Experiencing egalitarian blessings

Making progress.

The discussions here and on Andy's blog have led me to a new (for me anyway) idea.

I believe the Scriptural evidence for equality is clear. However, arguments based on evidence can only take us so far.

So I am now suggesting an alternative (or compliment). I want to offer those who believe equality in the Church is wrong a chance to see it in action, to experience it, to talk to real people and to see for themselves how God is blessing the Methodist Church through the ministry of women in positions of leadership in local Churches as well as in the wider Methodist Connexion.

I have shared some experiences in the past, but now I am suggesting more. Get past the filter. Come and talk directly to the women in leadership and to the women and men who have women as their leaders in authority.

So far I have specifically invited AdmiralCreedy and Phil Whittall

This is what I wrote to Phil:

Phil,

Ok we are getting somewhere. It seems we can agree that Male Headship denies equality (honesty about that is a big issue). Where we disagree is whether God requires this inequality or not.
There has been an article doing the rounds on twitter etc about the futility of argument to change peoples minds.
In the light of that I would like to invite you to come and visit us in Syston.
I would like to introduce you to some fantastic women in positions of authority in the Church and show you the fruits that God is blessing us with through them.
I would love you to meet Margaret who has just retired from Senior Church Steward (nearest equiv to an elder). She and two other women are currently on a year long Mission Shaped Ministry Course and leading our Circuit in setting up Fresh Expressions of Church.
I would love you to meet Ann who is currently one of the Senior Stewards, also on the Mission Shaped Ministry Course.
I would like you to meet my Superintendent Minister and people from the Churches that she ministers to so that you can hear of the huge change around that God has worked in this Circuit through her ministry.
I would like you to meet Jane Leach the new Principal of Wesley House, Cambridge.
I would like you to meet the current President of the Methodist Church, Alison Tomlin and the Vice President Eunice Attwood.
I would like to be able to spend a couple of weeks with you travelling round and meeting Women in Leadership in the Methodist Church. It would be a packed two weeks and in that time you wouldn't be able to meet more than a small fraction of the women that God has called and equipped for leadership in just the Methodist Church. But you would get a glimpse of the way that God is blessing us through these women, you would be able to see the fruits of the Spirit in their ministries. You would be able to meet people who have come to faith, people whose faith has grown, people whose lives have been transformed.
I submit to you that
a) We believe Scripture supports equality on gender as well as on ethnicity etc
b) Where we as a Church have embraced equality God has blessed us. In many places Methodism is being renewed and growing. Those of us within this Church can see that these are related, it is no coincidence.
Are you up for the challenge?

Please note that I have not cleared this with any of the women who are in leadership and I would not ask any of them to take part in anything that would be in anyway an attack on them or their ministry. However, we have so many fantastic examples of God blessing us through the leadership ministry of women that I am sure some can be found who are willing to take part.

I do believe we have nothing to hide. Equality is not embarrassing, we can delight in the way God blesses us when we embrace equality. This is one of those win win situations for us. We get to do what feels right (treat people equally), we get to be true to our understanding of Scripture, we get great extra people in leadership and as the icing on the cake so to speak God is showering blessings on us as we do this.

Who dares to come and see God at work :-)

11 thoughts on “Experiencing egalitarian blessings

  1. Phil Whittall

    I’d just like to point out that the Phil you were debating with on Andy’s blog wasn’t me. Sadly, I’ll be unable to take up your invitation to visit as I’m moving to Sweden in just a few weeks time.

    Reply
  2. Phil Whittall

    Also should say that the idea that ‘we must be right look at all the blessing’ is one used by lots of people. You’ll be pleased to know Dave that you and Mark Driscoll have that in common.

    Reply
  3. Dave

    Phil,
    Sorry you are right I did think the Phil I was debating with was you.
    I would be interested in knowing whether you agree with the other Phil (especially on such jaw dropping claims as mark Driscoll not being chauvinist).
    To convert what I have said into ‘we must be right look at all the blessing’ is ridiculous.
    a) This is in addition to all the supporting arguments from Scripture
    b) It is an invitation to look and experience not a demand that you simply accept
    To say this is like Mark Driscoll is yet another demeaning comment for women. We can find plenty of men that God is using to bring blessing for the community & Church. The point here is about God using the people rejected as unworthy by New Frontiers and Mark Driscoll.

