture. We need to be constantly reflecting on how we gather and organize ourselves, and whether those spaces demonstrate the way of Jesus.
Second, we need to be a church that celebrates how both women and men are made in the image of God. One is not better than the other. This means never using shame to punish people for not being “man enough” or “womanly.” It also means rejecting an entire vocabulary and set of assumptions our culture gives us about gender. It means learning to ask “how is the image of God displayed in a man or woman” and letting that define our gender roles.
Third, we cannot withhold any opportunity for women that was not withheld in scripture. We need the prophetic voice of Debra, the teaching of Priscilla, and the Apostolic ingenuity of Junia. Our churches have been hindered by not allowing more than 50% of our congregations to live into their vocation.
So what kind of Church do I want for our daughters and our sons? How about this: A Church where everyone is supported and encouraged to grow into the fullness of who God made them to be.
This Saturday we’re hosting an event called SHEleads on this topic, and we’re going to imagine what it would look like to be a church that isn’t defined by the culture’s gender stereotypes. I think it’s really important, and I hope you’ll join me.
We’ve made it as cheap as possible. You’ll get lunch and childcare is an option.
See you Saturday!