Secret Agent Man
First, a confession: I always thought "women's ministry" meant women ministering to other women. You know: Chicks Only. Every women's conference I've been involved with has had an all-girl team of staff and volunteers, with all women in attendance.
But then I met Ken.
He was seated in the far corner of a hotel meeting room where I was about to present one of several workshops at a big convention. My track was billed as "Women's Ministry," so of course I expected the usual just-us-girlfriends turnout.
A kind-looking man in his thirties, busy with his pen and tablet, Ken didn't seem to notice the hundreds of women streaming into the room, giving him a wide berth as they found seats. Poor guy. Had he stumbled into the wrong program by mistake?
Just outside the room I discovered several other men standing around staring at the posted topic. Wait. A woman speaker addressing an audience of women about women in the Bibleand they were interested? What a concept!
I made the first move. "You're welcome to join us."
"Uh okay." They didn't budge.
I tried a different tack. "I'll be talking about some men in the Bible as well."
"That's good." Still they hesitated.
"There's another guy already here." I pointed to the mystery man in the corner. "See?"
"Oh, right." Seemingly relieved, they trooped in single file and filled the last row.
More men wandered through the door, spotted their fellow interlopers, and found a seat. By the time I was ready to head to the podium, I had an entire male choir of 20 or 30 men gathered in the corner.
Now my curiosity was piqued: What brought the first guy through the door? I made a beeline for him, leaning over his shoulder to ask his name and to congratulate him. "You realize, of course, that you were the brave man who came in first."
"Yup," Ken said, grinning. He held up a list of three numbered items. "And here's why I came," he added. "In case you asked, I wanted to be ready with some answers."
Ken's list was so good, I shared it with the entire audience:
1. I'm a spy for the other team.
You gotta love that. So did the crowd.
2. I'm really secure in my masculinity.
That got an even bigger laugh.
3. I'm a pastor and want to learn how to communicate better with two-thirds of my congregation.
His third comment earned Ken a heartfelt round of applause for his courage, his honesty, and his willingness to go the extra mile for the "other team."
I thought of the apostle Paul, who went to the river outside the gates of Philippi and "sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there" (Acts 16:13). He sought them out, just as Ken did. Women mattered to that first-century preacher. And women matter to Ken and the other good guys at my seminarmost of them involved in lay or professional ministrywho'd come to learn more about ministering to women.
I learned something, too: My feminist roots, long abandoned, still come back to haunt me when I start thinking that only women really "get it" when it comes to understanding women's needs. Men not only want to learn more about ministering to women, they want to do more, in the pulpit and out.
Take a look at your own church's "women's ministry" program see any fellas? If not, maybe it's time we make them feel welcome. Invite their input. Prop a door open. Thanks to my honest "choir," I discovered that when it comes to ministry, the "other team" is on our side.tcw
Liz Curtis Higgs, author of more than 20 books, including her latest novel, Mine Is the Night (WaterBrook Press), lives with her family in Kentucky.
Copyright 2003 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
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Secret Agent Man
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