Theology

Ending the Fluff in Women’s Ministry

March 18, 2016
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The other day I was outside with my little boy. He had a tight grip on the “flower” he had picked for me- a dandelion. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was really just a weed. As he sat there studying the dandelion’s intricacies, he rubbed it across his cheek, admiring its softness and beauty. There were talks of taking it inside and putting it in a vase. And then, out of nowhere came a giant gust of wind. He watched as the fluffy, white flowery top quickly disintegrated, disappearing into the wind.

Later it dawned on me that our own theologies can be like that dandelion; they’re fluffy and pretty, but don’t stand a chance at weathering life’s storms.

In college, I took a course on worldviews. The professor challenged just about everything I held to be true. “Why do you believe the Bible to be true? Why Christianity over other world religions?” he asked. Question after question, the Professor crushed my dandelion-like faith. I’d been a Christian for years and yet I couldn’t give a basic defense of my faith. It didn’t take me long to realize that the countless sermons I’d heard, the Christian books I read, and the Bible studies I’d attended had consisted primarily of one thing: fluff.

Flash forward a decade and as I sit with a child who has crippling diagnoses, I’ve been forced again to wrestle through what I believe to be true. It hasn’t been an easy road and there’s been more struggle with the Truth than resting in it. I’m going to go out on a limb here and believe that many of you can identify as you have your own struggles.

For years I’ve witnessed a large disconnect between the real lives- the doubts, pains, struggles and questions- of women I know and the ministry material readily available for them. Blogs, books and speakers that have soared in popularity within the church and yet, leave their readers feeling spiritually malnourished.There’s a prevailing thought that studying doctrine is something that happens in seminaries; it’s boring and not relevant. Combine this assumption with our consumeristic church culture and you get what I’d been fed for years and what a large majority of women’s studies tend to focus on: fluff.

Fluff is pretty. It’s emotionally engaging. It’s clichés and personal stories and shallow truth statements neatly packaged for us to buy at wholesale. Fluff discourages deep thoughts and theological questions because those things threaten to unravel its pretty little facade.

Fluff relies on moralistic behaviorism, leading us to believe that if we just do more and try harder, God will love us more and things will finally be made right in our lives. Fluff focuses on what we can do instead of focusing on what Christ has done for us. It seeks glorification of self instead of glorification of Christ.

Fluff leads us to believe that the shallow doctrines it proclaims are the final destination, instead of the tip of the iceberg of our faith journey.

Ladies, hear me when I say this: It’s not that fluff doesn’t at times, have something good or true to say. But fluff only gives us a microscope to study God where a telescope is needed.

Relying on fluff to grow your faith is like putting your toes in the ocean and thinking the whole sea is only that deep.

If the power of a lie is how much truth you can pack into it, then isn’t it worth considering if the Enemy is not doing exactly what he set out to do by sending teachers who feed us fluff? Yes, Satan sends teachers who offer just enough substance to keep us coming back for more, all the while distracting us from the real source of deep theological Truth- the Bible.

And this is where it get’s really awkward, because we live in world that does not applaud you for saying something is objectively wrong. But what if we, as educated women, began praying for humble discernment when it comes to what teachers/teachings we listen to? What if we decided that we want to go deeper in our theologies, not out of moral obligation or a desire to improve ourselves, but simply because we want to know the One who is pursuing us? What would it look like for us to take the time to learn deep spiritual Truths instead of being satisfied with mere rudimentary teachings?

Let’s go deeper. Let’s not be afraid to ask the hard questions. Let’s stop using cliches. And let’s use our intelligent minds to think carefully about the world through a Biblical lens, letting the Bible guide our beliefs about what we know to be true.

Let’s stand together, deciding that we are ready to #EndTheFluff in women’s ministry.

 

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6 Comments

  • Reply Meg March 19, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    I believe that people can get so focused on studying Biblical doctrines and theologies that they pass right over what Jesus himself said and did. Jesus and the Holy Spirit of God are the perfect teachers. Relying on the Holy Spirit to help with discerning which doctrines and teachings were meant for followers of Christ in the age in which we live is a sure way to live a life of peace in the midst of the storms. The grace and mercy of God the Father, the Love, compassion and servanthood of Jesus and the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit of the Almighty God who lives within are the foundations of why we are here. WE aren’t told to worship the Bible…it is a guideline. The relationship with our Maker is what brings peace. I’m not saying don’t study the Bible and not disagreeing with you at all. Just adding what I’ve learned and testifying that my daily commitment and relationship to GOD is what has brought me thru every trial and challenge as well as lifted me to the heights. Blessings, love, and peace for you and your family as you worship and honor HIM!

    • Reply Lindsay March 23, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      Meg, Thanks for responding. You are right, some people can get so caught up in studying doctrine that they forget to love those around them well. I’ve experienced this at the seminary level in particular. However, I would still urge every believer to strain every feeling, thought or belief through the Word to test it for it’s truth. The Bible is our ultimate standard of Truth. It’s how we know we’re not being deceived. And it’s also the place where God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. So if we’re going to love Him and have a relationship with Him, it’s going to start with loving and having a relationship with the Bible. Grace and peace to you!

  • Reply Julie March 22, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    I’m wondering if you have any studies/authors/books that you feel are beyond the fluff that you’d recommend? I would agree with you – the most recent study I am in has frustrated me because I find it so easy to write out a “church” or right answer yet I feel there’s more I could dig out given a little more help with the digging. Sometimes it is good to go back to basics and sometimes new believers need milk not meat but when it’s time for meat, it seems to be harder to find.

    • Reply Lindsay March 23, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      Julie, I love how you stated that at the end. I often have to remind myself that not everyone is ready for meat and that is OK. You’re right, it can be so hard to go beyond the fluff and find some substance. Here are a few current favorites: Michael Kruger’s study on the Book of Romans can be found in its entirety here: https://rts.edu/Site/RTSNearYou/Charlotte/rbs.aspx. I highly recommend it as it has a little something for everyone, no matter what stage you are at in your faith walk. Also, I really enjoy reading the following authors: Tim Keller, Melissa Kruger (Dr. Kruger’s wife has some great women’s studies available), Elyse Fitzpatrick, and John Piper, to name a few. Here is a more extensive list of great books/authors: http://www.challies.com/recommendations/women. Thanks for commenting and happy reading! Let me know which ones you like as I’m always looking for recommendations too!

  • Reply Tracy April 15, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Not sure how, but I stumbled upon your blog, but feel like God sent me to this post. I love what you had say. I am a practicing Catholic, but more importantly I cofounded a ministry that works with families whose babies are expected to die at birth. Our model is based on pastoral care and so one of the things we focus on is spiritual support in our training. We often see friends and family attempt to use the fluff to support the parents we serve OR explain or define their situation of love and probable loss. We, however, keep it basic when supporting parents…God loves them and God loves this baby…and He is faithful…and pursuing them…as you so beautifully stated. One thing I have learned in ministry is that the fluff is that it doesn’t hold up when life is difficult. Rather than building a foundation on rock /the truth, fluff consumers find themselves with a fuzzy human perspective of God with expectations of Him that were never part of the promise made in the sacrifice of Christ. I have always seen though that if a broken moment you let the fluff go…no matter how scary not understanding Him or the circumstances can be…you find in the darkness…MORE Him. He is so good.

  • Reply Gretchen July 14, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    I can so identify with this. I have a hard time reading many devotionals because I come away feeling worse rather than uplifted and empowered. Great read. Thank you.

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