Staying Unchurched for My Daughters
I would like to share this thought-provoking post from my friend Leah Ross (pictured above). In it, she shares her raw feelings and struggles to find a church that will fully accept the gifts of her strong daughters who are prone toward spiritual leadership. Her unwavering faith and determination to make sure her daughters are respected as equals is truly admirable.
I am a homeless Christian woman. I have a beautiful house that I live in with my husband and four children, but I haven’t had a church home for over two years. I love Jesus, and just like Jeremiah the prophet, God’s word in me is like a fire shut up in my bones. I can’t help but to see God in every aspect of life, and I just can’t keep quiet. I am zealous to be involved in ministry. I have led missions groups and evangelism teams. My ideas for Christian growth and community are endless. Yet, I have been unable to find a place in the family of God. I am in the group known as the “unchurched”.
The decision to walk away from my previous church was a painful necessity, but I never expected to be out of church for this long. Surely, I say to my husband every Saturday night, there must be some place in our city or surrounding city that welcomes women as equal participants in God’s work, but most churches we have found are similar to my old church in that they are very strict complementarian institutions. They believe that men are God’s leaders in the Church, and as a woman, I haven’t felt invited to be a full participant free to bring my gifts and ideas.
On more than one occasion, I have wondered if the search for a Christian egalitarian church is pointless. Are there any churches that believe that Christians should serve their Christian family and world out of their spiritual gifts and not be restricted because of their sex? I often feel like giving up on my quest for such a place. Maybe we should just settle for a good church with a robust women’s ministry, I think to myself, but then I think about my 4 children, especially my 3 daughters.
My oldest daughter, almost 10-years-old, has the heart of an evangelist. She reads her Bible for hours at a time and keeps meticulous categorized notes of her learnings. For fun, she preaches mini sermons to our family. She tells me that her school is her mission field. While other classmates are playing on the playground, she is busy sharing the Gospel with anyone who will listen. She has witnessed to one friend for over 2 years now, praying earnestly for her conversion. She asks me to pray for her that she doesn’t lose her boldness in speaking the truth. She dreams of being a songstress and missionary. I cannot give up my search for an egalitarian church because God may call my oldest daughter to be a preacher or to lead a missionary team someday. I cannot allow a seed of doubt to be planted in her heart that God could call a woman to do such works.
My second daughter is 8-years-old. In a world that is cold and dark, she is a warm light. She would do anything for a friend or an enemy. She is quick to forgive and even quicker to forget. Her inner joy and love has a natural draw. Her bubbling spirit commands your heart to smile. She is a free-spirit who lives life coloring outside of the lines. She has a brilliant innovative mind that I am sure is bound to bring prosperity. As special as she is, if you ever meet her, you will walk away feeling like you are the special one. I image this is how people must have felt when Jesus walked the earth and encountered Him. I cannot give up my search for an egalitarian church because I don’t want my daughter to grow up embracing her naturally submissive spirit, while denying the brilliance of her God-given mind.
Finally, my youngest daughter, only 3-years-old, is naturally out-spoken. With her contagious smile, she has yet to meet a stranger. Even now she talks about Jesus all the time, and she refuses to be left out EVER. During morning prayer, she insists on having her turn in speaking to God, and she knows what she is doing. I remember recently when I was sick and her 3 siblings were at school, she laid hands on me and prayed to Jesus to please help mommy feel better. She wants Jesus to come back soon because she really wants to see Him. Apparently, she has some things that she needs to speak with him about face-to-face. My search for an egalitarian church must continue because God may lead my youngest daughter to start an intercessory prayer ministry. I must put her in an environment where if she feels led, like Queen Ester, to invite people to fast and pray with her, they will join in and take the call seriously.
And so, the search for an egalitarian church will continue because the callings of God on my daughters’ lives cannot be left up for debate. When God calls them out to go, I want them to unabashedly go, in Jesus’ name! I cannot teach them to live the Christian life waiting for the approval or validation of an all-male Elder Board. Their gifts, passions, and callings are too important. They must be welcomed and affirmed wherever my husband and I chose to fellowship regularly.
Until we find such a place, we will remain church homeless. In tears of frustration, with hearts still thankful to God, we will continue to have sweet times with Him in our beautiful house as a family, where all members along with their gifts are welcomed. We will continue to love our neighbors and serve in our community. We will continue to study the Bible and celebrate our Lord. We won’t stop praying for a church home or for our Christian family at large who we feel has forgotten about us.
Leah Ross is passionate about healing the wounds of sexism and racism within the Church. When she’s not actively loving on her four children or enjoying a date night with her high school sweetheart husband, she can be found volunteering with her school board, running in a race, or performing at open mic poetry night. Her life goal is to hear Jesus say, “Well done!”