By Michael Edgar Myers
Founding Artistic Director
Among the many ironies of Christian faith and Biblical study is the volume of attention given to what Christians are against and the number of Scripture verses that prohibit behaviors. A high percentage of these negative viewpoints are among Christian church leaders, traditionally and currently. This negativity creates two consequences that undermine the true essence of the religion of Jesus.
The saddest effect of those consequences – by Christians -- is that they impede progress of Jesus’ mandate to make disciples of all nations, and teach them what He has commanded.
Where this impact is most notable in the U.S. is among youth, people of color, and women.
The Battle Belongs To...
In a culture that pounces on each human error of a Christian, each public squabble between Christ-followers is all the more reason for skeptics to move farther from the cross. In fairness, these spiritual civil wars are not unexpected. Indeed, they were the essence of the apostle Paul’s letters to emerging, cross-cultural first century churches. They were the core of the letter by Jesus’ brother, James, to denominational Jews reluctant to engaging with believing Gentiles when he wrote what’s considered the proverbs of the New Testament.
Unexpected or not, by Scripture precedent, these fights are nevertheless painful.
If only they remained infighting.
A notable difference between the letters of Paul and James is this: Their comments were in-house and took months to circulate to the intended audience. Another view -- "What happens in Corinth..."
Today, a church policy squabble taking place over aging carpets and shiplap paneling is a viral "Breaking News" breaking Twitter feeds before, "Amen."
The most example is the decision of the Southern Baptist Convention to expel five churches because they have women pastors. The decision provoked headlines because among the five expelled is Saddleback Church, the California-based congregation established by Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose-Driven Life” studies.
Jesus: A Man Among Women
The issue here is not to debate the SBC decision, nor engage in the centuries old debate of whether women as deacons, elders or pastors is against Biblical teaching. What's piqued our curiosity is the timing of the news, for it came as we began preparing programs for Women's History Month during which our ministry presents scenes, monologues and songs of women whose contributions to history have been because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
In conjunction with the SBC action, our rehearsal conversations embraced deeper reflection upon the roles women have played in the influence of Christianity from its inception. We ponder anew the actions of Jesus among women during his earthly ministry – a period in which women were marginalized -- in order to share His relevance to new generations of females more skeptical of men and God.
The conversation about women in Christian faith is critical in this era because the role of women in our culture remains debated. In a sense, the church question, “Should a woman pastor lead a congregation of men”? is almost subsidiary to other gender-centric questions that abound in public. In a sense, because of those questions, the more urgent issue to be discussed among Christ-following churches ought be "How do we encouraged our women to be more influential leaders?”
Another "Month" of History?
As with Black History Month celebrated in February, Women’s History Month is among the special calendar periods established to honor historical contributions of cultures and unique people groups to life in these United States.
Our stories of Christ-driven women will include social media posts and blog commentaries such as this. There will be memories and interviews and people-on-the-street observations about women unheadlined who have made an impact on their lives. We’ll ask opinions of readers.
We will replay “Best-of” interview segments with women who have shared insights during previous seasons of “An Evening with Kingdom Impact Theater.” Among the voices are actors Deanna Reed-Foster and Mimi Sagadin; pastor’s wives Deloris Neal and Brenda Lark; and then-lead pastor Rev. Dr. Zina Jacque, now Assistant to the Pastor for Small Groups at the Historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va.
These ideas will form the foundation for two performance highlights associated with Women’s History Month.
The first is our monthly online program, “An Evening with Kingdom Impact Theater,” Thursday, March 16 at 7:17 PM. This month’s episode, “A Woman Who Is Wise,” continues our season-long focus on “The Spiritual State of the Union.”
“An Evening with Kingdom Impact Theater” is a variety show designed to engage “Christ-followers and Christ-curious” in thought and conversation. “A Woman Who Is Wise” is based upon the book of Proverbs in which the female perspective of life is prominent.
The last chapter of Proverbs, the 31st, extols the virtues of a woman who is, in contemporary terms, a homemaker. A woman who tends to the family business and the needs of family relationships. In a world where feminism is championed and gender responsibilities blurred, what is the wisdom in a young girl pursing adulthood as what’s called “A Proverbs 31 Woman?”
The other prominent perspective on women appears in the first chapter, establishing a theme that carries throughout. God’s Wisdom is female, as recorded in the Christian Standard Bible:
“Wisdom calls out in the street;
she makes her voice heard in the public squares.”
(Chapter 1 Verse 20)
“A Woman Who is Wise” keeps this idea in mind dramatizing the voices of real and fictional women who offer insight across generations and occupations.
Our second insightful women’s program occurs in April, but in effect emphasizes the importance of Christ-following women throughout society, beyond March and beyond the pulpit.
An Anniversary Show
On Sunday, April 2, Kingdom Impact Theater Ministries director of musical worship, Vikki J. Myers, debuts the 10th anniversary performance of her first solo-women’s ministry program, “Faith, Hope and Love: History-Making Women of Faith.” She presents monologues with music portraying nine women whose lives reflect monument decisions anchored in their belief in God. Fittingly, the performance serves as the message at Connection Church, Libertyville, IL., at the 10 AM Service of Worship.
s with any theatrical remount, timing and changes in world events necessitate changes in content, or interpretation. In this case, the fact that the updated “Faith, Hope and Love” occurs on Palm Sunday, allows the opportunity to not just revisit the women of world history books. The new edition includes stories of the women who established the history of the world recorded in New Testament books. These are the women who studied with Jesus and served his needs during his last week on Earth, the hours after his death, led the skeptical men to the site of his empty tomb, and finally were the first charged with announcing his resurrection.
The last scenario brings to mind the ultimate paradox in conversations about women’s leadership role in church matters. Conventional contention, as pointed out, is that woman are restricted in some churches’ organizational structure. A glass cathedral ceiling, as it were.
Yet, Jesus, Himself bestowed – conferred, anointed, called – upon females to be the responsibility to announce to the world, to the men, that He was re-animated. Born-again. ALIVE. There’s a message in there someplace. I think He’s trying to tell us something. But I don’t want to be startin’ nothing.
Perhaps a woman who is wise can help us figure it out.
TO BE CONTINUED
The KIT 'n' Kaboodle Blog
The essays here are culled from our travels, conversations, worship experiences and discoveries.
Many are reprints from our newsletter, The KIT 'n' Kaboodle, or Facebook notes over time.
They're written by our ensemble, Garlan Garner, Michael Edgar Myers or Vikki J. Myers -- solo, or collectively.