On April 16, we will conclude a year-long journey on the theme “Justice + Unity: Toward the Healing of a Fractured Church.” What an amazing year! We have heard some amazing speakers and had phenomenal conversations about the issues that fracture the church in our country. We’ve engaged these conversations on-stage and off-stage, and we have hosted (or participated in) luncheons/dinners where leaders gathered to listen to and encourage one another. New friendships are developing, and I am hopeful that partnerships will grow from those friendships.
For many of us at GRTS, this Justice + Unity series was an intentional step into the uncomfortable and the unknown. The purpose of Talking Points is to support ministry leaders by creating space for often hard, dicey conversations. Our goal with this series has been to explore the biblical themes of justice and unity and to shine a light on areas of injustice. It’s been one-part theology and one-part listening to each other.
As I wrote previously, Tim Keller summarizes the biblical theme of justice in a helpful, two-fold way: “caring for the vulnerable” and “right relationships.” In other words, if people are vulnerable and not cared for, Christ followers are called to help. If our relationships are strained or corrupted by sin, Christ followers are called to make things right.
I’m grateful for the many who have joined this journey, and I’m looking forward to engaging the topic one more time at our next event.
SPRING 2019 FOCUS: WOMEN IN THE KINGDOM
In Part One of this series, we focused on Black/African American perspectives; in Part Two, we focused on Hispanic/Latino(a) perspectives; and on April 16, we will focus on the perspectives of women. For some, the shift from race/ethnicity to gender is a surprise. While some may be encouraged that this conversation is taking place, others may be concerned and approach the conversation hesitantly. One of our more ambitious goals for this event is to create space for all—complementarians, egalitarians and everyone in between—to engage this topic (i.e., it won’t be a debate asking attendees to choose “sides”).
We want to carve out unique space like this to ask some broad questions about the experiences of women in the church.
The driving question for the day has been adapted from Carolyn Custis James’ helpful book “Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women“: Is our vision for women robust enough to enlist and empower all women to bring all their gifts to the church, the kingdom and the gospel? If not, what are we losing or missing out on? Beyond our stated visions, what are our actual practices when it comes to recognizing and encouraging women in their various callings?
Author Carolyn Custis James will speak twice at the conference and encourage attendees to read, with fresh eyes, the all-too-familiar creation accounts and stories of women in the Bible. She will acknowledge the hard passages we often debate the most (e.g., 1 Timothy 2:11-15), but she will argue that other parts of Scripture provide a unifying vision for the partnership of women and men, a relationship she calls the “Blessed Alliance.” Alongside Carolyn, we will have a local pastor, Marcus Little, share from his experience engaging this topic in his context at Berean Baptist Church, Grand Rapids, Mich.
We are expecting a great conversation. We believe all sides of the theological debate have work to do to fully encourage all women to bring all their gifts to the kingdom. So, our goal on April 16 is to make space to reflect on these issues together.
I hope you will join us. Invite your co-workers. Encourage men and women serving in your church to attend. In the coming weeks, we will introduce other sub-themes that will be included in the conference.