The project is a chapter on apologetics and gender for Sean McDowell (Josh's son's) compilation book "Apologetics for a New Generation." It will be published by Harvest House. I've been toying around with ideas and titles, things like "Finding the Feminine in the Sacred" (too edgy?), "Gender and Apologetics" (too academic!) "Carrying the Light to Women" (somewhat unclear and boring?). Titles are usually Dale's department.
One idea that I've been writing about, one that merits a short entry here is that of marketing in the church. Have you ever heard the statistic (source I have not found--would love some help here) that if churches cater to men, then the women and children will follow? A sort of reverse Titanic scenario.
It's a stat out there, believe me, the idea (and supposedly the reality) that if you can get the heads of American households to church, then you will find their wives and children coming in higher numbers and with more devotion. Something like so many percentage more of kids from homes where both parents attend church are more likely to continue going to church.
The skeptic in me rises up and wonders . . .
- Has anyone surveyed homes where the father is the only parent and the mother has skipped out of town? In these homes, even if the father attends church, are these children JUST as likely to continue in their attendance and devotion with the mother absent? Richard Brown, the AIDS plagued character played by Jim Harris in The Hours comes to mind. Recall his suicide because of his mother's abandonment.
- Modeling of a father is key, but I'm afraid we've over-ascribed significance to the father figure, neglecting the faithful, heroic work of mothers who refuse to skip out on their children either emotionally or physically.
- Who said church attendance was evidence? My heavens, when will we stop with this love-affair with numbers? Don't we all know church-attenders who know nothing of Jesus, nothing of devotion, nothing of vibrant, intimate, communion with God? Okay, please forgive this rant, but honestly, folks, an increase of numbers of warm bodies in a building doesn't impress me. You can get a group of people to do almost anything (that's why we're called sheep).
- And what about the large amounts of women who are not attached to a man? What kind of message does "cater to the heads of household" send to those who've chosen the undistracted life of singleness? or the widows? or the divorced? or the young women? I'll tell you what it tells them, they do not matter quite as much because they can't pull more into the fold.
- Does a strategy that builds attendance mean that this strategy is an appropriate motivation for churches to take? I'm entirely disgruntled by how the church culture has lapped up pagan ideas of business growth. It's tantamount to assuming that if we cater to one ethnicity, more people will come to Christ. But awareness of any marketing strategy should never steer money, humans, or interests away from all the other neglected ethnicities. As a woman who speaks for many women's ministries that are grossly underfunded, let me simply say that our church budgets are voting our value of people. This is a blatant shame. Our God is no respecter of persons, he would not cater more to male, female, poor, rich, white, black, slave or free. We need to follow his lead.