What is a woman’s role in the church? What about out of the church? Women, has the fear of coming across too strong caused you to hold back your God-given gifts? In this message, Jonathan Pokluda and guest speaker Jennie Allen talk about what it looks like to be a strong woman in the church and how to live out your purpose. Guys, this message isn’t just for the ladies! Listen in to learn more about how you can support and encourage the women around you for the benefit of the Kingdom.
Porch, how are we doing? If you're joining us from somewhere else in the country, we are so glad that you are. Dallas, I love you. So excited to be with you this evening. That bumper you just heard and watched means we are still in the series Asking for a Friend. The question tonight is…What does it mean to be a strong woman in the church? Some guys just thought… I see your face. You're like, "Why did I show up?" Here's why you showed up. God, in his providence and his sovereignty, has you here because, guys, we have some work to do.
Let me tell you how I found that out. We do this podcast called Views from The Porch. Check it out. David is very excited about it. David, you're a little red in the face. Sunburn, I know. He was sunburned, if you were wondering. Views from The Porch. We talked about biblical womanhood a couple of weeks ago. We recorded that a little while back, and that went live. I know a lot of you haven't heard that.
About 11 o'clock Monday night, I was going to bed, and I got an email from a friend I really trust. She just said, "Hey, JP, I think you missed an opportunity to encourage women. So much so that I would consider pulling the podcast down." I prayed about that, and I thought, "Okay. I really trust this friend of mine." Then I got an email from another trusted friend who said something really similar. I didn't have time… It was 11:30 now at night. That's past my bedtime.
I'm thinking, "Okay. I'm not going to go back and listen to that this evening, but Lord, I'm just going to trust you sent some servants to care and ask that it be taken down this evening." I went back and I listened to it. If I'm completely transparent with you, there was just some… Yeah, it's a conversation, so there are always things like "I really wish I would have said that better. I wish I had been tighter. I wish that would have been clearer."
I'm a verbal processor, so I'm kind of all over the map. At the end of the day, I'm just like, "You know what? That could have been better." Also, there was some confusion in my heart. When I have hurt friends and I don't fully understand why, I assume I have something to learn. When I've hurt someone or they're hurt and I'm listening to them and I don't fully understand why, I assume there is some work the Holy Spirit wants to do in my heart and mind to listen and to learn from friends.
What I've learned through this process is there are a lot of women who are hurt just by what is going on right now. That really grieved me. When I say what's going on right now, I mean in our culture. Maybe you feel oppressed or lesser than in any way. I hate that because I don't see that in God's Word. If I'm reading that or if I've ever communicated anything that could be interpreted that way, then I've missed the mark by such an incredible chasm.
As we talk about what it means to be a strong woman in the church, I don't know if you guys know this but let me just be transparent about something, I'm not a woman. Furthermore, to put an explanation point on the idea that I have a lot to learn on this topic, I thought I would invite one of the strongest women in the church I know. Would you please welcome to the stage my friend, Jennie Allen, who is with us this evening.
Friend, I'm so excited you're here. Thank you for joining us. You've been someone who has sharpened me, even in talking to me about where I've missed it and helped me see and some of those conversations. I just appreciate and want to thank you and your husband, Zac, for you guys stewarding your time in this way. I'm excited to learn from you. My heart is to listen as well this evening. Thank you for being with us.
If you don't know, Jennie leads one of the strongest movements of discipling women right now in our day called IF:Gathering. Could you just tell us a little bit more about that?
Jennie: Yeah. Are there any IF girls out here? Okay, a few of you. A lot of you may not have heard of it. It's a beautiful movement of God where women all across the world said, "Hey, I want to lead in my local church and my community for the good of people and for the glory of God." It's a discipleship movement. We provide tools for women all over the world. We reach 120 something countries. We reach over a million women every year when we livestream.
What we're trying to do is truly raise the value of discipleship. We believe that's how Jesus changed the world, and life on life, face to face over coffee, this is how the world still can change. We put tools in the hands of women in their local churches to make disciples and to reclaim that value of discipleship.
JP: A little bit more about who you are. You live here in Dallas. You and your family just recently moved here. I think we have a picture of your family, if we can put that up there. There's your crew.
