Monday, June 22, 2009

Woman in a Man's World

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: (frantically searching room for something I could tag as a possible goal)...I don't know.
Grievance: None of my boys slept very well last night, and that means mommy didn't sleep too well either.
Celebration: Perhaps we will get to go play with friends in their new pool today!

Yesterday was Sunday. Sundays are my second favourite day of the week. Wednesdays are my first for the sole purpose that Big Love has the day off of work, but Sundays are awesome in a multitude of ways. First of all, Sunday is Big Love's short day (a mere 8.5 hours), which means he can attend night church and eat dinner with us. But first and foremost, Sunday is church day.

I LOVE church. The kids and I attend "morning church" in a conventional setting while Big Love works, and then in the evening we attend a not-so-conventional "night church" which suits Big perfectly. At both venues I am encouraged, spiritually fed, and constantly learning things about myself and the world that God has created. I have not always loved church, probably for the same reasons that a lot of people don't like it. I found the people there judgmental, fiercely competitive with each other, and nitpicky about pointing out every little thing wrong with the world. I remember attending the class time, which was usually the hour preceding the main worship time, and being floored by the so-called "discussions" that would take place. Everyone in the classes was trying to out-smart each other in a sort of "I-went-to-seminary-longer-than-you-and-therefore-have-far-more-biblical-knowledge" kind of way. This made me feel SO angry. Whenever I felt the need to add to the discussion topic, I was edged out by someone who wanted to prove they knew more about Bible history than me. Needless to say, it was not an environment that I felt myself growing, being pruned, and growing back ten-fold.

I also never liked youth group much. Youth group days, for me, were not that long ago. I changed churches with my parents about halfway through my youth group years, and the church we moved to did not have the kind of setting that catered to someone as reserved as myself. Cliques had already been formed, alliances and enemies had been established, and no one was super excited to invite the shy, freckled thespian into their group. In hindsight, I probably wouldn't have let me in, either.

As an adult, however, I have found my niche in church. I LOVE being involved with ministries. There are many ministries that are better suited for other people, but I have found a place in Worship. I have always been a fan of singing. I am not inflicted with false modesty when I say that my singing voice is only a bit above mediocre on a good day, but I love the act of singing to God. I figure that if I love hearing music so much, then God has to think that it is awesome, especially since a lot of music is about Him. I am a Church of Christ girl through and through, which means two big things for a woman: I have been able to read music since I was 6 (hooray for a cappella singing), and I have to go through oodles of red tape if I want to accomplish anything without the help of a man.

I say this with only the slightest bit of resentment. I understand how many of the restrictions on women's leadership roles in a Church of Christ came to be where they are, and I applaud us a church community for progressing as far as we have. The fact that we have a female Children's Minister at the church I now attend is truly phenomenal. But I find myself wanting to be more than involved in ministries that allow women to be involved. I want to be a leader.

I went to school for theatre, as you probably well know. I wanted to, inevitably, bring the theatre world and church world together. I wanted to be able to have a venue to reach those who, like me, are not always church fans. Since I have been in school and graduated, my directive has changed a bit. I want to be a minister. Not a stand-at-the-pulpit minister, because that requires many talents that I do not possess. I want to be a creative arts minister. What is that? I don't know. I have only heard of one person with that title, and I have no idea what her job description was. If I were to invent a job desription for myself, it would include teaching classes, organizing events that bring the community into a church setting using "art" as a common ground, and most importantly showing people that there are alternate ways to express your spirituality than being a singer or a scholar.

So herein lies the issue. As a rule in the Church of Christ, women have many restrictions as to what they are allowed to do in leadership positions. In most churches, women are not allowed to lead in front of a baptized male. I'm sure there is Biblical ground for this rule, but I am not sure what it is at this moment. If you want to get upset about it, find someone else to explain it to you. I have learned to accept it. So if I am not allowed to lead in front of a baptized male, that means I do not pray out loud, do not lead a song, do not teach a class that men attend, and DO NOT EVER get up behind the pulpit and address the congregation in any capacity. Fine. Whatever. I can deal. What I struggle to deal with, however, is trying to accomplish things behind the scenes.

