Urban poor and GIRLS

[UPDATE Dec 6, 2005: Welcome to my controversial post – maybe the only blog post in the world with its own reunion party. Just want you to know before you read it that the context of our conversation (that i neglected to link to) was TEENAGERS of the FEMALE variety in China who were starting churches. I was arguing that they were young, and not yet women and that we should applaud them in their youth rather than speak of them as women in their 30’s and 40’s)] [ORIGINAL]So many questions from emails and comments. Thanks for your interest in the emerging church and your honesty in asking some of these things. I will jot down some more thoughts in relation to what has been asked in the last week.

1. Urban poor. As Justin B has said in the comments, they are the poor people in the great cities of our world. Viv Grigg changed my thinking on this topic at Fuller School of World Mission. He believes 1/4 of the world are "urban poor" and the amount of foreign workers that ever make it out to incarnational lifestyle among them is pathetically small. And yet movements of God traditionally start among the poor, often involving the elite at the same time, since both groups deal with justice – one needs it and one group has justice to give. People who start movements among the poor end up working also with the elite (Francis of Assisi, Mother Teresa). A really interesting thing is how the middle class is either bypassed during the intial stages of a God-movement, or brought in much later when the action is all over or settling down.
Viv wrote the excellent book "Cry of the Urban Poor" and has been helping to start monastic movements among the poor for many years.

[back-blog. feb 25.2004 – i am adding this addition because of the missunderstanding generated by the following statement. please read the original blog entry a few days earlier to which i am responding, called Questions and The Mullet of Jesus, and the comment by Lilly, to understand my response below]
[backblog Feb 2005 – ONE YEAR LATER – this blog post is now famous . .  or at least infamous. I wish it wasnt since it reflects badly on me. But if you are reading this for the first time, please read it in the context of the whole story by reading the post entitled The Girls Post: A Definitive History. Thanks. TSK]

2. Girls, girls, girls. I will call them girls and not women. No apologies. The movement in China would not be the same without teenage girls. A friend from China told me recently that a teenager started a church in China that has since become hundreds of churches involving tens of thousands of people. I will not call her a woman, since that would let a lot of western Christians with the excuse "God cant use me until i am older or more mature".
Dang, God has been using girls from the beginning. Mary was young. Esther was young. It should not surprise us.
There is a massive Sunday School  movement in China that Wolfgang Simson just informed us about in last weeks Friday Fax. Massive, I tell you. Thanks to the GIRLS behind it. And the older women, of course. 


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Phyllis says:

    OK, I’ll bite. Are you trying to be offensive? ’cause you are. and you excuse that you want to cut the crutches of those who deem themselves too young just doesn’t fly.
    Are these girls you’re talking about prepubescent? Are they playing with dolls? Are they hopscotching on the street? No. They’re taking risks, bearing responsibilities, and living like adults. Call them young women if you want, but they deserve to be referred to as adults. And so do the rest of us.
    Your attitude sucks, Andrew.

  • maggi says:

    Are you trying to be lighthearted? If so, I think you may find it misfired.
    This kind of language debate is antediluvian. If you said stuff like this in most places of work, it would be a disciplinary offence.

  • rachelle says:

    You sound like an idiot, which I know is not the case. Stop shooting yourself in the foot. This isn’t about political correctness, it’s about respect. Play nice. Be a grown up. Recognize the struggle women (of all ages) are having to achieve dignity.

  • Christy says:

    Andrew –
    This post explains a lot. Since you appear to be one of the designated spokespersons of the whole emergent thing, you have a great deal of power and your words carry a lot of weight. When you say crap like this, you legitimize the devaluing of women in ministry. If your attitude is typical, then no WONDER the public face of the whole emergent thing is dominated by white boys.
    BTW, God has a history of using WOMEN in ministry- Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Sarah, Elizabeth, Priscilla, Lydia, Dorcas, Damaris, etc.
    I shall stop now while I can still resist the urge to use profanity.

  • Whoa! I think Andrew’s making a valid point here, and there are also cultural differences to consider. If they’re not adults, they’re not adults. We don’t call boys men (unless we’re trying to make them feel good) until they are adults. I don’t see why we should do anything different for females.
    Mary may have been 14 or so when Jesus was born, but once she was married, she probably would have been considered a woman. A Westerner is never considered an adult (man or woman) at 14. Maybe people in certain countries (e.g. China) are considered adults at certain ages in their teens under some circumstances. I don’t know. If they are, they would probably appreciate being called women in that case. But still in high school? Girl. College-age? Young woman.
    And it’s not as if women of all ages don’t refer to themselves as girls. “I’m going out with the girls” may be something said by my sister, my wife, my mother, or my wife’s grandmother. “Girl” is not the same as “child.” Let’s not look for insult where none was intended.

