A Day in the Life of a Female Pastor Most mornings I wake up to a certain heaviness in my body. I feel it from the inside out. It is as if every bit of unresolved brokenness from the day before wells up overnight and now balances on my chest like a heavy bucket of […]
From the mailbox: “Just wanted to say thank you for your article on 1 Timothy 2. It was a great reference for me as my 13 yr old daughter asked me about it when she read it during her devotions. I was not sure how to respond to her until I found your article. Thank you!” God Bless, Brian. As long as 1 Timothy 2 continues to be used to restrict women from fulfilling their call to discipleship we will continue sharing good scholarship on this passage. Today’s “long form” post is by seminary professor Patrick Franklin. In it he identifies 3 general reasons and 6 specific problems with using the passage in this way. This is our most comprehensive post on 1 Timothy 2 to date – be sure to bookmark it for further reference.
Sometimes I find it amusing that our churches of today seem to be more anti-women than the Bible is. We doubt women’s ability to preach truth, when the first person to share the gospel – He is risen! – was a woman. We question the idea of women in leadership, when once upon a time […]
Most church planting conferences, books, and leaders that I interact with assume that church planters will be male. Moreover, there are some movements such as Act29 and others which highlight that men are the ones who must be starting churches and all the marketing around those movements focus on encouraging men to plant.
I am in the very beginning stages of church planting where I live in the inner city. Many of the new church plants here are dominated by men who are starting churches with ultra conservative theology which bar women from key leadership roles. The churches look contemporary, relevant, and attractive, yet their patriarchal theology disallows women from senior leadership and certainly from being church planters. I find all of this incredibly strange because I think women make wonderful church planters.
A few weeks ago, the pastoral leadership team of my church (which I am a part) was planning the upcoming sermon series. When asked if I wanted to preach one of the sermons, I enthusiastically said yes. My “yes” to preaching comes out of a deep sense of call to use my voice. I believe that preaching is one of the ways that God has empowered me to serve and minister to others. I didn’t always feel this way about preaching. My journey as a female preacher has been a twisting path, filled with fear and insecurity.
While I was a student in college, I was part of a campus ministry that had both men and women leading and preaching. The female preachers I witnessed were confident and strong speakers who spoke with authority and power. Something began stirring in me – it was a whisper of a question, “Could I ever do what those women are doing?
There is a phrase that continues to be repeated by those in leadership when asked how local churches might be encouraged to be more open to having a female pastor. This phrase is “If we have exceptional female pastors to point to, other churches will consider hiring a female pastor.”
At first observation this phrase seems supportive and maybe even a little bit like common sense. If you see an exceptional pastor, why wouldn’t you want that for yourself and your church?
Only, what happens when a female pastor is not exceptional? Should a woman’s merits, talent, gifts, or even her chemistry with a specific congregation be used as a plumb line by which all other women in ministry are measured? Are the only women capable of being great pastors those viewed as “exceptional”?
I was recently asked to summarize why I support women in church leadership in thirty seconds or less. This was my response… Deborah leading Israel (Judges 4) Huldah interpreting the law for the nation (2 Kings 22 & 2 Chronicles 34) Esther saving God’s people from genocide (Book of Esther) Miriam leading worship (Exodus 15) […]
I was the first woman I ever heard preach. I was 16 years old, and I called it “sharing”. The urge to do so started like a fire in my belly, a small spark at first that was easy to ignore, only to continue to be flamed until I felt as though I would […]
At times I have been frustrated by the number of churches that claim egalitarian theology, but are not actually practicing it. I’ve been overwhelmed by example after example, and feeling like the church as a whole would never get anywhere. Then a pastor encouraged me to focus on churches that are doing it well instead, and […]
I sat down across the table from her. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and I was excited to catch up. She was a youth pastor, one of those with an obvious call on her life for ministry. But as I looked into her eyes, I could see she was worn out. She […]
Kate Wallace at BIOLA Chapel Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking in BIOLA University’s student chapel. I was asked to come set the stage for their week of “Gender, Faith, and Culture”. It was such an honor to be there and share what God had put on my heart. It is hard […]
I never thought I would ever write a book about politics! But as my husband (and co-pastor) and I led our congregation through the election season of 2012, we were confronted with the fact that there is no way to NOT be political. We have to live with people and in communities and what happens to those people in our communities, big and small, matters. That’s why we wrote Kings and Presidents: Politics in the Kingdom of God.
Churches have political structures as well. These structures are intended to care for the people and communities living in the Kingdom of God. They ought to look different than the structures of this world. But too often we see the same kinds of power dynamics at work within the church that we see on the campaign trail.
And this is bad news for women in leadership in the church. Advocating for women in ministry has never been more important. Here are my recent reflections on women in church politics:
We had been considering writing a post about the recent visit of Pope Francis to the U.S. when we came across this column by Molly Marshall in the Baptist Global News. We think you will appreciate the way Dr. Marshall, who is the President of Central Baptist Seminary, gets to the heart of the issue.
A bit of sadness crept over me as I watched the departing ceremony of Pope Francis. His presence in our midst has called each of us to a more joyous and merciful way of living. As a nation we have watched him embrace persons in wheelchairs, kiss children, visit those in prison, meet with victims of clergy sexual abuse, reprimand bishops, chide those in political power, and call for us to turn away from a consumerist culture. I miss him already!
I used to work for a church that went through the tedious process of changing the church bylaws to allow for the full participation of women in ministry, including in the role of senior pastor. When it came time for a pastoral search, the church sent out a job description containing only masculine pronouns. When I asked why this was the case given that the bylaws allowed for female candidates, I was told that the bylaws do allow for a woman to be hired, but they had decided to hire a man. They were not even taking applications from women.
Recently, I was looking through the website of a friend’s church. The pastoral staff consisted only of men, and all of the numerous online sermons were preached by men. I asked one of the pastors about this, and he assured me that both he and the lead pastor held egalitarian views, and fully supported the equality of women in all levels of church leadership and in the home. He told me some of the logistical reasons for the lack of female presence in their leadership, and said that they have made an effort to have women preach, but haven’t been able to accomplish it yet.
I also went to a worship service at the church of another male pastor I know. He holds to egalitarian theology as well. There was not a single woman present in the leadership of that service. The pastor, associate pastor, scripture readers, and the entire musical worship team were all men. When I asked him about this, he explained some of the logistical reasons for this, and assured me that this wasn’t the case every week. However, it is also true that there is never a week when there are no men up front.
In the case of the first church, they claimed to be egalitarian in their bylaws, but in reality, they are not. They did not even consider a female pastoral candidate, and assured none would apply by the wording of the job description. In the cases of the second two churches, I know these pastors personally, I appreciate both of them, and they have been very encouraging to me and many other people I know.
Empowered by higher education and the willingness of thinking people to judge others on their merits rather than their plumbing, more women are moving into senior roles in the corporate world, politics, churches, mission groups, and charity organisations. But there’s a fly in the anointing oil…A mentor is a tremendous gift to a rising leader, but for those in contexts stuck on single gender mentoring, the grim truth is that most female leaders will never be mentored.