8.1.15

Ian Paul and Steve Holmes on launch 3:28


I too have followed the 3:28 movement and launch, watching the stats for Christian conferences over the years. Some time back, GodLovesWomen began to assess such data (November 2013) and release it into the public realm.

In Ian Paul's analysis of the gender disparities at leading Christian conferences, he supports Steve Holmes in his belief that women are, naturally, equally 'called and equipped in speaking, teaching and leading.' There has been some correcting of imbalances. New Wine, for whom I have spoken, just at seminar level, have redressed this balance, which is pleasing to see. Ian Paul knows that I am the one who will often wave a hand to challenge him on some of his gender analysis when he 'seminars.'  In the last conference at which I heard him speak, in his suppositions that on Facebook men are tending towards promotion of their work and women towards relationship-building, I replied with my thoughts that there are a good number of women whose main objective there is networking and the promotion of their books, articles, blog-posts,etc. Relationships are conducted instead in real time and space.

Ian Paul's analysis of the speaking circuit seems accurate, though. I am less convinced by his reasoning regarding the genders sometimes, but I am aware that this is likely the cause of my own experiences, which I suspect are indicative of increasing general trends in that I have the full-time vocation and my husband is someone with whom I parent interchangeably. Mine is the full-time role, in full-time ministry and he is the main carer for our children. 

Steve Holmes believes that women are 'more likely to doubt their own competence and say no' to invitations to speak. It is one of the suggestions offered regarding why women are less visible at Christian conferences. I remember reading another writer who explored why women do not seem to be heading up the larger churches. She wondered if there was innate in women a relational drive to work in community which overrides the drive to leadership. In the first ten years of the new millennium, though, the increase in full-time female ministers rose by 50%. 

Ian Paul reflects on how in his first decade of theological education 'many very competent women, clearly called by God into leadership, had questions about their own calling and competence—whilst some less able men appeared blessed by a complete absence of self-doubt.' 

I wonder whether this is actually reflective of the reality of the case, perhaps instead it is the women who are more prepared to speak through, to articulate aloud, their trepidations. 

Is it that gender conditioning keeps men more silent on the issue? I have no statistics to support this, though!

Ian Paul is interested in the way that Steve Holmes explores parenting and the responsibilities it brings. 

…the hard yards on this road come when, if you have family, your children are young, and it is generally harder for a mother than a father to accept invitations to be away from home.

Where Ian Paul says that this then means that 'you need to see parental roles as interchangeable,' & 'my problem is, I don’t think I do. And there is a mass of evidence to say that this isn’t the case,' is he saying that he doesn't see evidence that people are parenting interchangeably or that he, himself, doesn't think parenting is interchangeable across gender? 

It is the former. 

He has allowed his wife to continue in her career as a GP. Whilst I might not describe Henryk's release of me into full time-Anglican ministry, as something he has allowed, because I am not sure I sought his permission, rather it just made sense, I am someone who has been able to flourish in my calling and release Henryk into discovering the one that is full-time parenting. 

Ian Paul makes some good points about the pitfalls of a project like 3:28, women will choose their parental role over their work commitments but could it not be, that when we apply the same logic, men might do exactly that too? 

I remain convinced that women are still to push the boundaries and be released into opportunities because often the greatest gift that this then brings to the men who support them, is that they share in the good-gift that is full-on, full-time parenting! 

Let's still push for equity on the platform so that women in equal number to men are there preaching and exploring the word of God and his rule for our lives. 

This should not be a gendered issue. 

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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.