  • jen lemen says:

    andrew, you have an incredible invitation to change before you here. the women posting above are some of the most gifted, innovative and creative voices for the church today. they aren’t crazy, and they don’t get angry over trivia. you would do well to come out of the closet as clueless on these points and start asking these women and the others around you what’s *really* going on in the emerging church.
    we’d be happy to oversee your rehab and welcome you back to the fold as a true partner once your recovery is complete.

  • maggi says:

    dear andrew,
    in the few hours since you put up this post, I’ve received a good few e-mails from women in the emerging scene who feel betrayed, angry, despairing and gutted by your comments.
    A number of men I know think very well of you, and so I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt, and hope that your comments were a misfired attempt at a lighthearted jest; or perhaps you seem to say something that you didn’t really mean? I have no wish to start a flame-war here (it’s against my religion).
    However, in response to the communications I’ve received I’ve put a post on my blog that attempts to explain why the kind of language you’ve used here is not merely annoying, but open to serious question. Please understand this is not a flame war, but a conversation. We’ve been having it in the traditional church for a long time now. If it can save you some grief in ’emerging’, so much the better.
    best wishes, maggi

  • Mumcat says:

    The idea of saying they are “girls” because they are teens is incredibly insulting. You’re worried about women using the excuse that they aren’t mature enough? Well, bubele, those “girls” are mature enough to choose a path that can lead to their death. What are you doing besides cheapening their sacrifice? It’s not political correctness to call them “women”, it’s reality. Of course, there is the old boys’ network … and some of them are 85 years old!!!!!!!! so age doesn’t play here. Results do.

  • jen lemen says:

    well said, maggi. i think you capture our spirit.

  • Phyllis says:

    My dear Justin,
    What makes a boy a man? What makes a girl a woman?
    Marriage? Are you really saying that Mary didn’t become a woman until she was married?
    Boys become men when they act like grownups.
    Same with girls.
    As for women referring to ourselves as girls, that’s for us to decide. The power punch in the word girl doesn’t apply.
    Nice try, but please make an effort to understand what you don’t understand

  • Marriage? Are you really saying that Mary didn’t become a woman until she was married?
    Yes, I am. Marriage was a rite of passage in the ancient Jewish world. Maybe we don’t have rites of passage in the West anymore, but it was certainly different in the first century. Being a man and being a woman meant sexual maturity, and women generally got married at about that age (14 or so in those days, though it’s come down for a variety of health and environmental factors). Men generally married later (and had different rites of passage at puberty), after they were established in a trade that could support a family.
    If you wish to see women (and teenagers) respected for their work in missions and ministry, it would help to see things in their own contexts rather than reading everything – from China to the Bible – through a 21st century Western lens.
    I think Andrew’s made it clear that he’s not intending to refer to all women, old and young alike, as “girls,” though Maggi seems to imply that on her blog. Andrew said specifically “girls and older women,” in case there was any doubt.
    On a semantic note, “boys” is not exactly parallel to “girls.” “Girls” can also be used for the more colloquial “gals,” which goes with “guys.” Because of the slavery connotation of calling a man a “boy” (which Maggie mentioned), you hear “guy” a lot. You don’t hear “gals” because it sounds antiquated and goofy. I think “girls” is a reasonable replacement for “gals,” and it’s obvious that it’s commonly used that way.
    At any rate, it is flaming to assault Andrew on his own blog like this. If you want to encourage someone to change what they’ve said, use email.
    And as far as gaining respect, it only reinforces stereotypes to see tons of impassioned but careless comments by women. I thought most em-church bloggers were past the ad hominem attacks and threats. I can’t tell who the girls are and who the women are, because they’re all acting like children by ignoring basic rules of blog ettiquite.

  • Mike says:

    Interesting string here. Andrew, I’m quite sure you didn’t intend any offense, but there it is, never the less. And Justin, a male trying to defend the use of the term “girl” against several articulate women is laughable. Give it up.

  • Wow! I’m amazed at the quick and indignant responses… I’m a guy, so I expect the arrows to fly, but I appreciate your clarity, especially due to the fact that I daily work with young women, girls, females of the human family, who struggle with this issue – “when do i matter to the mission of God?” “how do I matter, etc…” So lighten up. Those females in China and thier exploits for God deserve cheers, prayers, blessings, and partnership – not a debate about the correct way to designate them… Something tells me that they’re not too worried about that. And if it helps, I’m 30 years old, but you can call me a boy or whatever else…

  • Mike says:

    I came back to clarify my comment for the first Justin, but now I’ll include both Justins, and this will be the last I say on the subject.
    I’m a guy too, 38 years old. You can call me anything you want pretty much, and I could care less. The point is, it doesn’t matter how WE would react. Irrelevant. Judging what others should and should not find offensive based on what we would and wouldn’t is a foolish argument.

  • Well, that’s kind of what I’m saying. If Andrew had called all these women “girls” and meant it seriously, I would understand their offense. But he wasn’t talking about them, so I don’t understand why a vague reference to people in other countries (of who knows what ages) that none of us know is grounds for a flame war. I don’t think anyone read the part where Andrew said he was talking about teens, not adults. Sheesh. I’ll be interested to hear what The Kiwi himself has to say after the rest of us have had this discussion!

