Are there too many women in the church? Is it possible that the very presence of women and their kingdom activity are deterrents for men to respond to the gospel or get involved in ministry? Carolyn James asks these question in a provocative post that recaps her conversation with John Piper about women’s involvement in their local church.
John Piper responded expressing his concern abou the feminization of the church. Like Carolyn said in her post, this expression often gives me pause. I’ve heard Michael Horton on the White Horse Inn express the same concern. Maybe you’ve heard the complaints about the trend in contemporary Christian music to write ‘Jesus is your boyfriend’ type lyrics that would make any man uncomfortable? Or you’ve heard about the emphasis in church groups to ‘share your feelings’, a very womanly behavior that often excludes men?
I’ve heard these concerns and have been concerned about these troubling trends as well. But this doesn’t answer Carolyn’s question. “Are there too many women in the church?”
Did Paul worry about ‘feminization’ when he planted the church in Philippi with a committed team of women? Can women, ‘can anyone’, do too much for the kingdom? And if men are holding back, is the solution to restrain or sideline women? Or does not the very scope of our mission in the world mean we should be calling both men and women to serve God heart and soul and to do it together?
The other day in conversation about a number of good things that are being left undone in churches, I responded by saying, “Maybe God is allowing these things to go undone so that the situation will get so bad the men will have to get involved.” In other words, I was implying that God is letting people and needs go uncared for in order to teach a more important principle – the church will not survive without men. Only in situations of last resort will God call upon women, because men in service to the church are God’s first choice.
Maybe you go to a very ‘manly’ church, as I do. There is no indication of feminization in any corner. You sing manly hymns, only men serve as ushers, there are no women deacons (even unofficial) or elders, women serve only at the piano or in the nursery during worship. Feminization is not a concern. Yet I feel at some ‘manly’ churches women are having to restrain their gifts, step to the sidelines or whisper in their husbands (if they are married, they have widows and single women) ears. Is this God’s plan? Or, as Carolyn asks in closing, does not the very scope of our mission in the world mean we should be calling both men and women to serve God heart and soul and to do it together?