This is one of the questions asked at a consultation I attended recently.
At the Sophia Network's consultation, Thriving in Ministry, there were a number of provocative questions asked. Do men and women thrive in ministry? Do Christians believe in equality? What barriers are faced by women in youth work, or in other kinds of ministry in the Church?
Unfortunately I missed 2 of the presentations, but in the morning I enjoyed the opportunity to take a wider view. In 2009 we are still celebrating a number of 'firsts' for women, and the number of women for example featuring in the sports pages of newspapers or as FTSE 100 Directors or even MPs is lamentably small.
Within the areas I'm most interested in, I was reminded that there seems an increasing emphasis in some churches on segregated ministries (good for women to develop as leaders - as in the days of women's mission societies? Bad in terms of integration, real leadership, and fully accepting women as leaders).
One of my own beefs is Bible translation, and that came up too (click here for a link to a downloadable article on why Bible translation matters - scroll down to 'Inclusive Language Bibles').
And for me, one issue which struck me was self-imposed constraints. I am passionate about helping women take their place alongside men as leaders in the Church - but I'm subject to the same pressures as other women. How much more could I have done so far if I was not sometimes thinking, 'but I don't think I can do that'?
For many women that's where role models, mentoring and networking comes in. Congratulations to the Sophia Netywork on passing the 300 member mark, and for their creative programme of events. As we all work together, one day maybe we will help the world to see that Christians do believe in equality - in the sense that we believe women and men are equally called, equally gifted, and can be leaders in God's church.