August 14, 2007

Defining "Church Lady"

Recent posts to my blog Flash Point and Intellectuelle relating to the various ministries of women seems to have inspired discussion about this person I refer to as "Church Lady." I feel a sense of responsibility to all who read this blog because my desire is not create a collective stereotype of those women who seem to be the opposite of our group here at Intellectuelle. This matter deserves greater qualification, for the dignity of all women and for the benefit of those of you who care to interpret the meaning of my posts. So, the question remains, what is a church lady? This is my response (in no particular order):

A "church lady"...
1. is only able to see one possible role for all women, the stay-at-home wife and mother. (Be careful here, not all stay-at-home wives and mothers see this as the only possible role for women.)
2. believes the hard work of doing theology is men's work, women should only bother with the practical matters of the household.
3. perceives the application of Scripture as logically prior to examination toward understanding context.
4. concludes that her "child like faith" is all she needs to contend with life in this world. Words and concepts that require more than minimal work are unnecessary to grasp, especially because they do not directly pertain to salvation.
5. regards group outings to the mall, cookie exchanges, and the annual Mother/Daughter banquet as the core of a successful women's ministry - ENTERTAINMENT. (These things in and of themselves are not bad, but obviously there is much more.)
6. thinks that evangelism and discipleship of women today is more than redemption from sin, but redemption to something, the role of "church lady."
7. believes that a core element of her faith is to be encouraged, reducing God to personal therapist/coach. (Encouragement isn't a bad thing, but God never promised we'd feel good about ourselves and our circumstances all the time, but asks us to rejoice in Him at all times. These are different categories.)
8. thinks seminary, higher education, and/or the pursuit of a career are exclusively the domain of men. (See #1)
9. isn't [consciously] aware of the need to have bible studies, discussion groups, and other gatherings at times when working women can join.
10. often understands the doctrine of sin and salvation, but rejects the need to understand other core doctrines because knowing them will not impact or affect her salvation.
11. thinks reading books other than the bible is a complete waste of time.
12. prefers to completely cloister her family from the rest of culture, thus paying homage to the sacred/secular divide, as the best way to protect them from the evils of society.
13. believes that there are 2 kinds of women (ala the account of Mary & Martha....Mary at the feet of Jesus) and focuses on living like Martha and never gets to the feet of Jesus.
14. says you don't have to come to church already "cleaned up" but certainly acts like you should.

As a result of these dearly held views, single women never seem to fit in well in relationships with this kind of woman. Women of questionable backgrounds are avoided (can God possibly really redeem "there kind?") and church ladies are almost always what churches want to put in place as women's ministry leadership. From my own experience, I can tell you that I was overlooked by a church as a salaried pastor to women because my husband is an unbeliever....because he doesn't come to church with me.

I'm sure I can say a lot more on this matter, but I really wanted my views to be understood. I do not speak for everyone here, but I'm sure there will be more agreement than not. And just to be real clear here, I am not ridiculing or chastising women who might not consider themselves abstract thinkers are academically geared. I am very supportive of all women, to whatever ministry God has called them to. But I simply cannot tolerate the one dimensional view of women that permeates the church and women's ministry today. I met a woman recently who identifies herself formally as the "wife of the director of....blah blah blah....for such and such organization." How sad is that.

To conclude, I need to give myself a bit of credibility here: I absolutely love to throw a good tea party and I'm as much of a girly girl as anyone else. I know how to have fun, to throw great events, to fellowship, and to encourage, but there is more to the Christian life than all those things. Aspire to Christ-centered ministry, not event-driven ministry.

1 comment:

Collin Brendemuehl said...

Extrapolate on these points as a chapter of your next book!