One thing that worries me about the many church controversies, including the role of women, is the battlefield of choice. We spend an awful lot of time talking about what goes on during the worship assembly. That’s worrisome to me because it’s directly opposite of what we see in the New Testament. The New Testament spends very little time talking about what goes on when Christians get together; why is that our main focus?
I’ve already argued that I think one of the great mistakes of the modern church is its obsession with the weekly assembly. (See the series starting here) It’s definitely the modern church that has made this mistake, for our assembly is a shrine to modernism. From the time consciousness to the focus on study, the assemblies that most of us grew up with (especially those of us from churches of Christ) are steeped in the traditions of modernism, much more than biblical tradition. That’s one reason we’re struggling to get postmoderns interested in being a part!
One reason we don’t find more information in the Bible about what women can and can’t do in assemblies is the fact that the Bible doesn’t talk much about our assemblies! It’s a bit like wondering what the New Testament teaches about food preparation; you’re not going to find much there.
Years ago, my friend Bill Richardson was talking with a group of people who were frustrated at the lack of change in their congregation. He said to them, “Maybe you’ve done all you can right now with improving worship; why don’t you focus on other things in the church that need improvement?” He says they looked at him like he was from Mars. What else is there besides the worship assembly?
As long as we stay focused on what we can sing, how we can sing, who can preach, and how shall we take the Lord’s Supper, we’ll always be off balance. We’ll always be “majoring in minors,” as the old saying goes. Look at the people whose lives are dedicated to service, those who are focused on evangelism, the ones whose ministries do more outside the building than inside the building. Few of them are obsessed with the “big issues” that rock churches.
Just an observation. I want to talk some more about women and the church, but you need to know that I think most of the conversation is focused on all the wrong things.