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My long-time friend, Mentanna, is a former career missionary trying to make the transition back to life in the United States. She and her family have been visiting churches in the “Bible Belt” and trying to find a place to get involved.
It’s been difficult.
A few months ago, she wrote an open letter to the church detailing some of their struggles as visitors exploring the churches in their city. That post made the rounds on Twitter and Facebook, kicked off some good conversations, and I know it’s made a least a few pastors and church leaders rethink their approach to guests.
I’m happy to say Mentanna is back with another letter, and again this one hits pretty hard. Here are some excerpts.
we note when it sounds like you are more concerned with growing a church
than pastoring one. we can hear it in your voice when your ambition
seems more important than our souls. we notice when you use words like
“missional” and “mission-minded” and yet having nothing in your bulletin
or weekly activities to reflect such an emphasis. most of us are
looking for humility in the pulpit, a confessional leader who honestly
communicates the realities and struggles of life within the body.
remember, we are skeptical enough about church leaders as it is. please
To worship leaders:
i can’t follow you. i can’t sing along. i don’t know if you are
singing harmony, melody, descant or any other fancy thing. granted i’m
musically illiterate and don’t know much about music at all. what i do
know is that worship music has changed a lot in the past decade and the
songs are more complex, less corporately “singable.” so when you go all
david crowder on me, i can’t participate. during those times i feel
like you are more concerned with performing than leading. don’t get me
wrong, i love your voice. i think you and the band are extremely
talented but i want to sing along!
On gender equality:
i notice when i see no female participation in your services. if i
have been greeted by a male, if a male passes the offering plate, if a
male prays before said offering, if all your announcements are made by
a male, if i glance at your bulletin and see only male staff then i
begin to ask myself how much room there is for me as a female to really
participate in your congregation. granted all the women may be involved
in “behind the scenes” ministry, but as a guest i don’t know that and
if i feel called to do something other than children’s ministry, i might
wonder if your church really is the place for me. now you may tell me
that you believe biblically that this is they way church is to be done.
i won’t argue with you. just communicate clearly to me what you mean
by “valuing women in your congregation” because that could mean a bunch
of different things.
If you have any sort of paid or volunteer position at a church, I’d encourage you to read Mentanna’s letter. Or at least email the link to the church staffers you know.
Your turn: What do you wish your church leadership knew?