You can feel the rumbling of the many stories coming up from so many places. Like a geyser of water finally breaking through the surface, suppressed for a variety of reasons. The water showing its presence to the world, are the stories from brave women who have in some cases risked a lot to share their stories, calling attention to the lack of space there has been to be heard, seen, known, believed or trusted to lead.
The response to these stories show women do not always have a healthy place to be heard, seen, known, believed and valued.These stories and voices are showing the world the Church has work to do. Some of the stories are hard to sit with. Hard to hold. Because they uncover hard truths. The response to these stories show women do not always have a healthy place to be heard, seen, known, believed and valued. There are instances where opportunities to lead are censored. The veil is being pulled back in both church and culture.
Women need spaces where their voices are honored. This is not saying that women’s voices matter more. Rather a noticing of the truth that women’s voices have not been honored in many ways and not treated as equal.
Women need spaces where their voices are honoredThis is about needing a variety of voices at the table and noticing when that does not happen. Because we are all better and stronger for it, when a variety of voices are invited to the table and honored. It helps us understand one another. To learn from one another. To step outside of ourselves and experience another’s story. To move forward in unity and love. To truly be the body of Christ.
There are two main things happening right now when it pertains to women’s voices and stories. There is the movement of seeing stories of sexual harassment and assault in both culture and church. The “me too” movement has brought forward many voices and stories.
This not about women’s rights politically but it is from a place of valuing women from a Biblical stand point and not using Biblical means to continue oppressionWe have seen that the church is not immune to this either. Scandals taking place within church walls no matter the size of the church. A society where 1 in every 4 women have been sexually assaulted before the age of 30! Here it is at our door. It is a problem.
The second thing pertaining to women’s voices is the inequality that still exists in the world, work force, and even the church for women to lead, have equal opportunity, and treatment. Still today we see women still get compensated less than men that work the same jobs. When women are pregnant and have to take time off of work there is a legitimate fear of people interacting differently with them. Sometimes accompanied with less opportunity because you may or are having a baby. Like you are now less valuable or useful in the work place. Let’s just call out the struggle of gender roles that affect the world and church. The struggle of mom guilt for working mothers and stay at home mother’s not measuring up.
The church is a beautiful place where women’s voices can be lifted up valued and heard.
Both in church and culture women are sold the idea of how they need to look and fall into their correct roles; this creates a disconnect from their voice, so many women lose their voice. Throughout history women have experienced oppression and come from a legacy of less rights. Although we have come a long way we have not arrived. This not about women’s rights politically but it is from a place of valuing women from a Biblical stand point and not using Biblical means to continue oppression. Men and women are valuable and needed. We need each other. We also need to recognize when people are not valuing one another.
The church is a beautiful place where women’s voices can be lifted up valued and heard. As a church planter it has been a hard space to walk as a woman, let alone a multicultural woman. Carrying my own stories and my own voice. I have worked in a variety of environments where people say my voice matters but in action that is not what I experience. This is not always intentionally done but we become what we are intentional about.
As the Church if we are intentional about making space for women’s voices, stories and leadership we will create healthy environments.As the Church if we are intentional about making space for women’s voices, stories and leadership we will create healthy environments. There is a systemic pain that comes with the lack of space for your voice to matter. This can reinforce a framework of scarcity. The feeling that there are not enough seats at the table and not enough to go around. Then we lack the ability to champion and listen to one another.
So what is needed? I dream of more spaces where women can come together and listen to one another and be championed. A place where we can be encouraged. A place where we can own our own voice. A space for honesty. I experienced such a space last month. Of all places it was a Women’s Leadership Conference.
Be intentional about the opportunities to have a woman’s perspective and voice be lifted up in the main communityI have been to many of these in my time in ministry and this was something so different. It was a space where we talked about the hard realities as women in leadership in the marketplace and in church. We all lead somewhere. We talked about our voices and giftings. We broke down into coaching groups and shared stories. We prayed and championed one another, called out gifts we saw in each other, shared resources and networked; because there is enough. A space where we learned from one another. The result was beautiful community. There are plenty of seats at the table.
There is also a need for churches as a whole to be intentional about valuing women’s voices. Be intentional about the opportunities to have a woman’s perspective and voice be lifted up in the main community. Giving opportunities for women to use their gifts without being prescribed or censored into specific areas. What if we just gave room to each other’s gifts? What if we created spaces where women would be believed if they were to be honest in her community about harassment or assault? There are churches trying to honor women’s voices. What if more churches came together to lead on this front? The church’s influence could have a greater reach, even into culture.
Pastor Trin Peterson is the lead pastor and preaching pastor at Eden Community – A Covenant Church, which recently launched weekly services at Northdale Middle School in Coon Rapids.