Sunday, October 30, 2005

The 3/52 Challenge

Now comes the post where I tell you all how to run your churches.

When my present church was looking to fill my position, the senior pastor gathered three students to serve on the interview panel. He prepped the students on what the interview would look like and began to give them examples of certain questions that would be asked. The first question was: "How do you feel about women in ministry?"

The students were perplexed by this question. A sophomore girl voiced their confusion, "Do you really mean that there are people who wouldn't want a woman pastor?"

My heart was warmed when I heard this story. The students at my church have a hard time comprehending why this is even an issue. These students have grown up with women pastors. They don't bat an eye when a woman steps up to the pulpit.

I've spoken with many pastors who are strong advocates for women in ministry but for whatever reason do not currently have women ministers on staff. Either:

1. They don't have any current opennings
2. They can't seem to find the "right" woman
or
3. They say that they support women in ministry, but their congregation just isn't ready for it (and just between you and me, I don't buy this answer. What would the pastor say if the congregation" just wasn't ready to care for the poor"? Maybe preach a sermon on the topic?)

Well, to all the pastors who, for one reason or another do not have a woman pastor on staff, my advice is this: invite women pastors to guest preach at least 3 times a year. With 52 Sundays a year, giving up 3 won't kill you. (Actually, I'd like to suggest pastors do this 10, 15, or 25 times a year, but I'm trying to be realistic...baby steps).

If you really want to awaken sleeping calls on young girl's lives, you must give them models of ministry. I think I struggled with my call for so long simply because I didn't know it was an option. No one blatantly told me that I couldn't be a pastor...but no one was telling me that I could, either. It was in seminary where I first remember hearing an ordained woman preach in a Sunday morning service. I remember trying to hide my tears as I shook her hand after the service.

If you are a pastor of a congregation, youth group, prison ministry, etc. and you are not presently in the position to hire a woman pastor fulltime, I encourage you to share the pulpit.

By the way, if you take the 3/52 challenge, a woman pastor speaking on Mother's Day doesn't count...nor do sermons on Ruth or Esther. Sorry.

3/52--that's my challenge for churches. My challenge for college campuses would be to have at least 1/3 of their chapel speakers be women (preferrably 50/50). College campuses are full of women who are convinced their calling is to marry a pastor when perhaps they are the ones being called into ministry (I spent the first 20 years of my life in that boat...it's a good thing I ended up pursuing ministry, otherwise I'd be smothering my husband with all my "helpful hints").

While I'm on the subject, would someone please invent a lapel mike that doesn't need to clip onto pants? I'd like to occassionally preach in a dress, but it's just not practical. Whoever invents such a device would be the champion of women pastors everywhere.

I wish I could end this post the way my students end their chain e-mails ("If you don't follow these instructions, something bad will happen to you at 11:11 pm"), but that probably wouldn't be very professional.

38 comments:

Tony Myles said...

Now... don't take this the wrong way.

But what if having a woman pastor is the same as, oh... eating meat to someone. For instance, what if a senior pastor were to say, "Theologically I'm with you. Culturally, though, this would become a divisive issue. We're not ready for it... this issue of freedom can cause a much deeper issue and it's just going to take a longer time to head down that road than you'd like."

Again - I know this is a sensitive subject. So just consider this nothing more than a devil's advocate kind of question.

Jessica Vaughan Lower said...

You know, I think that cultural comment is probably the best arguement the church has against women pastors. I think I have some thoughts on that. So, acknowledging the Devil's Advocate stance, here's my gentle spar for the morning.

First, I agree that many prominant members (leaders) of the church are not ready for it. I sort of akin this situation to the Martin Luther King Jr. approach v. Malcolm X approach to civil rights--King was "easy does it," Malcolm X wasn't going to "take it." I personally agree with MLK--it sucks to have to withstand unfair treatment, but if it will be more effective, then it's the best way. I agree that it is best to be respectful of everyone, even if that entails one party withstanding unequal treatment for a quite bit longer (even though, from personal experience, it really really bites to be patient and have grace.)

However, two things common about King and Malcolm X is that 1) they were doing something (even if they were doing it differently) and 2) they were responding to an oppression. That second point is what I think is the crux of the debate--is not allowing a woman to be a pastor oppression, or not? Because if it is, then we have to act (regardless of how we decide to act) because, as Christians, we support the oppressed. But, if it's not oppression, then we don't have to do anything.

