**Since writing this blog, the original blog by Mez has been removed.**
I recently read a blog written by Mez McConnell from 20 Schemes entitled “Help, I want to plant a church but my wife’s not so keen”. It summarizes the key attributes for a wife of a Church Planter in the schemes of Scotland. It’s essential reading for anyone involved in church leadership, not because it’s good, but because it’s so, very bad.
I want to highlight this writing so that people read it and take stock. I want to post about this blog so that others caught up in this world can see a public response. I have more questions than thoughts, so forgive me, but here goes…
13 phrases taken from the blog that shocked me.
- “I can say without doubt that one of the biggest causes of ‘failure’ within pastoral ministry has been down to disharmony in the marriage.”
- “I know lots of middle-class wives whose comment to the church their husbands serve goes something like this: “You employed my husband, not me.” While superficially true, the reality of church planting on a scheme means that this is just not an acceptable attitude.”
- “I find this whole sniffiness toward being regarded as: chief bottle washer, Sunday School teacher, counsellor, and cook to be completely at odds with the servant-heartedness that God commends to us in Scripture.”
- “In our line of the church-planting world, a wife must roll her sleeves up with the rest of us, get her hands dirty, and partner with her man in the fight. Anything less than this will mean almost certain death for him in our particular type of ministry.”
- “A church planter’s wife must be hospitable.”
- “A hospitable wife is always flexible and not fazed by surprise guests and last-minute changes to programmes.”
- “She must not be given to slander/gossip (Titus 2). This is the curse of the female species, particularly in ministry.”
- “Wives must understand that the early years of church planting are especially hard and demanding.”
- “A wife must be an encourager and not a nag.”
- “Almost every man I have let go over the last 10 years has come down to the fact that his wife is just not helpful to him in his ministry… The ministry here drains the man enough without the lifeblood being sucked from him when he has to go home to a battle every evening.”
- “A planter’s wife must be a source of spiritual vitality in his life and not an extra drain on him.”
- “She must have a sense of humour. This is an absolute must on housing schemes. Nobody likes a woman who looks like she’s been asked to down the contents of a jar of pickled eggs.”
- “She must think before she blurts out her “opinion” on everything by exercising a spirit of self-control.”
Since when was it OK…
To speak about women like this?
To call good men failures?
To simply “let people go” from their jobs and then shame them and their marriage publicly?
To say that boundaries in life are bad?
To create leadership roles that can only be done with a wife attached, even if she isn’t gifted or able? To take gender neutral passages and apply them to women?
This blog is deeply concerning and it leaves me with many many questions, for starters what are the actual implications if your wife isn’t keen?
I’m sad to say this blog is full of misogyny, ableism and classism. He holds excessively high standards on Pastors and their wives and clear condemnation and judgement when both “fail. We can do better right?
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25
4 thoughts on “Since when was it ok to speak about women like this?”
Hi Nay, I was directed to your blog post by a friend yesterday. It got my hackles up too! However I couldn’t help asking myself how my reaction might have been different if it had been written by a woman.. When I stepped back a bit like this on face value the points do have a point! I have learned some of these things over the years in my own experience (eg about women’s tendency to gossip, the value of hospitality, the greatest thing being to serve etc) but all these from the Lord, not from being taken to task by my husband, or any other man! It is a wonderful thing to be part of a team in ministry and to support one another. Perhaps he could support his wife in the blog writing ministry next time..
Hi Celia, thanks for your comment. I totally agree that it is a wonderful thing to be part of a team and to support one another. As women and men proclaim the gospel together, we have an opportunity to show the world to show what restored, sibling relationships look like. Men and women working together in evangelism adorns the gospel and points to a better story!
I do wonder why he applied gossip in Titus 2 to women only? The passage is gender neutral, therefore applying to men aswell. What do you think?
Now this issue is tricky and it is speaking into a fraught context – people leaving a ministry they had felt called to. I don’t think any of us like to call it failure, but maybe it is better to accept that we all fail – at various times and in many ways. So we reduce the freight of the word ‘failure’. And we are not failures, even when we fail! We need to be careful to distinguish between what we do/fail to do and who we are (beloved children of God, bought out of slavery at great price). Ideas that seem unworthy of a calm Christian are for sure captured in phrases like ‘This is the curse of the female species, particularly in ministry.’ Scripture calls us not to gossip. That is all of us. It may be a besetting sin of some, but to call it ‘the curse of the female’ is not universally true. We need to hold one another to account, gently, as fellow fallible followers of Christ; we are to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient. We are to love to the Truth. A blog is a written event even if informal and so words linger, and if in the lingering there is pain – does it get close to being malicious, slanderous? These are sins of the tongue. Perhaps blogs can solidify these very unhelpfully.
This tricky issue is not helped by a wider culture of who it is we employ in the church. If the church is paying a salary that is equivalent, to, say, a teacher or other leaders in the church who may be employed in the wider world, then it is a salary for a single person. It can actually be true to say: “You employed my husband, not me.” However, there are callings within the wider church where in fact the couple is needed and the couple needs to be called together. My key question here would be – was this discussed upfront with the couple before employment? Rather than seem to assume ‘the wife’ will be on hand day and night why not talk about the practical demands of this particular calling? It is incorrect to call it an ‘attitude’ as in ‘While superficially true, the reality of church planting on a scheme means that this is just not an acceptable attitude.’ When my husband was a paid church leader I was full-time employed elsewhere. The church called him not me. Had we wanted to work in a ministry closely associated with our church that is a residential study centre, I would have had to give up this full time and demanding career. I cannot imagine my husband wanting to work there and becoming part of that team without discussing this point with me in great depth. Or vice versa!!
My experience of employing people for my work teams is that getting the right shared understanding before work starts is really key. I do pray that the Schemes projects will learn from the experience at a somewhat deeper level than what reads rather like seeking a scapegoat to blame in the face of disappointment and failure.
The idea of one half of a marriage (yes, we become in some senses, one in marriage) wanting one thing when the other half is not keen, but is vital to the success of the ‘thing’ seems to have already got the idea rather wrong. Wives are to respect their husbands. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. We are all to submit to one another. A life’s work of walking in step with the Spirit, hidden in Christ, who is our life.
I do think this topic is important for church growth in general as well as church planting in these challenging housing schemes, where I am praying the respect, love and submission we all learn as disciples of Christ, along with the core gospel offer will be passed on to the salvation of many. Jesus’ promise of life – abundant life- is so great!!
Hi Sue, thank you so much for your comments, there is a conversation happening here, please do post on my FB profile too https://www.facebook.com/naomi.dawson.779/