Today’s post is written by Jo Anne Taylor, Director of Music and Worship at Bethlehem Covenant Church in Minneapolis, MN.
Much of what we do as worship planners comes from asking, “What do you think?” of colleagues we trust. Those colleagues may be our pastors, members of our worship teams, or fellow worship leaders from the greater Body of Christ. Often, the question arises from the day-to-day context of serving our own congregations. Occasionally, the question springs from an event or new development in the broader Church. Asking “What do you think?” reminds us that we do not work alone, but in community with others whose calling and gifting complements our own, through the power of the Holy Spirit. When the question springs from the larger Church, we have an opportunity to reaffirm who we are as the Covenant, and how we participate in the whole Body of Christ.
Early this week, a prominent non-Covenant pastor posted a remark on his Facebook page that caused quite a stir across the Internet. Other Christian bloggers immediately called him to task, and he eventually withdrew his original comment. As Covenant worship leaders joined the discussion, ‘Freedom in Christ’ became more than just a slogan: our unity in diversity was put to a test, as the discussion turned from “pulpit bullies” to complementarian/egalitarian viewpoints and their implications for ministry.
The Evangelical Covenant Church is unequivocally egalitarian. There are plenty of resources available through the Covenant website that clarify the biblical foundation for the church’s position. If you haven’t read Called and Gifted yet, it’s time: click here to read. Jay Phelan’s All God’s People does a great job of explaining the call of women to ministry from a biblical and historical perspective.
As the Better Together discussion veered in a surprising direction, its content struck me with double force: not only am I a woman serving a Covenant church, but I was also facing this very issue as part of a Covenant Orientation Theology class, meeting at North Park Seminary this week. As my classmates and I discussed a range of positions in the classroom, members of the Better Together community shared their views online. One wrote, “Thankfully, God has a standard of masculinity that is far different from the one our culture constantly shouts at us. The true measure of a man is this: How much like Jesus is he?” Another shared a link to his own earlier post on the same topic (click here to read). One wrote, “the whole thing is just plain complicated … now there’s an oxymoron!” and another added, “Sometimes, the culture needs to catch up with the freedom that Jesus gives us as people….”
What breaks my heart, as a woman preparing to answer God’s call to ministry, is the wall that arises between my complementarian friends and me. It doesn’t matter how open I am to dialogue, how much I love my complementarian colleagues, or how willing I am to work alongside a complementarian pastor. As a woman seeking to follow God’s calling into ministry, I present a barrier to others that I am powerless to remove. I confess I have lost several hours of sleep as I pondered and prayed over this reality. Yet Scripture reminds me that I must depend on the sufficiency of God’s grace (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10). It is here where I must truly apply the Covenant understanding of freedom in Christ:
Freedom in Christ is not a right we claim for ourselves, but a gift God offers to us.
Freedom in Christ is not a right I claim for myself, but a gift I offer to you.