I had a lecture today on women in church leadership. Both lecturers were female ministers, one from the Methodist church the other my Warden at college. It was a predictable agenda and slightly biased as you can imagine as both were pushing women’s’ ministry. I’m not saying that this is a bad agenda to push but in a place of learning where we are shown the situation I would have liked to have seen some opposition. I am very pro-women ministry (probably having grown up in a female dominated household!) So the argument put forward made me just nod my head and say “Yes I get it!” Where, however, was the voice from the opposition? These people who firmly believe women should not have leadership roles in the church, where was their voice? I left the lecture wanting to hear why they believe what they believe…
This is not what I’m wanting to write about so I’ll stop there!
After the lecture a wonderful female colleague of mine exclaimed “No wonder people outside the church think we’re out of touch!” I couldn’t agree with her more but in terms of explaining the politics of the Anglican Church to those who struggle to fit into the religious aspects of our faith, how are we to encourage people to become a part of the church?
I always think of my role as an evangelist is to tell people of the Kingdom of God and to bring them into that. The church is an expression and vehicle for that mission: To get people engaged with the Kingdom of God. ‘Mission Shaped Church’, the most important document to come out of the Anglican Communion on mission certainly this century, talks about the concepts of Kingdom, Church and Mission. The terms are confusingly vague in the document and John Hull has argued against it. My thoughts are that we are called as God’s Church to God’s Mission to further God’s Kingdom and the Kingdom is the end goal.
The theatre community is full of people who are searching for spirituality and are suspicious of religion and establishment. They are a group of people who have deep understanding of the invisible and natural yearnings towards the divine. They are also a group who are almost defined to be radical and fresh and fight against established norms in order to speak into constrictive power structures and give a voice against oppression, etc.
While I sat and listened to two women putting the argument across as to why women should have the call to lead God’s people and they spoke of disagreements and political processes that have hindered the furthering of this issue, I reflected on an artists’ impression of the Church of England. This huge, established, political community could not be any more of a satirical enemy to the small rebellious artistic community. Where do they meet?
In their awareness that there is no good or bad guys. In the appreciation for all voices and an open and honest dialogue. The Church of England is not always good at expressing itself and admitting its need to change. Artists are not always good at patiently listening to other peoples opinions. If we can harness the rebellious and passionate expressions of the artist to the huge political vehicle that is the church we can further God’s Kingdom.
I’m sorry if this post is not as fluid or thought out as previous posts. As way of explanation I’ll explain what’s in front of me; a list of possible prayer stations to use in a prison, a map of Durham cathedral for the Lenten reflection, a proposal for a theatre ministerial placement, a book of dramatic poems to be translated into prose and lots of books on evangelism for an essay… So think of this post as a de-cluttering to prepare for work!