If we wonder how our church views what men and women are capable of, we can take a look at the way we delegate responsibilities. If the missions committee is made up of all men, and the hospitality committee is make up of all women, that says a lot about what we believe women are capable of helping with. What we may find in sexist environments is that women are invited into spaces where physical service is required and excluded from spaces where intellectual work is required (making decisions and coming up with ideas).
It can’t be well argued from scripture that women should welcome the role of secretary while men should scoff at it. Yet I’ve never sat beside a man in church who was a secretary (that I know of). It also can’t be well argued from scripture that men rather than women should decide how the church’s mission budget is distributed. The church exists inside of culture, and the cultural assumptions about who does what are alive and well inside the walls on Sunday morning.
I have certainly been guilty of exactly this. As a man, there is work I often tend to assume I don’t have to bother with, just because I’m a man. I’ve also made the stupid jokes that entrench gender stereotypes in the church family (Oh wow, nice job with the dishes, Bill! You’ll make someone a great wife someday.) And when I’ve been in charge of handing out responsibilities, I’ve often just assumed that based on sex someone will be willing or able to perform a task. Perhaps it would be better if I trusted the Holy Spirit to that task and delegated work according to the ability God has given, rather than sex.
What would happen if I empowered everyone around me to serve as their gifting allowed?
Have I suppressed gifts I was given for fear of breaking gender norms?
What would it look like to shed cultural stereotypes regarding who serves where in church?