Now, as I understnad the Bible and Jesus, I believe that it is oppression. Thus, this is where I think this social argument falls apart--just because a part of church society is "not ready" doesn't mean that we shouldn't be acting in some form (even King used civil disobedience, preached against it, sat with those in pain). So we don't have to be Malcolm X and demand instant change, but we should be expecting (and advocating) change none the less. Personally, I haven't really seen a united effort to do even that.

My last thought comes from 18 years as a non-Christian who was not raised in the church and who has worked in evangelism at various levels for six years. In my experience, people raised outside of the church don't really have a problem with women who are pastors--it's not even on the radar. But the treatment of women in the church does deter people from seeing Jesus and coming to Christ. Thus, the treatment of women in the church is one of the larger factors that causes the church to be out of touch with society to the point that it's message ceases to be relevant.

My final hypothesis--ask the average parishioner in various traditions and he/she probably won't care about the gender of the pastor. It appears to me that this is a bigger deal amongst those who are in leadership than amongst those who are in the laity (yes, even baptists). If my hypothesis is right, then the cultural arguement against women pastors really disintegrates.

Anonymous said...

Amanda,

I am a 52 year old female seminary student who found your blog by accident one day. I have saved your blogspot on my favorites because I love to read what you say--and I particularly enjoy seeing the relationship between you and Keith Drury (your father-in-law?)

Although I have wanted to jump into the discussion on several of your threads, I have been reluctant to intrude into your "family." However, something I heard in my class just this past Saturday triggered a concern that has been in the back of my mind concerning the push for more prominent female leadership in our churches.

One classmate, a black man, commented that he had observed that many men quit attending churches when women bcome pastors.

Perhaps his experience is unique to black churches here in the South (perhaps someone from another part of the country could enlighten me here), but I wonder if we need to also be careful that we don't end up marginalizing men as we push for our voice in the church.

I think my concern lines up with Tony myles comment about "meat."

Amanda said...

Jessica: Interesting distinction between Luther and Malcolm X. That's for going so deeply into these two figures. Thanks for highlighting MLK's gentle pursuit of truth despite the people he turned off along the way.

I think you're right on about it being the people WITHIN the church that struggle the most, whereas those OUTSIDE it's fold wouldn't think twice.

Annonymous: Thanks for leaving a comment--I certainly don't want this to be limited to a family affair. :)

If someone wants to leave a church, they will always find a reason to do so. I imagine there are white churches in the south that would lose congregants if the church hired a black minister. Does that mean that the church shouldn't hire a black minister? Or that the church needs to do some serious exegesis, praying, teaching, etc?

Tony: Bottom line, I think it comes down to the question: "Is keeping women from preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ a sin?" To which I give a resounding "Yes." The Holy Spirit will move where the Holy Spirit moves. I think we gravely underestimate the gravity of quelching the Holy Spirit. Unless we are actively telling the young girls in our congregation that they can be ministers, we are by default telling them they can't.

It is not the pastor's job to cater to preferences (especially if those preferences are cutting off limbs of the Body of Christ). The Pastor should be shepherding the congregation into the full and freeing grace of Jesus Christ. Shining light on the dark, uncomfortable places-- gently calling the congregation to a fuller truth.

This is not about power. This is not about titles. This is about proclaiming the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I firmly believe that God cares more about the souls of the lost than the gender of the saved.

Tony Myles said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tony Myles said...

Alright... nice offense ladies. And I'm with you, by the way.

Here's one for the defense. I have a friend who's a new pastor of a small church - about 60 people or so. When the issue came up one day (don't know how) of women in leadership, someone asked him, "So... what do you think about that?"

Before he could answer, someone else jumped in, "Oh, we're for that as a church right?"

To which the original person asked, "I don't think so. We're against that, right?"

Soon he realized the problem was larger than he thought. Literally half of the congregation was for women in ministry whereas the other half wasn't. Since the church denomination's "non-position" allowed the decision to be in each pastor's court, he realized either way he would lose half of the church if his decision was pressed and made known.

So... without telling you what he did (or what his position was), what should his decision have been?

Anonymous said...

"If someone wants to leave a church, they will always find a reason to do so."
What happened to leaving the 99 to search out the one lost sheep?

My point was that just as it has been harmful to women to only have examples of male leadership in the church, if the trend my classmate indicated was indeed true and was not averted we could end up with the opposite situation: young men with no examples of masculine leadership in the church. Both extremes are harmful.

Anonymous said...

Dude, I don't know about you, but my wife would flip if she heard someone comparing her to a piece of meat.

Ben Davis

Kari said...

