Friday, November 6, 2009

What "Emergent" really means

Yes, I'll take your questions now! Trivia time... are you ready? Okay, here goes:

Question: - Is there one thing people have asked you to blog about that stands out?
Answer: - Why yes, "Curious Reader", as a matter of fact there is. Hands down, and from well before my blogging days, more people have asked me to write about being a "Minister's Husband". Now it's my #1 blog request - as much as just about every other idea combined.

There's been enough written on the "Minister's Wife" to fill its own warehouse. However, in the world of gender-discrimination, the role of minister's husband has yet to be even acknowledged in most circles. Fact is I'd love to teach a seminar on the topic at the leading seminaries of every Christian denomination. (If you're reading this and have any influence at all I'd love to hear from you!!!)

Okay, for those readers who aren't up to speed on my family, here are the basics.
  1. I'm married to a Presbyterian Minister.
  2. Her name is Rebekah Maul (formerly Alexander).
  3. She earned her MDiv from Columbia Seminary in 1982.
  4. She was told not to get married because "A married woman can't lead a church".
  5. She was told that 90% of marriages fail when a woman enters ministry.
  6. When we were expecting our first child Rebekah was told it would embarrass the school if she interviewed with churches, and not to seek a call until after she had finished raising her children.
  7. We learned, instead, that God is in no way limited by the suppressed imaginations of human organizations!
  8. God has richly blessed her pastoral ministry now for over 27 years.
  9. We're having a ball!
The above list serves to - believe me - merely scratch the surface. Suffice it to say that Rebekah and I have witnessed the truth of the following declaration in many, many ways: "Statistics only measure what already has happened, they have no power to determine what will happen."

Cool beans:
Here's what's really interesting. If people didn't know what to do with a female pastor, then they had even less of a clue regarding how to handle a preacher's husband! Almost 30 years ago there were not a lot of women called as pastors. Many women who did earn a seminary degree took positions outside of traditional parish ministry; some changed careers before long; very few ended up as the senior minister of a "good-sized" congregation; even less are still married....

Put all those factors in an equation (D- dropout-RD X 90%/SP to the power of reality = X)... "X" being the number of men who share my unique position. It all adds up to very few men occupying the so-called "traditional" minister's-spouse role.

GOOD NEWS: (picture: Rebekah with the other half of our ministerial team: Tim Black)
The really good news here is that neither Rebekah nor I found ourselves fed into the status-quo processing system and spat out at the other end as stereotypical cookie-cutter models of a minister's family.

We weren't created by the sausage machine and - rather than cry "Foul!" or "Discrimination!" - we have thankfully been free, instead, to simply follow Jesus.

That's the bottom line, here. It's all I'd really say if I got to teach the seminary seminar for preacher's-husbands coming up (In fact, it's a message for all those who enter ministry with their spouse - there really is no difference).
  • Thank God for the opportunity to show up at a church unhampered by narrowly defined stereotypes
  • Go into ministry as humble disciples rather than the poster-family for church leadership models stuck in the 1950's
  • Do one thing, and do it well - follow Jesus!
Today's excerpt from "The Unmaking of a Part-time Christian" is from the chapter "Subversive for Jesus".

Enjoy - Love and blessings - DEREK

Listen to the Spirit: follow Jesus (page 86)
If there’s one model both Rebekah and I have constantly fought hard to disprove, it’s the idea that faith should in any way be formulaic, stereotypical, one-size-fits-all, or easy to define. God, it turns out, is much harder to pin down than that.

So, rather than feeling like disadvantaged victims of sexism or discrimination, it worked to our spiritual advantage to show up at Rebekah’s first ministry job and find we both had to start from scratch. Because there were no preconceptions, no time-honored parts to play and no pre-determined expectations other than the call to follow Jesus.

That’s what the idea of “emergent” really means. It means that we simply follow Jesus. Our worship, service, illumination, spiritual growth, prayer life, our journey into Christ – all these things – emerge in response to the primary and critical priority of regarding everything else "as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

1 comment:

Charles Willard said...

Why shouldn't your next book be, "How to Be a Minister's Husband" or "All You Ever Wanted to Know/Ask about Being a Minister's Husband" or "So, Your Minister Is Your Wife"? Unless you get your "course" packaged in a distance education format so that it can be "taken" many, many times, you are unnecessarily limiting your outreach if you, in effect, end up offering one course at one seminary.