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Lime Green, Reshaping our View of Women in the Church by Dr. Jackie Roese. HIS Publishing Group, 2015. On amazon here.

I actually read this book in 2017, and meant to review it and never did…But this book needs to be reviewed! It encouraged me greatly. More people should know about it. I recently did a quick re-read, in order to write this delayed review.

Dr. Jackie Roese has two seminary degrees, one in preaching. Some of you have now screeched to a halt. Please, stay with me. No matter where you stand on the issue of women in the church – this book is worth your time. It is not a biblical defense of women in ministry, rather it is Jackie’s story. (I normally would not refer to an author by her or his first name, especially someone with a doctorate, but I don’t think Jackie would mind. She is a down-to-earth person.)

This book is partly autobiographical, as Jackie shares key parts of her life story, beginning in childhood. It is partly a spiritual memoir, as she focuses on her Christian journey – particularly how she stumbled into vocational Christian work. She states “I ended up bumping into walls, crossing invisible lines, and ultimately reshaping my view of women – and my church’s view, too.”

Jackie grew up in a non-believing family, and had to work hard on the family farm. Her dad was a rough and difficult man. As a young adult, Jackie became a Christian. Not much later, she married a Christian man. Her husband decided to get a seminary degree, and they moved from the northeast USA to Dallas, TX to attend Dallas Theological Seminary. After a time, Jackie also decided to apply for one of the seminary’s MA programs – simply because as a new Christian she was eager to learn all she could about her new faith. With young children, it took her 8 years but she completed this degree.

Some of Jackie’s stories were amusing! Imagine being a new Christian from a non-churched background – and suddenly dumped into both a seminary environment and the evangelical church subculture. Jackie did not fit the paradigm. And you have probably been wondering – uh, why is this book called Lime Green?! As Jackie described it, in the Dallas, TX area, all the Christian women were “light pink” – overtly feminine and holding to certain southern traditions about women. By comparison, Jackie describes herself as lime green!

While it was over-the-top in the Dallas area, in the evangelical subculture as a whole, women are typically encouraged to be light pink. Jackie in no way disparages light pink women and emphasizes this point. Some women are naturally light pink, and the church needs light pink women. But the church needs women of other “colors” too!

Are you even free to be the color God made you within your church culture? Some women are wearing a light pink covering, even though that is not their color. When we tint ourselves a color that does not suit us – we deny God’s creativity and limit our ability to be used in the service of God. In the Scripture, we observe a variety of women utilized by God – not just women of one particular type.

The book shares how Jackie stumbled into Bible teaching. She was first asked to teach some women in her neighborhood who wanted to know more about Christianity – an informal, kitchen table type thing. Jackie was hesitant to do this, considering herself incapable. Time passed and one thing led to another, and Jackie ended up teaching women at Irving Bible Church. Irving had a very developed and biblically sound Bible class curriculum for women.

Perhaps Irving Bible Church rings a bell? This large evangelical church made waves and headlines when…after an extended time of consideration…they decided to add women to the preaching rotation. This is a church where elders share the preaching responsibility. While the elders would remain men, they would add women to the preaching rotation.

Jackie Roese (not a Dr. at that point) was chosen to be the first woman to preach. She resisted – “no, not me” – pick someone else! Jackie was content teaching women and teaching/preaching to a mixed-sex audience had not been on her agenda. But she agreed, and…it was a circus! Word got out about Irving Bible Church’s decision, and it set off alarms in the Christian community.

The pastor of one large influential church in the area took it upon himself to mail letters to other churches warning them of the perilous decision at Irving. The blogosphere was aflame with statements like…grave moral danger, cancer to the church, dangerous, slippery slope to liberalism! The controversy was covered in the local newspaper. On that first Sunday when Jackie preached to a packed full service – they gave her a body guard. At the back were news crews from local news stations.

Jackie’s out-of-state family, most not Christian believers, even read about it. I’ll quote Jackie here:

My oldest brother asked: ‘What the hell is going on down there? Do I need to come down there and kick some ass?’
My heart was troubled. Why would my brother want our Jesus if this was what Jesus people were like?

While the book is not a biblical defense of female preachers, it does touch on certain key issues and Bible passages. Jackie shared when she spent a summer carefully reading and studying the issue of women in the church, and she first learned of…complementarianism and egalitarianism. She gives an overview of the two views.

A concern she emphasizes is that…She was not even aware of these two views, and that is in itself problematic! Why wasn’t she trusted with both sides of this story? Why had another interpretive view been hidden? She felt cheated. Christians can end up in echo chambers, only hearing voices who believe exactly like them. We indoctrinate, rather than educate – not just with this issue but others.

Jackie does not know exactly when her view changed, but somewhere along the way, she became convinced that women could preach from the pulpit. She even got a Doctor of Ministry in preaching. The book offers practical ways to be an agent for change in your church environment. She does not recommend a “I am woman, hear me roar” approach.

A chapter towards the end points out that the position one holds on the role of women is, sadly, a litmus test for orthodoxy in too many evangelical circles. Where you draw “the line” on what women can do – determines whether you are safe or dangerous. However, the litmus test should be the gospel! Jesus should be our focal point. Some are so focused on what women can and cannot do that Jesus and kingdom work is neglected.

I loved this book. I was encouraged and motivated by it.

I sure wish certain complementarian women would read this book, only because it counteracts an unfair portrayal I’ve too often encountered: That egalitarian women are proud and on a power-trip, sitting in the church pew refusing to serve in any way, unless the “top” option of preaching is available to them. Sigh.

My story is similar to Jackie’s in one way – I too stumbled into teaching and preaching. It was not “an agenda” I began with. Doors opened, things happened…and here I am, to my own surprise, as someone who does substitute preaching and mixed-sex Bible teaching. Somewhere along the way, my view changed. Even egalitarian women I know who did feel a specific call to preach and pursued it – did not shun other service in the church. It certainly was not “preach, or nothing” – far from it.

Dr. Jackie Roese eventually resigned from Irving Bible Church to start her own ministry – The Marcella Project. Check it out!