I intend, Lord willing, to write out a specific outline and purpose this weekend on why a book on cross gender friendship and ministry is needed.
1. There's no single book out there addressing cross gender friendship and ministry in the post evangelical world.
That's simply amazing. There's books on spiritual friendships, and a lot of books on ministry, but there's no book that engages cross gender intimacy, cross gender friendships, and within the boundaries of cross gender friendships, ministry. There's a handful of books that I have listed on my sidebar that mention it in passing. There's also a 10 year old article by Dennis Hiebert from Providence College in the Journal of Psychology and Theology.
2. There's much more to be said about cross gender relating, cross gender ministry, cross gender intimacy than the Mark Driscoll model. I
Driscoll is still living with the stereotypical view from women in the 50's. I remember the dramatic story John Wimber used to tell when he was riding on an airplane and the Lord used him to evangelize a stranger he was sitting next to. John Wimber became known as a leader in the signs and wonders movement. This story was a staple of his and it occurred early on in his ministry. The point of his story was the Lord gave him a supernatural revelation. John "saw" the word "adultery" written on this stranger's forehead as they were talking.
Driscoll's model, almost implants the same word on every woman's head he enocunters. With his overreaction, it's almost as if he wants every pastor, every emerging leader, every husband to see the word "adultery" written across every female they encounter.
The Driscoll model is so out of touch with our culture and with the kingdom. There are books in leadership and ministry that promote this 50's model way of relating to men and women, but there's none than presents a dramatic alternative.
3. There needs to be a book that puts an in-depth conversation on the table about cross gender relating, ministry, and friendships.
It is kind of a cultural perception or generalization that men are afraid of intimacy or not into intimacy as much as women are. A book on cross gender friendship and ministry would address that generalization and stereotypes. In the evangelical sub-culture, there's a naive perception that intimacy with a woman, if it is not a sexual intimacy, is still something men should be afraid of, because it could lead to sexual intimacy, or some kind of emotional that is not professional. I think there needs to be not just one book, but several books out there exploring this conversation at a more in-depth level.
4. A book (or more than one book) is needed to address the evangelical segregated gender mentality of creating activities or ministries that promote men with men, women with women, husbands with husbands, and wives with wives, etc.
The evangelical/fundamentalist mentality of segregating genders deserves another look, deserves another paradigm, deserves much more deeper conversation. How can we continue to promote such an out of step segregated paradigm across the board when in the Western culture men and women work side by side each other, and in many instances share close proximity to each other? How can we continue to segregate when the Western culture sees men and women relating to each other in close proximity to each other in the media? Usually in the evangelical/fundamentalist subculture, this segregation takes place by promoting "family" ministry, family values, etc. There's much more conversation that needs to take place here. Chances are if you have a church that promotes family ministry, that exalts family ministry, you will have a church that promotes segregated gender intimacy outside the confines of family. The evangelical/fundamentalist sub-culture is out of touch with contemporary culture on this one, too. It's definitely not an either/or.
5. There is a need for the post evangelical world to embrace single women and single men, divorced men and divorced women in cross gender intimacy, friendships, and ministry.
Lauren Winner only lightly touches on this. But the post evangelical church, or even the church larger than the post evangelical world, needs to address the need for passionate contemporary cross gender intimacy with single or divorced men and women. The kingdom of God and cross gender intimacy for single men, single women, divorced men and divorced women--this reason alone begs further and deepr conversation, a book on cross gender intimacy.
6. The wisdom of sexual and spiritual formation involving cross gender intimacy towards those women who have been wounded or abused in the past by men.
I see the argument and observations put forth by Miroslav Volf in Exclusion and Embrace as touching on this. A book (or several) is needed on developing a vision, bringing deeper conversation between men and women on intimacy issues that go beyond the pop culture books that reinforce men are from Mars and women are from Venus mentality, especially when there's been disconnects in the past. I think further conversation is needed along these lines of what Paul Wadell addresses in his chapter on "not letting hurt have the final word." Although he doesn't directly address cross gender intimacy/friendship, this needs to be fleshed out for deep healing and engagement between women and men.
7. Further progress in gender reconciliation, discussion about roles in ministry, women in ministry on pastoral staffs, etc. really begins with one's vision of cross gender relating, cross gender friendship, and cross gender ministry.
Just look at the passionate opinions offered recently on Jesus Creed. More conversation, deeper conversation needs to take place here, and a book on cross gender friendship/intimacy would foster that.
I think those are seven good reasons why I feel compelled to write a book on this subject.