Christ calls us as lights in the darkness to bring healing to the issues in our society, but what about the darkness within ourselves? Gender inequality stands as one of the greatest ills in the modern world and the modern church. God designed humans as equal image bearers and churches must honor this truth. It is our mission to incorporate full gender equality into our teachings and promote this freedom in Christ.
Begin a path towards gender equality that recognizes God’s vision for male/female roles within your church community by following these 7 tips.
Value the Word
The word of God is a guide to understanding and following the path of righteousness. However, some translations of the Bible present different approaches to these truths. While the word of God is sacred, the interpretations and translations of people are subjective.
Translations such as the ESV present God’s words through a patriarchal lens that allow for harmful applications within the church. Choosing a translation that acknowledges the presence and agency of women in the Bible is not only a more scholarly approach, but promotes a healthy reading of scripture. Translations such as the 2011 version of the NIV leave behind the cultural warping of scripture by years of misogyny. A gender equal translation should promote the equal status of women and men in salvation.
Encourage Co-ed Leadership
Representation speaks louder than words. In order to have gender equality in your church, you must do more than simply talk. Leadership is an effective benchmark at determining equality in your congregation. It is not enough for women to lead women’s studies and children’s groups. To achieve equality, both men and women should serve at all tiers of church leadership. To achieve equality, both men and women should serve at all tiers of church leadership. Click To Tweet
This means encouraging men to work the nursery and kitchen while offering elder positions to long-serving female parishioners. The goal of gender equality is not to uproot men in the church; far from it! The goal is to promote an equally yoked image of female/male relationships and restore balance to creation. Having a male pastor does not mean there is no equality in your church. But having a rule that blocks women from achieving the same role does.
Teach the Children
The mission of gender equality starts early. Children in the nurseries and Sunday school classrooms need to see women and men in equal leadership roles and working harmoniously. Churches need to avoid typecasting children according to cultural gender roles. There is nothing inherently wrong with “God’s little princess,” or “God’s little warrior.” Yet forcing children to perform a certain way without freedom of expression causes lasting harm. Churches need to avoid typecasting children according to cultural gender roles. Click To Tweet
It may seem minuscule at this stage, but a boy constantly encouraged as a warrior (without learning gentleness) will grow into a man unable to lead effectively. Likewise, a girl told to be submissive and gentle will struggle to grow into her full potential as an agent of change.
Teach the Youth
The main issues facing gender equality in youth groups centers on leadership and approaches to teaching purity. Ensure that those leading have a clear vision of how to promote equality in their students. This means assigning equal responsibilities, such as leading prayer and organizing events that encourage all students to use their gifts accordingly.
Thinking through your churches approach to purity will keep young girls and boys out of harmful or potentially abusive situations.
Young men need to learn to respect and appreciate the women they interact with; regardless of what they are wearing. Policing the bodies of young women leads to fear rather than holiness. While the youth group pool party is a classic summer event, it can also be harmful.
Forcing young women to cover their bodies in baggy t-shirts teaches that their bodies are inherently shameful and must be protected from their brothers in Christ. Instead, churches should teach mutual respect based on personhood rather than gender purity. Churches should teach mutual respect based on personhood rather than gender purity. Click To Tweet
Singles Ministry Shouldn’t be Singled Out
The pressure on college age church goers is staggering. Young people value independence and often leave churches that are not meeting their needs. Be the type of church that attracts young adults by being willing to teach and speak about the issues they are facing. Offer practical help, mentorship, and leadership that will show them there is a place for them within the fold. Authenticity is the way to a free thinking heart.
Young people leave the church when we treat them like marriage investments and ignore their unique qualities. The purpose of young adult groups is to help them navigate the world with a faith community behind them. When we sequester them into roles that limit their talents and pressure them to pursue each other in relationships, we are ignoring the real and vulnerable person underneath. Minister to hearts and not to groups of men and women.
Promote Gender Equality Based Values
Visitors to your church will be able to tell by looking at your leadership how you value men and women. But in the digital age, many visitors will make their decision long before attending a service. As a faith community, make it a distinct goal to honor and promote gender equality with your words.
Create a specific agreement, mission, or belief statement that can be included on your church website or wherever your information overview is circulated. Let visitors know that they can expect to be valued and treated with respect regardless of gender. This is a key way to ensure the people in your community are being reached effectively.
Speak with Action
If your church truly wants equality, they must look beyond their own walls. Involvement in advocacy, mission work, and volunteer work that lifts up women and girls makes your church known by its love. There are many ways to be involved in your own community and abroad that take special considerations for women and girls in need.
Top humanitarian organizations the world over have committed to integrating gender equality into their work. This comes after extensive research showing that no matter the culture, the most at risk members of society are the women, girls, and children. Let your church be a light in the darkness by taking action to end the exploitation of women and girls across the globe.
There are many ways to be an active proponent of gender equality in the world. We can continue to follow the path that Christ has laid for us. When we unlock the power of women in the church, we become whole as the body of Christ. When we unlock the power of women in the church, we become whole as the body of Christ. Click To Tweet