  • jen lemen says:

    if you haven’t been following this conversation, you might think that the first several comments are out of nowhere and over the top. the thing is, this is andrew’s third direct opportunity in recent days to address this issue in a meaningful way. after two not-so inspiring public responses, it just seems wrong to not say something very plainly in response in the same forum.

  • Toni says:

    but reading the original post, I’d say that he’s clearly stated his reason for saying what he did. And it was reasonable.
    In this case I’d say offense has been found where none was presented. I’m struggling with the absurdity of the comments not to bait in reply.
    Jen – maybe he’s saying what he thinks, and the reason for not ‘addressing the issue’ is: he sees no issue.
    Or maybe he’s trying to provoke debate?

  • Jimmy says:

    Maybe I’m wrong here, but I think the semantic difficulty lies in one of Justin Baeder’s comments. Namely, we lack a “tweener” term for females. Justin, I respectfully submit that while “gals” is definitely antiquated and very likely dismissive (thus unavailable for common usage), “girls” is in no way an acceptable feminine parallel to “guys.” In all colloquial English usage I can think of “girl” is directly parallel to “boy” and is almost universally used now to refer to children.
    Males, on the other hand, have an in-between term as you have already observed: “guys.” I’m not sure what the solution is; coining new words is usually contrived at best. But I’m certain the best path is absolutely NOT to use some technical definition of “girl” as referring to all non-yet-adult females, when the colloquial usage is obviously different.
    Andrew, while you may indeed be right that in technical terms the word “girl” may be used as you have used it, the reality is that language is a fluid medium and that this word has been under the pressure of change for several years. What I hear the women in this thread saying is that words should be kept in line with current usage especially in areas that directly affect the ways that respect those who are being described by those words. (If you asked me not to call you “Andy”, I wouldn’t tell you that Andy is a perfectly acceptable nickname for all persons named Andrew.)
    I guess the best course of action w/o a “tweener” term is to refer to “young women” or simply “women”, then clarify youth or ages if it is relevant.
    By the way, to you women who are involved in this discussion, I have a question: What is the current status of the word “ladies”? Passe? Undesirable? Would “young ladies” sound equally dismissive?

  • Heated threads

    I’ve been reading (and participating) in some heated threads this week. Signposts seems to have quite a few of them…

  • Some heated discussion over at Andrew’s blog

    Some strong views expressed in his comments.

  • jason says:

    so…did mary go through a rite of passage when she was visited by the angel of God and impregnated by the Holy Spirit with the Savior of the World? Or, did she go through a rite of passage when she underwent months of ridicule and shame because she was pregnant and not married in a culture that didn’t really like that sort of thing? Or maybe it was …….

  • Hey ,Andrew may have upset many people – mainly women – but do you know why? It is more to do with who said the girly comments than the comments themselves. That’s because most of you who are annoyed have placed Andrew on a pedastal as some sort of “guru” for the emerging church. That’s why you care so much. If I had made the girly comments on my blog, nobody would have blinked an eyelid ( not that I’m ever likely to!). So this debate is more about who made the comments, as opposed to what comments were made.
    Andrew, did you ever ask to be a guru? I don’t think so. Are you happy with being seen as one? Perhaps.
    Now about girls in China. When David Bowie wrote his song China Girl, I don’t think he was thinking of 35-year- old women. Perhaps 15-year old girls. Perhaps these are the girls that Andrew is referring to? What should we call girls twenty years later? Old girls? Andrew seems to prefer “older women” (and I mean the term older women, here!) Yet people like Maggi and Jen have a point.
    I’m a man. But I do prefer the approach Maggi and Jen are taking. I believe they are making relevant points. But isn`t it interesting that, judging by the 20 or so comments to date, I appear to be the ONLY MALE (sorry to shout) prepared to comment on this blog and say that women is a good word to use – even if the “girls” are under 25.
    WHY? There will be more on my blog soon. Oh yeah….so what it she was under 20 when she gave birth to Jesus, what relevance has that to all this?

  • jen lemen says:

    toni, i guess my point is that if he sees no issue, then he has issues. but perhaps andrew will come up with an ever better explanation after all these posts. jimmy, good points on the lack of colloquial equivalent of “guys”. i guess babes or chicks won’t work either. as for ladies….hmmmm…not my favorite, but i’m not offended. young ladies sounds like the principal talking. sometimes guys greet me with ‘hey, wild woman’ when searching for a colloquial phrase. i like that. 🙂 thanks for asking.

