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women in Christian Leadership – that’s sorted then!

November 26, 2012

So many words have been written about the decision of the Church of England to continue to appoint only male bishops, that I guess my two pence worth is not going to settle the debate: But that doesn’t stop me trying!

For me there are two enormous problems that my friends in the established church struggle with, that I simply don’t have – (there are also some smaller issues, but I can’t get round to everything in one day!) The first is the whole concept of Bishops, and the second is an “either/or” approach to what women can do.

So first – about bishops – the C of E – despite it’s many undoubted strengths, and in the face of its amazing ability to fudge most of the really important issues, has an approach to bishops that says this is where the authority is. There is a hierarchy that (hopefully) still has Jesus at the top, but then cascades down through archbishops, to bishops, to priests, and eventually to the `laity` (the people), but aren’t all of these positions held by people?

I cannot see either in common sense, or in the bible anywhere that supports this concept of hierarchy. In my work I am part of a leadership team that replaced a structure where a `chief executive` was in charge and made all the decisions. Of course, the decisions still need to be made, but they are made by consensus after consultation – and i can tell you that the decisions made by a team are better thought out and stronger. It is not the only team I have been a part of, but every time I have this way it has been better than putting a heap of responsibility on one set of shoulders and then blaming them when it all goes wrong!

The bible too tells us that Christian leaders are not to “rule” over us, but that they are to serve, in exactly the same way as Jesus served. In the passage I will preach on this week, (I Corinthians 9) Paul goes out of his way to first argue that the congregation has a duty to support those in ministry, then does an amazing about turn to remind his readers that he never took a penny from them in support. This is servant leadership – it is what the church should be built on. It is the energy of the church where each of us expresses practical love for our sister or brother, as well as for the stranger, the oppressed and the vulnerable.

Leaders are those who will serve, who at Ephesians 4 puts it leaders “equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up”

No-one anglican or otherwise has suggested that women are not able to serve, are not able to help others grow: So no one is suggesting that women don’t have a place – even the most important place (although we will look at that concept later in the blog) in the church. Merely that they can’t be bishops; but then if you don’t believe in bishops in the first place why is this an issue?

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