God Loves Women

A blog sharing my love of God, the love He has for women and my frustration that the Church often doesn't realise this

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Single Sex Event Names

Posted by God Loves Women on June 7, 2014 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

The other week I was chatting with my wonderful friend Helen and her housemate.  Still pyjama-clad and vaguely sleepy, the conversation moved onto single-sex Christian events and not in a good way.  I felt it called for a bit of a Google of the names Christian women's and men's events are given.  Here is a brief overview:

 

Women's events

  1. Be
  2. Activate your life
  3. Love actually
  4. Restore and reform
  5. Women of faith: from survival to revival
  6. Being a Christian woman
  7. Pink Impact
  8. True Woman
  9. Love Life
  10. Arise
  11. God's word our story
  12. Desperate for Jesus
  13. Colour
  14. Lovely
  15. All Things Are Possible
  16. Cherish
  17. God's Leading Ladies
  18. Gathering of Women Leaders
  19. Flourish
  20. Valued and Thriving


Men's events

  1. Resurrection
  2. Fighting the good fight of faith
  3. Xcel
  4. Men's Summit
  5. A Call to Arms
  6. Courageous
  7. No Regrets 
  8. The Gathering
  9. Iron sharpens iron
  10. Fight

 

It seems, in general, fighting is for men and feeling is for  women.

 

I know those who run these events are passionate about what they do and that many people gets loads out of single-sex events, and not all of them are hideously bad, plus it would be unfair to invalidate whole events based on their name.  The question is, are these events solely using stereotypes to attract their audience, or are they perpetuating the very boxes which restrict women and men from becoming all God is calling them to be.  I've spoken to so many women and men who find the current single-sex conferences alienate them and leave them feeling either inadequate or under pressure to conform. 

 

I'm not sure what the way forward is, but surely there's got to be a better way than this...?

Are UK Christian Conferences Sexist?

Posted by God Loves Women on November 13, 2013 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (18)

After the hoo-hah that began when “The Nines” Leadership Conference chose to have only 4 female speakers while having 110 male speakers, was brought to public attention yesterday by Rachel Held Evans yesterday, @jonathonmerritt, a US blogger collated the male and female speakers at various high profile US Christian conferences. Helen Austin (@helen_a13- the blogger formally known as Fragmentz) mentioned that it would be useful to have a UK version, so the two of us set about doing this, with some help from various people giving us suggestions of conferences to include.

 

Where possible we’ve sourced the information about speakers from the online recordings after the events. Where that hasn’t been possible, we’ve looked at the contributors listed for future events. We have included the number of women and men who contributed, and the overall amount of presentations done by men and women (some speakers contribute multiple times). We’ve included married couples who spoke together as “couples” and have mentioned other interesting things like whether the women who are contributors are married to men who are also contributors. 

 

We have done our best to gather the correct information, please do email me on [email protected] if there are ay alternations or additions.  So here goes...

 

Spring Harvest 2013 (Minehead 1)

27 men (69%) | Women 12 (31%)

Presentations by: Men 59 (71%) | Women 23 (29%) | [Couples 3]

 

New Wine 2013 (London South East)

Mainstage: 14 men (82%) | 3 women (18%) (67% of the women were married to male conference speakers)

Overall: 65 men (68%) | Women 30 (32%) (48% of women were speaking about relationships, children, abuse etc.)

Presentations by: Men 96 (73%) | Women 35 (27%) | [Couples 25]

 

 

Greenbelt 2013 (confirmed by conference organisers)

71 men (61%) | 45 women (39%)

Presentations by: Men 132 (65%) Women 72 (35%)| [Couples 1]

 

 

Keswick 2013

21 men (100%) 0 women (0%)

 

HTB Leadership Conference 2013

Mainstage: 5 men (83%) | 1 woman (17%)

Overall: 36 men 36 (84%) | 7 women (16%)

Presentations by: Men 48 (87%) Women 7 (13%) (57% of women were on a panel with at least 4 men each) (1 woman married to a male speaker at the conference)

 

Detling 2013 (information from website speaker profiles)

13 men (72%) | 5 women (18%) | [5 couples]

 

Hillsong Conference 2014 (information from website)

4 men (80%) | 1 woman (20%) (she is married to a male speaker at the conference) | [1 couple]

 

Westpoint 2013 (updated by Dave Bish, who spoke at the event)

14 men (88%) | 2 women (12%) (1 co-led a seminar, another married to a male speaker at the conference)

Presentations by: Men 22 (92%) | Women 2 (9%)

 

CNMAC 2013 (from website speaker profiles)

Mainstage: 7 men (70%) | 3 women (30%)

Overall: 25 men (71%) | 10 women (29%)

 

Creation Fest 2013

27 men (87%) | 4 women (13%)

Presentations by: Men 53 (90%) Women 6 (10%) [Couples 5]

 

Faithcamp

Mainstage: 5 men (83%) | 1 woman (17%) (she is married to a male conference speaker)

Mainstage presentations by: Men 11 (91%) | Women1 (9%)

