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Multifaceted moms

"Multifaceted moms" Continued...

Issue: "Iraq: Fallujah's fallen," Nov. 27, 2004

Indeed, The Myth of the Perfect Mother concludes with a very practical discussion of things the church could do better, such as giving women access to the full life of the church. That means encouraging women to live out their faith in the broader community, not just in their homes. Churches can do a better job of inviting women to participate in non-child-related ministries, including them in Bible studies and discipleship classes that have nothing to do with family life. "I don't necessarily need to attend another class on how to effectively discipline my children. I would grow just as much, as a Christian and a mother," says Mrs. Barnhill, "from attending a Bible study on Romans or a centering prayer retreat." Note to churches: Providing childcare at every church event, not just those events focused on parenting, can be a big sign that everyone is welcome.

Mrs. Barnhill also encourages churches to create opportunities for women at all stages of life to get to know one another. One of the great things about the church, after all, is that it provides a context for getting to know people who are demographically different from us; church is a place where we can remember that deep relationships are possible with people, even if all we have in common is the work Jesus Christ has done within us. "I have deeply appreciated the opportunities I've had at church to get to know other moms, and hear about their joys and struggles," she says. "But I also grow as a Christian and as a friend and a wife and a mother when I get to know women whose diaper-changing days are long, long in the past, or far away in the future."

Reporters, Mrs. Barnhill says, keep asking if her book is a feminist screed dressed in evangelical clothing. "This is a kingdom conversation, not a feminist conversation," she says. "It has nothing to do with 'empowering women.' It has to do with how the church can help all of us be the people of God, living into God's glorious kingdom, and living into the rich promises of the gospel."

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