To all the men out there who may softly or harshly object to women in ministry - use all the powers of your imagination for a minute and pretend that YOU are a woman.

Come on, do it for a second.

How would it feel to have people arguing against YOU being able to do what you believe you should with your life?

You would hope people would stand up for you. Over and over. And you would fight for what is right.

Mandy, thanks for your post and your "practical" ideas. You are far more gifted than many men I know. =) Thank God there are people like you in the church...and the world.

Kari said...

Okay, okay, one more thing. How can you compare someone's food preference (which effects nothing but what they order at a restaurant) to someones opinion on what women DO with their LIVES (which affects the entire course of a PERSONS's life - hopes, dreams, future)??? We are talking about people here...people who may be losing the chance to do with their life that which is most important!

This isn't the kind of thing you avoid because it might be a "touchy" culteral issue.

Keith.Drury said...

Gee we here at IWU were all reading your post but all our computers went down when all the elctric went off...

at 11:11 PM

;-)

Amanda said...

TONY:

To answer your question, I would come back to the sin issue. If this pastor thinks it's a sin to keep women from preaching, then I believe he has the responsibility to lead his congregation towards becoming a Gal. 3:27-28 church. Who knows, maybe that's one of the reasons God has placed him there.

ANONYMOUS:

I agree with you--both extremes can be harmful.

KEITH:

You crack me up.

FELLOW READERS/COMMENTERS:

I'd like to make a conversational shift. Rather than discussing whether or not women should be allowed to preach (that can be a conversation for another time), I'd rather focus on how The Wesleyan Church can practically and actively support women in ministry beyond simply giving lip service (which is what prompted the 3/52 challenge).

Wesleyans have been ordaining women since the mid 1800's, and I'm wondering how this can play out today.

QUESTIONS:
1. Is the 3/52 challenge practical?
2. Is it possible that a young girl can recongize a call to the Ministry through an all-male staff?
3. Anyone want to highlight a Wesleyan Church that is thriving in their calling of women and men (positive stories only, please)?
4. Is anyone any closer to inventing that microphone?

Thanks.

Amanda

Blake said...

Pastor Amanda,
A quick word before answering your questions. I think we are getting too tied up in the issue of women in ministry as cultural, we should see it as a gospel issue. I heard Dr. Molly Marshall (president of the Central Baptist Seminary in KC, MO and an OBU alumnus) say, "The reason we ordain women is because we baptize girls." To which I respond with a hearty "amen." Women's ordaination is not a cultural or gender issue, it is a gospel issue.

Enough on that, though I feel that supporting women in ministry is an important topic for me as a Southern Baptist and one who currently worships in a CMA congregation.

In terms of your questions:

1) Yes, it is pracical and necessary. If a congregation says they support women in ministry they should do so in a concrete way such as your suggestion. Otherwise, it becomes a theoretical issue not a practical one.

2) I'm not a women so I do not know but I can assume that it would be a difficult journey as I have known many who have struggled because of this.

3) I do not know of any Wesleyan churches and unfortunately no Baptist ones either.

4) This is beyond me.

By the way, don't let John know that I have been responding to your blog and not his.

Blake

Amanda said...

Blake:

Whoa. I've never heard that expressed so clearly:

"The reason we ordain women is because we baptize girls."
Dr. Molly Marshall

Thanks.

Amanda

Tony Myles said...

Good stuff, everyone. Here's what the guy did.

He shared his own preference... that women in ministry was unbiblical from his perspective. Half of the church left (with their tithing, too), leaving him crippled financially in ministry.

However, he *did* pick a side of the fence. Even though it cost him something... a lot, actually, I credit him for falling down somewhere (even though I would have personally fallen on the opposite end).

That said, my biggest issue with this issue is that few men are willing to share their stance out loud. Maybe if we knew what people *really* thought (versus the whole, "Sure, we support it... but personally I don't think it's quite so clear....") we might actually be able to get to the bottom of something solid to talk about.

Thanks for the interaction on this... by the way, we're looking for some female perspective on the issue of theology (especially as it relates to Adam and Eve) on my neck of the woods.

If you can spare a moment, come to http://dontcallmeveronica.blogspot.com/
2005/10/
nywc-retrospective-late-night-options_23.html

(shameless advertising over)

Blake said...

After checking my sources the quote "We ordain women because we baptize girls." comes from Dr. Chuck Poole, a current writer for The Baptist Studies Bulletin. The confusion was because he was reporting on Dr. Molly Marshall becoming the first women president of Central Seminary. As much as I wanted Molly to have said this (and I am sure she would agree) I must be clear on my sources. Sorry. That is what I get for not checking.
Thanks,
Blake

David Drury said...