General: 14 men (70%) | 6 women (30%)

General presentations by: Men 34 (76%) Women 11 (24%) (18% were on “women’s issues” )

 

Youthwork Summit 2013 (figures updated by Martin Saunders, conference organiser, who has said it was deliberate to ensure this gender balance)

15 men (48%) | 16 women (52%) [1 couple]

 

Youthwork Conference 2014 (Taken from website contributors list)

20 men (65%) | 11 women (35%)

 

Momentum 2013

24 men 24 (77%) | 7 women 7 (23%)

Presentations by: Men 63 (75%) Women 21 (25%) (57% of female speakers were married to male conference speakers)

 

Soul Survivor 2013

21 men 21 (70%) | 9 women (30%) (33% of female speakers were married to male conference speakers)

Presentations by: Men 58 (73%) Women 22 (27%)

 

Newday 2013

16 men (70%) | 7 women (30%) (1 female speaker was married to a male speaker - 14%)

Presentations by: Men 19 (67%) Women 9 (33%)

 

One Event 2013 (formally Grapevine)

Mainstage: 8 men (89%) | 1 woman (11%)

Seminars: 6 couples running 6 seminar streams

 

Baptist assembly 2014 (from website contributors)

3 men (75%) | 1 woman (25%)

 

Word Alive 2014 (from website contributors)

4 men (80%) | 1 woman (20%)

 

National Day Of Prayer 2013 (from website round up of the day)

14 men (88%) | 2 women (12%)

 

Street Angels CNI Conference 2013 (from Paul Blakey, conference organiser)

6 men (50%) | 6 women (50%) | 1 couple

 

Global Connections 2014 (information from Eddie Arthur, involved in conference organising)

1 man (50%) | 1 woman (50%) (conference will include more discussion, less front led content)

 

New Horizon

37 men (86%) | Women 6 (14%)

Presentations by: Men 64 (86%) | Women 10 (14%) | [Couple 1]

 

 

Big Church Day Out 2013 (confirmed by Wendy Beech-Ward)

6 men (75%) | 2 women (25%) | 4 all male bands | 4 collectives (mainly men with some women)

(These were musicians rather than speakers)

 

Church and Media Conference 2013 (confirmed by Andrew Graystone, conference organiser)

4 men (44%) | 5 women (56%) 

 

Children and Families Conference 2013 (late addition to the list)

Presentations by: 19 men (61%) | 12 women (39%)

 

We were unable to gather any data on the Christian Resources Exhibition.

 

Some great responses to these stats are:

"On the Youth Work Summit and female speakers" by Martin Saunders

"Where are the women?" by Jenny Baker

"Hate Something, Change Something" by Steve Holmes

"Thoughts on Quotas" by Jenny Baker

"On Sexism and Events: An Organisers Perspective" by Kevin Bennett

 

Thanks to Hannah Mudge (@boudledidge) for helping with these charts!!

Why Sentamu was wrong to write for the Sunday Sun

Posted by God Loves Women on February 26, 2012 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (8)

I wrote this as a comment in a blog by @revarun which you can read here.  (You can read Archbishop Sentamu's full text for The Sun on Sunday on his website here)  Unfortunately my comment was too long and so I thought rather than shorten it, I would turn it into a blog of my own!  So here are my thoughts:


The Sun promotes pornography.  Would Archibishop Sentamu be happy to write a regular column on a pornography site?  I would hope not!  Jesus' response to women in the Bible was to give them equal value, to tell them they mattered.

 

If Christians are so desperate to get people to hear their words that they need to write for The Sun, Jesus' message has got to a pretty desperate place.  Jesus called us to make discplies, to build deep relationships and live in community with one another.  He said it is by our love for one another that people will see Him.

 

Rupert Murdoch's empire is not justified because a brave journalist has died.  Her choice to work for the Murdoch empire may not have been a good one, but that doesn't invalidate every area of her character, as it doesn't with Archbishop Sentamu.  But while women are abused by their husband's in part due to the false messages they are fed by media like The Sun, suggesting that women are there to be sexual objects, and while The Sun continues to be a news outlet that perpetuates prejudice, misrepresentation and sensationalim of real people's lives, as Christians we should be speaking out.

 

Jesus did not go into business with the tax collectors, he did not provide space for prostitution in His lodgings.  He condemned the injustice, while making the most excluded, the most broken, the most hurting feel welcomed and loved.  We do that not by writing a column in a newspaper, but by doing life with the very people who are hurting, broken and outcast and loving them so deeply they feel the very love of Jesus.

This is Theology

Posted by God Loves Women on January 8, 2012 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I had a twitter conversation with someone recently about whether God’s model for humanity involves hierarchy and whether his model for marriage involves headship.  My view was that hierarchy and headship are not from God, his was that they are God’s constructs.  This is how it ended

 

Them:    “Yes, it's clear from both of you that men have abused their position. However, just because they have does not make almost all of the arguments you're offering. If you are saved, then you simply cannot ignore scripture, or reduce it to fit your needs or argument. I say this not because I'm a bloke, but because it's God's word!”

