This week in Seattle there is a gathering of Emerging Women’s Leadership. I would claim this initiative is one of the most important to be born of the avant-church conversation to date. As has often been commented, the “emergent” conversation began primarily as a conversation of quasi-conservative/post-evangelical/post-fundamentalists (though certainly not limited to these groups), and it is the more conservative voices that have often tried to dampen the leadership presence of women. How this conversation develops is so important. I trust we can learn from the Lilith Fair.
Remember in the 1990′s when for first time in music history women artists were gaining the kind of influence that men had enjoyed. To celebrate what was happening with the rise of the female voice the Lilith Fair music festival was born. Within two years the those Lilith Fair artists were cut out of the mainstream music scene and it became a “women’s music festival.” The influence of those female artists was affectively muted by self-segregation. I pray it will not be so with the church . . . but for it to be different a male response seems necessary. Men must “buy tickets to the festival,” as it were; and not out of obligation but simply because the music is great. Whenever I have the opportunity to participate in events like the Emerging Women’s Leadership Initiative I choose to.
If you are a male reading this, don’t kid yourself about what is being invited of you. Brothers, we must surrender ourselves. The “will to power” is great, it has often been the male’s drug of choice. And to receive the stories that are being offered without defense . . . all I can say is that I need God. When I hear some of the stories of my sister’s in ministry I want to say, “I am not like that!” But I fear I might be. For as much as I want to surrender I also want power. God help us.
Symbolically I am the old-guard – I am a Western, white, educated, middle-class, male and as such part of my calling is to surrender my “power” (as best as I am able and aware), to hear and really listen to the stories of the “other,” and to choose “us,” by stepping into relationship. One of my prayers is that men and women will step into relationship and choose “us” thus avoiding the Lilith Fair Effect, while also creating a people of God where there is no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. The way of Christ is to leave the center and step into the margin. By moving into the margin the marginalized no longer are . . . how do we shape the ethos of a community . . . by our presence.
On a different note, Brian McLaren is in town all week, teaching Mission in a Postmodern World at MHGS at the same time Spencer Burke and theooze will be Soularizing in CA. On Thursday we will be web-feeding Brian into Soularize, joining his class which will already be in process; after an hour or so with Brian I will have the chance to facilitate a discussion with in-person students, some Soularize people and web participants, how cool is that? At least that’s the plan for now.