book review & giveaway: The Resignation of Eve

Title: The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing To Be The Church’s Backbone?

Author: Jim Henderson

Publisher: Tyndale House

Complimentary Copy from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Rating: A

“I went to seminary because I felt like it would help give weight to my voice as a woman.

I care deeply about helping women see themselves as equals. They battle against it in pop culture and at work. The last place they should experience a feeling of being “lesser than” is at church. I want to change that from the inside. But here’s what’s discouraging. In my home church we’ve only had two female speakers in the past twelve years. I asked my pastor, why?

His response, “It’s just not something our church is comfortable with.”

Here’s what I think—I think it’s just not something he’s comfortable with.”

~ Female church attendee (pg 247-248)

I think every church in the United States should read, study, and consider the timely message of Jim Henderson’s latest work, The Resignation of Eve.

I’d like to take a moment to personally thank Jim Henderson (and the Barna research group) for providing a platform to engage the topic of “women in the church” from the perspective of women. Thank you for sharing the stories of so many women who have struggled against, wrestled with, coasted under, or challenged the status quo. Most importantly, thank you for using your influence and position to promote egalitarian cooperation, affirmation and partnership within the church and among the body of Christ.

What you will not find in The Resignation of Eve: theological banter dissecting the pro’s or con’s surrounding the debate of the role(s) of women in the church or a biblical exegesis affirming or critiquing the role of women in the church. To my surprise, but the author’s credit, Henderson avoids that road. In doing so, the reader is able to focus on the stories of the many women interviewed by the author, allowing the reader a space to offer their undivided attention.

What you can expect to gain from The Resignation of Eve:

(1)   A candid look at how traditional, conventional, complementarian views of women in the church can harm women, stifle church growth, and damage the witness and effectiveness of the church body as a whole.

(2)   The opportunity to engage and wrestle with the topic personally through thoughtful conversations (and a full study guide).

(3)   A challenge to the Church to consider the emotional and psychological effects of the message(s) communicated to women, be it via direct discourse or non-verbal cues, regarding their perceived and actual place in church polity, leadership, pastorate, and staff.

Whether the church cares to admit to admit it or not, she is in crisis. Young people, ages 18-30 are leaving the church in staggering numbers. Second to this demographic, women are leaving the church in large numbers as well. According to Barna research, church avoidance by women rose from 18% to 30% in the period between 1991 and 2003. In 2005 the number of unchurched women jumped to 38%! (pg xix) What would your church look like if 38% of the church up and left?

If the Church doesn’t take note and begin partnering with women in ways that validate, affirm, integrate and appoint women into all levels of church life, women will continue to leave the church. Jim Henderson’s book, The Resignation of Eve, is an essential tool to help any church begin the process of implementing genuine dialogue, egalitarian partnership, and biblical reconciliation.

 

Win a Free Copy!

 

The author and publisher have ever-so-kindly provided me with a certificate redeemable for one *free* copy of The Resignation of Eve. To enter for the chance to win, simply reply to this post with your thoughts on the role of women in the church.

The winner will be notified on March 31, 2012.

 

*CONGRATULATIONS TO Laurielfrodo, winner of the publisher’s free copy of The Resignation of Eve! May the BC Library use it well!*

Author Bio

Jim Henderson is acclaimed by USA Today for having “blazed a new path as an innovator, author, church evaluator, self-professed subversive, and leader in the creation of new ways to be publicly and persuasively Christian in the twenty-first century.”

Jim is a speaker, author, and producer. His most subversive act to date was buying an atheist’s soul on eBay and then sending him to attend and review several churches. On the heels of that project, Jim hired another atheist (Matt Casper) to join him at various church services and share his feedback. Together, they recount their unique findings in a book titled Jim and Casper Go to Church (Tyndale, 2007).

After twenty-five years as a pastor, Jim formed Off the Map, an organization that produced live events designed to help people recover the lost art of being “unusually interested” in others, especially Outsiders. Today, Jim’s company, Jim Henderson Presents, produces live events and television projects that look at the important role of religious spirituality in our lives. Jim is known for asking the questions others skip.