A few things...

The current issue of Christianity Today has two articles on Women in Ministry that I think we all should check out.

Also, the Tuesday Column discussion board has a relatively new place to talk about women in the ministry: http://www.drurywriting.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4

Check that out too.

David Drury said...

Mandy -- to answer your more pragmatic question... here's my brainstorming for The Wesleyan Church in particular since that's "my tribe":

How can we practically work on proactively promoting women in ministry in TWC?

1) Your 3/52 challenge is a good one. If churches can't work toward that they aren't the real deal. (Mine included)

2) Developing a "blacklist" of those that oppose women in ministry is needed. Who are the stopgaps and let's be sure they aren't promoted, and perhaps we could even vote them out.

3) Let's use the internet to "out" those District Superintendents and Senior Pastors in our denomination that express anti-women in ministry positions. The Emergent Wesleyan message boards are a good place to do that (even anynonymously).

4) It would help if our great up and coming women in ministry would stay in our own denomination instead of going on staff at United Methodist churches (but that's another story - and one that cuts both ways I suppose.)

5) There needs to be more "networking" among women in ministry... so they have awareness of each other and can celebrate their advances. Maybe a "community blog" of women in ministry is needed?

6) JoAnne Lyon needs to be General Superintendent. An ordained women at the helm in the top spot would be the ticket for serious change here. I don't care what you say, if she's in that spot it opens up a whole lot of possiblities and "drives out" those that aren't willing to actually live out what we already have codified as our church law and practice.

7) We need a woman to pastor a church over 500. Are there any in our denomination? When they do those "roundtable" meetings of pastors over 500 are there any women pastors there? I don't think so at the moment. Mandy - this might be you some day (my money is on 12 years from now). Numbers aren't everything... but it sure gives a platform for communication.

8)Tony Miles needs to reconsider comparing women in ministry to meat. :-)

That's all I can think of at the moment.

-David Drury

Anonymous said...

David Drury-
With all due respect I am getting a bit of a "Survivor" feel from your last post. Voting people out? Im sorry Bob but the congretation has spoken. You must take your torch and leave the pulpit immediately. Maybe the best FIRST line of approach would be to get the word out about Mandy's 3/52 challenge. Let those who are critics see women preaching about more than just Esther and Ruth. ( Mandy had a very good point there. ) Maybe their example will change more than the minds of young girls. Maybe it will help to change the perspective of a few along the way. Is it a bit more subtle? Yes. But could prove to be very effective. Leading by great example has always been effective. Get the word out about 3/52 and see what happens. The rubber will meet the road when it is seen who is really able to take the challenge. And if there are still those who show themselves unable to support women in ministry then we could all feel better about feeding them spiders and sending them packing.

Tony Myles said...

"Tony Miles needs to reconsider comparing women in ministry to meat."

Yeah... and David Drury needs to learn how to spell my last name. :)

As a side note, I think the topic behind the topic is if we see the male as the "head of the house" in the marital relationship between a man and a woman.

Most guys who have jumped over into the women in ministry camp still hold to the idea that a man has a slightly different set of God-given responsibilities in the home. On the flipside, I'm also hearing teaching in progressive circles about how God created men and women in the same way. In other words, any sort of elevation in terms of headship happened after the Fall.

Hmm... I remember one of Bud Bence's little brain wrinkling sessions where he asked us something like this...

"Is slavery wrong?"

"YES!" we all chanted.

"Why? The Scriptures teach about how to treat slaves. It's in the Bible!"

"Context!" we all countered.

"Okay. What about women in ministry?"

"YES!" we all chanted.

"Why? The Scriptures teach that women are to submit to men, as well as Paul talking about how he doesn't permit a woman to teach. It's in the Bible!"

"Context!" we all countered.

"Okay. What about homosexuality?"

"SIN!" we all chanted.

"Why?"

"It's in the Bible!" we countered.

"Context!" trumped Dr Bud, proving once again that if what was a non-issue in the past is now considered "context," who's to say when we get off base?

Hmm... that was a longer "side note" than I anticipated.

Nate said...

Amanda,

Our church just brought on Julie collins a women pastor on part-time. She rocks and we hope to bring her on full-time later on. Julie is amazing, but you know what she tossed a ton of resumes out there and no one gave her in opportunity. My mom has been an ordained minister for many years and has never felt accepted or really looked to as a pastor of a church. The best she could be is a pastors wife. My mom is a gifted leader and never was really given the opportunity.

