Christian Post’s (an evangelical Christian news source) blog, Eve’s Voice, reviews the book, The Resignation of Eve: what if Adam’s rib is no longer willing to be the church’s backbone? by Jim Henderson.
Twelve years ago, George Barna described women as the backbone of the Church, but his recent research reveals that the backbone shows signs of decay and collapse. Between 1991 and 2011 there has been a 20 percent decrease in the percentage of adult women attending church services in any given week, a 29 percent drop in the number of adult women attending Sunday school classes, and the number of women who volunteer during the course of a week has plummeted 31 percent. The proportion of American women who are unchurched has nearly doubled in the past twenty years, rising by 94 percent. Barna concludes, “Women of faith, increasingly disgruntled and feeling unfulfilled by their church experiences, are leaving churches in massive numbers.”
Henderson notes 3 groups of women:
1) Women resigned to their church’s treatment of women. They like, support, and defend their church’s view and care for women, even if it limits what they can do. Barna’s recent research revealed that 61 percent of women surveyed said that their church’s perspective on the role of women in ministry was similar to their own. But 83 percent said they thought they were capable of doing more to serve God than they were currently doing and 56 percent said that if they were given an open invitation to exercise a greater degree of leadership in their church that they definitely or probably would do so.
2) Women who have resigned from church. These women felt they were capable of guiding, shaping, and leading in the church community but were denied the opportunity to use their gifts and abilities to the full extent. They walked away from the church, Christianity, and in some cases, God. Most of them had been dedicated churchgoers and many were leaders but have opted for other beliefs or no belief.
3) Women who resign themselves to the way things are and stay with the hope of changing opportunities for women from the inside. These women know the risks, and that change is not likely, and if it occurs at all, will be slow. But they don’t quit or accept things as they are. They engage, lead, and influence as best they can, hoping and praying for more opportunities for women in time.
Are women in the Episcopal Church walking away?