  • Jason-
    Marriage itself was the rite of passage. To a large extent it still is one, but it doesn’t work as well as such because the ages at which people marry vary so wildly now.
    If you asked me not to call you “Andy”, I wouldn’t tell you that Andy is a perfectly acceptable nickname for all persons named Andrew.” Priceless. When I was a kid (about 10 or so), I used to hate the use of “Drew” as a short form of Andrew, and actually intervened when people called one of my friends “Drew” instead of Andrew. I eventually found out that he liked being called Drew, and then I realized how stupid it was of me to try to control what other people called him.
    Good points, all of them.
    I have no problem with the basic thesis of what the women here are saying. I just think the case itself is not strong enough to warrant such a rude public criticism. Calling someone an idiot on his own blog is inappropriate, and cannot be done under the guise of Christian accountability.

  • I just want to add that although some of the women do have relevant points, I am disappointed many have been downright abusive, and the tone is applaaing. Some need to think before tapping the keyboard in such a kneejerk fashion. If you don’t want to be referred to as “girls” or “old girls” , perhaps some of you should refrain from using the term “old boys network”….

  • rhys says:

    But dave what do you mean by downright abusive? Kneejerk? ? Surely Andrew should have anticipated such a response and posted something in response? His post is curiously offensive if taken at face value and his almost revelling in the response worsens things. Go back to Maggi’s comment. If he’d posted such views in a secular place of work he’d be done for harraddment or said it about an ethnic group he’d be criticised and rightly so.Come on Andrew. It was a wind up all along wasnt it?

  • Mumcat says:

    If there’s a problem with using “old boy’s network” then perhaps the poster will consider that there is a problem with using “girls”. I was in my 40’s when an employer consistently referred to me as “girl”. “I’ll have the girl do that.” Not “I’ll have kitty do that” or “I’ll have my clerk do that” but “I’ll have the girl do that.” Coupled with the concept that in many parts of the world the use of the word “girl” stops when a female reaches menarche because at that time she is considered a “woman”. Getting any idea yet why having a male use the term “girl” for females who are past the age of menarche might be a little offensive? Or you could just pat us on the head and tell us to go back to the kitchen. 🙂

  • Jeff says:

    Can’t we celebrate what God is doing in China rather than beng so self-centered and petty, thinking that Andrew is making a political statement. He was excited about God using this group of young women, girls, ladies, whatever. It just seems like we always want to secure our “rights”. Jesus said that those who hold onto their lives lose it, but those who lose it for His sake will find true life. Isn’t life more than a battle of terms? Let’s not denigrate the work of God in China by our petty arguments here. That’s not what the Kingdom of God looks like.

  • Jake says:

    I helped raise two daughters. One of the unexpected gifts of that experience was being forced to realize that I was a chauvenist.
    My father was a chauvenist. I learned that perspective at an early age. It wasn’t until I saw the hurt and rage coming from my daughters in response to my thoughtless comments and actions that I finally had to realize that maybe Dad was wrong.
    Those old chauvensit tapes remain my first response sometimes. But I have learned to stop and evaluate the tape before allowing it to be played out in life.
    Maybe all I can ever hope for is to be a “recovering chauvenist.” Part of this “old boy’s” recovery involves apologizing when I hurt another, even if I don’t exactly understand how I did it, and to reflect on the experience in an attempt to edit the tape; contrition without the amendment of life is of little value.

  • Rachelle says:

    Justin, I didn’t mean to call Andrew, as a person, an idiot. He’s obviously not an idiot. (Sorry Andrew) He’s one of the brightest minds in the emerging world. What I was trying to point out is that when men use diminutive language to describe the work of women — by referring to them as “girls”, it makes their message sound out of touch and uninformed.(idiotic) While Andrew’s second post clarified that he was writting, in part, about under aged young women in China, his original post referred to women in the emerging church on the whole as “girls.” This is where all the indgination comes from. (At least that ws my impresesion.)This is the crux of the matter — that this happens repetedly…at conferences, in letters and articles, on blogs, in papers and from the pulpit. This marginalization in language is frustrating and painful, and what you are seeing in this thread of comments is the fall out — not just to one or two posts by one person, but to a long history of pain. I know it’s hard to bear and to hear, but it’s the reality of the situation. And belive me, as tough at is sounds coming from us sometimes, you are, in fact, getting the watered down version of our true emotions.
    As to the appropriateness and nettiquite of responding to Andrew in comments…I thought that’s what they were here for? I’m new to blogging and may not undestand the point…but I thought it was, at least in part, to enagage in public dialogue?

  • Jimmy says:

    Jen wrote: “young ladies sounds like the principal talking”
    That’s exactly the picture I had in my head and the reason I figured it wasn’t an appropriate substitute. It also describes how I feel when I call my daughter (age 9) “young lady”. It differs greatly from the way I will feel when I describe her some day as a “young woman.” Thanks for clarifying my understanding on it.
    Couldn’t keep my nose out of this one; I posted on my blog some thoughts about language and empowerment. Hope their helpful to the discussion. Blessings.

  • mark says:

    do i dare speak?
    i’ve posted some thoughts on my blog.

  • My thoughts can be found here.

