Merry Christmas from The Junia Project! Today our gift to you is this thoughtful and poignant reflection about what women truly want for Christmas. May it be more so in 2017! “While in line at a downtown grocery store, a magazine headline caught my eye, “What Women Long For this Christmas.” The subtitle implied the article would be a resource for gift options or tips on how to relieve women of the hustle and bustle of their inevitable Christmas furry. I rolled my eyes at yet another sentimental and incomplete interpretation of the wants of women. Beyond our shopping lists and our frenzied schedule of the holiday season, what women long for this Christmas is as provocative as it is revolutionary.”
Along with Christmas, Advent is the glorious and only time of year when Christians across the theological spectrum can agree on women’s participation in God’s work.
In Advent, we do not exclude women from signaling God’s presence (Isaiah 7:14). Let the day arrive when the whole Church* welcomes women’s ordained service in mediating the Divine!
In Advent, we acknowledge the strong-willed, outsider women who shaped Jesus’ lineage (especially Tamar, Rahab and Ruth in Matthew 1:1-5). Let the day quickly come when the Church heeds women’s voices speaking prophetically from the margins!
The Junia Project recently published an article written by my wife entitled, A Day in the Life of a Female Pastor.
The unfortunate reality for my wife and many other women who live with a burning passion for and calling to ministry, is that they have been told by some (mostly men) that the Bible frowns upon or even forbids women to serve as pastors/clergy.
The point of this post is not to address all of those issues, which have been batted around and debated for years. Personally, I still can’t believe that with all the pain, brokenness, disillusionment and despair in the world, there are people who think it’s a good and biblical idea to prevent one half of humanity from serving and giving themselves to its healing and wholeness.
But I digress.
So let me just share with you what my wife, a female pastor, did on the day her post was published and let that speak for itself.
#SHELeads is coming on October 29th! This is a one day summit convened by Missio Alliance for women who lead in church and ministry contexts. But it’s not just for women – it’s also for men who long to see the mission of God advanced through the “the Blessed Alliance”; the co-laboring of men and women […]
Northern Seminary student Megan Westra recently posted a reflection on Facebook about starting classes for her Master of Divinity degree. We asked her to share more of that journey with you today, along with the original post.
To you it may just look like another chair in another classroom
But to me it represents the five-year-old girl who wanted to be a missionary
It represents the ten-year-old girl who planned out summer camps
and programs she could run in her backyard
It represents the teenage girl crying in her journal at night
because she felt like she would never fit,
because she just couldn’t keep quiet…
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.
On Saturday, October 29, 2016, the #SheLeads Summit will be convened by MissioAlliance. On that day, women and men will gather from coast to coast at regional sites, in churches, and in homes across the United States to talk about the unique challenges that women who lead in church and ministry contexts face and to advance a vision of shared leadership between men and women. The Junia Project is proud to be a sponsor of this event and hope you can join us, either in Pasadena or at a regional venue in your area. Mainstage speakers include Carolyn Custis James and Jo Saxton, and local venues will be adding their own flavor to the mix. Here are five reasons we think you won’t want to miss this event.
Eugene Hung is a talented writer and fierce advocate for women. He recently started a new blog –feministasiandad.com – and we can’t get enough! He graciously let us repost this from his site so we could share it with all of you and spread the word about his inspiring new blog. Check it out and give him […]
Earlier this year we shared a guest post titled “Why I’m at a Church That Doesn’t Support Gender Equality”. The post led to a robust discussion of the pros and cons of staying versus leaving. Today a seasoned leader shares a consequence of staying in a complementarian church that did not come up in earlier discussions and is worth considering.
“The work of a pastor is fashioned after the work of a shepherd who watches over, protects, nurtures, encourages, and loves the sheep. When a sheep wanders off and is hurt, the good shepherd runs after that one and guides or carries it to safety. If a lamb is caught in a crevice the good shepherd does whatever is necessary to free the lamb and heal its wounds. The good shepherd sings to the flock at night soothing their souls encouraging peace. When danger encroaches, the good shepherd chases away the enemy even fighting or killing them if necessary. The good shepherd has eyes on each member of the flock at all times for their betterment, safety, and joy. Jesus is our example of the good Shepherd.
After 40+ years of serving in teaching, preaching, and leading capacities I’ve accepted the fact that pastors and leaders who do not believe in women ministering in these ways will simply not shepherd women in their spiritual development. We’re on our own there.”
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 […]
On a recent tour of Germany I came across the Stolpersteine Project. Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) are small brass-plated blocks or stones embedded into the streets to commemorate victims of Nazi oppression. Each stone is made and laid by hand. They are usually placed just outside the place where the person named on the stone was forcibly taken from their home or business. Each stone begins with HERE LIVED…… One stone. One name. One person. The idea came about while German artist Gunter Demnig was painting a white line through the city of Cologne to commemorate the historical deportation of 1000 gypsies. The line would show where they had been chased to the train station. One day an older woman stopped to scold him, insisting that there had never been any gypsies in Cologne. Shocked, he investigated and found evidence that in the 1930s thousands of gypsies, as well as Jews, had lived side by side with Germans. To combat the human tendency to forget, he designed the first stones. To date, over 48,000 stones have been laid in more than 20 countries. In a sense, The Junia Project is very much like the Stolpersteine Project.
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.
They are the verses of Scripture used most frequently to silence women in the church: 1 Timothy 2:11-12. I remember reading them as a 26-year-old when first contemplating my call to ministry. God’s voice had been clear, but those three short sentences were not; “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit her to teach or have authority over a man. She. Must. Be. Silent.”
I’d sat there reading the passage over and over; trying to find something I hadn’t seen before. The black and white lettering seemed so stark, so clear; so… black and white. Why would Paul say such a thing? In my church, Paul’s instructions were taken literally. Women weren’t permitted to speak whenever men were present. They couldn’t lead, teach or even pray. Growing up, those words hadn’t particularly bothered me, but now they smarted like lemon juice in an open cut. No matter how I read them, the conclusion was still the same – I couldn’t follow God’s call. As a pastor today, it’s obvious that my understanding of those few verses has long since changed…
“The devil is among us here at our seminary: women are being told they can preach.”
Those were the first words of a classmate’s sermon in my preaching class. He went on to berate the class with his interpretation on 1 Timothy 2:8-15 for another 20 minutes.
In some seminaries this type of sermon may not have been surprising, but this seminary officially stated that women are affirmed at all levels of church leadership. So, to say the least, I was stunned. But I shouldn’t have been, because when it had been my turn to preach this student had been particularly critical of my sermon and delivery, even going as far as to accuse me of not having prepared or done good exegetical work. While other students had been encouraging in their feedback and constructive in their critiques, he had been unkind and unrestrained with his public criticism.
After he concluded his sermon, there was an uncomfortable silence in the room. Finally, a male classmate spoke up and said gently but firmly, “I don’t agree with your conclusion. I believe the same Bible you do, but I believe that women can and should be pastors. Where is your love for God’s people, for women, and for God’s word in your sermon? You didn’t bring good news to the people of God.”
Another person may have commented, but I honestly don’t remember anyone else saying anything substantive. I do remember that the other two women in the class were absent that day, so my professor, who has a Ph.D. in homiletics and is a preacher herself, and I were the only women there. All the other male classmates looked uncomfortable and sat in silence.
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?