I have to say on first glance Dan K has it bang on here. I think there’s no question that the perception is we can be sexist and even misoygnistic. It’s one of the issues that gets church into the mainstream media, with the Anglican church continuing to wrangle over the appointment of women bishops for example.
Not only that but I’m part of a family of churches (Newfrontiers) that holds a complementarian view on ministry (with quite wide degrees of interpretation). We used to be called ‘New Frontiers International’ which quickly became tagged ‘no females included’ which was only a little bit harsh! Only yesterday I was talking with a lady whose daughter had left the church because of her views that we as a group of churches are sexist and I’ve had this discussion on numerous occasions with women in my own church about it. See, I’m not just being difficult!
Dan K is right that all sides need to be able to handle the controversial questions well so even if our conclusions are disagreed with, we’ve done our homework and presented intelligent, thought through responses to scripture and we need to ensure that we’re allowing women to use as many gifts and talents as possible. Just so everyone knows we allow women to lead worship, speak at main meetings, lead small groups and do virtually everything except become an elder of the church. Dan K recommended an excellent book Two Views on Women in Ministry and my own view is akin to that of Craig Blomberg.
My own experience is that if you can genuinely live out ‘equal but different’ then that view is respected by emerging generations of both sexes. After all ‘different’ is kind of self-evident to women, they know they are in fact way superior to us fellows!
What is interesting though in the church in the UK and in my own location though is how hard it is to reach non-Christian men because their perception of the church is that it is dominated by women and a bit feminine, even of churches that have male only everything at the front but are full of women in the pews!