Book Talk: Half the Church

Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women
by Carolyn Custis James

I am a woman. I did not grow up in the church. And to be quite honest, once I became a Christian,  I was very surprised by how the church thought about and dealt with women. Particularly among evangelicals. As a college student and new Christian, by observation alone, I learned very quickly that the woman who were valued were

1) quiet
2) demure
3) served in the shadows of the men
4) were focused on being wives and mothers
5) if single were expected to pursue missions
6) could have other “pursuits” if tied to the home in some way (quilting, scrapbooking, etc.)

I wasn’t any of those things. In fact, the passions and callings God had put in me seemed to have no place in the church. When I stepped out to follow God on the path He had set before me and I asked my church to pray for me, I got no response from them. They essentially ignored me, and continued to ignore me. Eventually I realized that I couldn’t sit around waiting for “approval” that I was never going to get. I chose to follow God and the path has been extraordinary, difficult, amazing and challenging. I wouldn’t want it any other way. But you know what – I still feel like there is no place for me at my home church. I love them anyway – you don’t stop loving your family just because they don’t understand you. And thankfully, I have found my “church” among amazing and precious women from across the country who are also off pursuing God in ways that don’t fit inside the box that the contemporary church has made for women.

About the book:
So why do I share all of this? Well, truly, Half the Church is what made me start thinking about all of this. I’m sure plenty of other sites will do a more classic book review. But if you haven’t figured out by now, I don’t do much in “typical” fashion. Carolyn Custis James shares a message for women that I think many, many women need to hear. Are in fact longing to hear. I know that my small experience is a microcosm. What James tries to offer is a more global perspective, and shows how the problem of women’s place in the kingdom of God is a global concern for us all. But while it widens your eyes, I don’t think it minimizes the ongoing struggle that many women have within the body of Christ. There are many nuggets worth searching for in it’s pages:

1- the word “submission” and how Jesus modeled it for us.
2 -how women are meant to be warriors for his Kingdom
3 – how the church has an opportunity – if she will embrace it…
4 – how women have a purpose – right now – no matter what their age or station in life

I found the book to be a bit more set-up than pay-off at times – but it’s a book worth committing to. It’s a book worth exploring. Pondering. Wondering. For me, it really just confirmed much of what I have already come to believe. But I’m worried too. Worried that the people who NEED to read this book – namely men, won’t. It will be their loss. If you care about the church, then the ideas contained within these pages must be part of the conversation. I will be recommending it. To women who need that confirmation that God has a purpose for them right now. But also to men. Men who need women’s input as much as women need to have a voice within the church.

Will things change? I don’t know. But I think being willing to have the conversation is a step in the right direction.

Want to win a copy of Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James? Then join the conversation! Make a comment and be sure to include a valid e-mail address and I’ll pick a random winner from those who comment! (Click on the post title to go to the blog page if you don’t see the comment box below).

**Disclaimer – I received a review copy of this book from Zondervan along with the extra copy I’m using for the giveaway. Just so’s you know!**

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