Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Men Preaching to Women

Obviously we men will be doing this - I'm ignoring any arguments as to whether women will preach to women, which is beside the point right now.

So, given that we will, it is incumbent on us to do our best to understand them (now, don't panic at this point!) so we can preach well for them, and apply rightly to them. I recently heard a sermon where the male preacher literally told the women they'd have to work this passage out for themselves, while he preached to the men. Shocker!

So, how do we do that? I've three ideas.

1) Plug and plumb appropriate friendships / relationships, at suitable moments, so as to learn this from Christian and non-Christian women as much as possible. I've often bounced things for sermons off our church women's worker, or other mature Christian women.

2) Read the Bible's teaching on and about women very carefully. We men will (should) know the men's stuff - what about the women's?

3) Read some books by women for women. I'd suggest (in ascending order of page-numbers):
  • Interactive Bible Study Biblical Womanhood (Good Book Co.)
  • Kirsten Birkett The Essence of Feminism (Good Book Co.)
  • Sharon James God's Design for Women (Evangelical Press, USA)
  • Barbara Hughes Disciplines of a Godly Woman (Crossway)
However, at this point I'm guessing there's more to be read. I'm particularly interested in a good / thorough non-Christian anthropology from a female, and maybe a Christian book aimed more at student age-group women.

Hoping my readers might help me out here - either with their own thoughts, or with thoughts from wives / other women... Please add comments, and I'll combine them into a post when we've got a good list.


Blogger Ros said...

One essential tool for any preacher is the imaginative ability to step into another's shoes - to think about what life is like for the women, the teenagers, the workers, the unemployed, the retired, the ill, the grieving members of their congregation and to preach to them. I don't think you just get this by reading books (though that's probably a useful thing too!) but more by observing and talking to other people. Knowing those to whom you minister (whether male or female) and preaching to them is what matters.

I heard a similar intro to a sermon last year and wasn't quite sure what I thought. It was a sermon in a series on gender and all the others were directed more generally but for one week the sermon was aimed specifically at the men. I don't think this was a lack of imagination or concern for the women but a desire to address a very specific issue in a way that was relevant to just one group. Hmm.

2:31 pm, October 18, 2006  
Blogger Ros said...

Oh, and just to point out - this doesn't only apply when you're doing 'application'. Everything you say, you should be thinking about how it will be heard and understood by the people listening. What effect will it have, what kind of language do you want to use, what references do you want to make?

Something I've noticed since we stopped having female speakers on camp is how samey many of the talks are. So that even if every one individually is interesting and accessible to girls as well as boys, the cumulative effect tends to be very heavily biased in favour of sports illustrations, just to give one example.

So it may be worth thinking not just about each sermon separately, but your preaching as a whole and who it speaks to.

2:43 pm, October 18, 2006  
Blogger rach said...

There's some great stuff on Biblical womanhood from a woman's (4 women actually) perspective at GirlTalk

6:37 pm, October 18, 2006  
Blogger Ruth said...

The GirlTalk website is really good and they have a book called (believe it or not) Girl Talk. The book is more about and for girls of 13ish but I still found bits really helpful.
I've also heard (though I've not read) that Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney is good.

7:13 pm, October 19, 2006  
Blogger Ros said...

Hmm. I wasn't that impressed with Caroline Mahaney. I forget exact details but it was very American which may not help the majority of Towner's readership in preaching to British women.

5:28 am, October 20, 2006  
Blogger Beckie said...

I've heard both some really good talks from guys who have really thought hard about their audience, and some not so great ones - i think sensitivity is really key, even if you think women should at all times be dressed head to toe in sackcloth it may not be appropriate to say this - i know some young Christian friends became quite concerned that it was a sin to wear a swimsuit/bikini on the beach after a (guy's) talk on gender issues/helping each other - it's extreme i know, but might be something to be borne in mind. Gross generalisation - but married chaps seem to have an advantage in "getting" women - and this can come out in talks... but (obviously) isn't always true.

11:22 pm, November 02, 2006  

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