For My Daughters, Sisters, and Friends

Thursday, October 24, 2019  ::  

Chad and I have been working on a research project for a year and a half. I can honestly say it is the deepest I've ever studied one single doctrinal topic. Through the years I've read a variety of theology books and countless nonfiction books on numerous church, biblical, and historical subjects. I like to learn and feel it is my personal responsibility to lead with growing knowledge and accountability. Books written by brilliant scholars from diverse backgrounds and perspectives widen, deepen, and strengthen my own learning and leadership abilities.
For my daughters. I will strive to model strong femininity for them all my days. 
As long as I can remember I've been singled out to be a leader. In first grade, my lovely teacher often praised me for my good work in front of the class. She would point to me as a model student. In middle school, I was a little rougher around the edges and one of my poor teachers who couldn't control me/the class, sat down with the principal and me to explain that if I would just stop being a brat, the class would probably follow along. (I don't remember if I complied or not, but maybe for a week or two?) I lost my footing a bit in high school, but still remember leading in different ways. In college I led small groups, mentored underclassmen, and went on summer missions.

Chad and I have been in full time ministry for 23 years now. I can hardly believe it as I type out the number. We've been side by side for most of it, although my ministry focus was different than his when our kids were younger. We are both wired to help people grow in depth of love for God, to provide presence for people in their deepest sufferings and greatest joys, and to counsel, listen, and provide outside resources to questions I could have never dreamed being asked. Our motivation for all of this is to honor God above all else.
Do you want to know one of the frustrating struggles I've had through the years? It's really dumb and inconsequential on the surface. Why does it matter? Who cares? Where does my validation lie? Who calls, confirms, and equips me?

Here it is:

What is my title? When people in polite conversation ask "what do you do" how do I respond?

"Well, I'm a women's ministry director." (Like an event planner?)
"Oh, um, I'm a life coach for women at my church." (Can you help me find a job?)
"You see, I'm a discipleship strategist" (Sounds scary.)

I most often tell people one of two things: I mentor women at my church or that I lead women's ministry at my church. Still pretty vague though, right? It definitely doesn't give a clear picture. Let me tell you, whatever answer I give, it's a real conversation killer.

Part of me knows it's vanity to care about my title. My motivation certainly isn't in a title. However, part of me also knows it is bolstering and validating to be able to explain unapologetically that God has, in fact, called, confirmed, and equipped me to lead, minister, and shepherd in my church. To be able to succinctly, boldly, and lovingly say exactly what I do would be a gift, not necessary, but beneficial.

Many of you know a torrent of hatred and slander flooded the internet over the weekend against Beth Moore who is a Jesus-loving, strong, female leader.*  The world is full of cruelty. This wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. I pray most of you ignore the vitriol that takes place on social media specifically in the American church. It's so so ugly and sinful. I do pay attention for a variety of reasons, one of them, if necessary, is to be prepared to watch over the women I love and lead. In loving response to the malice towards Ms. Beth, many strong leaders are writing about a woman's place in the Church. It's beautiful. You can read this one from Ann Voskamp or this one from Jonathan Martin or this one or this one from Beth herself. It's also partly why I'm writing today.

Dear daughters, sisters, and friends, I want you to know I see you, I'm with you, and I love you. But you already know this. And you know it about the elders of our church, too. I'm so happy that none of the four elders of Second Mile spend any amount of time at all on social media. Just because they don't respond on Facebook doesn't mean they don't care. Which brings me back to the research project, my title, and women in the church.

This project started after many years of conversation between Chad and me and then with a podcast and then we read one small book which led to another and another and another. We are looking closely at what the Bible says about women specifically. We've been asking God to show us our own cultural and denominational lens that has possibly/probably skewed our ability to see the depths of Scripture. We've had deep discussions and heated arguments about specific verses, translations, and all the interpretations of which we are trying to make sense. We felt this topic was so huge and so important and had so many implications for our own local church body that Chad asked the elders to read and study, too.

We aren't quite ready to share any resources or results of our research. However, I did share some during the second session of our Moxie retreat. Of course we will certainly share our findings with our beloved church when we are ready. And I can't wait. In the mean time here's the video of the session in case you missed it or want to watch again:
I'm giving you this research project teaser for a few reasons.

First, I'm grieved over how regularly, loudly, and terribly powerful men (and women) publicly ridicule and mock women who clearly love Jesus and are doing the best they can to honor him. It moves me to deep prayers, but it also causes me to set my jaw and clench my fists to continue running as hard as I can after God.

Second, I want you to know we are continually doing hard work behind the scenes to learn and grow doctrinally and then to practically apply it in our actual church. If we are honest, we aren't personally affected by what happened to Beth Moore over the weekend. It grieves us, but we show up in our actual lives to do what God has asked us to do. But, this research has affected Chad and me which means it will affect our body. I can assure you, the biggest result is that we love the women and men in our church more than ever. We pray and strive for personal wholeness and we also pray and strive for wholeness in Second Mile.
These are some of the faces that compel me to keep laboring in the gospel. Oh how I love them. 
Third, please pray for us as we move through the final stages of hashing it all out. We have lists to make, pages to write, debates/discussion to have. It will be good, but it will also be hard.

The Church could not exist without women, but you already know that. But maybe you needed to read this post to be reminded that your leaders' heads aren't in the sand. We are with you, praying for you, and hopefully pointing you to Jesus.

Contending for the gospel until death or until Jesus returns,


*I won't link the video. You can google it, but it really isn't necessary. It's gross and sinful.

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