This post originally appeared on Preston Yancey’s website as part of his “What Do Women Want From the Church?” series. We are thankful for Preston and men like him who intentionally encourage women’s voices in the church!
I have always loved the Church.
I grew up in church, the daughter of a Baptist pastor who later became a missionary. I believe it is important to live out our faith in the context of Christian community, and my DNA as a Christ-follower compels me to support the local church. But too often these days, going to church is a source of discouragement for those who long to see God’s vision of biblical equality played out in a more visible way.
This poem is an aggregate of my own experiences as well as the experiences that others have shared with us here at The Junia Project. Perhaps hearing them all together in this way will better illustrate why the full inclusion of women in the church is such an important issue.
I didn’t go to church today.
I didn’t go to church today because with few exceptions, only men’s voices and perspectives are heard from the pulpit. I long to hear teaching that integrates my experiences as a woman. But it’s not Mother’s Day, Christmas, or Easter.
I didn’t go to church today because I’m tired of not being able to invite my non-Christian friends (male or female). They would be offended by the male-only leadership and dismissive attitudes towards women. I don’t know how long I can stay myself.
I didn’t go to church today because although my pastor is not against the full inclusion of women as equals, he is not an advocate either. His silence is deafening.
I didn’t go to church today because I find more affirmation outside the doors of my church than inside of it. Within, I am less than; not taken seriously and restricted because of my gender.
I didn’t go to church today because men who oppose women in leadership have been appointed as elders, despite our long-standing tradition of gender-balanced governance. There seems to be no recognition of the impact this will have on women.
I didn’t go to church today because my pastor consistently uses illustrations and examples that are about men or relate to men’s experiences. As a woman I often can’t relate to how he applies his teaching to daily life.
I didn’t go to church today because in the time I’ve attended there has not been any teaching on sexism, domestic abuse, human trafficking, gendercide, or any other serious issue impacting women. I want to be part of a church that leads the way in addressing gender injustice, not one that doesn’t seem to know it exists.
I didn’t go to church today because while my husband is often asked for advice or invited into leadership roles, in three years I have only been asked to bring refreshments or work in children’s ministry.
I didn’t go to church today because when I volunteer, rather than being invited into a discussion about my gifts I am asked to fit my non-traditional peg into a gender-specific hole.
I didn’t go to church today because I don’t need to hear one more sermon about a man in the bible. At my church the women in the bible are often overlooked or spoken about in stereotypical or negative terms.
I didn’t go to church today because every week the platform is filled with men; praying, reading scripture, preaching, giving communion, leading worship. I wonder how many of them would continue to attend if it was the other way around.
I didn’t go to church today because my church is still asking “what should women be allowed to do?” when we should be asking “how can we help every believer develop and use their gifts to build up the body of Christ?”
I will go to back to church another day.
I will go back because while the Church is not perfect, it is where the body of Christ gathers and where His saving and restoring message is proclaimed.
I will go back because of valued friendships, because my family is there, because you and I, we need each other.
I will go back because only by staying is there any hope for change.
Your Turn: Have you or others had these kinds of experiences? If so, what has been the impact of those experiences on your faith and commitment to attend or serve in the church?
Graphic Credit – the amazing David Hayward.