Jennie: Yeah. Team Allen right there. My kids are growing up. It's amazing. Actually one of them just started at SMU. He is a freshman. I don't know if college kids are allowed to show up at The Porch, but he might make a showing. We have age 18 down to 10. Our youngest, Cooper… Obviously, I did not bring him into the world. He is adopted from Rwanda.
Our house is awesome. I love this conversation because I'm raising two men and I'm raising two women. We talk a lot about these issues at our house, too. I was thinking, JP, when the podcast aired… I'm going to give you some credit, because he actually asked me to come speak before the podcast was taken down. That was a little bit of a mess. He asked me weeks before that. He had a heart for this to happen and for us to have this discussion.
What I know to be true is… I don't say yes to things like this because I have a really clear mission. It is to teach this book. To preach the gospel. I actually believe life is really short, and we're all going to be in heaven really soon. Some of you are so young you don't think that way yet, but you will, because you'll watch your children grow up before your eyes. They'll be your age in a minute.
I feel like life goes really fast. I stick to this. I stick to the book, and I stick to Jesus. I want people to be saved, and that's how I spend my life. When JP asked me, before I even knew about the podcast, I was like, "You know, I don't know. This is a little bit loaded. I think we could get derailed here from just preaching the Word if we get too caught up in our differences."
This is what I thought about when I decided if I was going to do it or not. The first thing I thought about was all the women I meet as I travel and speak all over the world. So many of those women are, in some way, holding back with their gifts for the glory of God. In some way they have sat on something. They are not leading like they could. They don't want to appear too strong. They don't want to appear too prideful. You'll hear in a minute that is some of my story.
In some way, they're holding back. I'm thinking to myself, "Holy crud! That's half the church!" This should bother us. More than half the church. If half the church is sitting on their gifts… I just want you to raise your hand if you're a female and in any way you have held back on your gifts or passions or personality or felt like I'm too… Any women in the room?
JP: That's a lot of hands.
Jennie: That's half the church that's holding back, and I'm not talking about with opinions or ideas or on Twitter. I'm talking about in your heart for the glory of God, for the gospel to go forward, and for the kingdom to be built you're holding back in some way. Then we have another half of the church, because I'm knowing this isn't just women I'm going to talk to. I speak to a lot of women, but this is men, too.
Then I'm thinking about you, and I'm thinking, "You know what? Almost every guy I have ever met is for me." They're for me. They're for women. They love women. They were birthed by women.
JP: We need women, for sure, to live.
Jennie: Yes. I have been privileged to feel a lot of support by men. I'm going to talk about my marriage in a minute. I have a great husband who believes in me and supports me. He has actually pushed me out further than I would want to go or be comfortable with. I have seen men be for women, and I'm thinking when I look out at most of you, most of you want to make women happy. True?
Jennie: I know, because I can smell cologne from right here. When I'm making the decision and I'm praying about it, I'm thinking, "All right. You want me to come kick what hornet's nest with you, JP?" I'm thinking to myself, "You know what? This matters. Because if there is this much division, there is a reason for it. If it's the church, then guess what the reason is? The Enemy."
If there's division and confusion and women are holding back and men are confused and clumsy over what it looks like to support strong women and to help build strong women and believe in strong women, then there is a problem. So I say yes. And then the podcast. What I see right now is just this beautiful opportunity for us to talk about what this looks like. It's not easy, and it's not always black and white. There are different personalities. There are different gifts. There are different ways this fleshes out, but I get excited, Because I think it's needed.
JP: I love God, in his beauty and providence, because, just to make this clear, in case it's not, this is not in response to the podcast. This was on the calendar long before we ever even recorded that podcast just as we were moving through the series Asking for a Friend. This is the number one question that gotquestions.org gets. If you don't know about that resource, it's an incredible resource. I commend it to you.
You mentioned your husband. I want to talk about Zac in a minute. I'm a big fan. He has been a really incredible voice of the Lord, I think, who has come into my life at a really key time. I want to talk about Zac in just a minute and more about your family. Before we do, you're traveling the world, you're exposed to lots of different churches and lots of different gatherings. You're discipling women. You're seeing women being discipled and really unleashed in the body of Christ. Did you always think you would do this? Has that always been the plan?
Jennie: Not at all. In fact, I was probably one of the shyest kids ever, which is funny now. I wanted to make people happy. I had an idol of approval, and it was very important to me to please the people around me. It probably started with my dad and really bled into every part of my life.
