For years, or actually centuries, there has been a debate about whether women should be allowed to speak in church. Based on texts such as ‘Women must remain silent during your meetings. They are not allowed to speak, but must remain subordinate, as stated in the law.’ (1 Corinthians 14:34) we silence half of humanity. Is that the intention?
A few weeks ago we had a staff day at Royal Mission. The team from Drachten, which runs the Full-time School and takes care of the financial administration, traveled to Veenendaal. After a time of meeting, worshiping, and catching up, I shared about an intriguing book my daughter recently lent me: “Deep Democracy – The Voice of the Minority.” A consultation method that helps to bring to light all opinions and beliefs within a team.
Conversation on feet
After a brief introduction to the ideas of Deep Democracy, I explained one working method: the conversation on feet. This creative form of discussion places participants in a circle and provides the opportunity to share all opinions about a statement or answers to a question with the group without inhibition. My statement that afternoon was: ‘There are too few female speakers within Royal Mission and that is our own fault.’
It was heartwarming to see deep beliefs and surprising viewpoints suddenly emerge. ‘I am a lot more critical when a woman speaks’, ‘we women do not get opportunities to practice and therefore cannot grow’, ‘We eliminate ourselves’ or ‘I feel less authority with a woman’s voice’ are just some of the views that were shared.
I’m not looking!
During the corona period in which we as Royal Mission provided a daily livestream, we gave ladies from our team the space to participate. Marieke, Dieteke, Femke, Ellen, Gertine or Karin have done this several times. As long as they shared testimonies or played guitar it was good for everyone. Until the moment a woman sat on the couch as a host and source of inspiration. Immediately there were reactions in the chat such as: ‘I don’t look when a woman speaks. Too bad about this!’
Afterwards, a man who gave this response apologized. When watching the livestream again, he was touched by Marieke’s words and that broadcast was a turning point for him in his life with Jesus. God apparently works through women too. God’s Spirit is less bothered by our gender than we are.
“But now that faith has come, we are no longer under surveillance, for through faith in Christ Jesus you are all children of God. All of you who have become one with Christ through baptism have put on Christ. There is no more Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female – you are all one in Christ Jesus. ‘ (Galatians 3:25-28)
In Christ there is no difference between men and women. God wants to use all his children. In Bible Days there are numerous women who prophesied and held leadership positions. In addition, the word ‘everyone’ is used frequently, because gifts and assignments are given to everyone. So also to women.
Yet I realize more than ever that we as Royal Mission also have a job to do. Myself too! Too often there are men on stage and we invest too little or not actively enough in the ladies from our network. I hereby apologize for the hindrance we have been. We really want to make more space, have respect and support women who want to use their voice to inspire and train others on behalf of the King.
If you want to get started right away, I cordially invite you to participate in the free course ‘Growing in preaching skills’ . You are 100% welcome, because this training is just as good for ladies!