Agape continues to grow, even though we have hit summertime. We are consistent in attendance and the home communities that are meeting for the summer, continue to bring in new people. This summer we are appointing new ministry leaders which excites me. A financial team, youth ministry leaders, set up teams, and home community leaders are all the response of people who want to lead for Jesus.
Lori has been doing ministry to women almost as long as we have been married and, as with most minister's wives, receives little compensation or praise for her work. I guess churches (we) have talked about the "preacher's wife" phenomena, patted them on the hand, and continued on as if nothing has changed. In some circles we have told them they don't have to do ministry (then griped because they aren't involved). In other circles we have encouraged them to seek employment outside the home (then griped that they aren't involved in their husband's ministry). Other times we have put pressure on them to serve the church in the unwritten, behind the scenes, and unspoken duties that they telepathically should know. Even worse, we have told some of the wives that they don't need to serve. Those who have a passion for ministry stand in the shadows, feel neglected, and try to serve without becoming a threat to men who are insecure in their masculinity. For years this has saddened me.
Some of the women at Agape shared with Lori that they felt she should not go back to teaching at a pre-school (where she taught for 8 years). She was encouraged to become the women's minister. Why? Because she has been doing this for years and should be compensated (I have told her that for years but you know how that goes). On the advice from some of the Agape women she was appointed Agape's Women's Minister. She will seek outside support (in the past 2 weeks she has raised quite a bit) for salary due to the fact that as a new church we are still financially dependant.
I have been blown away by the following:
1. How God has worked in this. In Titus 2 the older (mature) women are to teach the younger. What an opportunity to be a New Testament church and spiritually develop and empower women.
2. The response of some church leader's wives of other churches. Not praise but surprise that a preacher's wife would get paid for doing "what she is supposed to already be doing" (yah, I heard a minister's wife make this comment). Now I know why so many preacher's wives are bitter and burned out. To think we would actually pay a woman a salary to do ministry...
3. How many of the women have responded with an outpouring of excitement. They have validated Lori and shared how this will be a powerful ministry. Not only women at Agape but women from churches who are writing checks to support this dream. One 88 year old woman wrote an encouraging note and touched us deeply. I guess for many Christian women this has been a long time coming.
4. The excitement I feel in dreaming about our recovery ministries/communities this fall. Not only will they help men but they will work with women abuse victims, addicts, and women who struggle with sexual purity.
5. Watching Lori minister to women. She is awesome at this but I think the validation has given her a sense of hope and empowerment. She really is taking off.
6. I can focus on men's ministry now!