If you have strong gifts or you have a strong personality in any way or a deep passion to see God move around you and all that comes out and bubbles over, you're going to get in trouble sometimes. Early on, I think I learned "Hey, don't be strong. Put that back in, and don't have too crazy of dreams, and don't have too much passion, and just put that in your back pocket." So I did.
I did for a long, long time. I grew up in a church that was super conservative, and I didn't have a lot of role models of women who were using their gifts in a big way to impact the kingdom. When I say "big way," I just mean in a full way. I don't think everyone should go start a movement or an organization or write books. I think we should all be about, first, living out the good works God prepared in advance for each of us to do. We know the Bible promises that.
Secondly, we should be faithful to the gifts and the talents he gave us. In fact, if we aren't that's bad stewardship. We know Jesus told the parable about that, and it didn't go well for the people who didn't steward that well. We have to steward our gifts, and we have to use that to the fullest of our ability. When I was younger, I think it was intimidating to me. I think down deep I knew I was holding back, but I didn't know what it looked like to love God, to have courage to do hard things, to have passion for God and to still be tender and kind.
I just didn't know what it looked like to have all these big gifts and to not cause so much trouble, was the bottom line. As I moved forward in college, I just began to exercise those gifts, and people started being saved. I would teach the Bible to a group of eight or ten girls, and people would be like, "I want to know Jesus," so we would pray to receive Jesus.
I just saw fruit, and I kept going and kept using my gifts. But I had this rule… Well, it was funny…. I wasn't saved until I was about 17 years old at Kanakuk Kamps. Y'all know the crosses at the end? I had seen them every year, because I had gone most of my life. My last summer there I was 17 years old, and I looked at the crosses, and for the first time I saw my sin. I went home immediately from that and I wanted to teach my Bible.
I started doing it to my friends, and they were so annoyed. They were like, "You need to chill." I got a bunch of freshman girls, because I was a junior, and they would think I was cool. I put them in a room. Beth Moore wasn't on the scene then. There weren't role models of women with teaching gifts. You ready for this? I was a brand new Christian. I start teaching them the book of Revelation. That's where I opened.
JP: Nice. You chose the easy one.
JP: That's where everybody starts.
Jennie: Haven't ever taught it since, and since then I've been to seminary.
Jennie: I start teaching my Bible because that was my gift. That's what God made me to do. I didn't know women could do that. I just didn't know they couldn't. I just started teaching my Bible and making disciples with that gift.
As it went, I would get affirmed and say, "Hey, that's your gift. You need to do more of that." I kept doing it. Then I realized, "Oh, gosh. I would very much like a man. I don't know if a man is going to respond to all of this…this." I remember just being really insecure that I was just too much. I was too much for people. I constantly was editing myself. That's godly. Let me make a clarification. We are not talking about ungodly strength. We're talking about God-given, holy strength that he has given us.
JP: What's the difference?
Jennie: Sin. This book spells it out, right? We're going to talk in a minute about Philippians 2. It spells it out. It's like, "Are we doing this for the good of others, y'all?" For the most part, I was doing it for the good of others. I didn't know you could get famous doing that. I didn't know you could publish books doing that.
I just loved God, and I wanted to tell people about him. Then God opened doors and things began to grow. All of a sudden, before we knew it… So I do meet a man. I meet a man, and he actually…it's interesting…fell in love with all my strength and my passion. It was good. Check. Can I go into marriage just a little? See, I'm being a strong woman.
JP: Sure. If you want. Yeah. Go for it. Is it all right if we talk about marriage? Is that okay? Good.
Jennie: Does anybody want to get married in here? You know, Paul was funny about that. He actually said it's better if you don't. I don't know. I'm just saying. I love that God brought me this man. We had to grow up together a little bit. I was in a place of fear and insecurity because I was in my 20s. Y'all, 20s. Fear and insecurity. They go together. It's part of it. If you feel that, you are not alone. It is just part of these years.
We had to grow up together as a couple now. It was funny, when we got married all of a sudden all the things he loved about me became a threat. Now my strength was very threatening to him. He is sitting right here. He tells this story way better than I do. It shut me down, because… You know what? I wanted to be a good wife, and I didn't want to cause trouble. I wanted him to love me.
