9.3.09

Women's Ministry Speaker

Yesterday, after church, I had a conversation with Diane, our Director of Women's Ministries. She told me that she was looking for a conference speaker, but ugh... she was having a hard time with the "Women's Ministry" mold.

Diane told me that she was recently at a conference and the speaker-- God love her-- opened her talk with a product give away. She gave a book out to the first woman who made her bed before coming to the workshop. Another book was given to a woman who got all her domestic chores done before leaving her family for the day.

Diane was not amused. "Seriously, could you see that occurring the beginning of a men's conference?"

I explained that if prizes were given out that it would most likely be awarded for the man who left the toilet seat down.

Diane reacted, I think, because what so often passes for "women's ministry" is actually programs that gently perpetuate Victorian ideals regarding women. That proper God-fearing women would create their own universe, paralleled to the manly universe, but set apart. There, women could foster their creativity and ideals in a forum that didn't bother the men. This geography of this universe mostly consists of the home and a few women's gatherings.

Diane wondered if I knew of any speakers that happened to be women that wouldn't fall into that trap. I had an idea. I just finished reading Angry Conversations with God and knew that Susan was just the kind of speaker that would ignore those silly lines. She'd just tell her story and do her thing. Prizes would not be be awarded to the woman who got up at 5 AM baked home made muffins for the children before leaving for the day. Susan would appeal to creative people, whether they were stay-home or 9-5-ers.

I thought about sharing the book with Diane when the thought hit me, This whole Fundegelical Stepford Wives Boot Camp thing is warped, but darn it, you're a man and this pastel system of oppression could work to your advantage. Leave well enough alone.

But Jesus wouldn't have approved. And if my wife, Amy, found out that I asked Diane to brew me a pot of coffee instead of sharing the name, well... I bruise easily.

11 comments:

  1. It's sad but true. Women's ministries are too often aimed at the chintz curtain ladies. They talk about how to have a "Mary Heart in a Martha World" while sending around sign-up sheets to bake cookies and bring snacks to church.

    And my husband wants to know why men's ministries always have unimaginative food (hot dogs, hamburgers...) while the women get fancy desserts.

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  2. Oh - don't get me started on this topic! I get so HOT UNDER THE COLLAR. I may start to cuss but I've made a promise to only cuss in the summer.

    SO, am I to believe that you did NOT share the name of our dear Susan? I am also working in earnest to get Susan out to Mars Hill.

    Today at our after school staff meeting one of our male teachers asked me to turn in his paper for him. I NEARLY SHOVED IT DOWN HIS THROAT.

    You bring up a good issue here and it's not about men. Why do women tolerate this alternate world? Why did those women at that conference think it was okay to win a book for making their bed? (I think) I know why but I just wonder if anyone else would like to answer the question?

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  3. I've often despaired of exactly the same thing- well maybe not having to choose a speaker, but the whole women's ministry weirdness.

    Once, the guys and girls in my church each had a guy's/girl's night out. The men played cards and had beers. The women? We got a talk on "The Joy of Obedience" and could write cards to missionaries if we wanted to. I was in my early 20s then and just about lost it.

    I'm glad that your friend is at least looking for a woman who can speak to the experiences of women like me (as well as the crafty women who always suggest scrapbooking as an alternative to guy's nights out). I don't mean to denigrate the happy housewives and crafty Martha Stewarts out there, but I'm glad that the church is starting to recognize that some of us would like to play cards and have beers with the guys every once in a while instead of learning about obedience and papercraft ;)

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  4. Alright, Larry. You're off the hook!

    I hope Susan can attend BOTH of our churches. :)

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  5. Our church recently hosted a movie night for women. They called it PMS night. Really. Pajamas, Movie, Snacks. Women actually went to church in their pjs on a Friday night to watch "One Night with the King".
    I stayed home and had a beer with my husband and watched British comedies.

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  6. Alright.
    I've decided to start a Revolution. Or, Georgetta, I am going to come over and having a beer.

    Maybe both.

    Oh I am hot under the collar again. PMS, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

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  7. Hey I will come to ALL of your churches. 'll give out an award to the first woman who told her women's ministry to go fax itself. I'd love to see a women's ministry night out featuring chocolate, pinkberry, and George Clooney dvds. Or beers and Britcoms, as Georgetta did very well. Or geeze, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy!!

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  8. So what if we did something different? What if we created a gathering for women. Something small, intimate where we can converse about what it means to live this countercultural Christian life without abandoning the culture. I am an female author who would love the opportunity to tell the story of how God led me from atheism, to agnosticism in addiction recovery to a dramatic Damascus Road conversion six years ago at age 37. My first book comes out next spring and I believe that connecting with women is something I've been called to do. That said, I cannot imagine myself amidst the pastel decorations and petit fours telling my story. I can't imagine putting together the four color brochure and treating my conversion of faith and life like a wedding shower. Let me know if there is anybody out there who wants to start a conversation about creating something alternative and interesting (without letting the pendulum go too far the other way and seeking Christian cool for the sake of cool). My email is joanpball@gmail.com. Send me a note if this sounds like something you'd like to explore...

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  9. I just heard about a men's business ministry that invited women to join them for one talk. The topic? Debt. In other words, men can talk about business and make money; but they think women are the ones who spend all the money and get into debt.

    And I heard about another church that held a women's health talk -- in association with "women's month" -- at the same time they had a talk on immigration. It was as if they were saying women, go talk about your periods while the men talk about politics and global issues.

    Truth be told, I am a girly girl and have hosted a women's night that involved painting our toe nails while talking about the woman that washed Jesus' feet. However, as the leader of a co-ed young adult group, I also organized sessions on finances, health, and sports because I think it's important for EVERYONE to know.

    There's nothing wrong with women enjoying stereotypically feminine things. The problem is when we become equated with those things, when we are boxed into categories (most of my friends are not girly girls), and when we're kept from doing other things, things that might be considered men's things. It's all about balance and choice.

    And I think we have to be as open-minded about our perspectives on men too. It seems like it's actually more acceptable for women to like sports and business and other "masculine" activities; but it's not as socially acceptable for men to enjoy cooking and shopping (and I don't mean for electronics) and dancing. It's really important that we build each other up and encourage each other because we become more interesting people when we can talk about art and finances, sports and fashion, God and social issues.

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