I recently realized that I rarely read books written by women. I'm not sure why this is the case. It may be that most theological books seem to be written by men. Regardless, I wanted to read a good book by a woman.
I was pleased when I ran across What Women Wish Pastors Knew at a local bookstore. The author is Denise George, who is the wife of Dr. Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University.
This book is interesting because it is based on the results of a survey of hundreds of women. This survey looked at various aspects of church life through the eyes of women. The purpose of the survey was to learn how women feel about their churches and what they wish their pastors knew about them.
Since I'm a new pastor, this book seemed very appropriate. I'm glad I read it because I learned a great deal about how women view the church in general and the pastor in particular. Before reading this book, I think I knew that women see the church differently than men do, but now I know this to be the case. I do not mean that to be a criticism; rather, it is probably a good thing. Men and women can both bring their strengths to church life, thus building up the body more effectively.
One interesting thing that I learned was what Mrs. George first mentioned. The results show that women want their pastors to know that they are tired and that they hurt. It was beneficial for me as a pastor to be reminded of just how busy young mothers often are. One description of a typical week in the life of a young mother had me exhausted just reading it. I also benefited from being reminded that many women are hurting in a wide variety of ways.
Another interesting piece of information came up in a chapter entitled, "Pastor, we have some problems in our church." Mrs. George discussed the eight concerns that she said kept occurring over and over. They were:
#1 - Men and women working separately
#2 - Lack of respect shown to women
#3 - Women lacking new opportunities
#4 - Women treated as second-class citizens
#5 - Age discrimination
#6 - Men and leadership issues
#7 - Competition among women
#8 - Secularism in the church
Because the above problems were mentioned by many different women, it's clear that they are occurring in many different churches. It was helpful for me to read this, and then think about how these sorts of things may be happening at Chevis Oaks.
If you are a pastor or active male at a church, I would recommend reading this book. It is good for us to be reminded that women and men have different needs, and see the world somewhat differently. The church should be a place where both men and women feel welcomed and needed.
A church only functions well when all its members are working together as Christ intended.