I have a confession.
I don’t really ‘get’ Christian single sex get togethers – whether Women’s Conferences (admittedly have only been to these in drag) or Men’s Conferences (been to some, never really enjoyed them) or to a lesser degree, men’s or women’s ministry meetings of various sorts.
While you can’t make the NT a blueprint for every contemporary ministry model, it does seem to me that within the new covenant ministry of the Spirit, it is quite remarkable how ‘gender lite’ the NT is. (Not getting into details here of those most controversial of very occasional texts addressing specific gender related issues – see elsewhere.)
[I guess you could also say how remarkably ‘leader lite” the NT is, but that’s another discussion.]
By gender lite, I mean how indiscriminately most of it is written to and for all believers of whatever type. Men, women, young, old, Jew, Gentile, slave, free, And thinking about Galatians 3:28, it’s interesting that we sure wouldn’t organise separate ministries around slave/free or Jew/Gentile believers without an uproar but do for male/female – just sayin.
Yes, I can see how women especially network together wonderfully well, and can enjoy a relaxed freedom from ‘the male presence’ and can share and talk and pray and encourage eachother at a more intimate level than would be possible in mixed gender settings.
Yes, I can see how it makes sense to have ‘same interest’ groups within a church such as women’s groups or youth or aged etc. Where women and men facing similiar issues can become friends and journey together.
Yes, I can (and do) enjoy a cooked breakfast with a bunch of guys now and then and talk and share and pray (not sure whether much different with women there or not to be honest).
So I’m not anti-single sex ministries in a local church altogether. But I guess you could say I’m agnostic and a bit more suspicious of the single gender conferences.
‘Why?’ I hear you cry!
A suspicion that most of the time what goes on at these conferences could just as well be for the whole church. Stuff like general bible teaching on various themes of Christian discipleship that aren’t particular to men or women but are for any follower of Jesus. To separate on gender grounds for such teaching seems strange at best.
So I suspect that behind many men’s and women’s conferences is a particular theology of gender roles. The most coherent rationale for men getting together seems to be to learn how to be real male leaders and visionaries and husbands and fathers and preachers etc … all the things women are not to be.
So what do the women get together at female conferences to do? Maybe some are about being good wives and mothers and being better equipped at being better leaders and speakers (to other women of course). Maybe if I’m especially suspicious, it is where gifted women have an outlet to teach and ‘preach’. I’m honestly not too sure. Please help me out. For I was joking about going in drag.
So what about you? What do you think of women’s and men’s conferences / ministries’?
Comments, as ever, welcome