The launch of The Black Swan Effect

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Here’s the link to The Black Swan Effect: A Response to Gender Hierarchy in the Church on Amazon. Both paperback and Kindle editions are available.

I’m so grateful to the team of women–my wonderful friends Peggy Batcheller-Hijar, Jan Diss, Katie Driver, Suzette Lambert and Julie Ross–we’ve worked together on this project for four years now. And I’m very thankful for the guys who’ve stood with us, contributed chapters, encouraged us–Neil Cole, Dave Ferguson, Michael Frost, Alan Hirsch, Floyd McClung, Frank Viola and Jon Zens. And Lynne Hybels wrote the foreword of the book for someone she’d never met… What a blessing!

Although our technical launch date is tomorrow (Saturday, April 5th) there are already various other blogs and articles about  it on the Internet. (See here, here, here and here).

Most readers of my blog are familiar with the The Black Swan Effect. But if you’re new, here’s a little about it–taken from the “blurb” on Amazon.

The Black Swan Effect presents a vision for what can happen as men and women work together in the Kingdom of God.  The authors (both male and female) encourage men to champion women as equal co-laborers and partners in the harvest. They also give women permission and inspiration to follow the Lord—to reach their own full potential and encourage others to fulfill God’s call. The Black Swan Effect equips both men and women to bring an informed and positive contribution to the increasingly crucial conversation on gender in the church.

If you are like most Christians, one of three primary motivations propels you into this discussion about women in ministry:

  • Many Christians have come to the conclusion that there is no better way to increase the size of God’s missions workforce than to fully deploy women to use their spiritual gifts and God-given capacities.
  • Some are asking theological questions. They are investigating how the Bible portrays women, especially women leaders. How did Jesus treat women? Were the New Testament writers—in particular, the apostle Paul—misogynists? Are there alternative interpretations for some of the really difficult passages of Scripture?
  • Others are drawn to this discussion because of issues related to justice and human dignity around the world as well as in the church. As they study Scripture, they are assured that God creates all men and women in his image, and they can’t even imagine a God who would discriminate against women.

Fourteen different authors contribute to these themes, each writing from their own area of passion and expertise, the whole being woven together into a single narrative. Encouraging stories of women who are doing marvelous things for God today accompany each chapter.

Change is coming! Let’s get ready.

If you purchase The Black Swan Effect, readers of my blog can also get a free download of a short (25 page) e-book entitled “A Simple Guide to the Challenging Scriptures for Women.” (I’m using an honor system here. If you purchase the book, click on the link for the guide.) It’s a quick reference to four of the Scriptures that have proven most troublesome when it comes to women in ministry through the years.

 

Neil Cole on The Black Swan Effect

The Verge conference was last weekend. I always look forward to spending time with good friends who make it to Austin for the conference.  Neil Cole is one of the contributors to The Black Swan Effect, and he came and hung out with us at our home when the conference was over. I took the opportunity to take a brief video of him talking about why the concepts we all write about in The Black Swan Effect are important.

Neil has also recently written a book called Primal Fire: Reigniting the Church with the Five Gifts of Jesus, which I highly recommend.

Neil Cole speaks about The Black Swan Effect from Felicity Dale on Vimeo.

Michael Frost on The Black Swan Effect

I was at the Verge conference this past weekend, and caught up with Michael Frost, who’s one of the co-authors of The Black Swan Effect.

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Although The Black Swan Effect is available right now on Amazon, it will help us if you delay getting it until this weekend. (It helps a book to climb the Amazon rankings if more people order at a similar time.)

I asked Mike to say something about the significance of both male and female contributors to The Black Swan Effect. Here’s his response:

Michael Frost on why we’re better together from Felicity Dale on Vimeo.

On earth as it is in heaven

Here’s a quote from an interview with Alan Hirsch in The Black Swan Effect:

I don’t understand how a true evangelical can claim to appropriate the Gospel in all its fullness and countenance, and tolerate, for example, racism. So if someone questions me on issues like these, here’s what I say:

“Can you imagine a situation in heaven, when Jesus is fully King, and God reigns completely, where people are traded as slaves—bought and sold as other people’s property?”

People reply, “Of course not. There’s no way that would happen in heaven.”

And then I say, “Racism: can we conceive that in heaven there will be some kind of hierarchy of race in heaven?”

Everyone says, “Absolutely not!”

Then I take it to the issue of gender. I say, “Can you foresee a situation in heaven when you stand before God, that women are inferior in status or function to men?”

It would be very hard to hold a belief in the inferiority of women in light of the weight of glory. Of course I’m reflecting Galatians 3:28 here: “There’s neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but Christ is all in all.” (paraphrase).

The people of God are meant to live in a Kingdom reality. “May your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10, paraphrase). We’re meant to embody what the Kingdom stands for and make it real now. If we’re the ones who are to model what the ultimate heavenly reality is going to be, then we can’t avoid the gender issue, because the Gospel does address it. That’s the theological nub to me, the center. The evangel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, does away with all the idols and false distinctions that people claim, and that must include one of the most fundamental definitions of all—male and female.

 

Who should read The Black Swan Effect

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Two years of hard work, multiple phone conversations and emails, incredible co-authors, a wonderful design and editing team…. It all comes together at the end of next week.

Here’s a video I made about who should read the book.

Who will be interested in The Black Swan Effect? from Felicity Dale on Vimeo.