So I sat on my gifts. I put it away. I sat on my passions, and I held back. What's interesting is after about five years of marriage, a woman I really respect challenged me on it. She said, "Jennie, this idolatry. There's a name for this. It's idolatry. You're choosing your husband over God of the universe. You're saying, 'I care more what my husband thinks of me than being faithful and obedient to this whole book.'"
I wasn't seeking something ungodly; I was just seeking to use the gifts God had given me, make him known, and it became unhealthy. Anyway, in our marriage we ended up in counseling about five or six years in. It was the best thing we ever went through. All of a sudden we could hear each other. What my husband heard from me was my wife has strong gifts and strong passion for God, and she wants to serve him, and she is not because of me.
I think this conversation is so big because what if that were true of your wife, of your daughter? What if that storyline were true? If the women in your life would say, "I'm not fully serving God because I think you won't find me attractive." Or "I think I'm too much and these strengths are going to cause you to get insecure."
JP: Can I say something right there? I think, because one of the things my friend said to me in that was "Hey, I feel like you communicated that you don't value a woman excelling in the workplace or leading or even being a CEO." Gosh, I would never want to communicate that, so I would want to clarify that publicly right now.
I'm a dad of two daughters whom I love very much. I can't imagine just loving something as much as I love my two daughters. If one of them grows up, gets married, has kids, stays at home, and is what we think of when we think of a homemaker, or words will fail me, but if that's what she does, I will be incredibly encouraged by that. I think that's fantastic.
Likewise, and equally so, and I mean it when I say equally so, if one of them advances through a corporation and leads the company, I would be so encouraged by that. In Titus 2:10 it says that we are to work with excellence so that the teachings of Christ our Savior are attractive. I don't think that's just a verse to men; it's women, too.
Whatever you do professionally, I hope you're amazing at it so that whenever a promotion comes about, your boss or supervisor, who may also be a woman, is choosing someone and that you're the clear and obvious choice, that, "Hey, this is who should be promoted." I hope all of you, everyone listening, are the hardest working employee for the glory of God, both men and women, that that would be true. Just to clarify that. Insert that there.
Jennie: Okay. So I want to actually say right now, too, that sometimes…I would say most of the time…we're thinking that we're limited, or we're thinking we need to sit on our gifts, or we're thinking we can't do the thing God wants us to do. It's not because someone told us we couldn't. It's because we believed in our mind we shouldn't. So much of this tension and why I believe it's of the Enemy is there's so much unsaid. We never talk about these things.
I love that you just stopped me, JP, like "Hey, I just want to clarify in case some of you out here have these aspirations. These aren't ungodly." Because I think sometimes we just get confused. We get confused about what it means to be a man or what it means to be a woman in the church. When we don't talk about it, it gets confusing, and I would say that represents a lot of what was going on with me.
I was setting my own boundaries. I just thought I was too much for my friends my junior year, and I'm too much for my husband, and I'm just going to sit on all this, and I don't know what else to do. I want to say, too, I wouldn't be here if I didn't see it happening for so many women. I don't think it's all guys' faults. I think a lot of it is our faults, girls. I think we do this in our own minds sometimes, that we limit ourselves.
I know the obvious question everybody wants to know the answer of is what about roles and positions in the church? That's the loaded part. I think we oftentimes get so distracted by that, and we find ourselves sitting on our gifts and our passions and our abilities that we are missing all the work God has for us.
My view on that is every local church is going to have a different opinion about that. Every local church in Dallas, Texas, just about has a different opinion about that. Wherever you go. Scripture just says, "Don't be divisive." If you commit and submit to that church, then be all there, and be humble about that, and understand those elders have prayed about that, and they're not anti-women, this is where they landed.
That's not the biggest issue when I'm thinking about men and women and using our gifts. The bigger issue to me is the way we view each other, the way we value each other. I think what Zac heard with a third party present was, "Gosh, my wife feels like she can't be all that God made her to be with me."
What began to happen is our marriage went to a different level, and we began to pray together and say, "God, we want to serve you with everything we have. Anything you want from us, we want to do it." What that took the form of for a long time was a church plant in Austin, Texas, that went on to become the west campus of Austin Stone. We led that church, and my husband led that church beautifully.
JP: Can I say this about Zac real quick, because… You're a strong woman, but Zac is no shrinking violet. Zac is a strong man. He is a strong voice in my life. I know you're talking and taking us on a journey, but I want to hear about now what it looks like to co-labor through this platform God has entrusted to you guys. Zac was pastoring a church and has an incredible ministry himself.
