I go to Grace, London, which is part of a network called Advance, in what used to be called Newfrontiers. We are complementarian and, for us, that means we don’t have women preaching, or women elders.
Complementarity is the position that makes the most biblical sense to me. In the story of creation, we are told there were complementary pairs: sun and moon, heaven and earth, land and sea.
These pairs of things, including male and female, work together in the sphere that God has put them in, and that brings flourishing and life. It’s not about value – God created both male and female in his own image – and it’s not about competence.
Some women find it immensely frustrating not to be allowed to preach when they are a better public speaker and/or Bible teacher than the man they are listening to. In our culture, people are chosen for positions based on competencies. The Church is not like that; it’s about God’s created design and order.
As a woman, I can never be a father, but that’s not some outrageous patriarchy keeping me down – it’s just part of God’s design. And I think it’s a helpful way of understanding God’s plan for the Church. It’s like a family; there are fathers and there are mothers, brothers and sisters.
Thankfully, I’ve always had a really good experience of complementarian churches. I’ve always felt respected and honoured by my male leaders; that I do have a voice. I’m one of the leaders of our women’s ministry and I’ve got a lot of freedom and authority within that.
Our leaders have understood from the biblical text that you need to honour women. Women are made in the image of God and they have valuable things to bring to the table. So they make sure they’re listening to them and serving them well; loving them as Christ loved the Church. And when it works well, it’s a beautiful thing.