Be prepared for some book reviews over the next month – mostly because I’ve read quite a few interesting books lately and I feel the need to share with you.
First up is The Gender Agenda by Lis Goddard and Clare Hendry.
The subtitle of this book is ‘discovering God’s plan for church leadership’. Essentially, it’s about discovering the biblical role of women in church leadership, but it’s honestly so much more than that! I’ve read a few of that type of book in the past, and this one was very different in a number of ways:
- It’s written by women. Weird though it is, I don’t believe I had, until this point, read a book on the role of women in church leadership written by women, which is kind of dumb. But now I have. Score.
- It’s not just one side of the argument. It’s not even one side of the argument with a cameo appearance from the other side. It’s actually just a proper, even discussion between the two.
- The style of the book is pretty unique. Basically they email back and forth, working their way through the Bible, discussing various texts, sharing what they believe it teaches, explaining how that works itself out in their life and ministry, and responding to what the other has said. I really enjoyed that. It made it easier to read, and I really appreciated how they shared the way that they had come to believe what they do, and how that works out in practice.
- Most importantly, despite the fact that they disagree with one another, and are able to clearly outline why, they manage to keep the whole discussion friendly, positive, and within the appropriate context of the fact that it’s okay to agree to disagree, because it’s clear that for both of them the main thing that they agree on is much, much more important: salvation through Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Believing in Jesus is what unites us, and I love that.
In the end, whilst I’m more in agreement with one of them than the other, I actually hold a different view to both (at least in the way that it all works out in practice), but the overwhelming feeling I got at the end was – that’s okay.
I was encouraged by their obvious respect and love for the Bible, and their concern that, although this isn’t a ‘gospel issue’, it’s still important. Particularly for us ladies, as we prayerfully consider scripture, work out what we think, and discern how that will work out in practice. But for the guys too, assuming that they intend to be part of churches where women are present, at any point in their lives.
One quote that struck me as rather interesting was the following, from Clare:
“We agree that God gifts both women and men. I think that, in churches where there is a more conservative view on women’s ministry, there is sometimes so much discussion on what women can’t do that not enough effort is made to help them discover their gifts and give them opportunities to exercise them within the local church.” (p89-90)
A good point, and something to think about, especially as I seek to encourage the girls I work with, and other women in my church. How can I help them to rejoice in who God has made them, rather than wish to be someone else?
I’d love to hear your thoughts – whether you’ve read the book or not!
In summary: lots to think about, and a definite for ‘recommended reading’.