Jim holds a doctorate in transformational leadership and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today and on Fox News and This American Life with Ira Glass. For more on The Resignation of Eve, visit http://resignationofeve.com/

Book Description

In talking with women around the country, Jim Henderson has come to believe that an epidemic of quiet, even sad resignation is developing among dedicated Christian women who feel overworked and undervalued on the church. As a result, many women are discouraged. Some, particularly young women, respond by leaving the organized church … or walking away from the faith altogether. The Resignation of Eve is a field report on what women have to say about how they’ve been affected—both positively and negatively—by their experience with in the church…It’s time to pay attention before it’s too late—time to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who went out of his way to honor, elevate, and work through women wherever he went.

I received a copy of this book from the Tyndale House publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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19 comments

  1. I would very much like to read this book. I am a member of the Episcopal Church, which has ordained women to the priesthood since the year I was born, 1979. I have attended three different churches so far, and in each one, women served on the clergy (my present church has had two head priests who were women) and at all levels of lay leadership.

    However, we still have room to welcome younger women into leadership, and I’d like to better understand what they’re looking for in terms of opportunities and mentorship. I also have a sister-in-law who, although she’s been serving as a minister in the Assemblies of God for decades, is just this year officially being ordained. The book might offer some insights for her, or perhaps some support that she may or may not have received in her denomination. I’d like to better understand the world she inhabits, too.

    Fingers crossed for the giveaway!

  2. I am entering comments in pursuit of this book for the BC Library. 😀

    Personally, my convictions have fallen in being comfortable with women in any area of ministry in the church with the exceptions of elders and sermon-giving pastors. I say this in the sense of these are the 2 positions where I personally would have a large degree of uncertainty and/or misgiving if I ever chose to pursue them based on how I currently understand scripture and also based on my Christian Reformed upbringing (a more conservative bunch, to be sure). I don’t hold judgement over congregations that choose to have women in these capacities, but I have not yet heard an argument that has swayed my convictions to the point of belief that scripture condones this practice. Although I will be the first one to admit I haven’t looked closely at the arguments for and against in comparison with scripture since I’ve never had to wrestle much with this issue in my own life. If I had, that would be a different story.

    1. Laura,

      Consider yourself entered in the giveaway. The Resignation of Eve will make a wonderful addition to the BC Library.

      ~Susan

      1. So since we didn’t meet in April…what are our plans now to get this book to me? Perhaps you should just mail the voucher or whatever it is to play it safe.

  3. i am thankful to be in a church right now where having women in leadership, in the pulpit or serving in any capacity in the church is simply not an issue. we don’t even have to have a discussion about the pros and cons. it simply and naturally hasn’t. i feel i have come a long way from my graduation from seminary when i was told i would be a very gifted “pastor’s wife.”

    1. Melanie,

      It is unbelievable to me the belittling (and ignorant) comments people make sometimes with the intention of sounding supportive or encouraging, isn’t it? You are blessed to be involved in a church that is fully supportive of women. Wonderful to hear it!

      ~Su

  4. This is a HUGE topic. I have been in the church (lower case) all my life and wasn’t saved until age 23. Saved “outside” of the church (lower case). Walking with the Lord now for 38 MORE years. Member of a handful of churches. In some churches my gender was an issue, as well as my singleness. The combination of BOTH can sadly cause great prejudice and definite inequality. I do believe God weeps over this. I feel some in the Church (capitol C) have made an idol out of marriage, making it a divisive thing. But back to gender. For about 16-17 years of my walk with the Lord I was a member of a church that allowed women to use their giftedness. I not only discovered my gifts, but explored them and developed them. I delighted in them and that church was blessed as well…and because of that church, I have served the Lord in ways I’d never have done – ever – with out their great influence and encouragement and coaching. It was a great blessing. A blessing I didn’t fully see until I left there and am now a member of a very conservative church where my gifts are not used. It is indeed a struggle for me. The way I deal with it is serving, in large part, in Christian “para-church” ministries and mentoring younger women. Grant you, many of the younger women in this church aren’t interested in a “single all her life” woman – what can I possibly have to offer( wait, were Jesus or Paul married ?ahhh, but they were men! ) – but occasionally there is one gal inside the church or (more often )outside the church that I have met in a para-church compassion ministry who wants and needs mentoring. This is the place God has given me to serve Him and proclaim His goodness. Every woman’s challenge is to serve her Lord by living and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. All the more, as darkness is on the increase, in this world. We need to be out amongst the world so they can see our light and those inside the church – our example, if they are watching. Where I can serve in the church, I will, but I need to proactively serve Him none the less. I am accountable to use His gifts. Perhaps He is dispersing the women outside the camp…as He did in Acts through persecution. God uses anything He wills. Nothing will stop Him. We need to focus and seek Him. He will provide a way. I was blessed to discover and build up my gifts inside the church. I’m single, and God used His church, perhaps some husbands can do that for their wives if the church leadership doesn’t. Or women can seek older other women, but as individuals we are still accountable before God. We are commanded not to forsake the Church. I need the Church, it is God’s gift to me as well as my Spiritual Giftedness. I can receive solid teaching and accountability and strive for Unity in the Church which was Christ’s high priestly prayer and ultimate goal of His resurrection and ascension – man’s reconciled unity with the Godhead. I am convinced that my “service to God” is a LESSER priority than unity with Christ’s body – the Church. “Service to God” is WORSHIP of Him. I do that in “community” – do not forsake community in the Church. “My personal worship” is not all that is required of me. We are one “broken” Body. How will the world recognize us? By our love…in two parts: for God and one another. starting with the household of God.

