What is Church?

Church is a basement of three-year old’s making crafts in tiny chairs at tiny tables. Learning about the flannelgraph Jesus that wants to move into their hearts.  Church is one three-year-old in that crowd saying,  “Yes.  I want Jesus in my heart, flannelgraph or not, he looks pretty nice and good and loving. I want him there.”

Church is high and holy, orchestral piano and organ and choir, hymn numbers attendance numbers tithe numbers next to the masterfully centered thirty foot cross behind the pastor with the very loud pastor voice droning on and on and on.  Church is a little girl sitting with her grandmother in the back, feeling loved and warm and good as she hears her grandma sing along, “There is Joy In Serving Jesus.”

Church is camp, where a man up front pleads with children to understand that God is good and wants the best for them.  Church is a little girl feeling the wind of the holy spirit come alive in her chest, awakening her to a new part of God she never knew.  

Church is listening to the stories on wooden church pews at Sunday night service of men and women redeemed. The same stories from the same men and women, every Sunday night, but they were mesmerizing.  Their drinking, smoking, drugging lives turned one hundred eighty degrees to the face of Jesus waiting for them to show them a better way. 

Church is a middle school girl, wanting to belong somewhere, anywhere, drawn in by a man brave enough to love middle school kids and tell them they are important and matter to Jesus. The middle school girl believed and stuck around.

Church is a high school student, in a church van, driving the thirty sixth hour on her way home from Mexico with her youth pastor at the wheel, talking about the ways God could use her and how to prepare for a life of service, when all the girl wanted to do was stay in Mexico forever and give the rest of her life to the people in the small villages in the faraway places no one could see.  He said preparing was probably necessary, and so she agreed.

Church is Africa. Waking up and sitting on the green hills, listening to the song of trumpets floating over the hills, echoing hymns at the break of day.  Church is natures harmony in Africa, alive in the people wo love God there.  

Church is awakening to love for another, giving love back to teenagers that was so freely given to her. 

Church is giving and receiving holy communion, men and women streaming in multitudes toward Jesus and his love.  

Church is the women in India, surrounding a young woman as odd to them as an alien from the moon, praying love into her soul, praying strength and hope and joy and the power of the one true God they knew so well.  They showed the woman their strength, and she was never the same.  

Church is holding her three daughters hands in the throngs of marketplace chaos and color and smells of curry and spice and cooking oil, smiling with them, as they embrace God’s people in their hearts and see and know and feel what real love is when they reach across the globe again and again and again to love those who need love, serve those in need, awaken joy in the lives of those in distress.  

Church is Jesus on a regular street in a regular town in a regular way, waving and loving and hugging the lives of the ones around the woman and her regular house and regular ways. Church is listening to her neighbor, ancient and near her end, tell tale after tale after tale of her long adventurous life, how traveling the world for decades brought her home to the feet of Jesus.

  Church is Her love awakening to the beginnings and endings of all things new and old in the ways of Jesus in the living and breathing regular people and regular life around her.

Church is stories around the table.  Church is the love alive in the eyes of the ones that come to her home to love and be loved.  

Church is all things right, pure, noble and good.  Church is fair and right and equal and alive.  

The Church of Jesus will prevail. Love and hope and light and strength are his and theirs when they share the nobility of serving neighbors in a world feeling darker by the day. 

What If?

What if women had a more prominent role in the Church?

Not that women would need to dominate, take over, and turn every woman into a feminist.  Not necessary. 

What if women still respected men as the Leaders, lived Biblically sound lives, but had a chance to speak their minds in a humble and unique way? It doesn’t happen at most churches I have attended.  Most women aren’t jerky and demanding about it.  They’re just quiet.  And passive.  And really quiet.  They talk to each other when they have a chance, but with getting kids from the parking lot to their classes, and then to their seats, then back to their classes, then back to the parking lot and their car, there isn’t much time even for speaking to one another in church.  Their voices simply aren’t heard.

I am amazed that as soon as the topic of women talking in church comes up, many automatically lump the person talking about it as “feminist, domineering, rebellious, etc.”

I love men. My dad is a man.  My brothers are men.  I was raised in a world of men (me and my Mom had to hold our own, and we did just fine).  I married a man.  I love him deeply.  He’s the head of our household just like God told him to be in the Bible.  I completely respect him.  I respect my pastors.

But..what if?

I think women would raise issues that aren’t being raised.  I think the orphan problem might be solved.  I think more broken people might be healed.    I think women have an ability to both think and feel that is helpful for those who just think a lot. (not saying all men are this way, but some are).

I see a trend in the young men I know.  I see them seeking after middle class college professors, authors, and musicians as their only source for Biblical inspiration and interpretation. This isn’t bad, just inbalanced. 

I think women would feel better about themselves knowing God can use women in powerful ways. I know scores of highly educated, intelligent followers of Jesus who feel worthless because there is not a place for them in the Church.

Its funny how when you throw a subject out there, like I did with this one the other day, how others can sometimes state the way you feel better than you can.  I’ll leave you with Cindy’s thoughts, then I’d love to hear yours:

Maybe there was a time when women weren’t the best choice as leaders and teachers. But we have women senators, congressional representatives, judges, college professors and university presidents, CEOs and hopefully someday a woman president. There have been many queens who ruled their countries, even centuries ago, and many presidents and prime ministers in other countries. There are many women heads of household. Women are scientists, doctors, astronauts, engineers, and inventors. Women hold high ranks in the armed forces and die defending our country. And women (mothers and wives) have long been understood to be primary influences in prominent men’s lives. There are many women who will be lost to the Christian message if they believe it can only come from a man’s tongue.  It’s just time for everyone to get over it.