Apropos of yesterday's post, I've just listened to Bettany Hughes' programme on women in the early church. It's worth a listen (on iplayer for the next couple of days before part 2 is broadcast on Sunday). It seems well informed though it doesn't really tackle the first century at all except in a few passing references to Phoebe and Priscilla.
I love her description of the early Jesus followers as a guerilla church, an underground movement where jobs were done by those who could do them regardless of gender. This seems spot on as a description of the gatherings we encounter in the first two or three centuries of Christian history.
Perhaps if we could recapture that sense of being a movement rather than an institution, our debates about who exercises 'power' would be seen in proper perspective. Of course, we can't shed 1500 years of history. But we can learn lessons from the early days of the movement that might help us to navigate our way through our post-Christendom culture.