    Reply
  4. phil whittall

    Did anyone suggest there wasn’t blessing even amongst the Methodists? ;)
    Though I do wish you’d stop accusing us of positions we don’t hold. It’s not as if anyone in nf thinks the kingdom stops at our door.
    Sorry that you missed the irony in the driscoll comment.
    Serious question what are you doing all this anti-nf writing for? To shame us, persuade us or scare people away from us?

    Reply
  5. Phil Whittall

    Should point out that it would be easy to misunderstand you on ‘blessing’ when you say
    “Where we as a Church have embraced equality God has blessed us. In many places Methodism is being renewed and growing. Those of us within this Church can see that these are related, it is no coincidence.”
    Seems to me you’ve pretty clearly linked blessing with egalitarianism.
    Which is exactly what Driscoll did with his views on male headship.

    Reply
  6. Dave

    Phil,

    Did anyone suggest there wasn’t blessing even amongst the Methodists? ;)

    Yes. As one example. I was at a conference where the speaker (a New Frontiers pastor) described how the Methodist Church could be a blessing today – by giving Church Buildings to Churches that preached the gospel. It was not a one off flippant comment but central to his talk.

    Though I do wish you’d stop accusing us of positions we don’t hold.

    I have taken your own values statements and the witness of women (some in public comments here, others by private email). I have pointed out where New Frontiers logic is flawed (equality and Male Headship are mutually exclusive).
    I do point out that some of the positions New Frontiers claim to hold are incompatible, they do not work. Equal but different is a marketing strategy for men to sell male headship to women and just like “equal but separate” iun the USA it is an oxymoron.
    I do agree that in thinking the anonymous Phil was you I assumed his statements were putting the New Frontiers position when I responded to him personally. If your position is different to his then please tell me. In particular I ask some questions about chauvinist or misogynist behaviour which it would good to have answers to.

    It’s not as if anyone in nf thinks the kingdom stops at our door.

    No nothing would make us think that:
    - apart from your eagerness to define Evangelical to exclude us
    - apart from your endorsement of conference statements that tell us that we are damaging the gospel
    - apart from telling our national team of Evangelism Enablers in a public conference that the best thing we can do for the Kingdom of God is shut down and give you our buildings
    - …

    Sorry that you missed the irony in the driscoll comment.

    Humour is difficult to pick up in written text, especially when emotions are running high.

    Serious question what are you doing all this anti-nf writing for? To shame us, persuade us or scare people away from us?

    Because you are trying to import an American understanding of Male Headship that is damaging to women and to the wider Church and not enough is being said about it. Fortunately, many people are applying pressure to the Church of England for it’s remaining institutionalised male headship and it is changing. Others are working on the Catholic Church. I don’t think enough people are challenging New Frontiers on this vital issue. So I am.
    I do it because women from New Frontiers tell me it has to be done and they cannot do it alone. I do it for the women who have suffered abuse from Male Headship. I do it because the gospel tells me that all people are loved & valued by God and that all women deserve justice. I do it because while I can’t take a stand on all the issues that matter I can on this and there is too much silence on this one.

    Seems to me you’ve pretty clearly linked blessing with egalitarianism.
    Which is exactly what Driscoll did with his views on male headship.

    Having accused me of not noticing irony when you wrote this the first time are you being ironic now?
    You are taking my meaning/intention backwards.
    New Frontiers claim that Male Headship is a biblical requirement. The New Frontiers Church is defined by key values (authority of scripture, serving the poor etc) which include wives submitting to husbands and no female leadership in the Church. New Frontiers teach that to grow as a church you must have these values. New Frontiers say that God blesses their work and causes it to grow because of these values.
    I am inviting people who believe in Male Headship to come and experience an alternative. To discover for themselves whether God blesses churches when there are women who do not submit to men, when there are women in the highest positions of leadership and authority.
    I am challenging the New Frontiers stated belief that to be blessed by God you need Male Headship. Please come and look and then tell me that the Holy Spirit is not calling and equipping women. Come and see and then tell me that God is not blessing us through these women. Come and see and then tell me why we should reject them in order to be blessed by God as we would be required to do if we accepted Male Headship.
    I am not saying that God only blesses egalitarians. I am rejoicing that God is blessing us despite the accusations that we damage the gospel with these dangerous notions that all are created in the image of God.

