In college I never felt any insecurity about the “women in leadership” debate because the Jesus that I was encountering in the Bible was so amazing and countercultural in his interactions with women. He defended Mary when she chose to sit at his feet to learn, just like his male students. Jesus wasn’t making a statement about busy people and meditative people. He was making an incredibly countercultural statement about women learning from him and being trained by him. When Jesus went to Samaria and revealed that he was the Christ, to a woman, before anyone else, he was making a statement about the full inclusion of women in his mission. When the Samaritan woman became one of the first evangelists in Scripture—leading both men and women, she stepped out of a traditional role. Jesus stayed and partnered with her in reaching her village. Jesus valued women, went out of his way to minster to them, and empowered women as disciples. In fact, it was a woman who first saw the resurrected Christ and brought that message to the disciples.
Jesus’ interactions with women were all the more striking because all this was happening in the Middle East 2,000 years ago. As an outspoken young Christian woman I was invigorated and inspired by Jesus. I knew that following such a countercultural leader would be an adventure worthy of my life.
Now, 20 years into this journey, it is a mystery to me how my radically countercultural, gender role breaking, empowering Jesus is the leader of a church that is so comfortable limiting the scope of women’s influence and leadership. The church I often witness contorts women into antiquated and irrelevant roles. A church that relegates women’s leadership to children, snacks, and prayer groups. A church that communicates that when women gather our bibles must be pink, our topic must be grace, and our graphics could double as advertising for feminine hygiene commercials.
The reason this topic is important for a forum like APE is because, if we really want to see the Kingdom go forward in a radical way, we should make sure that the whole body of Christ is activated, empowered, trained, engaged, and sent in the name of Jesus.
For the purposes of this post, I am not interested in doing a discussion of egalitarian and complementarian viewpoints. Far smarter people have done very insightful writing on the topic. I want to use my little corner of this blog to highlight the place of women in apostolic ministry. I want to share the stories of women that have successfully planted ministries and explore the tensions of being a woman in an apostolic role.
Personally, I have an incredible yearning to be poured into and developed as a woman leader. I feel this particularly when it comes to being apostolic, prophetic, and evangelistic. These roles are associated with a traditionally white male archetype. I think that women in the church are hungry for development in this area, but they are being overlooked.
Consider my Facebook status today as an anecdote of the situation:
If you can’t read it- here is the content of the post.
Why do so many conferences for Christian women look like they should be called Doily Con? Why do they always have to do with grace? Instead of kicking some ass? And why do the graphics always have a woman standing somewhere in a field with her arms wide open like a tampon commercial? I’m waiting for a conference called Christian Women- Getting !*$& done for Jesus.
The response was immediate. Comments from Christian women streamed in. Christian women are hungry for a role that is less docile and more front lines.
If we are truly hungry to see the kingdom expanded we have to address the reality that our contemporary Christian culture is the greatest hindrance to enabling women into APE ministry. (Apostolic, Prophetic Evangelistic).