I’ve been inspired by Mark Love’s recent post “Why I don’t leave, even though…” So I’m writing my own version of why I stay in Churches of Christ.
I am asked this question all the time. All the time. When friends from within my tribe or broader Christendom learn about my passion for and calling to preaching, they ask why I don’t leave. Because you see, in my tribe, women have not historically been given a voice in public worship or leadership. But the tide is turning…
[tangent} And frequently, when friends from within my tribe learn about my passion for preaching, it’s a matter of 5 minutes or less before they ask if I’ve ever considered church planting. Yes, I’ve considered it. I still consider it. But it’s difficult to not hear that suggestion as carrying the implication “because you’re not welcome in established churches.” I don’t think anyone means it that way–it’s just the message that comes across. But I digress..
So why don’t I leave? For years, I said it was because when I was growing up, I didn’t have female role models in formal ministry. I wanted to be a pioneer and example for young women. I wanted to help move churches farther along this spectrum. Not in a demanding, smash down the walls sort of way. But by encouraging study, conversation, prayer, discernment. I still want this.
But that reasoning hasn’t been able to sustain me through the storms. Something deeper is at work. This is my family. Literally, figuratively, spiritually, you name it. My family goes back a few generations on both sides. My dad’s dad is in the process of retiring from preaching at the same Church of Christ for over 60 years! And for all our flaws, we are a well-connected bunch. I can walk into any number of Churches of Christ across the country and get within two or three degrees of separation from the folks there. We know each other. We love each other. We are family. It’s in my blood.
Again, for all our flaws, there is beauty. We have a high regard for Scripture as God’s word. We believe that God is still active in our world. We believe in coming together as a community of faith and celebrating the Eucharist on a weekly basis. We believe that God’s kingdom is breaking in, and we are called to be part of it. And there is a groundswell of support for women in ministry in our tribe. The tide is turning towards the full inclusion of women in the life and leadership of the church. It’s an exciting time to be part of this tradition. This is my family, and I’m not interested in entertaining the idea of a divorce.