When I think about the future of the church, I sometimes get overwhelmed with possibilities. As a woman who preaches and teaches the Word, I struggle with the lack of female representation in the Church. I struggle with knowing how to live out my call with very few women to watch. I struggle with my own insecurities when I hear men say that they “recognize women in leadership and pastoral positions.” I struggle with that being enough, because I want to see how other women do it, I want to see something beyond recognition. I want to see representation.
Recognition is saying, “I acknowledge you.” Recognition is passive. Recognition is not saying you are a valued voice and member. Recognition is not an act of equality, it is an act of legality. Recognition is not enough.
Representation, on the other hand, is actively making space for a voice is that is needed and trusted and valued. Representation is not tokenism, but is a show of respect and honor. Representation is an act of equality, especially in the Church. In the Church, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
Representation is what Christ did when He rose from the grave, and gave the good news to the women! He defeated death, abolished the Law, established a new way and He gave that message to women. These women were the first people (other than Jesus Himself) to proclaim the resurrection.
Representation is the woman at the well, whose garment of shame became one of righteousness. Her dignity and voice were restored so that she could go and transform her community from the inside.
Representation is what the two twenty-year-old girls I sat with this weekend long for. They know God has called them, but they do not necessarily know to what, because of a lack of representation. They understand recognition, but they want to see the call lived out.
As I sat with these two amazing and Godly women, I knew I had to step up my game. As they shared their hearts and their minds and we fellowshipped, I thought, If this is the future of the Church in America, there is hope.
As I sat with them, I realized that the women who I looked up to have paved the way. They have toiled and shed tears and blood, and had backs turned on them so that I can stand in a pulpit. They have been talked-down to and mansplained and been “recognized” so that I can have a seat at the table.
As I sat with them, I was encouraged and challenged. I have been asking myself, “What am I willing to go through so that these two women can answer the call on their lives?” I am not sure, but I know that I am willing to walk alongside them and see what fire comes, what joy comes, what pain comes and what representation comes.
*The church leader that said this did not in any way imply anything negative. He is a dear man and a champion of women, it just got me thinking.