  • Christians Arrested in China

    Since everyone appears to be paying plenty of attention to the “girl” thing at Andrew Jones’ blog, I thought I’d pass along this piece of far more important news. (If you are interested in the “girl” thing, see Leighton’s balanced…

  • For a more important note about Chinese Christians, see this post. Apparently a large number of housechurch leaders and organizers have been arrested after a book and video were made about them.

  • Darryl says:

    I’m a little saddened by this. Even if Andrew is wrong in calling female teenagers girls (which may or may not be the case), I hope that we can respond by showing him grace and by avoiding anything that looks like a feeding frenzy. All the more so because this is such a volatile issue.
    I hesitate to post because I know how hurtful an issue like this can be, and I’m not female. But there is so much potential for harm that we need to be careful, even those who believe that Andrew has misspoken.

  • Jimmy says:

    Darryl, I also feel the sadness. But I hope you will post. I fear that the thing that keeps us from finding real resolution is the lack of dialogue. It ends up looking like a “women’s issue.” And the segregation continues. The path through this wilderness is through the painful process of real dialogue.
    I also wish that this had not ended up looking like a feeding frenzy and for the sake of all of us men, I’m hopeful that Andrew was simply misunderstood or he misspoke.
    But the problem, it seems to me — and perhaps to the women in this thread — is that the readers of this blog had been waiting for clarification. This was Andrew’s second post, given specifically in response to questions raised b/c of his earlier use of “girls” in contrast to “men”. Judging by their response, it looks like the women here were hoping for clarity and some sense that their concerns were taken seriously.
    What they got instead was a defense of the word “girls” and an off-topic reference to Chinese teenagers. Not surprising, I guess, that the women here were disappointed and that their disappointment boiled over.
    Now I hope the dust will settle soon, so that real dialogue on such a vital issue can really move us forward. Dialogue that requires insightful and gracious comments from both Women and Men.

  • Gosh this is still going, Ive posted my thoughts
    right here

  • the issue

    I’ve been struggling all day to write something… anything about the current controversy making the rounds. I’ve been asked a

  • Dana Ames says:

    Well, I’ve hesitiated to jump in, but I can’t take it any more. Here goes.
    The point is not simply the choice of the word “girls”. The point is that it was used in juxtaposition with the word “men” and this juxtaposition is an example of a cultural bias that is still prevalent in the church.
    I don’t know who Andrew Jones is from Adam, but if you’re going to blog, your thoughts are presumably willingly put out there in the e-sphere. No matter his “position” in the whateveryouwanttocallit, his opinions are public record and are therefore up for comment -and accountability. The problem is that his response to very clear expressions of hurt and dismay shows that he didn’t get the point (see above), and that he doesn’t seem to be interested in considering why some of the women reacted the way they did. The problem is further complicated by defensiveness, his own and that of some of the other men who have commented. However understandable this may be given the heat of some of the women’s responses, it is not helpful.
    However, the thing that made me finally jump into the fray was an attitude I perceive with some of the postings by men at different blog sites saying essentially, “Ok, women, just calm down and make nice, and then maybe perhaps we can discuss this,” spiritualizing with -language- like “speaking the truth in love,” or “insightful and gracious comments,” (“Please, ladies, be -feminine,- be -good girls.-“) and some implying, “The guy didn’t mean anything by it, so get over it already and let’s move on to something else.” Men, whether you know it or not, this attitude is patronizing. Let me say this again: Men, whether you know it or not, this attitude is patronizing. I finally understand a little bit of how American blacks felt during the Civil Rights movement, why some of their communities erupted in riots, and why the non-violent acts of civil disobedience had such power.
    Yes, it is just like that.
    From various angles, the women who have responded to Andrew’s remarks have exposed this cultural bias and patronizing attitude.
    We know so many of you are trying to be and do better; we see this. It’s good, and heartening. Thank you. Keep it up! But women are not likely to “get over it” until the cultural bias and patronizing attitude are acknowledged and set aside, until the defensiveness is dropped, and until the dialogue has been continued to -resolution- no matter how uncomfortable we all may be with certain aspects of it. How long is this going to take?
    Please stop telling us to shut up and be nice.

  • Darryl says:

    This is so hard. I am someone who’s trying to urge caution at some of the rhetoric, but it’s not because I want anyone to get over it or to shut up or be nice. I don’t want anyone to do that.
    But this doesn’t mean that anything goes. Please, be as direct as you need to be, but all of us (men and women) need to realize what started this whole post: the incredible power of a single word to do untold damage. If you agree that Andrew’s language was offensive, then we all need to be equally careful about our own use of language.
    By the way, thanks for challenging. I really am trying to understand here.