Plain and simple I think that churches are crazy to not hire more women. To tell you the truth I have been more impressed with women leaders then men lately.

I think many times churches are scared that woman may be a better leader then the pastor. Or maybe the pastor is afraid to have conflict with his people. EIther way - I am excited about leaders like you, Julie, my mom who are addressing this.

Amanda said...

DAVE:

YOU SAID: 4) It would help if our great up and coming women in ministry would stay in our own denomination instead of going on staff at United Methodist churches (but that's another story - and one that cuts both ways I suppose.)

I agree. I like to say I'm "on loan" to the UMC. :) Unfortunately, I could not find a single opening in a Wesleyan Church that I could even apply for.

You are echoing a fear of mine, however, that we will lose women to other denominations. Why struggle to serve in a Wesleyan Church when there are United Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran Churches, etc. that would encourage such a call? This question prompted Keith to write, "Wesleyans Need to Quit Sending Their Daughters to Youth Conventions" link below).

http://www.drurywriting.com/keith/daughters.youth.conventions.htm

Mandy

Amanda said...

NATE: Julie Collins DOES rock!

YOU SAID: I think many times churches are scared that woman may be a better leader then the pastor. Or maybe the pastor is afraid to have conflict with his people.

I SAY: I think it's simply off the radar screen for many churches. Often times, after guest preaching at a Wesleyan Church, people will come up to me and we will have the following conversation:

Congregant: You know, I've never really been a fan of women preachers, but you were okay.

Me: Oh, have you had a bad experience with a woman pastor before?

Congregant: No, actually, you're the first I've seen.

It's easy to be against a theoretical idea...it becomes much more difficult to reject when a person's face is attached to this idea.

Which is why I maintain that it's better to have women preach than for a man to simply preach ABOUT the issue.

Mandy

Amanda said...

QUESTION: What do you think about Dave's "blacklisting" idea?

At first glance it appears unchristian...but what if quenching the Holy Spirit in women is a sin?

Would it be "unchristian" to blacklist racist churches?

Is it unethical for a non-women ordaining church to remain in The Wesleyan Church?

Whaddya think?

Mandy

Amanda said...

E-MAIL FROM A FELLOW PASTOR:

"I like the 3/52 challenge idea. Now, here's a personal response: Perhaps I should know of women speakers to tap into, but I don't...I don't use many men to fill the pulpit unless I'm confident they're good---(and usually they're in the area). Any thoughts or suggestions?"

I was wondering when someone would ask this question. :) I'd love to find a way to pull together a list of women pastor willing to guest preach.

The list could contain names, church affiliation, location, etc. Perhaps a clip of a sermon as well. Any ideas on how to pull something like this together?

Mandy

Tony Myles said...

Alright, Amanda... I'll take the first step - I don't want to get blacklisted :). I just began a part-time-interim-teaching-pastor gig (how many words is that?) at a former church in need. While I can't give up the total responsibility for the day, I'm going to find a way to get a woman up on stage to take at least a part of one of my upcoming messages... in fact, I know just where to start.

Dave Ward said...

I am chiming in because I see such a denominational bent here that I would love to hear some talk on a more interdenominational focus. Sure, if a denomination says it believes something but then doesn't live up to it that's a big issue. I think we should call that an integrity issue. Enough said.

The bigger issue to me though is the interdenominational one. It's easy for us to stand behind a denominational handbook and say are you in or not? But then, those who disagree just say "I'm not" and leave. Did we really create any real change in the world there or just make more enemies?

My guess is more enemies, and we just grew the mega-men-only-preaching church around the corner. Which, I guess isn't ALL bad. After all, they are still preaching Christ and the cross even if they are interpreting that more narrowly than we might. They will still be in heaven right?

The real problem, for those who are taking an activist stance toward women in ministry, is that in evangelical circles the primary voice is the voice that doesn't believe in female authority. They allow ministry (usually) but not authority. Logically inconsistent when viewed by most of us reading this blog, but that's the position nonetheless. Check out the authors in CBD. Buy the new Art and Craft of Preaching book edited by Haddon Robinson. There is a slight nod to women in ministry...but then check out the authors and their stance on this issue. 95% to 5% probably anti-women preachers.

So to me the bigger picture issue, if you are for women in ministry, is how to convince those who do not already believe in women in ministry? My belief is that will happen the same way it happened for Wesley...he saw women who could. He came in contact with women who were not militant, but were confident and called. They were not judgmental of those who disagreed, but they stood their ground and went where God called them. AND THEY WERE GOOD! They weren't crusaders they were infiltrators. Wesley called them extraordinarily called--until he met so many of them that he realized the call was ordinary.

