I am tired, I am full, I am amazed.
We have just completed the Lime Green Tour and since you are one of the 626 women and men who attended our Lime Green discussions and or helped fund its publication, we wanted to update you on the impact and influence of those gatherings.
We went to LA, Houston, Dallas and Austin (3x) Grand Rapids MI, and South Bend Indiana. We sold over 1200 books several to pastors shepherding more than 12,000 congregants. That’s why I am tired. However, it’s the sense of God’s moving that has me amazed!
Permit me to tell you just a few from these last three months.
My husband and I were invited to the home of a mega church leader where he shared that his church has been in a year-long discussion on the “women’s issue”. They had spent a year learning the 42 reasons the word “authority” in 1 Timothy 2 means this or that. The 62 reasons head cover means this or that. (Yes, I’m being a bit over the top.) But it was the sharing of a real woman’s story (mine in Lime Green) that put skin on all that diligent and important study. It tipped the scale. Now they are about to announce a shift in their Church’s position on women in the church. A shift that will rock through the evangelical mega church in their sphere of influence.
A woman who attended a discussion in Austin gave Lime Green to her pastor and invited him to host a church wide Lime Green discussion. Another woman in Austin emailed that she saw the book on her pastor’s desk (and he was reading it). Discussions were happening in the hallways.
Another woman purchased several books in hopes to host a discussion with her senior pastor and others within her large church community. A senior pastor of a church of 500 shared his staff was writing bylaws and wanted to know where I could direct him towards resources on the role of women.
Another woman, who serves on a city-wide ministry, asked “How we can get more women to the table” in business, civic and church settings – she sees women in a new light now in all those arenas. Sandy, a leader in a nation wide ministry, called to see how The Marcella Project could train her female leaders to preach. She said the women leaders go without much training and rarely get promoted into the higher levels of the ministry and yet are expected to communicate the gospel with excellence. How can we help? Another question we are addressing.
In Houston home over 20 women leaders of a multi- site church joined the discussion. They had read the book and were highly invested in the conversation. As leaders in the Church they understood so much of the story and the desperate need for men and women to become a blessed alliance in God’s Kingdom. The event was technically over at 9PM but we were still there at 11 PM. I think they would have continued on but I was exhausted. My husband and part time “road manager” pulled me out before I collapsed. We continue to strategize, “the next steps for their church?”
One woman Pastor of a church in Chicago has given Lime Green to some of their small group leaders to read and discuss. She’s also opened doors for The Marcella Project to teach a class on women in ministry with Dr. Scot McKnight at Northern Seminary.
I met with a dean of a Baptist seminary to discuss Lime Green. He had read the book and was very receptive to women serving in all areas of the Church. He commented that his women students were excellent thinkers and communicators but had few opportunities within the Baptist world. He is working hard to change that. I was able to suggest the need for his female students (and men too!) to have a female preaching professor. Waiting to see how God brings fruit from that very encouraging discussion.
At a wine bar in Grand Rapids MI one women who sat in the corner listening to the Lime Green discussion finally spoke up and said, “Why is being a Christian wife so much like being a patched old lady in a biker gang?”
Two women in South Bend Indiana shared how they found listening to me “scary.” They grew up in a church tradition where women “have no voice when they marry.” They weren’t saying that like it was bad- just the way God made it. Even though they “believed that women should have no voice when they married” I noticed tears running down their face as they said it. All I could think was, “Jesus came to set you free not put you in bondage.”
Lime Green tour ended at a conference in Grand Rapids with a candid conversation with over 100 women. We tried to give them 30 minutes to ask questions but you could have feel the room about to “pop.” I think they would have kept me their till midnight asking questions. There was so much pain in the room. Women who had been put in chains by the mishandling of Scripture. Hope because there might be another way, a way they had never been told. Fear, what would this mean if they embraced a different way to live as men and women. Freedom for some, as they realized their Jesus has another plan for his women and girls.
Two things I learned during this three months of discussions: the need is real. Women and men are desperate to be released from the bonds placed on them by society and in particular the Church. Second, we need action steps. At the end of the first Lime Green discussion the women looked at me and said, “Well, what do we do now?” They were ready for action and I stumbled. Not because I didn’t know what to do next but because I was leery of saying it. Well, after what I have heard and seen, I’m not any more.
In chapter 9 of Lime Green I outline some action steps we can take to break the bondage that’s occurred in the church – way too long might I add. And one of those steps is to support the progressive voices already doing the work in your area. One of those progressive voices is The Marcella Project. We are committed to reshaping our view of women in the Church. We believe the Church is God’s instrument to change what’s happening to women and girls around the globe but it must start with us at home. We have to reshape our biblical view.
I am grateful for your early involvement in the mission of The Marcella Project and specifically the Lime Green discussion.
Now here are some ways you can take next steps:
1. Become a Marcella 100 Member or a general supporter of our day-to-day work.
2. Pray for opportunities to reshape the view of women and then boldly follow God’s leading.
3. Prayerfully think through who should participate in the SUMMIT with you.
4. Support the underwriting of the Summit so pastors and future leaders in the church are able to attend as well.
President The Marcella Project