 

Me:     “But perhaps in part you can say that because you haven’t been abused by those Scriptures.”

 

Them:    “..and THATS the issue.”

 

The person I was conversing with then left Twitter and I was left trying to deduce what he meant by his statement.  Although afterwards I said I didn’t understand what he meant, he has not clarified his meaning and so I am left wondering.  

 

The conclusion I have come to about his comment was that he somehow thinks that my having been abused through the use of headship and hierarchy puts me in a less capable position to be able to see how God views these things.  That somehow his privilege at not knowing first hand the damage hierarchy and patriarchy does means he is in a better position to understand the Scriptures.  Perhaps that I am too emotionally involved with this issue to really “get” what God is saying.

 

[Of course, this may not be what he was saying, and if I’ve misinterpreted his view, I apologise, but I shall continue with this blog as I believe even if this man doesn’t believe this stuff, there are plenty of people who do.]

 

Firstly I would like address the idea that being emotionally involved with an issue means we are less able to have a suitable perspective on it.  God came to earth as a human baby, how much more emotionally involved does it get than that?  Jesus lived, died and was resurrected in a state of complete vulnerability.  Throughout the Bible we see God relating to Israel as an emotionally involved Father.  Jesus calls us to love sacrificially; he calls us blessed when we mourn and when we are merciful.  Being emotionally involved is not only an asset when making theological decisions, it is essential.

 

It is only as we see the true consequences of the theology we hold, that we can make decisions as to whether it is God’s heart or mans understanding.  Just as the Pharisees spent their lives running around trying to obey rules that they had missed the heart of, so many of us Christians are busy trying to stay true to teachings that we don’t understand, blaming God’s sovereignty on perpetuating teaching that abuse, damage or undermine people’s humanity.

 

I understand people’s reluctance at picking and choosing Scripture, but have we learnt nothing from Jesus’ response to the religious leaders?  Blaming it on the rules isn’t good enough!  Jesus came into the place and time He did and blasted apart the religious views of the time.  He advocated a radical third way, in which the heart is more significant than the letter could ever be; in which the least became the greatest and the most sinful more capable of redemption.  

 

I resist anybody who tries to tell me that the fact I have experienced abuse at the hands of my ex-husband, or having listened to the horrific stories of many Christian women, who have been abused by their “Christian” husbands makes me less able to understand what God is saying.  God has truly healed me from the abuse and trauma caused to me, and yet my heart is broken for the abuse and hurt in this beautiful world.  It is broken for the women and children that suffer, for the men who destroy lives, for a society that accepts abuse and for a Church that perpetuates it with teaching of hierarchy and headship.  This does not make me less able to understand theology.  This is theology.

 

 

New Masculinity

Posted by God Loves Women on October 27, 2011 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (1)

I am getting more and more infuriated with the “new masculinity” movement in the Church which seems to have been developed due to a lack of men in the Church.  This movement suggests the reason there is a lack of men in Church is due to the Church being too “feminised”, there is not enough “manliness” in the Church and this femininity is stopping men from becoming part of it.  This article from the Guardian is a good example of it.


On the surface of it, that would seem like a perfectly valid explanation.  However the problem with this new masculinity is the fact it assumes masculinity is a fixed, absolute thing, that there is only one masculinity and this masculinity is prevented from engaging with Church because of the other fixed absolute thing that is femininity.    But if this is true, how come the majority of the fruits of the Spirit are considered “feminine” characteristics; love, joy,peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians5:22-23)?  Surely the new masculinity will have to do away with these in favour of more “manly” characteristics, such as strength, logic, leadership and competitiveness (taken from this website)?


I would also like to say I am rather offended that theadvocates of the new masculinity stuff are saying the problem with the Church is me, my “womanliness” is putting off all those men.  These advocates of course would say I am missing the point, it is not me that is the problem, but the “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs and the fluffy, cuddly stuff.  But you see I can’t stand that part of Church either, not because I am a man (I am not a man) but because I am distraught that parts of the Body of Christ have been reduced to something so…small!  The radical, sold out, discipleship to the Son of Man has been turned into soppy, self indulgent songs and being “nice” to people.


But still, the advocates would say the reality is, there are less men in Church than women and that has to prove something.  So here are my thoughts on why there are less men in Church:


Due to the reality that the majority of stay at home parents are women (a whole other discussion in itself), they are more in need of the social interaction found in Church than men.  Men are more likely to work in a socially interactive environment and will see the weekends as time off from those interactions.  Men are usually happy for their kids to go to Church, which would suggest the problem isn’t with Church, more with their participation in it.  Rather than a biological issue, this is a social issue.  Men are socialised into certain acceptable behaviours, these do not often include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness.  Therefore Church is uncomfortable for them as it requires growth in all those areas 


So, rather than condemn the Church as too feminine, maybe we could rather challenge the accepted understanding of masculinity, and provide a safe place to explore other ways of being as men, women and more importantly people, people who need God’s grace, mercy and love to become all He made us to be.