[pocket] Disciple: Seven Experiences with Jesus

Erik Fish, founder of Student CPX which teaches students how to make disciples and plant churches on campuses, and his family are staying with us at present. A few days ago, four heavy boxes arrived for him. They were the first copies of a new pocket manual he has written called [pocket] Disciple: Seven Experiences with Jesus.

The church that meets in our home seemed a good place to try it out. The book aims at teaching the basic commands of Jesus through seven discipleship practices. So last Friday, the group of us gathered there went through Experience #6: gather. We read through the instructions about how to use the book, discussed some Scriptures, answered questions and then experienced Jesus by celebrating communion together.

With us was a young woman, a co-worker and friend of one of the gals who gathers with us. She is from the Middle East and has no background in Christianity. It was her second time here. She went through Experience #6 with us and was full of questions. So Erik and some others took her through Experience #1: change. She wept her way into the Kingdom.

This little booklet is a great tool for discipling new believers. You can get it here.

A helper for my husband

For many years I was taught that my purpose as a wife/woman, was to be a helper for my husband. A sort of divinely appointed personal assistant to him. He was the one to take the initiative; I was there to serve him, to help him fulfill God’s vision and call on his life. If I was to have any kind of strategic role, it was to be through my husband.

This teaching mainly came from Genesis 2:18, which in the King James Version of the Bible says this:

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 

More modern versions also describe the woman as a helper for man.

It is an enlightening exercise, however, to look at the other occasions on which this word “helper” is used.  Of the 21 times, the Hebrew word “ezer” is used, in 16, it refers to God.  Typical examples include, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence comes my help.  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1, 2) or “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8).  On three occasions, it is used in a decidedly militaristic context (eg Hosea 13:9).

The Hebrew word translated “meet” or “fit” means literally in front of with the understanding of “comparable to.” Someone alongside.

The impression is not that of a “Girl Friday.” It is more of a coach or rescuer, a valued consultant brought in to assist where man is lacking.

Photo Credit: Gerry Balding (Creative Commons)

Is the age of chivalry dead?

Or should the age of chivalry be abolished?

Twice over the past few weeks I’ve read from different sources that it’s somehow demeaning to a woman if a man opens the door for her or pays for her meal. In both instances, the people concerned were offended if a man held the door open for them because it somehow made women inferior.  They felt that a man being chivalrous towards a woman was in some way discriminating against them because it was rooted in the idea of a female being helpless. (The idea comes from the age of knights and dragons and heroines in need of rescue.) One in particular made it clear that chivalry is basically kindness and should be practiced by both genders towards others.

Those who read my blog know that I believe women can be very strong, warriors for the Kingdom, able to do and be anything that God asks of them. They can make disciples, baptize them, plant churches, teach and train, give communion etc. There are no barriers in the Kingdom of God for women. But what about at a cultural/social level?

I guess I was taught how to “be a lady” from an early age. I’d never thought twice about a man opening the door for me. I’d never even considered the matter until recently.

I’m puzzled as to how to react to this and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What do you think about a man opening a door for a woman?

Is chivalry purely a cultural phenomenon? Should it be encouraged? Does it say anything about women at a spiritual level? Is chivalry a Kingdom quality?

    Photo Credit: InAweofGod’sCreation via Compfight cc

Primal Fire

Primal Fire: Reigniting the Church with the Five Gifts of Jesus is Neil Cole’s latest book.

Disclosure: Neil is a good friend of Tony’s and mine. We’ve spent many an evening in our hot tub enjoying a glass of wine and discussing theology and church planting and putting the world to rights. I love all his books and read the manuscript of this one some time ago to write an endorsement for it.

I’m also blessed to have met/know all the members of the 5-fold team that works with Neil (all of whom wrote the book with him) and they are the best functioning leadership team  of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher I’m aware of. They are the real deal.

Here’s what I wrote in the endorsement:

Neil Cole is neither traditional nor tame, and he is uniquely positioned to write about the five gifts Jesus gave tot he church. He doesn’t just talk about the principles in this thought-provoking book: he lives them out as a highly effective apostle within a gifted team that has trained tens of thousands of church planters around the world. Neil forces us to think outside our conventional boxes by shedding fresh light on Scriptures we thought we knew well. I highly recommend Primal Fire for anyone who longs to see a multiplying and maturing move of God.

I stand by that endorsement. This book contains all kinds of original ideas. It’s well worth the read.

We are different

I don’t have a problem with men and women being different. I studied medicine (I’m a physician by background) and not only are we anatomically different, nearly every system in our body is different in some way. The X and Y chromosomes make an impact. We obviously have different endocrine systems (hormones), but other systems differ too. For example, our skeletons are different. Our musculature is different. Our brains are different (men’s brains are larger, but women’s have more connections between right and left hemispheres.) When I studied diseases, I had to learn the differing rates at which diseases occur in men and women. Study any text book on pathology and you cannot get away from the differences.

It’s not hard to believe that the chemical and physiological differences impact how we think and process things.

Are there differences between men and women?

Yes.

I have no problem with those differences.

What I do have a problem with is when those differences are used to create a gender-based hierarchy, or when they’re used to limit women, preventing them from doing and being everything God has commanded them. Or when they produce stereotypes that people are expected to conform to, or when they are used to demean women.

What I long to see is for the body of Christ to welcome those differences, creating a synergy from our different strengths.

What do you think?


Photo Credit: Double–M via Compfight cc