Wednesday, June 27, 2007

uh, AWKWARD...

I had an interesting/funny/unnerving experience at lunch today. My sister and I were at the mall today (bathing suit shopping...ugh...we went together for moral support) and we were having lunch seated near a table of 3 men. One of them (who was facing away from me) was a local pastor, who I've only met once, but that Todd has known for a while. The other was a neighbor of ours whose children Kaitlyn occasionally plays with. (The third I didn't know). The neighbor asked the pastor how the "the guy with the house church" was doing. He informed him that we were no longer meeting in our house, but that we were using Pastor Tom's building..." and there was more conversation that I couldn't hear, but what I did hear was him bring up, with a not-positive tone, shall we say, the fact that we had women elders. Nothing about how we've grown, what our vision is, or what God has done at Koinonia House. No... simply that we have women elders (which, for accuracy sake, we don't have elders yet, other than Todd & I - we have an advisory team. So THE female elder aforementioned would be me.) It was, at best, awkward, at worst, offensive. I'm trying not to venture toward offensive, but it's kinda frustrating. I hate that when someone asked about KH the only info they got was the highlighting of a point on which we would differ. I hate being labeled. I guess it's simply a dose of reality, and it should prompt me to pray more intensely for God to work unity among local congregations despite their differences, rather than taking offense. It's also stirred me to really think what we portray to people...what are we about, what characterizes us.

On a positive note, the neighbor concluded that conversation with "Well, their daughter is very nice..." I guess maybe we aren't ALL bad. :)


Zoanna said...

Well, yeh, I can see your point. To overhear the area of disagreement vs the commonalities would upset me,too. However, I disagree with having women elders because of the verse which says, "let him be the husband of one wife." I just can't see there's much wiggle room since only a man can be the husband of one wife. That said, you and I have a LOT in common and I don't want this point of biblical disagreement to offend you, but I feel awkward in churches where women are in high leadership roles. I've been in all kinds of churches, and by far the healthiest ones have been where the men lead with servant hearts with the respect and support of their wives, but aren't co-equal in the heavy responsibility of shepherding a flock. Please keep the lines of communication open between us; we may disagree, but I don't shut out people for that reason. I hope you won't either. Love,love, love,Zo

jessi said...

Hi Zo,
I see you're catching up on all the blogs, eh? :) Welcome home, by the way!! I thought your 're-entry' post was very good, and look forward to hearing more over the days about your trip.

I understand your point of view, and spent my entire life in churches that held the same view. I would attend any of those churches again, even though I disagree - I am a firm believer in 'majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors'. I have thoroughly and prayerfully looked into the whole women issue from both sides, have argued for both sides at different times in my life, and my final answer is that I think, as with many theological debates, each side has valid points, and I can understand why they hold the stance they do. I have seen a plethora of healthy churches, both ones where women do not hold leadership roles and ones where they do. I'm convinced that we cannot make our decisions based on what makes us comfortable or uncomfortable. MANY people are uncomfortable in churches where people raise their hands or believe in speaking in tongues - I don't accept or rule these things out based on how it makes me feel, or even if the church seems to be healthy. Again - healthy charismatic churches as well as fundamental ones. Not the deciding factor. There are as many women who have been controlled by domineering men (who by the way, have claimed that to be their God-given role, to make matters worse) that feel equally uncomfortable in churches that are led solely by men. Again, still not the deciding factor. I am well acquainted with the verse you refer to, and can't possibly go into the whole issue here, basing things not on simply one verse, which carries much meaning, but the whole of what is seen in scripture. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree, though, that we cannot take offense to those with differing opinions, and we must be able to keep loving, open communication central.

This kind of brings home the point of my post. My frustration is not with the issue...I completely understand their stance, and have no problem with their church because of it. (I don't know if he even realizes it, but we would also differ in the area of eschatology, but again, it's not been a hinderance to our relationship). I believe with issues like these, where MANY Bible-believing, God-seeking people and churches disagree, that there must be grace for each other. There must be a realization that we temporarily see through a glass dimly, and in all honestly, we may ALL be slightly off in our theories. Only that will be revealed in the fullness of time. In the meantime, we must strive to maintain fellowship, and continue to seek God and obey that which we feel He speaks to us, both through the Spirit and the Word. My frustration lies in the fact that this issue is all he can see of our church. We are not an issue, we are a part of the body. Not to be dealt with, corrected or written off, but to be in relationship with, learning to work together side by side for the kingdom. We have been open to his input, and will continue to be, but do not feel he has changed our viewpoint on this or given us any new insight. We DO feel he has been unwilling to listen to our thoughts, has stereotyped us (without ever meeting any of our people besides Todd) and apparently formed his opinion of us as a people based on a theological stance he disagrees with. That is the part that is hurtful to me.

I actually appreciate your boldness to disagree with me. I know there are others who read this blog that also disagree, and I seriously questioned whether or not to post this entry. But I came to the conclusion that this is a place where I share my heart and my life, and I choose to believe the best about the folks who read this, and like you, hope they won't shut me out because of this. I'm completely open to any further dialogue both with you, or any others, but since I got pretty long in my response, maybe it should be done via e-mail? LOL I tend to ramble, I guess. Anway, thanks again, and you are definitely NOT shut out! (((hugs)))

Zoanna said...

Point well made and well taken. We will agree to disagree on this one. And by the word "feel" I don't mean just "feel" socially. But if I went into a longer explanation of the word "feel" as I used, surely more debate would ensue and I'm thinking it would not bear fruit. I certainly have been in the position of one accused without having the other party even addressed me or said more than 3 words to me after being introduced, and the results were two years of bitterness that I just repented of after a meeting with said parties. I hope you deal ruthlessly with bitterness, regardless what the other persons do. Let Christ be your example of humility, who was led like a lamb to the slaughter yet did not open his mouth. That's an ultimate toughie for me. I tend to lead with the mouth!