Jennie: Yeah. That went on for about 10 years. About 10 years into it was when everything shifted. That co-laboring shifted in a way we never would have foreseen. My husband actually handed off leadership of the church of Austin Stone. We became members there. He is in private equity now, which is an odd thing for a pastor to move into, but that's what he did.
He is a starter, basically. He started a church because he is a great starter. Then he starts companies because he is a great starter. He is a great entrepreneur, so he moved into that. At the same time, God was opening doors for me to use my gifts. I had been teaching my Bible more, and doors were opening, and things were happening.
All of a sudden, I was given more and more and more opportunity. I remember coming home after I had received the opportunity to publish several things with a publishing house. He had sent me on this publishing retreat, and I came home. It was more than just one little book. It was like a career they were kind of offering me. I came home, and I did not know if I wanted to do this. I had been a stay-at-home mom for years, and I didn't know if I wanted to enter all of this.
I brought it to him, and he was quiet because he thought, "Okay. I don't know what that's going to be like if my wife goes out and has a platform and leads all these people. What's that going to be like? I'm here. What's going to happen?" For three days, he prayed about it, wrestled, and then he came to me. I'll never forget this.
He said, "Jennie, one day I'm going to stand before God, and I'm going to be accountable for your gifts, and I'm going to be accountable for how our family built the kingdom of God. If this is the best way for us to build the kingdom of God right now, I'm all in." The years that have followed, he has meant that. I would say there has barely been a day that he has not said… And I want you to know the dude is way stronger than me.
He tells me no all the time. We're figuring that out, what that looks like, but it isn't hard. Because here's the thing, we love this book. We love our God. We're a team on a mission. How this book says marriage looks is laid out, and we live it in that way, but it also tells us how to be believers. The whole book just talks about what it looks like to co-labor together and to build the kingdom of God together. It's constant humility. It's constant laying down our lives for each other and for the good of other people in the world. We're figuring that out together.
JP: Yeah. I love that. Let me ask you as you think about marriage. I'm going to ask you a loaded question, okay?
JP: Just a heads up on this. I'm going to mention the "s" word. Okay?
Jennie: What "s" word?
JP: What does submission look like, or what does submission mean?
Jennie: Yeah, that word. To me?
Jennie: Whoo. Okay. Here's the thing about that word.
JP: Tell us the thing about that word.
Jennie: I'll you the thing. I'm going to say something you're probably not expecting. It's one of my favorite words. It is the greatest protection in my life. As a strong woman who is doing her best to please God, who is trying to raise four kids and not screw them up, I like you. I love them. I don't care if you follow Christ nearly as much as I care that my kids follow Christ.
I don't want to sacrifice my kids on an altar of ministry. I don't want to be responsible for all the decisions of "Do I take this speaking event?" or "What do I do with all these different things?" I love submission. Submission protects me all the time. I bring things to Zac, and I say, "Hey, what do you think?" Then he decides. Then he is accountable before God. It's going to be awesome! I can't wait! "Jennie, you shouldn't have done this." "His fault." I believe that.
JP: He is going to say, "But the woman you gave me…" I've heard that. I read that somewhere.
Jennie: I tell you what, I've talked to women all over the world that that word has been used like a pistol to their heads. It has been used where they feel threatened all the time, where they don't feel safe in their relationships. They don't feel safe with men. They don't feel safe with their dads. They don't feel safe with their boyfriends. They don't feel safe with their husbands.
I hear this story all the time. The fact that that word has a bad rap makes sense to me. It makes sense to me because here's the problem, guys. We're divided, but there are reasons on it for both sides, right? Where men have used submission as control…
JP: Can I say something here?
JP: Because I want to ask you guys a question, not rhetorical, let me ask a question. According to the Bible, should women submit to men? According to the Word? Some guys nodding their head. I want to make it abundantly clear what it says. The answer to the question is no. It's a resounding no with this follow-up. Ephesians 5:22 says, "Wives, submit to your own husbands..." Not "Women, submit to men." That's different.
You're not coming as a single woman thinking, "Okay. The Bible says I have to submit to all men." That's not what the Scripture says. In fact, it goes on to say, "As they mutually submit to each other." There's even further context given there. A question we're asked all the time from guys, "What does it mean to lead in a relationship?"
