Thank God for those who protect a woman’s call! “I’m not sure I can continue as a leader in this church.” So exhausted from lack of sleep, and reeling from the many personal life changes swirling around me, I could not believe those words had escaped from my mouth. Seated directly across from my former […]
I am a part of a Christian tradition that has ordained women as elders since its inception during the American Holiness movement in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The first church in which I ever served as a pastor was founded by a female circuit rider who planted churches across west Texas and southeastern […]
This is a 2017 Junia Blog Contest Winner! We hope you enjoy it! Pastor’s wife problems: Getting slapped on the behind after your husband’s sermon while the congregant calls out, “Good message from Kris today”. Almost like “good game” after a sporting event. Woman pastor’s problems: Getting grabbed by the face after your sermon and […]
This is another 2017 Junia Blog Contest Winner! When we open a Word doc on our computers, the default settings are different depending on the program we use. The default settings in Word on a PC use the font Times New Roman. But on a Mac it’s Calibri, and in Google Docs it’s Arial. Maybe, like […]
“This is What a Leader Looks Like” is a series adapted from an interview project on women in leadership conducted by Naomi Hall. Naomi recently served as a student intern with the Center for Transformation Leadership, a joint endeavor of the Free Methodist Church of Southern California and Azusa Pacific University. You can read the more about […]
Welcome to “This is What a Leader Looks Like”, a series adapted from an interview project conducted by Naomi Hall. Naomi recently served as a student intern with the Center for Transformation Leadership, a joint endeavor of the Free Methodist Church and Azusa Pacific University. Today’s interview is with Janette Ok, a Teaching Pastor at Ekko Church and Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, New Testament at Azusa Pacific Seminary. She writes “In the fifth grade, I attended a camp for Korean-American youth. At the end of the camp, I received a “paper plate” award that read, ‘Janette is bound to become a Sae Jong camp counselor someday due to her leadership abilities.’ That was the first time I saw myself a leader and, ever since, I have tried to discover what it meant to be a great one.”
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.”
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.
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 am thankful to have a church heritage that affirms and values women in ministry, women in leadership, and female pastors. Yet, I have been embarrassed that this affirmation is often times more in theory or history than current practice. As I work with congregations across Indiana, I find that some have imported a bias against women in leadership from other tribes. I hear search teams say they are not open to a female pastor.
I just spent six weeks with a group of 21 other Air Force chaplains. All 21 were male. I’m a female chaplain in the Air Force Reserves (which means I serve a minimum of about 30 days per year at my base) and the six weeks were spent at a training assignment fulfilling educational requirements. […]
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 […]
One of my favorite stories is when Jesus healed a man who had been born blind since birth. After Jesus heals him, the religious leaders curse him and declare that he is following a man not connected to God. The man responds with… Why, that’s very strange! He healed my eyes, and yet you […]
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.