Lisa is a daughter and wife and a mom to three daughters and two sons. She is a lifelong member of the Church of Christ and grew up in the world of Searcy and Harding. She loves her spiritual heritage and is thankful to the Restoration Plea for teaching her to take God's Word seriously and to not settle for easy answers. One of her greatest joys is seeing her sons use their gifts in public worship, and she hopes she will someday see her daughters be able to do the same thing.
What do you think about women leading in public worship?
It's interesting that you would use the word, "lead." Over the course of my life, I've learned that some of my gifts are more public in nature. I speak well. I love sharing God's word with believers. I love words and ideas. I sing, and sharing God's love through music has been a joy to me throughout my life. However, I don't view any of this as leadership. These are gifts that God has given me and my heart's desire is to serve him and others through using these gifts. Yes, these are all roles that are more public, but when we use the gifts that God gives us, we are serving him and sharing his truth with others.
Serving communion is one of the areas that both puzzles me and makes me laugh. From what I know about first century culture, men had very little -- if anything -- to do with food preparation and service. It's hard for me to imagine a first century, middle-eastern man suddenly deciding that he would take on a woman's role and serve food to others simply because it was Sunday. Maybe I'm underestimating the potential for egalitarian attitudes in first century Israel, but I really doubt that those first communion experiences were "led" by men.
Each week, I sit in a room in which the population is over 50% female. Many of the families in attendance are led by single moms or spiritually single mothers whose husbands do not attend church with them. These women -- from early ages into elder years -- will most likely never hear anyone who sounds like them read scripture from the pulpit. There may be gifted teachers and worship leaders who will never be able to use their God-given gifts in God's house.
So what do I think? I think that gender-based "leadership" causes us to miss the opportunity to learn and grow. Women are missing the opportunity to serve; men are missing the opportunity to learn from women's experiences. Children are missing the opportunity to see their moms share their faith and we are all losing a rich heritage of faith.
What do you think about women serving on a church ministry staff?
I work at one of our brotherhood's institutes of higher ed. Every semester at graduation, I see capable and intelligent young women graduate with degrees in ministry. Youth and Family Ministry, Vocational Ministry, and sometimes, even a pure Bible major. My heart hurts for them. I love their courage at pursuing a degree in a male-dominated (male-exclusive?) field, but I'm very aware of the fact that their chances of being employed with their degrees are very small. Some of them may go on and pursue graduate degrees in counseling and find jobs, but the possibility of being employed as a youth minister or minister of involvement in a local congregation of a church of Christ is minimal. I'm aware of several positions in campus ministries where men and women serve equal roles, yet the men are hired as ministers and the women as "assistants," and are paid what a secretary would be paid rather than what a ministry coordinator would be paid.
If we are going to educate and graduate young women in ministry, we need to employ them in ministry. If we are going to employ them in ministry, we need to call them "ministers," and pay them equally to what we pay men filling the same role. If we cannot do this, we will lose them. They will seek employment in other religious groups. They will work for non-profit organizations like Habitat for Humanity or World Vision. We will lose their servant hearts and hands and we will be poorer for it.
What do you think about women serving as deacons or elders?
"I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae." Romans 16:1-2. It seems that scripture has answered this question for us.
On a practical, less idealistic, note we live in a culture where people are very concerned about gender lines. If our elders continue to only be men, who will women go to with difficult questions regarding their marriages or child-raising—when they need official insight from their church? We are often warned about not discussing deeply personal issues with matters of the opposite sex because of the temptation for the relationship to move beyond the bounds of propriety. How can the spiritually single women receive the spiritual guidance they desire if all of their spiritual leaders are men? Who can they voice their concerns to? What about a woman in an abusive relationship or someone who doesn't trust men for valid reasons? How likely is she to discuss important matters with an all-male group of elders?
If we plan to reach out to the unchurched, we will have more and more of these scenarios and fewer and fewer answers. Women need women to address particularly female issues.