Pursuing Partnership: 5 Needed Conversations

Conversation #5: Representation Matters

By Dr Rob Dixon drrobdixon.com

Together in Ministry: Women and Men in Flourishing Partnerships, IVP

This article is part of the series Pursuing Partnership: Men and Women in Ministry.

This is part 6 of a six-part series of articles that lay out crucial conversations that communities can have in pursuit of a ministry workplace marked by thriving partnerships between women and men. The five conversations include story, theology, culture, boundaries, and representation. 

I recently received an email newsletter from an organization that I know is serious about cultivating flourishing ministry partnerships between women and men. To my satisfaction, even a casual reading of the newsletter clearly demonstrated their value. For one thing, their photos included women and men serving alongside one another. For another, some of the articles were written by men, others by women, and several were co-written by women and men. 

This organization did a good job with issues of representation. Their stated value for the full partnership of women and men in ministry was purposefully expressed in the public-facing things they shared with the world. 

How about your organization? This fifth crucial conversation in the area of flourishing mixed-gender ministry partnerships involves a thoughtful examination of how partnerships are (or aren’t!) expressed in a community’s praxis and publicity. 

In my book Together in Ministry, I articulated a list of questions for groups to answer as they consider issues of representation in this area:

  • Who is up front in your regular community meetings or services?
  • What pictures are you posting on your websites or other promotional materials?
  • What is the gender composition of your leadership team?
  • What stories are you telling to illustrate what God is doing in your community, and do they illustrate your value for flourishing mixed-gender partnerships?
  • When it comes to the high profile ministry opportunities in the life of your community–such as preaching, casting vision, making decisions–who is at the helm?

In one of my research interviews, a leader described their process of planning their community events. She described elements that I think most communities would include in their processes: the prayerful discernment sessions, the brainstorming times in community, the work of actually putting plans onto paper, and the decisions about who was going to be responsible for what. 

And then she shared the last step in their planning process: the representation gut check. For this group, the planning process wasn’t complete until they had rigorously interrogated their plans with an eye toward representation, specifically around women and men in ministry partnerships. How about your community? What could it look like for you to be intentional about considering issues of representation in this area?

Register now for the full MissioNexus ‘24’ Workshop on “Pursuing Partnership,” March 21-22, in Kansas City hosted at Avant Ministries.

This article is submitted by Wendy Wilson of Missio Nexus and of Women’s Development Track.  Women’s Development Track is a Missio Nexus member.  Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.

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