Here at Gospel-Centered Woman, we are passionate about church-based women’s discipleship. We also know that for many years, churches have struggled to train and equip women in the Scripture, often relying on fellowship and service projects to carry the weight of discipleship. In this context, it’s easy to react – to simply jettison all previous forms of ministry in order to emphasize in-depth Bible study and theological training. But here at GCW, we are also committed to discipling women as whole people, not simply their brains, but their hearts and hands as well. In that spirit, Megan Hill, blogger, mother, and pastor’s wife, tackles the tension between these competing elements of spiritual formation reminding us that, yes, even “brunch” still has a place in women’s ministry.
On Friday, the women of my church are meeting for lunch at a local restaurant. While there, we will eat. And talk. And laugh. The huggier ones will probably hug. The weepier ones might tear up a time or two. A group selfie may or may not be taken.
We probably will not bring our Bibles. (As least so far as our Bibles exist in paper versions apart from our smart phones.) We will pray at the beginning of the meal—giving thanks—and when the weepy and huggy ones stay to the very end, we might pray again. We will not pray for long, nor will we parse any Greek verbs. I doubt the contested sections of Mark will come up at all. We will not develop action plans to fight AIDS or Ebola or racism. We will pay with credit cards for fancy food we don’t technically need.
These days, the word on the world-wide street is that church women have been sold a bill of goods when they are offered lunch. Or brunch. Or crafts. Word is, ladies who lunch aren’t using all their gifts, aren’t deepening their love for Jesus, aren’t being treated as spiritual and intellectual equals. Word is, a quiet corner in a restaurant is where the souls of image-bearing women go to die.
And I’d just like to say a word about that from my seat at the table: Maybe we are asking too much of lunch.
For one thing, women (and men, too, for that matter) are whole people. We were created body and soul with a variety of gifts and interests. We were also created body and soul within the limits of space and time. That is to say, I can’t use all my gifts all at the same time. Yesterday, for example, I spent a good part of the afternoon holding someone’s baby. I’m pretty good at holding babies, and it freed up baby’s mom and dad. But, holding that baby, I didn’t use most of my gifts. Didn’t teach anything. Didn’t sing. Didn’t pray. Didn’t write. Didn’t hit my stride on the elliptical. I was simply holding a sleeping baby. At lunch on Friday, too, I will be a limited human being, using some of my gifts (encouragement, say, or discernment) but not all (I do, actually, know a little Greek.) And that’s okay.
For another thing, women deepen their love for Jesus in all kinds of ways. Yes, absolutely, the Word and prayer are really important. (More on that in a minute.) Church women benefit from substantive Bible studies and intentional Christian service. But we also grow to love him more when we see other people putting their love for Christ into practice in their ordinary, daily lives. On Friday, when my Christian sister tells me about how her daughter is healing, little by little, from her chronic illness; when my other sister tells me about how her co-worker asked for prayer; when a third tells me about her struggle against anxiety, I’ll be deepening my appreciation for Christ’s work in the lives of my sisters, and I’ll be gathering confidence to live my own daily life. At lunch, I’ll learn to love Jesus more.
But here’s my main concern with the anti-brunch chatter: There is a place where women are fed the solid food of God’s word. There is a place where they labor alongside men in prayer. There is a place where their unique bodies and souls are used and welcomed by the Lord. There is a place where their gifts are polished. There is a place where women sharpen their minds and nourish their souls and grow in holiness.
It’s called worship.
Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day the church ladies come together with the church men and we all stand before our God, hearing from him and speaking to him. We listen. We reply. We labor, and we rest. We give, and we receive. We come together spiritually, and physically. We love ourselves less and our Savior more.
I will lunch on Friday, yes, but I will feast on Sunday.
And if we find ourselves resenting cupcakes because they are not bread-and-wine, well, maybe we are asking too much of one table and not enough of the other.
Megan Hill lives in Mississippi with her husband and three children. She is a regular contributor to Her.meneutics and The Gospel Coalition and writes a blog about ministry life at SundayWomen.com where this article first appeared.