When I chose to review this book I thought I was going to be reading about the various reasons women are leaving the church and what we, as Christians, can do about it. Because I have a passion for women’s ministry (one of the reasons I started my blog), I was intrigued by this topic… what’s going on in the hearts of women and why some are bolting from the doors of the church. However, this book is not about a topic that general. It comes across as a collection of women’s stories, specifically selected by the author… some who already supported his viewpoint, and some who he was hoping to persuade into supporting his viewpoint.
This book leads us to believe that the reason women are leaving the church is that they are not granted power. The same point kept surfacing… women can’t become senior pastors. Never mind all of the other leadership positions that women ARE allowed to have… women need to be allowed the grand pulpit. I’m really trying not to be judgmental, because I struggle with selfish motives just as much as the next girl. That understood, let me say this… if you care more about standing behind the pulpit (or attaining the highest position you can) than about filling whatever role God gives you in ministry, you’re doing it for the wrong reason(s). I’m hopeful that the importance of power is not the intent of this book, but that was my take.
This book has brought out an incredible range of emotions in me. As I began to read, I literally threw the book down in anger a couple of times. Anger at the author for his very clear biases. Anger for the way he came across… particularly about the conservative women. He explained that it was their past experiences that led them to believe the way they do about women’s roles in the church. My question is why did this same tone not seem to come across as he described “his take” on the more moderate and liberal interviewees?
Now I must say that the women’s stories did touch me… well most of them touched me. There were a couple that made me mad (and sad at the same time). I related mostly with the first group of women and the last group of women. I related with the first group (the resigned TO) because they interpret the scriptures in the same way that I do. Not only that, they see this “power for women” issue as a NON-issue. Why? Probably because they are more concerned about serving people and leading them to Jesus than they are about their own fame. I also related with the last group (the re-signed) because I have a lot of D in my own personality. My husband could tell you that. The blog is my main outlet for sharing what God has placed on my heart… in the hopes that it encourages others to cling to Christ in this messed-up world. Mostly women read it, but if men read it I don’t believe that makes my blog writing a sin. However, in my home church, I follow a man (who follows Christ). And in my home, I follow a man (who follows Christ). I believe that is the way God has ordained it.
The middle group (the resigned FROM) really made me sad. They have left the church… and some have left their faith completely. It’s one thing to leave a church because of flawed church leaders. It’s another thing to leave Jesus because of them. I would so love for each one of those ladies to get a copy of the last book I reviewed (Healing Your Church Hurt by Stephen Mansfield). Men are flawed. We can’t find Jesus through them. I tried that for years and years. Now I know that we are ALL going to make mistakes and we ALL need to find our hope and trust in one… Jesus. We can’t turn away from Him because we have bad experiences with His people.
My main issue with this book goes back to the recurring theme… it’s a problem if a woman can’t hold the senior pastor position at a local church. So we’re talking about a VERY specific position. It’s basically implying that even if a woman leads a Jesus-centered homeless shelter, a small group in her home, any other Christ-centered organization outside of the church… or even if she leads in various capacities within the church, it’s not enough. If a woman cannot be senior pastor, it’s not enough. To me that’s a power trip. I mean, not every man at the church is going to be allowed to step up to the pulpit either. The one who is called to be in the pulpit is there. And saying that a woman is not given the amount of influence she deserves if she can’t be the senior pastor… this is a stretch at the very least. Women have a TREMENDOUS influence in churches. Probably more than we even realize. Again… is it really about influence? Or power?
Anyway, to summarize, when I first started reading, I almost quit several times. I believe there is a ton of obvious bias, and an interpretation of scripture that is not the same as my own, but I have to say I’m thankful for the thinking process this book brought out in me. I was able to reach in and figure out why I believe what I believe. It made me want to learn my Bible more. It also made me even more passionate about getting to the heart of why women are feeling lost and alone and hurting within the walls (and outside of the walls) of our church buildings.
And for the record, I don’t believe there will ever be a mass exodus of women from the church. We may struggle with people-pleasing, and serving for selfish motives or out of obligation, but ultimately we serve because we love Jesus. And that’s why the real “backbone” of the church is never going to go away.
Although I don’t necessarily recommend this book, you can download the first chapter here for free: The Resignation of Eve Excerpt.
To learn more about Jim Henderson, you can check out his website here: Jim Henderson Presents.
I received a free review copy of The Resignation of Eve from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for this review.