Monday, November 24, 2014

Are Churches Sexist in their Children's Ministries?

For the next few days I'm going to write about something which may be controversial; I sincerely hope you will comment as I would really like to hear what you think and what your experience has been.

Children's Ministry is a place where women are sometimes discriminated against and treated badly. Yes, there are churches where they treat women in children's ministry very well; I have had the joy to serve in several such churches, but it can also be a place where women are not treated well. Please allow me to give some examples over the next few days - one a day - of what I'm talking about . . . 

First, you might see this in a church where there is a woman who has gifts and experience to serve in children's ministry, but her ideas leave her "labeled" as, "pushy" or "bossy"; especially when she is not being pushy or bossy, and a man who had the same ideas would be "labeled" as, a "good leader" or as someone who "knows what he is talking about". Sadly, I have been at churches where I've experienced this.

Stop and consider if your church does this. Doing so can have several consequences . . . 
  • It causes pain to the woman who is trying to serve and use the gifts and abilities God has given her.
  • It leaves the woman feeling, at the least, hesitant to use her gifts and abilities and at the worst, afraid to do so.
  • It causes the church to pay a high price; they lose out on the gifts and abilities God sent them.
  • It allows the people who "labeled" the woman and treated her badly to go on to continue to do this with other women and in so doing, they create a "poisonous" atmosphere in their children's ministry.
  • It harms other volunteers and sets a terrible example for children to see.
So, what do you do if you recognize this as something which happens, or has happened at your church? The very first thing you should do is pray and ask God for forgiveness as you have treated badly a person God gifted your ministry with. Secondly, you need to go to the woman who was treated badly and sincerely apologize. Thirdly, you need to go to any others at your church who had a part in treating the woman badly and call on them to be accountable for what they did as well. You also need to go to anyone who saw and or heard what you did and or said and set the record straight with them to restore the woman in the view of others. And finally, you need to be focused on not doing this again. Ever.

God does gift women to serve in children's ministry. While my own background is conservative and I don't prefer to be seen as a children's "pastor", I do believe women can serve and direct in children's ministry and do so very effectively. Churches who are gifted with a man or a woman who has gifts and experience in children's ministry have been given a wonderful gift from God. Some churches value this gift - not just with words, but with their actions; others do not. It matters how we treat this "gift" from God.

So, what has your experience been in this area?

No comments:

Post a Comment