Women in the Mission of the Church – Leanne Dzubinski and Anneke Stasson

Women in the Mission of the Church Dzubinski Stasson
Women in the Mission of the Church: Their Opportunities and Obstacles Throughout Christian History by Leanne M. Dzubinski, Anneke H. Stasson
Published by Baker Academic on April 20, 2021
Genres: Academic, Non-Fiction, Theology
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Women have been central to the work of Christian ministry from the time of Jesus to the twenty-first century. Yet the story of Christianity is too often told as a story of men. This accessibly written book tells the story of women throughout church history, demonstrating their integral participation in the church's mission. It highlights the legacies of a wide variety of women, showing how they have overcome obstacles to their ministries and have transformed cultural constraints to spread the gospel and build the church.

For much of church history, the voices of women have been relatively silenced, stifled under cultural patriarchy that dismissed the importance of women in the church and a Christian humility by women who didn’t seek personal fame. Even in modern times, the silencing continues in certain denomination by certain interpretations of certain texts. Women in the Mission of the Church sets loose the silenced voices and shouts the long-ignored history of women in the church. From Scripture to the present day, Leanne Dzubinski and Anneke Stasson provide example after example of multiple women in multiple ages in multiple cultures serving in every position of leadership and service in the church. It’s a sweeping account that provides weighty evidence that, indeed, God has called women to participate in the mission of the church at every level.

Dzubinski and Stasson arrange the book chronologically. Part one deals with the time period of the early church. Part two covers late antiquity through the Middle Ages. Part three covers the Reformation to the present day. Because of its goal in balancing breadth and depth, Women in the Mission of the Church picks relevant examples from different contexts for each chapter. They could have focused on more individuals—because there are more to pick from—but would have sacrificed depth. They could have focused on fewer individuals to have more depth, but would have left themselves open to the charge that there were “only a few” women leaders in church history. In the balance, they are able to provide an onslaught of names, roles, and challenges faced—enough to overwhelmingly make their point—while still providing enough historical detail that their accounts truly come to life.

Although Women in the Mission of the Church comes from an academic press (Baker Academic) and is written by two PhD professors, the writing stays away from academic stiltedness and is very readable. Individual biographies tend toward 500-1000 words, as do most of the sections in the book. Dzubinski and Stasson make their point with conciseness and clarity, showing beyond a shadow of any reasonable doubt that, historically, women have both struggled to be accepted by the church and been called by God to lead the church and impact its mission.

I would invite you to learn form these stories. Pick and few and go more in-depth with your research and study. These are stories that deserve to be known, told, and serve as inspiration for women church leaders for the next two thousand years.