“BAG It”

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Last Sunday night our local church hosted a “BAG It” dinner for approximately fifty men.  B.A.G. = Belonging, Active, Growth.  Lest anyone wonder about the target audience, all the promotional material and announcements clearly identified the event as “Men Only.”  The theme was Don’t be a Girly Man, Be a Godly Man.

What exactly is a “girly man,” and how does that differ from a “godly man”?  What is a “godly man,” by the way?

In last night’s context, the dinner was an initial step at launching a new men’s ministry (no “women’s ministries” currently exist.)   The  unspoken but implied goal is that as familial and ecclesiastical  “heads” and “leaders” by “divine design,” men must take the lead in launching something new.  Once this has been established, apparently, women can fall into line later.  (Church leadership follows the “traditional” all-male model.)

I facetiously commented that I thought it was “nice” that we divide “ministry” into “men” and “women” rather than view “ministry” as a whole and encourage people to plug in to the option of their choice rather than funnel people into gender-specific areas.

What struck me as particularly peculiar related to the BAG It endeavor is that the “ministry model” described above didn’t strike anyone else as peculiar.  It’s simply “status quo,” or, in the words of one sage, “It’s more comfortable.”

“More comfortable?” I parried.  “More comfortable than what?  Why?”

He looked at me like I’d just flown in from Mars and offered no response beyond a shoulder shrug.

So here’s the question(s):

Why do conservative, evangelical churches break “ministry” into Men and Women?  The typical knee-jerk rationale is that it’s “more comfortable.”  Maybe.  But is that what “ministry” is all about – what’s “comfortable”?

What about women who’d rather study Systematic Theology, hike, hunt, rock climb, or engage in scholarly, academic pursuits (often seen as “male-only” domains) rather than attend ladies teas or fill-in-the-blank “Bible studies” revolving around marriage, husbands and kids?  Where do these women go?

What does the Church gain by dividing or segregating “ministry” along gender lines – besides reinforcing particular gender stereotypes or roles?   How does this view – and the rationale underlying “BAG Its” – square with the New Testament message of freedom and liberty in Christ?

For more, check out: Singing Adam’s Song.

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