I'll give you a really simple answer, and I want you both to hear it. I want both sexes to hear the answer to this question. It means lead in purity. It means protect what God has said is important, that you would flee sexual immorality.
"All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price [the blood of Jesus] . Therefore, honor God with your bodies."
As you're in a dating relationship, men you're looking out in all ways that you can to her best interest. I know we talk about and joke about in the church what it means to guard your heart, but it means you guys are progressing, that you are both aware of where you're going, that there's not manipulation. Romans 12 says, "Love must be sincere." That you're not playing games, hard to get, trying to manipulate each other.
That's not love. That's a counterfeit love. Just as you consider should women submit to men, the answer is no. The Scripture says, "Wives, submit to your own husbands…" and goes on to say there's a mutual submission there in the covenant of marriage. I'm sorry to interrupt you.
Jennie: No. That's so, so clear and important because I do think we've built all these myths on the words of God. Right? We have added to the words of God, and we've gotten so confused. We wonder why we're confused, and we put godliness attached to things that Jesus would be appalled at. Abuse. Attaching submission to abuse. These are not things the writers of the Bible and God meant.
This is where we have taken things and caused hurt. I think that's why this does feel loaded sometimes. Because there has been so much hurt. I was reading in Philippians 2 this morning, and I just thought this was so perfect for today. This is true for all of us. Paul says, "…complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name..."
This is the mind we're to have. I think sometimes when we're talking about men and women, we look at these very few verses that address men and women rather than the whole Bible that addresses Christians. Above our identity of our gender is our identity in Christ. However you treat women… I think about the issue of pornography. If we truly believe these are our sisters, these are image-bearers beside us, it changes the way you view that.
The value of women, how you esteem women, how you see them as your sisters, co-laborers, co-workers, building the kingdom of God together, it changes the way you live. It changes the way you do everything. That gets me excited. I think, "What if we haven't even come close to realizing that as the church yet?"
I think for women, a lot of women end up feeling more valued at the workplace than they do at the church. As these conversations happen, I'm seeing this little light in women's eyes where they're like, "Hey. You think I have something to contribute? You think I can play. You think I can help here." It's happening.
JP: Yeah. I would just say here, I know a significant number of you don't go to church here, and a lot of you do go here at Watermark. I just was recently tasked by the elders, they said, "Hey, as you think about these opportunities, we want to make sure the women here in this body have every opportunity to use their gifts in this body." That's something our elders are constantly thinking about and praying about.
I want to say this to what you said, because this has spurned on a lot of conversations in the podcast. One thing I miscommunicated and was not clear on was a statement, and the context I was talking about the fallen world. I said I think that there are a lot of guys who are intimidated by a strong woman. Something you've said and other friends have said to me is I think that's a huge fear of women. "Hey, if I exercise strength or demonstrate strength, then I'm not going to be seen as attractive by men."
If that's true, it's the result of sin in the world, but I hope men would look for a strong woman, like you talked about Zac, that they wouldn't be intimidated by that. I think just to talk to the men for a minute, the reality, the problem is, for every man I know, attraction…what they view as attractive…is tainted by sin.
I don't want to be accused as overstating something, so let me clarify what I mean when I say "every man I know". What I mean is every single male I've ever met in my entire life. What they are attracted to is tainted by sin. Especially if you have viewed pornography, which is the vast majority of you.
You have to understand that, that there needs to be this earnest prayer going on in your life that you would be asking God, "Help me to be attracted to what you're attracted to," that God who looks at the heart and would love a woman to represent him well in the workplace, to be strong in the workplace or in life in general, that you would be attracted to what God is attracted to, not intimidated in any way by that. That's what I meant, but I'm not sure that that was clear.
Jennie: It's why it's great to have these conversations. Our hope is that you're going to go out and have these conversations together. I would just recommend to the men that you listen. Because I think sometimes… In fact, I've talked to so many women, even preparing for this night, who said, "I always have opinions, but I don't want to seem too strong. I don't want to be combative. I don't want to come off as prideful or arrogant."
I'm thinking, "Do you guys really just want duds? What do you want?" You want people who think and who have opinions and who have feelings and who will push you and who will make you better. Let me tell you where our marriage is now. We are so madly in love. I feel like you need to come up here and affirm this truth.
