Discovering Ministry As Gender-Inclusive

Sarah Vanderaa
December 2nd, 2020

During a recent Spring Break, our church and youth group headed to South Carolina. We went there to do hurricane relief work for the week. My job was on the kitchen crew for the week – which meant cooking breakfast and supper for all those hungry workers.

Part of that job also included making daily runs to Wal-Mart for groceries. While walking toward one section of the store early one morning, a woman came out of a side aisle. Nothing particularly different about this woman, but I noticed the shirt she was wearing and thought it was interesting and even more interesting I found it a bit offensive.

Let me explain. Her shirt said, “Women are the future.”

Interesting. True. And yet not true. Interesting.

But why, as a woman, would I be offended?!

Because of the underlying message that is there. And because if men said something about her shirt they would be labeled women haters and even worse (gasp!) conservative.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am ALL for women in ministry and I believe they have a vital role in ministry as in all areas of life. Politics, education, home, business, sports and everything in between. God made both to help each other and balance each other out (See Genesis 2).

I get tired of having to at times defend what I do in the ministry and feel like I have to work twice as hard to prove myself simply because I am “too much of the wrong gender.”

That said, the shirt still offended me (I think my auto-correct want to change shirt to another word and I don’t think the auto correct would have been wrong!). The shirt offended me because by saying this, we are in fact doing the VERY thing we are accuse men of doing to women.

In saying this we are proclaiming that women maybe are more important than men. In saying this, we are implying we can do life without men. Yeah, not sure how that one works in populating the earth…that’s a bit ironic. In saying this we are asserting that men are dirt and women are where it’s at. We are honoring and glorifying the woman as better than the man.

The. VERY. Thing. We. Accuse. Them. Of. Doing. To. Us.


Amazing isn’t it how when one group or another gets a little taste of power they can almost immediately take it too far? To the point of doing the very thing they are accusing other people of. For example, the #metoo movement. For the most part I fully support it… until innocent people get caught up in the movement because an angry parent has an axe to grind.

Women are the future. I totally agree. But so are men. The point is not to have one gender rule over the other, but to work together in harmony and as partners.

So often when we read the creation story we read that women came from man and stop there. But I think God meant something so much deeper in the very fact that He took the rib from Adam. He was not only making the two one, but He was making Adam weaker with one less rib and giving that strength back to Adam through another person, a woman. Eve. Together they strengthen each other.

The future is men and women together working in harmony. I have been married a little over a month and one thing I am so grateful for is to be married to someone who not is NOT threatened by a wife who is in ministry, but instead encourages and supports it fully. He loves the fact that I love my job. He appreciates how him being a teacher he can talk to me (and me him) about stuff we can both understand because we are in similar fields.

And instead of being threatened by my being good at music, being that is what he teaches, he enjoys the fact that I enjoy that. He takes pleasure in the fact that I like to write and doesn’t ask me to hold back on being honest – even if it’s about how we fight!

He treats me with love and respect and equality. And in doing so, I desperately find myself wanting to treat him with love, respect and equality. That’s the way God wanted men and women to work together. Now, I am not saying we as a couple have it all figured out. Goodness no! Remember…I did say we fight!

But this idea of one gender being better than the other or one gender being the future more than the other has got to stop. Respect has got to start now. Christ displayed that so many times throughout His ministry.

Here are just a few examples:

Jesus has a conversation with a “sinful” woman at a well. A big no-no in that culture. Men did NOT talk to women in public (John 4).

Jesus stopping the stoning of an adulterous woman and forgiving her (John 8).

Jesus is anointed by a “sinful” woman (Luke 7).

Jesus raised a dead girl and heals a sick woman on the way to raise a dead girl, taking the time to stop and talk with the woman (Luke 8).

And guess who Jesus appeared to first after rising from the dead? The women who followed Him (John 20, Luke 24, Mark 16, Matt. 28).

Again these are not examples to brow-beat men, raise our arms in victory and say, “Women win!” This is to show how in a culture where women mattered not at all, Jesus was making sure to point out that in His kingdom, There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

And the same should be true for us today.

“All one in Christ Jesus.”

Sarah Vanderaa

Sarah Vanderaa is currently serving as a full-time youth director in a church located in the south suburbs of Chicago. She is close to wrapping up her tenth year there and is excited to see what year eleven will bring. On her rest days, she can often be found behind a computer writing and updating her blog, while drinking lots and lots of coffee. In between naps, she still finds time to read novels. You can connect with Sarah through her blog.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.