  • timk says:

    How absolutely absurd to attack a man for a spoken word. People who claim to respect him do not ask why he said something or ask for clarification, or say in private that this hurt them. They bring it out in public and call names and assume intent. Ignorance.
    A young teen is a GIRL.
    I see what Andrew is doing. He is allowing them to be girls (which by the way I have two daughters and I will fight for them to be girls for as long as I can, people want them to grow up to fast), while standing in awe at what they have accomplished AS GIRLS. This is not a slam but a HOORAY!
    I think maybe what this conversation is doing is shining a light on women in the church and maybe you don’t like what it looks like. “We’re oppressed,” “we don’t get respect”, “We can’t succeed”. All the while, GIRLS in China (under fear of death and imprisonment) are doing things in the name of Jesus that you could only hope to accomplish in a free society.
    You go girls!

  • Darryl says:

    TimK: You’re not helping here. Our words are hurting more than we can imagine.

  • timk says:

    What do women say when a 15 year old is raped? Do they call her a 15 year old woman? NO! It’s a 15 year old girl.
    When a 15 year old plants a church, IT IS AMAZING, it does not make her a woman. Nor does not being a woman take away from the fact that God chose to use her; it adds to it.
    The same as it would be if a 15 year old boy did the same, AMAZING. Just try and make yourself say “15 year old man”, it sounds insane.
    This is complete semantics.

  • I suppose it does seem evident that Andrew referred to “girls and men” in the original post, which isn’t really fair. And on the other hand, TimK is probably right that we wouldn’t say “15 year old man,” so we wouldn’t say “15 year old woman” either.
    As for the being nice, I think everyone could use a big dose of nice right now. The human mind closes itself completely to change and learning when threat is present, and, despite what we may feel at the moment, being forceful or harsh is the worst way to convince someone of something.
    Dana – please don’t take this as a dismissive pat on the head. The only way dialogue can happen is when people are respectful. Sorry if I offended anyone or was rude.

  • The epitome of Linguistic fussiness

    I guess there are several themes and discussion going on in regards to a post by Tall Skinny Kiwi. I’m going to touch on sloppy language in this post. I like what Maggi Dawn said. She rightly pointed out to Andrew that Girls, Girls, Girls, doesn’t play…

  • Mark says:

    …if the girls from China could read this discussion they will question if we got nothing else to do…
    By the way, you can call me boy… and my wife will stay my girl even if she`s married…
    (I dont know exactly when a girl becomes a women, but I think on of the signs is that she doesnt care if you call her a girl…)

  • Goyo says:

    Wow…quite a conversation. I’m honestly surprised by this firestorm and pray that more light than heat will be generated. Obviously a nerve was hit so I won’t muddy the waters like I usually do but I wish we’d all be more graceful and less thin-skinned. To quote Rodney King…”why can’t we all just get along???”

  • jen lemen says:

    for a productive conversation, you might want to head over to christy’s blog. http://drybonesdance.blogspot.com/ don’t miss her tiger woods post.

  • Dana Ames says:

    Thank you, Justin.
    Sometimes the most respectful and grace-filled thing to do is to let someone know exactly how you feel and why. This is very hard to do without force or manipulative intent. However, even if our motives are not 100% pure, if we really love one another (wanting and working for the very best good for one another) we will stand while the heat passes on by and keep trying to understand, move toward and make room inside ourselves for one another.
    Please do read Christy’s blog.
    Dana Ames

  • Rachelle says:

    As I seem to have created some ill will, let it be known that it was unintentional and that I have apologized both publically and privately to Andrew. If anyone would like to read some bits on my experience as a woman in leadership in the emerging church, you can read my post on my blog at thursdaypm.org.

  • Girls

    Andrew Jones posts about “girls” over at his blog. I am not sure I agree with all the comments.

  • Laurie says:

    Woowwwwiiieee, zoowwwwiiieee….Where have I been the past few days? As usual, I seem to be late to jump in, but I must just say that it seems to me like some of you are making WAY too big a deal out of all of this. I am female, have been all my life, and it doesn’t bother me a bit to be called a girl or a gal. But, as I was thinking about it, perhaps I am older than many of the female population here??? Perhaps I’m relatively over-the-hill, and not threatened by what I am called. I am what I am, whatever you call me.
    As I read through all these comments, all I could think was that we ought to give each other a break. If any one of us unknowingly uses terminology that is troublesome to anyone, let’s look at the intent. Did Andrew INTEND to belittle his female counterparts? In no way! Did any of the women’s comments INTEND to communcate rage? Sure, they did. Let’s just respond to one another with love and understanding!

  • Laura says:

    I’m with Laurie on this one. I don’t see any ill motives in Andrew’s use of language.
    Somewhere in the Bible it says that Love is not easily offended. After reading these heated comments I ask myself, “Is this the church?” “How does this further the Kingdom?”
    We may be a bit sidetracked here, I don’t know.

  • jen lemen says:

    laura & laura, you might want to check out http://drybonesdance.blogspot.com for christy’s explanation of impact vs. intent.

  • The “Girls” Discussion Matures

    Rachelle has done the first of her “educational” posts for men in the emerging church so we do a better job of not stepping on the women. Here’s my response, that I left as a comment on her blog:Well said….

