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In her book, Worthy: Finding Yourself in a World Expecting Someone Else, Melanie Springer Mock critiques the Christian culture which labels people and puts them into boxes. She then affirms God’s heart for every individual by emphasizing how much he loves them, regardless of what the world might think. She shares many experiences from her own life, both painful and positive, that helped challenge her thinking.

 

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When I view my singleness as a situation, I can "give thanks in all circumstances." But when it becomes an identity, shame creeps in. I think of my worth in terms of supply and demand. Meditate with me on how God's love changes everything.

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One of the key issues faced by women in the church is the lack of provision for ongoing leadership development. Even in churches that espouse gender equality, women woefully lack leadership opportunities, especially on the platform.

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We can follow these examples of radical acts of loving by making small choices each day: recognizing someone else’s pain before yelling at them for being too needy; giving someone the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions; forgiving someone who has disappointed us.

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(Adapted from a paper given at the 2007 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society)

My interest in women and missions of the 1800s is reinvigorated, of late, by a number of experiences I’ve had lecturing at Christian colleges and seminaries around the county. When invited to speak for chapel services, I make an effort to learn something about the school, particularly the achievements of the founders and their graduates. In doing so, I have discovered the vast number of women alumni, who were also leaders on the mission field in the United States and abroad. And, they had the full support of the school’s founders. As I include these findings when I lecture, I am often surprised at the responses I receive… some of these Christian colleges appear almost embarrassed to learn of the number of women who held positions of significant leadership and who were trained in this capacity by their institution.

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At its yearly convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America passed a statement opposing abortion, pornography, homosexuality — and female pastors. For Southern Baptist leaders, these issues hang together. They assume that on their side of the culture war, Christians must oppose these practices as a piece. 

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Throughout history, charismatic men and women of God have risen up, almost out of nowhere, to lead spiritual movements and shape theological discourse. These leaders often build churches and large followings before the institutional church pulls them in for a chat. The air is tense, awkward. At some point in the conversation someone asks a deceptively simple question: “Who gives you the authority to do the work you are doing?”

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Woman in the Pulpit exposes the myriad ways in which Christians read the Bible inconsistently. "A practice prohibited in one sentence and regulated in another, by the same author, shows either variability in opinion, or else an intended limitation in the original prohibition."

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Sisters in ministry, I hope you will take these words to heart as you continue in the good work to which God has called you. Let’s reclaim our time together!

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In her introduction to Women in a Patriarchal World, Elaine Storkey reminds the reader of the important role that narrative theology has played in “both framing our doctrine and shaping our understanding of faith.”

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