I'm not kidding. I feel like our marriage… I'm going to brag. I think every single one of you should aspire to the marriage I have because it is that good. My 16-year-old daughter is like, "Mom, I need to go to counseling because you all love each too much." That's what she wants to tell her counselor. I'm like, "Good luck. I'm sure they're going to feel very sorry for you."
We are madly in love. You know why? Not because everything is easy. Can you imagine these two really strong people married to each other? It's really messy. A lot. But it's because we are absolutely single-mindedly focused on building the kingdom of God together. It is the most fun way to live. We're not competing.
I look at all these movies right now. I mentioned this on Instagram recently, I'm watching movies, and I'm thinking, "Why is every movie based on people who are cranky because someone in their family succeeded?" Incredibles 2. There are all these movies right now that are coming out. People are at home crying because… It could be a man or a woman or a child.
I had to post something because, guys, family doesn't have to be that way. It could be that if somebody in your family wins, you feel like you all won because you were a part of it, literally. Tonight, my youngest daughter got locked in the bathroom. I think she might still be there because both of us are here. Is she still in the bathroom? Are you serious? What?
JP: He said, "We'll address it later." Hey, we'll wrap this up.
Jennie: But here's the beauty. He fed them dinner tonight, and one of them is locked in a bathroom, but besides that... We're a team on a mission. I don't know, right now my daughter is regretting that she signed up for this mission. In life, this is how we work. If my son wins a state championship… That was a picture from the state championship in Texas this year.
JP: No big deal.
Jennie: It's a big deal. If my son wins a state championship, then our whole family thinks they won the state championship.
Jennie: That's how this should be, that we're building the kingdom of God together, co-laboring, men and women, across the church, doing the best we can to pour out our gifts, to see each other succeed, to see the other one, and if there's anything holding them back, it should bother us.
JP: What you said, you mentioned this and you said, "JP, guys don't want a passive, insecure girl. They want a strong girl." Here's how I would respond to that honestly. By my observation… This is my opinion now based on my observation. Some guys do because of their own brokenness in sin and their own spiritual journey. They haven't gotten to this place where the Lord has sanctified them to be attracted to what he is attracted to.
I think it is a result… I'm so passionate about just this idea of what pornography is doing to dating. I'll just tell you if you're listening and you're looking at porn…I know more than half of you are…you have to stop. It's ruining your marriage long before you even found your prospect. I'm talking to guys and girls alike, men and women alike. If you're looking at pornography, the Enemy is using it to ruin you. You have to stop.
I'm not trying to put guilt and shame on your shoulders. I'm not just saying, "Stop. Go figure it out." I'm saying as the church we are here, we want to help you, come forward. In a minute there will be folks up here you can talk to. Please come and talk to them. Guys, I want you to go home and beg God, beg him, to give you eyes to be attracted to, to see what he sees as beautiful, that you would do that.
Just beg him. Say, "Lord, would you please answer this prayer, that I would see as attractive what you see as attractive, what you see as beautiful." I will tell you, the other greatest frustration in leading a young adults' ministry over the past 12 years, especially in talking about believers, is just I've met so many amazing women who guys aren't asking out. You're not taking initiative. Please reject passivity, men, and initiate.
Jennie: That's good. I think about what's possible. This is one of the ways I'm wired. I always picture things in a big swath. So I picture even this room, and I think about Dallas, and I think about all of you, and the reason I risked kicking this little hornet's nest a little is because I feel like if this whole room was unleashed to use their gifts, to be for each other instead of in any way using each other or competing with each other or putting each other down or posturing against each other, but you literally saw each other until there was something more, in general you just assume we're co-laboring.
At a minimum, we are co-laboring, and maybe we should make babies together one day, and I should put a ring on it. But, in the meantime, we are co-laboring. I just think the damage a room like this could do for the kingdom of God.
JP: And not in that order, by the way. I just want to say put a ring on it and make babies together.
Jennie: I second. That is our hope. JP and I talked a lot about this before we got up here. Both of us, we want you guys to be brothers and sisters in Christ. We want you to be for each other. We want to see the kingdom of God built through your gifts. Wherever that's being held back, we want to pray against it and fight it.
JP: Any other hopes for the church as you think of men and women in our generation? Any closing thoughts around that?
