The power of networks, the power of men.
As I think about the dearth of ministry jobs that there are for women, and as a result of attending the two-day Ministry Intensive at the Cathedral, I have become freshly aware of the power of ministry networks.
Men are great at networking. It almost seems to be part of their genetic makeup. Somewhere, they have learned that to be in a network of like-minded men is to their benefit.
These networks may be forged through College year groups or among members of associated churches or through a common commitment to a particular way of training, e.g. MTS, or even to a particular ministry, e.g. AFES or church planting.
Such networks can be very powerful, forging new ministry roles for like-minded people or providing easier access to already existing roles. The downside of networks is that they may operate to exclude those who are unknown or untested in the particular style of ministry favoured by a network.
I have observed that there is a vast difference between men and women in the way in which men are able to use their networks to pursue appointments, uncover possibilities and even to be able to persuade leaders to rethink what they might need in the light of what they as applicants can offer.
While women too have networks, they are frequently friendship-based rather than professionally based. Women are certainly part of the MT&D and MTC networks but are less involved in networks that bring them into contact with current church leaders who are prospective employers. This fact, together with the current emphases on church/congregation planting and youth ministries, may severely disadvantage women in securing any position in ministry.
How then do the wonderfully gifted female graduates of Moore, both past and present, find their place in the primarily male ministry networks?
We might say, 'Well there is nothing stopping women from being in these networks,' and while that is certainly true, I am hoping for something better than such a statement from ministry-minded men. That is, that they will invite women in ministry into their networks and that they will promote their ministry-gifted female friends to the ministers within their networks.
Could such ministry-minded men say: 'I know this really terrific woman - keen evangelist/youth worker/Bible teacher/trainer'? Or, 'I know a woman who has the experience in ministry to do more than just maintain a ministry. This woman is just the person to help you advance evangelism and mission in your church. You don't know her? Then let me tell you about her and maybe I could introduce you to her at the next Connect 09 Prayer Day.'
That's the power of networks, the power of men.