    1. Donna,

      Thank you for sharing so opening and candidly about your experiences in church. I believe the point Jim Henderson is trying to make through sharing the stories of so many women in The Resignation of Eve, is to point out the ways in which non-egalitarian church’s (repressive) attitude toward women in ministry is hurting women, leaving long-term emotional scars … part of your experience reflects this.

      My heart rejoices with you in this: “For about 16-17 years of my walk with the Lord I was a member of a church that allowed women to use their giftedness. I not only discovered my gifts, but explored them and developed them. I delighted in them and that church was blessed as well…and because of that church, I have served the Lord in ways I’d never have done – ever…” This level of mentoring, support, affirmation and encouragement is how it should be for all who grace the doors of church be they child, man or woman. May you find a church that will invest in you as a sister, daughter, and spiritual mother in the same way so that all of your gifts, wisdom, and knowledge may be appreciated and used serving inside the walls as well as outside.

      ~Su

      1. Without reading the book, I’d guess that is one of his goals. But as God alone can do…He uses the imperfect (us… made perfect positionally and “working out our sanctification” thorough patience (James1) etc.) to accomplish His will (for us to reflect Him). Never will anywhere on earth be utopia..church, marriage..we experience sinner to sinner conflict and God then asks us to reflect Him and He calls us to the “ministry of reconciliation.” This LOVE is how the world will “know us by our love”…not infighting….in marriage or the church. There is an important piece we all must come to…”acceptance with Joy”..not my will but yours. Our God is the God of the impossible and He will accomplish His will (through imprisonment, dispersion, etc). We need to be submissive to Him. These are not dismissive words. I need to change. For HIs “actions” to be seen I must get out of the way. Woman’s fight to do it (the Genesis curse)… is LIFELONG a part of our existence..GOD GAVE US THE CURSE..He had a reason. Punishment?…no, to lead us away from ourselves and to Christ.

  5. Women are a huge part in the church by being teachers, shepherds, serving by creating foods for different classes, being on worship teams, getting their families to go to church and much more and sometimes I feel like they are under appreciated. I don’t necessarily feel that way in my church. But I do know some people who feel that women should not necessarily have a say in some important decisions.
    I don’t know. It’s an interesting topic.

    1. And it’s not fair for women to be seen as just teachers. They should also be able to have a say in important church decisions and such. Sorry my thought seems incomplete.

    1. Paula,

      I agree! The Resignation of Eve provides an important glimpse into the minds and hearts of women who fall on all ends of the spectrum in terms of their position on women in the church, Thanks for responding … your name has been entered for the chance to win a free copy of Henderson’s book.

      ~Su

  6. I do believe God has given a voice to women in the church. And I do not believe they are meant to just use their voices in the context of teaching Sunday school to children. I believe those women that are sincerely answering God’s call for their lives to teach and speak about God’s word, know the weight and responsibility that comes with that call.

    1. Well said, Corey. Thank you. Now, if only all the women who feel sincerely called to lead and/or teach actually experienced the same support to access the pulpit, elder board, governance committee, (etc.) as they’re given to the kitchen and Sunday school.

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