Jennie: You know, I have these four kids, I mean, I can't pick if I like boys or girls better because God gave me two of both. I love them so much. I'm watching my 16-year-old grow up, and I worry sometimes that she felt like, "Gosh, things took away from my childhood. Like ministry or you were gone some or whatever." She said, "Mom, don't you know the reason I want to help people in life is because I watched you help people in life."
We have to realize these little people that we're going to raise one day, and some of you can't imagine that, but the day will come faster than you know, a generation is coming, and they're watching us about what it looks like to be godly. About what it looks like to obey this book. About what it looks like to be co-laborers. About what it looks like to be married or what it looks like to be single.
This book says it looks like running our guts out, deferring to each other's needs. It looks like caring about this kingdom that's coming and not ourselves and not looking to our own interests but to look to the others and to remember this is all going somewhere. It matters.
What I see in this room is not a bunch of singles or a bunch of young adults. I see co-laborers who I want to build the kingdom of God because it matters. Your lives matter. I think we are better together. I know we are better together. I thought about how to end the night, too, and I was thinking about all the guys, I just want to say one more thing to you.
In so many ways, you're doing a great job. In so many ways, you have fought for your sisters, you have fought for the girls you care about in your life. We were talking about this backstage. I think largely you really do want the women in your lives to thrive and to win. Is that true? Say something, because all the women would love to hear it.
I think that's real, women. I think sometimes we just get to smile and assume the best and run hard. When it is time, if it is time for you to meet that man, you know what? He's going to be running. Remember the old story? He's going to be running right beside you. You're going to see that, and you're going to find out you can be teammates together.
It's complicated, but it's also super simple. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be added to you." I'm not necessarily talking about marriage. I just mean you will get to live the good works God prepared in advance for you to live.
JP: It's a verse I go back to. In fact, I've gone to my Community Group, and I know you and Zac are in community as well, and I just told the guys in my group, "Hey, I struggle with discontentment at times. Guys, I'm going to bring to you my discontentment, my junk, and I just need you to show me this verse. Rub my nose in this verse. Matthew 6:33. I need to see it." I thought I would end with this verse. It's in the first book, it's actually in the first chapter of the first book, probably the first page of your Bible. It's Genesis 1:26.
God says, "Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, and our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'" This is verse 27 I want you to pay attention to. It says, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."
I want you to know, women, you have infinite value because you have been created in the image of God himself. Men, I want you to know the same, that you have infinite value. Life, humans, mankind has infinite value because we have been created in the image of God. There has to be a respect that happens before each other. We didn't even have time to talk about just the abuse that is happening in the context of relationships.
In 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, it says, "God is the avenger of such things." I'm not trying to scare you, except for I believe the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. As you consider how you date and treat each other, how you treat the opposite sex, just understand the Scripture says, "God is the avenger of such things."
We're talking about this because we love you guys so much. It's just a joy to journey with you. One of the things that happened that just really grieves me, probably the thing that caused me the most grief over the podcast, is a friend said, "Well, I think people come to me because they don't feel like they can approach you," or there's not a place…
Can I just say, David and I, and Garrett and whoever has taught, but David and I sit up here… If you come on Sundays, Todd does the same thing. We stay here until the last person leaves. We stay here until this place is shut down trying to talk to people. I get dozens of emails a week. I never want there to be a wall between us and you.
If you ever have a question or you're wrestling with a verse, start with your Community Group, I hope, but especially if it's something we said, that you would come to us, and we would have that conversation and invite you into that. I want you to know you are invited into that. I love you guys. Jennie, would you pray for us?
Jennie: I thought it would be cool if the guys prayed over the women tonight. Just lift your hands up if you're a guy. Women, receive this, because they're for us. Largely, they are for us.
God, we pray that in your kindness and in your love that you would heal the brokenness that perhaps in many ways each one of us has caused. God, we pray for any division that has separated us. We pray that there would be nothing that would stop your gospel from going out through your church, that we would in all ways count each other's interests higher than our own and that we would take whatever privilege we've been given and give it away.
I just thank you for all the men with their hands lifted high, God. You know their hearts. You know each one of them. I thank you for the ways that they have, they will, and they can advocate for these women.
God, I pray that the church would become the safest place in the world for women, that women would be able to run freely with the gifts they've been given and, together, we would cause a lot of good for your kingdom, God. That's ultimately what we want. We want, God, your kingdom to come, your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus' name, amen.
JP: Amen. Thank you, Jennie Allen.