Books I have edited: She Needs

There are some books that just need to be published. Not because they are perfect, or because they will be read by everyone for a long time, but because they are needed. Nay Dawson’s ‘She Needs’ is a book that I’m proud to have worked on – and I pray for the day that it is no longer needed…

she needs nay dawson

What do you think you can do in the church?

Your answer to that question will reveal a lot about you, and the church you are a part of, but as a man, I’m aware that there are ways in which women experience church quite differently to me. Whether it is down to a complementarian or egalitarian theological position (simply put, two different slants on the question of whether or not a woman can hold the same/ultimate level of authority in a church setting, as senior pastor/minister/vicar, etc), or other factors, being a woman in the church today is a different experience to being a man.

At least, that’s what I’ve learned over the time I’ve been married, talking to female friends, and editing this book.

‘She Needs’ is a short book. A punchy book. A courageous book that doesn’t try to solve the ongoing (and likely eternally ongoing) discussion about roles for women in the church. It is instead a book that folk on both sides, at various levels and shades, should read. If you are a complementarian who believes ultimately men hold authority and are the only ones who can lead a church, preach, and administer the sacraments: then you owe it to the women in your church, whether you read this book or not, to be clear about how they can flourish within that theological position and perspective. If you are an egalitarian, believing in the full functional equality of men and women, then you owe it to the women in your church, whether you read this book or not, to be firm in your conviction in a biblical and Spirit-filled way, to help women to flourish.

‘She Needs’ began as a series of blog posts – and the urgent, raw, unfinished feel of those blogs is (I hope!) still part of the feel of this little book. But those blog posts can always be ignored. The question of women in church won’t go away. At IVP, we are committed to publishing both sides of this debate, but this book isn’t about that. This book is a conversation starter. I have already heard stories of sisters in Christ, completely unknown to Nay or myself, reading this book and going ‘Yes, that’s me, how can I go forward?’. I am praying that leaders, at every level, in both complementarian and egalitarian churches might pick up this book, and read it in conversation with women in their churches, for the sake of the whole body of Christ.

I’ve been encouraged by the feedback, printed as endorsements, from three complementarian pastors in particular. I’ve bolded what I think are particularly pertinent parts:

‘I felt frustrated as the words fell out of my mouth for the umpteenth time, “We don’t invite women speakers because we don’t know many good female Bible handlers.” I wasn’t frustrated with the student who had asked the question, but with the culture of which I was a part and which I helped to perpetuate, which meant that gifted and godly women weren’t given the opportunity to develop or deploy their God-given abilities… Everyone who is called by God should be invested in to serve in the appropriate context for their calling. And so, the stories of women overlooked and under-trained need to be told. We must see and feel the struggle, so that those who are the gate keepers to opportunity might fling the gates open. I trust this book will do just that.’

‘The Church is greatly impoverished when women are not identified, equipped and released to use their gifts. All too often, cultural blind spots in the Church have prevented this from happening. I’m thankful that the She Needs blog series has spotlighted these problems and is encouraging the church leaders to be proactive in encouraging women in their church.’

– Brian Whittaker, Pastor, Swindon Evangelical Church

‘I remember as a young Christian on a ministry training course overhearing a conversation about the role of women in church. I thought to myself, “That’s not my problem.” I could not have been more wrong. By the grace of God, I was led to repentance. I have gone on to have the privilege of working alongside Nay and other women. They exceed me in character and contribution to God’s kingdom, without whom we’d all be impoverished. The triune God has made men and women to display together his beautiful goodness in his world. And it should matter to all of us how we interact and serve alongside one another. I’ve found Nay’s work in She Needs to be a helpful window into the painful experience of women of which I might otherwise have been ignorant. I lament my own failures and those that have been knowingly or unknowingly built into much of what we do. I’m challenged by the honest experience of women in the Church and inspired to do all I can to see, hear and honour women better.

– Dave Bish, Associate Minister, Beeston Free Church
I’m also grateful for the women sticking their necks above the parapet to endorse this book, whether they be ordained, or lay:

‘Nay Dawson articulates the subtle sexism so many of us have experienced in the Church. Her understanding and compassion are evident on every page of this book, along with ideas for ways forward for all of us, as we seek to serve Jesus wholeheartedly with our co-workers in Christ.’

– The Revd Jo Trickey, Church Advocate, London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

#As a girl, I felt I was able to do nearly anything I would like to achieve, regardless of my gender. As a woman, though, I have often felt inadequate and not enough. Because that is when I heard for the first time: Christian women should not do such and such. Really? It sounds like Nay’s story, but it is mine. But Nay has not stayed within that framing; she is writing in She Needs about how God has spoken to her not to give in to circumstances but to expand the frame and invite men and women alike to step in and step up. To be defined by God’s calling and going ahead fixing the leaky pipe, even when it costs her so much to do so. In confidence and vulnerability. ‘This book is an invitation to join this exciting and life-changing journey and meet the needs of women around the globe, so as to build God’s kingdom together. We are better together!’

– Evi Rodemann, Cheerleader for the next generation, LeadNow e.V., Lausanne
If that whets your appetite, you can find out a bit more, including a few more endorsements, on the IVP Website (Where you can also order a copy – though it’s also available through Christian bookshops and online!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *