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 […]
Can men be pastors? Can Christian men be teachers, preachers, elders, seminary professors, Sunday school teachers, worship leaders, small group leaders, police officers, elected officials, church treasurers, and so on and so forth? How does that line of questioning make you feel? Why does it sound so off, even offensive?
“There were zero women pastors in the Bible and no women apostles. There were no women pastors in nearly 2000 years of church history. Therefore, women cannot be pastors.”
This argument has been thrown at me on a number of occasions. There are a few things to unpack here. What does the New Testament say about pastors? Were there women pastors in the Bible? Were there women apostles in the Bible? Can we determine whether or not the early church had women leaders?
“Girls can’t be drummers.” My 3-year-old daughter.
“I had no idea I could be a youth pastor.” A female high school student.
These two statements have had a profound impact on my pursuit of gender equality. Let me start with my daughter.
She and I love to watch music videos together and one morning, we were watching a band with a girl drummer. With the certainty of a toddler, she uttered the statement above that broke my heart a little bit.
She wasn’t sad; she wasn’t feeling excluded. This was just the simple reality for her because she had never seen a woman drummer before. Of course, girls can’t be drummers!
The situation was remarkably similar for that female high school student. Every winter, we hosted a winter retreat for middle school and high school students. Every year, we invited a local pastor or youth pastor to be our speaker for the weekend. And every year, that pastor was a man.
I realized what we had been unintentionally communicating to our students by this choice: girls can’t be pastors. So I decided it was time to invite a female pastor to be our speaker.
Reflecting on his contemporary Paul’s theological writings, the apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:15-16:
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
There it is: “[Paul’s} letters contain some things that are hard to understand.” And God’s people said, AMEN.
Of course, we’re not certain which Pauline teachings Peter had in mind, but it seems like there’s a good chance he was talking about passages like 1 Timothy 2:8-15.
As both a woman in ministry, and a mom, I often feel like I live in tension.
I’m sure all working moms feel this tension. There’s a constant pull between pastor-me, and mom-me. I have moments where I feel like I’m not using my gifts to the fullest, like I’m not living up to my calling, like I’m not doing all that I could be doing. I look at others, and I feel that twinge of jealousy. How are they doing it? What choices have they made? What is different in their lives?
I wrote this note to a friend who continues to believe in “Biblical gender roles” and thought it might be encouraging and helpful to others.
Every girl and boy, woman and man bears the image of our Creator. And each person has a unique set of gifts that God wants to use in powerful ways so that the Kingdom will be “on earth as it is in heaven”! Sadly, too often the church fails to empower ALL of God’s warriors because their strengths and gifts don’t fit into the right “gender box”. Like Jesse and Samuel not expecting David, many of God’s anointed are passed over because they don’t fit prescribed expectations. I know too many men who have been shamed because their gifts didn’t line up on the right list of “manly traits”.
I was 32 years old before I heard the word egalitarian.
My universe was very small growing up. I, sort of, realized there was a Christian culture outside of my soft patriarchal, quiverfull one. But that’s how it was always understood. Being out there, on the fringe, barely Christian, if they were Christian at all. Even though I was shy and non-confrontational by nature, I grew up with a strong sense of justice…and the culture around me was unjust. I knew it. I had no theology to back it up, no one to talk to who could explain to me that there was a different way. I didn’t even have words to put to it. But I knew it was wrong.
No matter your church context – whether your church ordains women as ministers of the gospel, whether they involve women as preachers or only in potlucks, whether they draw the line at eldership, or grant full equality in role and function – there are steps men can take to help women feel valued, welcomed, and included. Here are some ways you can “open doors” for women in ministry.
When I was 5 years old, I sang in my first church choir. My dad encouraged me to sing loud so he could hear me. I did, joyfully and unconsciously convinced that my voice was wanted and welcomed in my church, as loud as I wanted to be. When I was 14, I had found […]
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a pastor. Raised as a pastor’s kid, my childhood is filled with memories of church and all things related. As a child, I loved the church; the building, the people, the preaching, and the programs. I sat in the front pew with my notebook […]
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 pulled nose-to-nose with a congregant while she gruffly declares, “I don’t believe in […]
My siblings and I were setting the table when we heard an echo from the kitchen. “Honey, please put down that chain saw and come in; dinner is getting cold.” It was a typical weekend growing up in our home. My dad joyfully spent the day in the kitchen preparing us an amazing meal while […]
As I listened to the pastor of my new church describe the insults and attacks he and the elders had endured after they made the decision to invite women onto the elder board, a weight lifted off my soul.
For the first time in my life, I discovered what it felt like to have male leadership take the hit for me.
Prior to this, only one or two individual men had heralded my gifts. Finally I knew what it meant to be part of a church body where I did not need to keep my mouth shut or squirm in my seat or disagree in silence whenever issues regarding women were addressed. Because that is my world for the most part.
While my own position concerning the role of women in the church has gradually changed, my work environment has not.