  • sasa says:

    boy, boy, boy…!
    how sad all this. dont know if a nonwestern male voice can make any difference here, but let me say i feel quite grieved reading this whole thread. what are we looking at? people are suffering all around the world, worse still, most of them never heard the good news of Gods love for them. or, if they’ve heard, they seldom seen it manifest in the church, so they usually don’t believe our christian talk. i thought the basic idea of the emergent church was to incarnate the core truth of the gospel (which is love), rather than talk talk talk. the proverb says much talking is not without sin… (so I, too, risk the danger of multiplying sin on this blog, hoping in God’s – and your – forgiveness)
    regarding the gender issues, was not the old church (including the new testament writers) so much wiser in using words like “brothers” and “sisters”? if such terminology sounds way too outdated or cheesy for most of us today, then maybe andrew was quite right in calling us postmodern snobs a few posts back?
    as a czech bible translator, i cant help but make a short contribution to your discussion about the biblical terminology. in bible times, a female child was called a “girl”, or, more often, a “daughter”. when she was no longer a child (after menarche), she was called a “virgin”. after she married, she was called a “woman” (in both testaments the word “woman” was synonymous with “wife”). if her husband died, she was called a “widow”.
    so, if andrew was to be truly biblical in his terminology, he would probably have to tell us that some brave chinese virgins are making great exploits for God. but we don’t talk like that today, do we? we are not walking dictionaries and our words acquire menaing only in the context, especially in the context of who we are. i had the priviledge of sharing house with andrew, debbie and their five kids here in Prague, translating the bible in their cellar/bedroom. i have never in my life seen such healthy, selfconfident children as the joneses kids. their four girls are princesses in the kingdom and they know it. and I have never seen such a humble, selfgiving, selfless people (not to say western missionaries) as andrew and debbie.
    so, please, my dear sisters and brothers, for Christ’s sake, lets have fun, live in love, try to do something meaningful with our lives and accept each other as Christ accepted us. „For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians — you are one in Christ Jesus.“ (Gal. 3:26-28 NLT)

  • Jon Harris says:

    Thank you, Andrew, for reminding us of the importance of ‘remembering the poor’ (Galatians 2:10). How easily their cry is silenced…

  • Andrew says:

    Wow – lots of comments. I respect them all. I have just posted another blog to flesh out where i am coming from. I was off line for a few days – hope my silence was not miscommunicated for lack of respect.

  • jared says:

    O-My-God. I’m not sure you’ll even read to the bottom of this AJ, but I wanted to affirm your thoughts. I hear you and you’re right on. I can’t understand the backlash of anger in the comments above–sure I understand the pliht of women seeking respecet and equal ground. But I, at 25 am often still referred to as a kid, and my little sisters, who are radical women of God, leading as pastors, I refer to as girls. I think it’s almost a higher compliment that way–it distinguishes them as achieving so much so early.
    I think you’re on the right track andrew.

  • Words, words, words

    If you’ve been following the ongoing discussion on women in the ministry (here, here, and at Maggi Dawn’s blog among other places), you’ll have noticed that language is getting a lot of attention. This kind of thing comes up in…

  • Alan Cross says:

    Andrew’s post that everyone is referring to had two parts, in case no one noticed. One part talked about “girls” and the other was about the urban poor. The “Girls” comment has inspired 54 responses and the comment on the urban poor has inspired 0 responses. 54-0.
    I was one of the ones that asked about the emerging church’s view on ministering to the poor, hoping to receive some direction on what was being said and what people were thinking about. From a quick snapshot of the debate, it seems that we care much more about gender issues and rights and recognition than we do about the urban poor around the world. This just solidifies the idea that we are very white, Western, and middle class in this movement. I still have a great deal of hope and know that many, many “emergent” people are working hard to minister to the poor. I am just surprised that not one person has even responded to Andrew’s comments on the urban poor. It seems that Jesus had a lot to say about it, why don’t we?
    Go back and read what he said. If we really understand that revival and transformation has almost always started among the poor, it might change our perspective. The implications of that are truly profound for how we do ministry. It tells us something about the heart of God. I am really getting concerned that unless we become more creative and proactive in catching God’s vision for this world, this whole postmodern-emergent thing might just become one long cultural rant that only leaves a ripple in our memories, and not the impact that we are hoping for. We must chart a new course and stop reacting to the past.
    And, um, no comment on the girls/women thing. I refer to Andrew’s response to that and say, humbly, amen.

