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Catching up with news on Facebook today, I noticed that this blog article had been posted.

A Growing Church is a Dying Church

I thought it was interesting.

I was just going to leave my statement as that, but then the other adult in the house questioned me about why I thought it was interesting. So…

I don’t disagree with the theology of what is said, nor do I disagree with the sentiment that sometimes ministers are called on the basis that they will be the saviour of a congregation. In reality only Christ can be Saviour, and that happens when a congregation grasps faith for themselves, and steps out into the unknown and uncertain.

What I thought was interesting was the writer’s desire to cast the person bringing change as a woman, and while I suspect that he meant that use to be inclusive I feel that it further adds to the tension of what it means to be a woman in ministry. In some ways I find the whole “woman” thing a bit of a non issue.

I grew up in a predominantly female house, my parents encouraged us all to do the best we could and follow our hearts in where our gifts lay. For my sisters that has meant into art and care of other people of all ages, for my brother it has meant bus driving, while for me that has been responding to a call to ministry. I don’t think I am called to be a minister because I am a woman, but instead because of the gifts hidden within me.

Part of the reason I’m more than happy to robe for worship is that for me the identity of clothing and personal appearance is lost in playing the part for others.

In identifying the ambassador of change as a woman in this blog article, rather than being inclusive, I find myself feeling that the stereotype of who brings changes is reinforced. In reality no matter what gender we are, as we engage with a new congregation we will bring something different, sometimes even without realising that we are doing so.

I remember after the first few months of being in my present charge there were those who kept saying I had changed worship. Now I’m not daft – I know at first it is best to try and do what is familiar until people begin to get used to the change if person. At a Worship Team meeting we tried to iron out what the issues were, and eventually it came down to the person doing the worship had changed as they still sang the same number of hymns, there were prayers in the same place, and at that stage we hadn’t got as far as responses.

So while I welcome the inclusivity intended in the article, I also want to say that calling a minister of any gender means that life after they arrive will be different. It will be different because God will use the gifts and talents placed in them to stir the Holy Spirit amongst His people. Being a woman doesn’t make you any less traditional than a man, because tradition and change come in all kinds of guises.

 

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