In which I am done fighting for a seat at the table

In which I am done fighting for a seat at the table December 20, 2011

I’m done fighting for a seat at that table.

The one filled with (usually) white men, all reading the same books, spouting the same talking points, quoting each other back and forth. It’s the table where the men – a small, select, vocal group in no way representative of men in the Church overall – sit around and discuss who is in and who is out, who is right (usually them) and who is wrong (every one else) and, a favourite topic, whether women should be allowed to write or teach or preach or even read Scripture aloud, what women should be saying and doing, how marriages should look, how children should be raised, how everyone else should live their lives in holiness.

Me? I am simply getting on with the business of the Kingdom.

Enjoy your table, gentlemen.

This is one more gift that the emerging church gave me more than a decade ago: when you don’t find it, you simply create it. You emerge from what currently is into what will be, as pioneers, rule-breakers. Stop waiting for permission and get on with the work that God has called you to, stop waiting for permission and be brave, be courageous, be boldly full of Love and gentleness but step out into the space to create.

So I am no longer standing beside your table, asking for a seat, working and serving and hoping to be noticed and then offered a seat or arguing for my right to a seat.

I don’t care to sit here any more. I have no desire to be indoors, in your neat boxes.

Instead I am outside with the misfits, with the rebels, the dreamers, the radical grace givers, the ones with arms wide open, the ones that you’ve rejected as not worthy of being listened to and I will be happy here. I will go with the brothers and sisters that believe in open source church, emerging into the new space of participation and authenticity, conversation and relationship. I prefer the wild outdoors of the new world anyway. I’m a western Canadian kid, you see, and I like the feel of the wind on my face, the cathedral of the sky, no constraints.

I have a tremendous well of hope for the voice of women in the church. The men at the table may be loud but the pockets of hope and love and freedom are spreading like yeast. I see it. I feel it in the ground under my feet. More and more of us are sick of waiting for a seat and so we are simply going outside, to freedom, together. And here, outside, we’re finding each other and it’s beautiful and crazy and churchy and holy.

We are simply getting on with it, with the work and the community and the dreaming and the loving and the living out of the hope of glory.

You can sit here and discuss whether or not we should for a while longer if you need to do that. It would be nice if, as my friend Jennie Allen wrote, you could hold your fire while we get brave and try a few things out.

I will teach. I will preach. I will sing. I will raise my tinies. I will keep my home. I will pass down gifts and goodness to the women coming after me. I will work like a boss. I will learn from the women older and wiser than me. I will write strong. I will learn. I will be wrong. I will worship. I will make mistakes. I will break rules. I will adjust. I will get mad and I will forgive. I will need to be forgiven.

And someday, I’ll throw my arms around you when you break up that table to use it for kindling and toss it out the window to the outside. We’ll build a bonfire and we’ll dance around the old arguments together, laughing.

Originally published at Emerging Mummy.


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  • Sarah that’s a huge reason why I’m on the xtreme fringe of ” church “. I have a daughter that graduated Bible college a couple of years ago, degree in hand who has also drifted to the fringe and beyond. She had hopes, but in a denomination that is male dominated, and old boys club…there is no room at any table…unless it’s in the church kitchen, or Sunday school. My other daughter 3 degrees; political science, environmental sudies and journalism…also the same, but also the fact she finds much of the church irrelevant and totally disengaged from the whats going on in the world. Jim Henderson’s latest book paints a tragic picture of the role of women in the church. Unless the tide changes the ” church ” will continue to errode away until nothing is left.

  • Thank you! This is beautiful. I am always encouraged to find other women who follow the path God laid out for them despite resistance. Several years ago, when I came home to the South from my first quarter at seminary to visit my family at Christmas, my brothers bombarded me at the dinner table the first night about my pursuit–as a woman–of a seminary education until I ran from the table in tears. I hope when I have children one day to bring them up in a Church that supports and encourages the various gifts and callings of all God’s children, despite any cultural expectations of gender, age, etc. Knowing you are being brave gives me courage, too.