Snow falls gently like little promises accumulating over the years,
piling into great mounds of failed commitment.
Too large to ignore,
it stands grim sentinel in the chill of resentment,
but it slowly melts away under the sunshine of mercy.
Recently, in the small bowling alley where Shelby works, three immigrant women and eight children came to the counter to pay for their games. After Shelby realized that none of the women could speak English, one of them tried to apologize, saying, “Normally my husband…” Shelby asked if her husband usually did the talking. She nodded and kept her eyes glued to the floor.
In stumbling after Jesus, the church has sometimes faltered. Sometimes, we’ve been the ones holding women’s bruised and bleeding hearts in our fists. And sometimes, for all our good gospel intentions, we’ve done the wounding.
As more and more women share that they feel invisible and unwanted at church, it’s clear we need to take clear steps to make women feel seen, invited, and empowered to use their gifts. Here are three ways we exclude women and what we can do about it.
We asked our supporters what concrete measures churches can take to combat abuse in Christian communities and strengthen their internal response to abuse. Some of you weighed in with some great ideas and examples, which we’ve compiled below.
We shouldn’t be forced to attend conferences built on gender stereotypes or accept speaker line-ups that have few to no women or people of color. If Christian conferences mean to reflect the diverse makeup of the church, they will have to do better. They will have to move beyond confirmation bias and stereotypes.
Many complementarians want to respect women’s needs and stories and benefit more concretely from their insights, but are not sure how to begin moving in that direction. I used to leave church in frustration every week because of the implicit marginalization on display in services. A childhood, or lifetime, of watching women pushed further to the edges of leadership and visibility has an immense impact on a woman’s self-worth.