Below, is an outline/transript of the lesson from 2/4/15. Each figure number is linked to its appropriate graphic. They come from the survey you took, so the question numbers will appear out of order. Questions? Thoughts? Email Robert at


  • I want to start with a letter from a member (read with her permission).
    • It reads: I am looking forward to this study. It is better to be prepared than to play catch up. I have heard this topic for many years. It will go well if we are there to learn. You are a good teacher. Sometimes a little more liberal than me. LOL. I wish you well in the class and i know you will be prepared. In Christian Love, _________
      • What I love about this email is it sets the tone so well.
      • It’s a relief to find curiosity rather than fear and openness instead of suspicion.
      • These days I value trust so much more than I value agreement.
    • A church that is healthy will have high amounts of mutual trust, regardless of level of agreement.
  • Here’s an Outline of our study
    • Tonight—Survey and get an overview of where we’re headed
    • Next week—Discussion of women in the 1st Century Mediterranean world
    • After that: Survey of the pertinent passages.
    • After that: closer look at individual passages.
    • After that: we discuss possible conclusions.
  • Format
    • I will do most of the talking early on, more than I ever do.
      • Just to give you an introduction to the information.
      • Even later though, I’m probably going to control the discussion a little more than I usually do.
      • Especially since the goal is not debate, but education.
        • Doesn’t mean you can’t talk, give input, ask questions
        • I just want to make sure it continues to be informative.
        • And it doesn’t devolve into back and forth.
    • This may be frustrating
    • I might change my mind.
    • I certainly hope you’ll find other ways of communicating.
  • Survey Results
    • Disclaimer
      • Surveys are only as good as the one writing the questions, tabulating data, interpreting data. (Me in all cases)
      • I’m not a sociologist. I’m certainly not a statistician.
      • I know some of the questions could have been clearer, hope to make it better for the end of class survey.
    • I have a printed copy for anyone who wants to see the whole thing.
    • Also putting it on the website.
      • Plan is to put a recording of each class.
      • Along with notes
      • And other things.
      • It’s in the Member section
      • Here is the username/password
    • Won’t be talking about everything in the survey
      • More about hitting the highlights
      • And thinking in terms of groupings
    • Previous experience with women who are ministers
      • As would be expected we have very little experience being in a church where women are in visible/vocal leadership roles.
        • Women are already leading in our congregation
        • Just not vocally or visibly
      • Survey Respondents had some experience as members of a church where there was a female minister on staff (probably as a children’s or youth minister.) (Figure 1)
      • But respondents have very little experience with women as preachers or elders. (Figure 2)
      • So what?
        • In addition to the concern about whether or not it's biblical.
        • I think there will be an element of discomfort even thinking about women in leadership roles.
        • Because it’s simply been out of the realm of possibility for many of us.
    • Our understanding regarding gender roles at church and home. (Figure 3)
      • More of us feel the Bible is clear regarding roles in the home.
      • Fewer of us feel the Bible is clear regarding roles at church.
      • I’ll talk a lot more about this next week, when we talk about women in the Mediterranean world.
    • Responses regarding specific ministry roles (Figure 4)
      • A majority of us don’t seem to believe that all speaking roles should be off limits to women. 
        • Making an announcement
        • Teaching a class
        • Baptizing someone?
        • Even leading a prayer and serving at the Lord’s Supper is approved by close to 50% (Figure 5)
      • There is less resistance to certain ministerial roles as well. (Figure 6)
        • Deacon
        • Youth Minister
      • But most of you feel there are still roles that should be restricted to men. (Figure 7)
        • Preacher
        • Elder
        • Observations
          • More are ok with women serving as elders than preachers (a little unexpected)
          • Still, 30% approval for both female elders and preachers is a significant number.
          • One I would not have expected 10 years ago.
    • Finally a couple of other things I want to show you that didn’t come out just from looking at individual questions.
      • I looked more closely at responses regarding female elders.
        • I chose that question because, for most, female elders would represent full inclusion.
        • So it creates the clearest distinction.
      • I looked at opinions regarding female elders by gender (Figure 8), and there was no significant difference between male and female respondents.
      • However, I detect an age gap in approval of female elders.
        • With the respondents under 40 more in favor.
        • And respondents over 40 more opposed (Figure 9).
  • So what does all this mean?
    • We are not all together on this. There is no clear agreement.
    • This is not simply a matter of voting and deciding.
    • A reminder of the goal for our class: Understanding.
      • To get to the point where you can say what you believe
      • And understand why others believe what they believe.
    • Why this is important?
      • We must be generous.
      • Instead, What we tend to do
        • Believe the worst of those who disagree with us.
        • You see it a lot on the 24 hour news channels.
    • There are two regrettable natural tendencies when confronted with disagreement.
      • Assume motive/Reduce them to a villain (No moustache twirling villains here)
      • Where complementarians are judged to be Chauvinists
      • And egalitarians are judged as not valuing scripture.
    • The idea being, if you can present the worst of what they believe so you can dismiss it.
    • You’ll know you get it when you can state another person’s view in a way that they say, “Yes. That’s what I think.”
  • Reading 1 Corinthians 13
    • In 1 Corinthians Paul mentions the gifts that he would love the church in Corinth to exhibit.
      • Speaking in tongues
      • Wisdom
      • Faith
      • Giving
    • But he says none of those is any good if love does not accompany them.
    • He would say the same of Women’s roles.
      • If I’ve freed everyone to serve in ministry regardless of their gender but I don’t have love…
      • If I’ve preserved the authority of the church as God always intended, but have not love…
  • Finally, a reading of the “Prayer of St. Francis” to remind us of our goal for the class:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is discord, harmony;

Where there is error, truth;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.