  • babbage.tv says:

    Little Miss-Communication

    Are internet communications more likely to be misunderstood than other mediums of dialogue? I’ve been the surprised onlooker over the last few days of a debate that flared up on tallskinnykiwi.com, the blog by Andrew Jones that I frequent from…

  • Hot Button Issues

    I found the comment eruption at Tall Skinny Kiwi this weekend absolutely facinating. This discussion has come up before, and it will come up again. Because it has been discussed before on other blogs, it was another opportuntity to learn the ‘hows’ of …

  • URBANarmy says:

    I know that this will get lost in the other deabte that has emerged but I am glad that the issue of poverty has been raised.
    We need to be careful, there seems that there is an attitude of middle class benevolence out there which at best is patronising…
    My point is this – you’ll never understand poverty until you experience poverty with them, and you’ll never experience poverty until you truly know yourself, and when you do truly know yourself you will realise that these “poor” people have more to teach you than you’ll ever know.
    Why not simply journey and cut the patronising – isn’t that the nature of incarnation?

  • The Dane says:

    Gosh, if this is the kinda stuff that gets your feathers in a ruffle, this emerging church thing will never get off the ground. My parents are missionaries in Romania. My mother works specifically with orphaned females between 15 and 25. She refers to them as girls. I think it would behoove the irate women here to recognize that despite whatever ill-founded propaganda to which they’ve been exposed, the vast majority of the English-speaking public don’t necessarily mean anything derisive by use of the term girl. I would suggest taking words in context to identify their meaning instead of trying to come up with an absolute meaning for a broadly-used term. For being a part of a church movement that is supposed to be forward-thinking and relevant to the culture, you angry women sure seem intolerant. Next thing you know, girlfriend will be mythologically considered offensive as well. Pax out, yo.

  • Julie says:

    I’m 30. I was recently on a missions trip. While sitting with other “females”, the “males” said “hey girls, come over and look at this scorpion.”
    I was not offended. Who cares what I get called, as long as I get called?
    I don’t refer to “males” as boys, but as guys. I often refer to older “females” as lady – as in, “This lady came up and asked what time it was.”
    Again, who cares?
    Almost makes me glad the English language doesn’t have masculine and feminie forms of nouns – what a nightmare that would be, as evidenced by this rather bizarre discussion.
    Guys, gals, girls, boys, men, women, ladies, gentlemen – I don’t have time to worry if someone is trying to slam or belittle me or if it was an innocent use of a word. I could care less what they do. It has no effect on my plans for the day.

  • Julie says:

    And one more thing – instead of getting “gutted” and “devastated” by a blog post, and wasting energy battling it out with ones and zeros…
    turn off your computer and do something useful for God’s kingdom.
    Nothing like a mission trip to a land of poverty to make a person angry about energy and time wasted on semantics.
    Just hit the power button. It’s that easy.

  • And on that note, I want to stop the comments on this particular post. We have reached 60 comments, 8000 words, 20 pages, and now have something that, were it printed as one piece, would have to be rolled up like a scroll.
    Thanks everyone for your comments. They are all valuable and all form part of a history of where we all are in this journey.
    Let this final comment act as a meta-comment.
    1. This is a very valid conversation and it should continue (but at someone else’s blog)
    2. My bad. I goofed by
    a) using ‘girls’ and ‘men’in the same sentence.
    b) by not adequately linking my post to the original post called Questions and The Mullet of Jesus (plus the comment by Lilly) that inspired it.
    c) by taking too long to get back
    2. The comments section IS the legitimate place for this community discussion – it is the place for co-authorship. It is this freedom to contribute to the post that differientiates it from old media, or even articles posted on the web that do not allow interaction. Yes, it is risky, but i think it is worth it.
    3.There were some great emails sent to me and maybe one day i will come back here and put links to them (i have already asked some people for permission to do that)
    4. We have all expressed our emotions before on these topics – none of us are exempt. I have sent flaming comments to people before, although i usually jumped on them for using militaristic language in their description of ministry (target, reach, etc).
    5. You should have read the entry posted a few days later called The Girls Post: A Definitive History. Read it for the full story and all the necessary links.
    6. I usually comment on the comments when they are happening. As you know, i was offline for a few days and were not able to in this case. That would have softened the conversation a lot and may have allowed the use of humor, play, and informality that, I am sure, would have brought the tone of the conversation down to a more casual manner – from the courtroom to the living room. I have decided not to do so now because it would change the impact of the conversation and would mess with history. I am tempted to soften the blow by jumping in, but the cold hard fact is, that i was not there to do so when i should have been, and my silence is a key player in the miscommunication. My mistake should remain intact. Even though it makes me look like an ogre.
    7. Where to go from here?
    I suggest you go back through the comments and click on the names of the commentators. Some are links to their websites where they may have their thoughts spelled out and may even be hosting some dialog.
    Again, thanks for making it down to the bottom of this blog-pile and for being a part of this learning journey.
    Now go away.
    You been here long enough.
    A blog post has a life span of about 3 days, and this one has expired.
    And dont anyone comment on this post again. Or i will speak to you harshly.

  • Cause I’m a Woman (say it again)

    I have noticed an increasing awareness of the lack of women’s presence in: blogs about church and religious issues, articles about postmodern christianity, websites about church planting and unconventional churches, etc. Even among UU blogs-which is su…