    Reply
  7. Blue, with a hint of amber

    I think Phil W is making a valid point Dave.
    Your post does sound like you are saying “look at us being successful” like that has ever been in question.
    Which anyone can do, and you get angry (rightly) when Driscoll does it.
    Either side can play that card. Surely God is blessing his Church and that should not surprise any of us?
    In fact even the Mormons can play that card! Scary point!
    I don’t need experience of your local Churches thanks: I was in membership at Sutton Coldfield Vineyard with David and Tanya McNeil as pastors for two years and Trent Vineyard with John and Debbie Wright for 14 months.
    How many years have you personally spent in a Church with a complimentarian position?
    Last week a local methodist lay minister, and former chair of Churches Together over here, who I worked with closely during Hope 08 came up and hugged me to congratulate me on the forthcoming birth of my child (now here!), and at the same meeting she announced she has been accepted for ordination and we all applauded. She is serving God within her framework. That framework is different to mine on many levels. I’d be more concerned about her paedobaptism than her gender. And she is my friend.

    Reply
  8. Blue, with a hint of amber

    New Frontiers teach that to grow as a church you must have these values.
    Simply not true Dave.
    John and Debbie Wright (Trent Vineyard pastors) were all day guests and both spoke at a team leaders meeting (regional leaders / apostles etc) last year to talk about Church growth, and their building will host a major conference next year.
    Prayer and fasting takes place at Kingsgate Community Church in Peterborough; Dave Smith spoke to the gathering last year. Him and his wife are the senior pastors.
    Why would newfrontiers promote major growing UK Churches, larger than ANY newfrontiers congregation in this country, by hosting national conferences there, allowing their leaders to speak into our movement, if what you are saying is true?
    Your claim makes no sense to me; unless you are talking about people quoting Mark Driscoll at Brighton in 2009.
    I don’t think enough people are challenging New Frontiers on this vital issue. So I am.
    Correct me if I am wrong on this point but in my understanding you have never been to a newfrontiers Church, you have never been to a newfrontiers conference and you don’t know any newfrontiers Church leaders personally.
    So who exactly are you challenging?

    Reply
  9. Blue, with a hint of amber

    It seems to me that
    1) your view of newfrontiers is based almost entirely on Adrian Warnock’s blog.
    2) Your descriptions of what it must be like in a newfrontiers Church, and accusations against the movement are so far from what it would look or feel like rapidly becoming one big characiture.
    I don’t think you’re always wrong.
    I don’t agree with Driscoll on many issues; and certainly would not agree with some of his ideas and almost all of his tone when talkng about gender issues.
    There are some newfrontiers Churches that I don’t feel I could serve on the eldership of because I don’t see these issues in the same way as they do.
    Newfrontiers gets loads of flack about this issue above anything else from any angle. You’re certainly not alone. It seems strange that you think otherwise. Maybe others are a little more subtle than to blog rants into the ether: perhaps they have relationship with the people involved and continue to challenge them from a place of friendship and grace?
    I do find it a little odd that you don’t spend equal time and energy talking about Salt and Light ministries or FIEC or other Church groups that hold this view, of which there are many.

    Reply
  10. Dave

    BWAHOA,
    Just wanted to say I am not ignoring your challenges. Just in the middle of a few very hectic days. I want to respond properly and will do so just as soon as I can.

    Reply
  11. Blue, with a hint of amber

    Hi Dave,
    I am busy in the first few days of fatherhood to really respond so no need to rush.
    Although I do value your commitment to dialogue.
    That said, I would rather you agreed that if you are ever on your way to North Wales on holiday you pop in for a drink.

    Reply

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