For example, this week I put together a special Thursday night service for our church. I had asked for a project to help out our over-worked and under-paid worship minister, and he asked me to put together a prayer service for Independence Day. Awesome. That is right up my alley. So I built a service from the ground up. I have never done this before, and do not know exactly what I need to do to get my project up and running, so the worship minister gives me a to-do list. Awesome. What I notice, however, is that when I send an email, I do not get a response. So I become a cyber-bother, emailing again and again. Still no responses. Only after I have told this to the worship minister and HE puts in a good word for me do I get anything back. And even then, it is often a response directly to him, which he has to re-tells to me. This is frustrating, not only because I am trying and not able to do anything on my own, but I am not helping my worship minister at all. He is still doing all the work.

This is merely an example. I want to make my life serving in a church, and I need to learn how to handle the red tape. Are there any suggestions out there? I am willing to be patient and pay my dues, but if I am going to run into gender issues for my whole life, even after my dues are paid, how can I learn to be understanding and loving about it? I am essentially begging to help the church, and it does not seem like people want me to. I hate to say it, but I am getting a little discouraged.


  1. are welcome to do as much as you want at "night church" ;)

    hope you find a place at your CoC where you are contributing and fulfilled in service too sweet friend!

    enjoy the pool!!!

  2. Hey 2 things:
    1. It doesn't sound like a gender problem it sounds like an authority problem. As in they are getting this email about stuff that normally would be coming from the worship minister and people alot of times doubt whether you have the authority from the minister (something that is absolutely rediculous but there none the less). So when it comes from him they are like "Oh ok this has elder approval" kind of thing. And believe me the fact that you would even volunteer to help is a boon to the minister.

    2. Does your church do LTC? Even if they don't why not sit down and write some spiritually themed skits? Our church is about to start doing LTC and one of the "competitions" is skits. But as I look into them most of them are CAHRAP! They are shallow and juvenile and most of all BAD THEATRE! As a theatre snob I prefer not to have to direct skits that start out with bad scripts. I would love to have scripts I could get behind and there is a real need for it. Something to think about. Maybe your attainable goal today is to write one meaningful 5 minute scene?

  3. Lauren, it is hard. I was not brought up CoC, but after going to Homewood for almost 9 years have found my place... as nursery director. My passion is singing, so i plug into that at Christmas where i tend to feel like i can express myself more and during times when we have things like the 4th of July service... Keep on truckin! It is hard, but i have come to learn that Homewood is a very loving church!

  4. Thanks T! I put in my 2 cents for the Summer of Love decor, and am totally willing to help put everything up. Let's just see what Boy and Baby allow me to do...

    Rob, you are probably right. I'm sure a lot of it is authority, and I am sure that it doesn't help that I have been attending for less than a year. I hope that in my future endeavours I find that there is no gender issue at all. And it is good to hear that the minister is probably excited that I want to help.

    I really don't want to write skits, mostly because I detest writing skits. Everything I have tried to write in the past turns out pithy, or sarcastic, or just plain lame. Probably much like my blog entries. And I don't know how one enters the world of LTC, but I am interested in doing so. Any guidance?

    Wendy, I feel very loved at church. I feel that Homewood is very progressive when it comes to things like this. As I mentioned before, I think it truly amazing that we have a female minister on staff. That is HUGE in the CofC, and very encouraging to me. I also know that I am not going to be part of Homewood church forever, I am going to travel back to the Northwest, and I am going to be part of some churches that are stuck in the past. So I would like to start out learning to handle issues like this in an environment where there is hope of making progress; enter Homewood.

    And I am so excited to sing with you for the 4th! Your voice is so beautiful and I am excited to share a stage with you.

  5. Thanks for sharing. I would comment to say that the restrictions on the leadership roles of women in the church are normative and biblical, and not specific to the Church of Christ and definitely not cultural. I realize that many are saying that the arguments for these restrictions are "cultural" but if they were cultural then no elder could exercise any religious authority whatsoever; because everybody comes from a slightly different culture: West, East, North, South, Asian, Hispanic, African-American, Young and Old, etc. Imagine saying we can disobey all religious authority because, "that's not my culture." I realize you are not against the restrictions but offer this background as an insight into the sheer wisdom behind the Acts (and authority) of the Apostles in establishing the Church.