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June 24, 2006



ROFL - **picks himself off the floor, dusts himself off and begins to write**.

'than a linguistic sub community formed through common culture' - I was thinking about this the other day....we have a lady who gives announcements at church on the video screen and every week her talk is specifically tailored to a set formula. My fun every week is betting with my wife what superlative she will use (extraordinary, fantastic, miraculous....)

'a ‘son of the house’ whose belongingness is demonstrated by their commitment to the vision of the leader of the house, i.e. the senior pastor' - and their willingness to tithe :)

'belong, and we will look after you' - yet they seem to have very few techniques to engender belonging. If it were 'follow me' and we'll look after you it might have a bit more of a meaning but even that could be a flawed model.

The corporate model works because of the fact the people get paid for work and there are defined career networks within it that allow for advancement. Although there are still glass ceilings and barriers to entry in some areas (e.g. women on boards of companies are still rare but increasingly less so) these networks of communities work for many reasons; the most economically being self interest and the gratis payment for effort. This doesn't happen in contemporary ecclesial communities.

Deborah Taggart

but let's not be too hard on our own tradition; despite structural changes from a voluntarist movement that runs by democratic voting to a leadership style more like the corporate top-down model, Pentecostal churches still have the highest rating on National Church Life Surveys for creating a sense of identity, belonging and ownership in the members.

Something we do helps people belong and feel like their contributions are meaningful; I guess what we want to do is explore how to continue to harness this skill, but ensure we use it ethically, pastorally, and unselfishly...


Frank Emanuel

Just before I jump to the next one, Vineyards have been using biological language for a long time. But the sociological model is not so bounded (nor is it mysogenistic enough to use terms like 'son of the house') But we have expressed belonging in language of just being - you don't become Vineyard you find out you always were. However, we don't fall into a restorationist (or new apostolic) ecclesiology, that just has no real basis in actual church history. And the center is not so much a senior pastor (but our leadership model does make that too easy) but in the best examples a theology and the rest an ideology or set of common values.

We recently redefined our denominational structure to capture this organic/biological identity more.

OK on to the next bit, interesting article BTW.

Deborah Taggart

'misogenistic' is a tad of an overstatement for our movement, I think. We/they see themselves as loving women and helping them assume their designed place in God's Kingdom. There are just a different range of opinions on what that designed place is - often determined by something between conservative and progressive culture and/or interpretations of biblical text.

Most people talk about sons and daughters of the house - I have never felt excluded from that language on the basis of gender; I'm more likely to wonder on what basis a church assumes my parentage, and if I really am happy to be known as the child of this particular institution which has certain values and actions which may or may not agree with mine.

The Bible tends to say we are children of God; apart from that, all I can think of is Paul saying in 1 Corinthians 4:15-16 "Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me" (also cf. 1 Th 2:11-12).

Note that it seems to be more of a 'God has knit our hearts together' kind of relationship than a 'you subscribe to my vision' relationship. But I guess a problem of today is, how do you knit hearts/create reciprocity in the larger church?

Another thing to note on Paul's claim to parenthood of the Corinthian church, is that his model puts the initiative of 'parent-child' relationship-building on the parents. As in, someone further along takes the initiative to care for people as 'children', unconditionally (but hoping they will respond with love, attention to wisdom, and imitation of the parent's actions and values). This could be an interesting corrective to leadership that insists on a congregation proving their daughter/son-ship (offerings, volunteering etc.); shouldn't our church leaders first commit to demonstrating faithful parenthood (loving, committed pastoral care, shepherding etc.)? But I guess that takes time, which starts to demand financial resources, and all of a sudden we need tithe-paying kids to enable us to act like parents....I wish ideals just worked, complication-free!

Frank Emanuel

Wow that isn't what I expected would get picked up, calling something bounded isn't exactly complimentary. However my experience, and it is considerable as I became a Christian in the PAOC (AOG in Canada) and served as a minister in the Foursquare for a number of years, the movement does have misogenistic tendencies. I think most young evangelical movements do, including my own (that is one area I have disagreements with Wimber on). So I wouldn't single out the Pentecostals, but I also am one who feels it is proper to point it out wherever I see it. I know many women have found ways to see the language through an interpretive grid that lets them feel included, but the fact is the language is exclusive and very male-centric. This stuff is insidious in Christian culture and ignoring it just fosters those who use it to really exclude.

Deborah Taggart

hmm, maybe we just have a different understanding of the word 'misogynistic' - I take it as a serious accusation of deliberate hatred of women.

I agree that women in the church (the church at large and my own movement) still need to empowered and treated as full equals, and the exclusive male language should change (I mention this on my own blog: I found it distressing to be in a megachurch last year and hear them call all the elders to the stage to pray about something....only to see all the elders were male! It was such a visual statement of patriarchy and inequality I burst into tears....and the senior pastor must've gotten a slight shock himself, so he then asked the elders' wives to come join them onstage....

Thanks for being honest and on board to fight discrimination :)

Mark Hutchinson

Thanks for the comments all. The discussion is heading away from the theme somewhat, but hey, boots and all, eh?! I think we have to be a little careful about how we import broader discussions into the church. The feminist critique of patriarchal societies is a just one (though its internal politics are another thing), and insofar as the Church participates in the social norms of its day, it is open to the same critiques. A broader sociological approach, however, has to admit the internal coherency of social groups and the way they define their own ‘realities’. Pentecostals are a classic example of this tension. Instead of adopting either modernism (a la the liberals) or straight dispensational fundamentalism (à la the reformed antimodernism of Bob Jones et al), early Pentecostals adopted a form of ‘counter-modernism’ in which the techniques of modernity were filtered out from it rationalist reductionism, and the dispensations of literal fundamentalism were squashed into an end times, restorational immediacy. In the process they solved the problem of Calvinism vs. arminianism by declaring both things to be irrelevant to the immediate necessity of God. The balance was maintained through the hermeneutic of the Spirit. Consequently, Pentecostals manage to fulfil the maxim of ‘being in the world but not of it’ by building what, to modernists, is an oxymoronic spirit filled community, a conflation of public and private, a free literalism. No-one in these communities would think for a moment that they were being ‘misogynistic’ in reading the text – they are simply trying to defend a traditional conception of biblical obedience which they associate with the power to be who they are, their ‘free literalism’. The ‘megachurch’ that Deb is talking about is a good example. As with many of the churches in our tradition, they have numerous women pastors, females in the highest positions of their organisations. Indeed, the best known ‘face’ and most powerful pubic asset of that megachurch is a woman. However, they do not have a hermeneutic which will enable them to overcome certain texts in the bible which, given the reformed dominance of the literature, have been read in misogynistic ways. That is changing – Pentecostals are increasingly producing their own theology and hermeneutics in ways that are faithful to free literalism (see the work of Jacqui Grey on a Pentecostal hermeneutic of the Old Testament). There will come the day, Deb, and that not far off I believe, when you won’t need to cry in church anymore! In the meantime, such churches have made remarkable strides in quite a traditional context, to empower women in real ways. We are only 20 years into the process here, a short time indeed in historical terms, so let's be hopeful, and supportive of the strides that have been made.

Ha ha ha ha...

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