well-behaved women won't change the church

Off Road Adventure Traffic Signtoday i have a post up at ed cyzewski’s blog as part of his women in ministry series.  it’s called well-behaved women won’t change the church.  it was so fun to write this one!

here’s a little excerpt:

Well-behaved women won’t change the church.

We just won’t.

Well-behaved women will keep the wheels spinning on systems that keep working, keep growing, keep moving. We will do good and honorable work that matters and helps people and makes a difference in our communities.

But we won’t change the church.

Some people think the church doesn’t need changing; they’re fine with the way things are because it works for them. But I think there a lot more of us out here than even we ourselves know–passionate women who believe the body of Christ needs much more than a face-lift to become all it’s meant to be.

i hope you’ll go over there to read the entire post & you can share any thoughts there or here.

you can read the other posts in the series here:

also, thank you, everyone, for all of the honesty & hope & stories from this past week through comments & emails & conversations.  i look forward to next week, too.  if you’re new here or just catching up, the four posts this week centered on rebuilding after deconstructing faith are:

have a great weekend.  much peace & hope, kathy

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • Very true. Certainly men who change the church are seldom well behaved. The apostle Paul, Martin Luther… they could hardly be described as “well behaved”.

    In fact, anyone who speaks out against an established system is usually, if not always, branded by that system as a troublemaker, a heretic, divisive, etc. It doesn’t mean they’re automatically wrong. They may be wrong for other reasons, but that’s a different matter.

    • yep, i think that goes both ways for sure, men & women who are “misbehaving on behalf of change”…but at the same time, i do think women have an extra up-hill battle when it comes to the church system. men can get away with a helluva lot of stuff women can’t…thanks for reading & clarifying that the excerpt part was confusing, too. that was helpful.

      • Oh, absolutely – I wasn’t trying to say that men have it just as hard within churches, women definitely have it harder. My wife has personal experience with this.


  • Oh Kathy I so identify with your journey! No wonder your writing resonates with my spirit! AMEN and AMEN! It is a difficult path to walk when it goes against the flow. Personally I must be true to what I feel God wants me to do or I lose my sense of peace with God. I can’t participate in a system that would refer to a human being as a tithing unit, sorry but that is so offensive to me I must say something. It is offensive to me because I can feel in my spirit that it is offensive to Jesus. When financial survival of a institution is more important than the people, sorry but I don’t want to be in that club anymore. Again, not because of my thoughts and or feelings about that, but because I feel in my spirit that it grieves God so.

    Yes I agree Kathy, I also learned how to play the role of the good girl in church and it was nice to feel like I fit in and it was nice to have people praise and appreciate my submissive conformed nice self. Oh yes the place on staff, the salary, the benefits, the title, they were all very nice, but the longer I was on the inside the more I sold little pieces of my soul to fit in. I was convicted by God and became aware of how this system was taking away pieces of my soul and building up idols in my heart. It was weird, things looked so good from the outside, but on the inside things were getting ugly. I came to a place where I couldn’t stomach it anymore. I remember a pastor friend telling me you have to decide if you can hang in there for the “greater good” or not…well I came to see that “the greater good” wasn’t a focus on Christ, at least not at this church. The greater good at this church was spending a lot of money to benefit the organization and the staff, sorry… but I thought we were supposed to make disciples. If I must sell out to fit in and keep a position on church staff then I choose to pursue God another way. And then some extreme circumstances caused me to separate from the church. I now choose to find a secular job to pay my bills and regain my peace with God outside organized church systems. I can’t go back, I don’t want to go back. My spirit is renewed, refreshed and it feels so much more clean and pure! God bless the people that are on this journey, this road less traveled. I am just now beginning to see how God has used some very malicious and diabolical behavior of another person that caused me to feel tremendous trauma and pain to wake me up and get me out of there! It was as if God himself said “snap out of it!” There is a very fine line between codependency and ministry. I don’t have the answers, but I won’t trade the peace, the Emanuel, that I have now for anything, it is priceless.

    Thank you for providing a place where people can be truthful about their experiences.

    • oh that “hanging in there for the greater good” quote really gets under my skin. i can hear those words. i am all for hanging in there through adversity & rough stuff on behalf of real change, but not for the sake of keeping unjust unhealthy systems from perpetuating the same-old-same-old. i love that you have found renewal and hope, it’s beautiful!

  • Why do you call yourself a co-pastor? This indicates that you need a male counterpart which you do not! If you are called to be a pastor, then you can stand on your own and simply use the title ‘pastor.’ Men do not call themselves co-pastors. It just seems silly.

    • i call myself a co-pastor very intentionally, and it’s not because i don’t think that i can lead by myself. it’s because i choose to not lead by myself. it has nothing to do with male & female but rather shared leadership, which i highly value and believe is strongly underrated in church. i happen to be on a team with 2 other male co-pastors but it could be any combination. it doesn’t feel silly at all to us, rather a very important reflection of a model of leadership that we highly value.

  • I read this the other day…maybe I should comment over there, idk. But what I’m wondering, is how do you know if you’re being a ‘non-behaved woman’ or just an ass? I’ve gotten a few comments from people that I can come off as harsh when I am really into saying something. Which I think has a ring of truth 😛 But I also have a more like-minded friend, who says that I am just passionate. If I’m just being passionate in what I’m saying, and what I’m saying is true and good, then great. I don’t have a problem with myself. But if I’m coming off as obnoxious…well that just turns people off, period. I’m not sure I know how to tell the difference, and I know I can’t just go off of people’s reactions, because they could just be reacting to the fact that I’m a woman, so I should be meek and mild and have quiet opinions.

    How do you figure that out, and walk the line of being honest and passionate without crossing over to obnoxious and rude?

    • thanks for processing this out loud a bit. here’s my take, only my opinion. when we are rocking any kind of status quo, especially a system that has in its core that there are “ways we do things around here”, any kind of negative response or disagreement can be perceived as being divisive/prideful/mean/etc. i do think there are many times i have been an asshole, where i crossed the line and was just…rude. the best litmus test for that are good and wise friends who will speak the truth to us and tell us what we don’t want to hear. i have had friends say that i crossed the line. “um, kathy…” but those good wise friends are really helpful in reminding me, too, when i did speak out, spoke kindly, owned my own opinion, etc. and it was still perceived in a negative way because it was rocking the status quo and the status quo hates being rocked. so it is a tricky line. the hardest part that i have observed with those of us who are trying to learn to speak out is that we will tend to error on the far-too-nice side for too long. to really change things, we’re going to have to live with people not liking us or thinking we’re rude or all kinds of other things. that’s been really hard for me because i always do want everyone to like me but in the end, we won’t change things being liked by everyone.


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