While there are more women in the pews, there are still lots more men in the pulpit.
And this can lead to ill-informed preaching and community formation that can be offensive to women and even drive them from the faith. Feminist Erin Lane knows this well, she's the editor of an upcoming book on women, faith and taboos.
She says there are things church leaders can do to be more attentive to women, and in this interview she offers some advice.
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Synopsis Erin Lane is on a mission to make the Church more accommodating and understanding of the changing role, vocation, and position of women in the pews. Here are my notes from the interview:
It's the most important thing church leaders can do to become more conscious of gender stereotypes and offenses. For example, how many sermon illustrations have to do with men and sports? Too many, says Erin, and it's time we listened closely to whom we're shepherding.
Don't Be Fooled by the Body...
Erin says female clergy have too many stories about parishioners who act uncomfortable around a pregnant preacher, for example, and their congregations need to more fully understand that Christ's gift of leadership takes on many forms.
Stop Categorizing Ministries by Gender
When we assume only women want to join the flower ministry, or men join the hammer and nail club, we fail to realize the gifts of God that are present across genders. What can we do to be more inclusive here?
About Erin Lane
Erin Lane, M.T.S., is a communication strategist for faith-based authors and organizations. Her latest work with Quaker author Parker J. Palmer and the non-profit Center for Courage & Renewal combines her background in book publicity with broader marketing consultation and program development for clergy and congregational leaders. She is the co-editor of the upcoming anthology Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank about Faith (White Cloud Press, Oct 2013 - via the platform I Speak for Myself) and an active board member of the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South. Confirmed Catholic, raised Charismatic, and married to a Methodist, she blogs about the intersection of her faith and feminism at www.holyhellions.com.
Books Erin Recommends
A Church of Her Own: What Happens When a Woman Takes the Pulpit
Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation
Preaching Fools: The Gospel as a Rhetoric of Folly