Saturday, June 14, 2014

A second speaker's spot in church

Unless you've had your eyes shut and your ears blocked, you'll be aware that there's much conflict round the webs at the moment over the issue of whether it can be appropriate for women to sometimes give sermons in church. I don't want to join one side or another here. I'm looking for some common ground and I want to propose a possible way forward.

I think that most of us would agree that women ought to be able to pray and prophesy in church (1 Corinthians 11). All but the most extreme of us have no issues with the praying part. Theoretically we'd like to be okay with the prophecy part too, but the trouble comes in that we're not sure exactly what prophecy is. I'd want to say that it is speech for the purpose of building up God's people. It's able to be assessed as truthful and helpful or not but it is somehow not as authoritative as the 'teaching' role which Paul restricted to men in 1 Timothy 2.

So why don't we work into our meetings a second spot. A 10 minute slot in which someone (male or female) apart from the minister speaks. I'm not talking about an open mic time here (which many churches have tried and stopped trying pretty quickly!) I'm talking about a spot where a speaker gives considered reflection on the scriptures for the building up of the congregation. It could work alongside the sermon - complementing it in one way or another, or perhaps be something different, as decided by the church.

Some objections:

1. Church would go on for too long. For some reason, we are committed to short, one speaker services. Generally no one apart from the minister (and perhaps whoever does the kids' spot) gets a chance to say anything. This was not the case in the early church, nor is it the case in many other cultures. In Paul's day, it seems likely that more than one person spoke. Someone brought a prophecy (whatever that was), then another person, then another person. In our culture, if this happened we'd all be looking at our watches and fiddling. But we could change. Why shouldn't our Sunday services acknowledge that people apart from the preacher have good stuff to say? If the minister spoke for 25 minutes, the kids talk went for 5 minutes, there were 4 songs (15 minutes), 7 minutes of prayer, 8 minutes of bible reading, a 10 minute second speaker section - and the MC streamlined things, you could still be finished in well under an hour and a half.

2. The second speaking spot would be redundant. It would only be redundant if it was ill prepared, uninteresting and unedifying (which many sermons are!) It wouldn't need to be. It could be carefully planned months in advance along with the preaching program.

3. Women might accidentally 'teach' men during this spot. I don't think this is something we need to worry overly about. Paul allowed prophecy by women.

4. [Never stated, but sometimes strongly felt.] I don't like the sound of women's voices. I don't like to hear women say stuff about the bible (or anything) that I haven't thought of before. It makes me feel cross. Get over it.

People who have objections to Dickson's idea of women occasionally giving sermons - Would you do this? Why? Why not?


  1. I've been waiting expectantly for the comments on this post. I see that we are all not-touching-this-one-with-a-barge-pole! Ha, ha. There's your answer, Simone. The world is not ready for the second speaker's spot.

    1. Deb - look on my Facebook page. There a 100 comments!

    2. Ah, see, I've just proved myself a Luddite. I don't Facebook. But I'm glad to hear there was some eager debate. :)

    3. Oh, I wanted to see what people had to say too but I don't think the FB link is public.


    Try that. I've made it public.