So I agree with you Amanda, more women in the pulpits where we say we agree. But to all women out there preaching...please become experts in preaching. I regularly receive applications from women to preach. Two are in training with the ministry I work for now, two are on staff. But most of those applications come with preaching that isn't anointed, powerful, faithful to scripture, relevant to culture. And when you work with a group of people interdenominationally (90 some denominations that we work with) and we bring in a woman preacher...it needs to be a woman who can preach. This is the same charge I give to men here. Preach the word and do it well. Be the expert in the room on the passage. Be the expert in the room on the application. But preach well, and preach with prayer-powered passion.

My experience is that men who disagree with women in authoritative preaching will listen to a woman authoritatively preach when they respect her, trust her, and believe she has something to say...it's just natural to do so. Were Mother Theresa alive and preaching in the states Baptists would be there (and by the way, most Baptist congregants DO care about this issue that I meet--and side with their leadership). I am not saying you have to be a Mother Theresa to preach---we wouldn't have any men preaching then either. But Joann Lyon is a good example. Men and women who disagree with women preaching listen to her with respect. Because they respect her life, they respect her ministry. They listen to her preach, because she can preach. One might say there are plenty of men who don't fit that model and get to preach. I agree--shame on us. But why stoop to that level?

More women in evangelical pulpits--I agree. Blacklisting those who don't like that? I think we just grow the opposition. We need to invade not crusade in my opinion. Crusading rarely wins true conversion anyway. And what every pro-woman advocate wants in conversion. So what if we practiced loving life-style evangelism on this issue? We believe in that for non-Christians. But we don't agree wtih that for Christians with whom we disagree.

I respect the most my colleagues who disagree with me on this issue but intentionally stay in dialogue with me. Read the books I read. Listen to the arguments I make. And give me the benefit of the doubt that I could be right. I think I should do the same for them. I personally woulnd't hire anybody on either side of the issue who wasn't willing to do that. I live in a kingdom world...so I have to love all in the kingdom.

By the way---I love that people I know are ministering in other denominations where women in ministry is considered normal. It gives a wider relational network for us to pull from of women who can preach and preach well. And it obviously bolsters their call. Yea God for a big kingdom.

Dave Ward said...

Amanda,

By the way...I love the idea of a network of women pulpit fillers. Let me know if you get one together!!!

Keith.Drury said...

The one thing I can't understand is why some call on me to not boycott churches or organizations who boycott women preachers... I've can't get this--why they can boycott women preachers but I'm supposed to dialogue with them. I've dialogued about ten years on this subject--now I'm in the boycott stage.

Ken Schenck said...

I'm probably somewhere in between Dave and Keith on how to go about things. On the one hand, I wouldn't vote to hire someone to teach here in the religion department at IWU unless they were pro-women in authority--I wouldn't be in favor of them even if they were lukewarm on the topic.

And there would have to be pretty narrow parameters for me to vote for someone to come speak in chapel or in my church (if I had a voice) if they represented a position against women in ministry (in other words, they're phenomenally good at the reason for asking them and that's not what they're going to be addressing in any way and I can be sure of it). If I have the power to resist or diminish the authority of someone against women in authority, of course I will use it, because this represents a spiritual issue. I wouldn't begrudge someone in power who might hinder my advancement because they disagree with my thinking--that's their prerogative. And I would use the same prerogative if I were in power. Nothing personal, you're free to disagree, but I will oppose your advancement or voice with whatever power I have for the sake of the kingdom.

But I also believe that we can hinder the cause if there is a preponderance of women in front who are bad teachers or poor speakers. It's not fair, because we are inundated with mediocre male teachers and preachers. I put this under the "wise as serpents" clause. And I only want to use force or the frontal assault if I know I have the power to win without the kinds of losses that "defeat" the purpose of the battle.

So I guess that puts me somewhere in the middle.

Amanda said...

Ah Ken. Nice pull in of the innocent as doves, shrewd as serpents...that may describe this well (that passage has always perplexed me a bit).

I'm hoping to come back to this issue with some more concrete steps a bit later...

Amanda

Brian Cooper said...

Hi Amanda, great blog site. I've enjoyed reading your posts and the fresh perspective from a woman in ministry. There aren't many out there.

I am all for women in ministry but in the back of my head I have this program chip that sets off some alarms when considering it in the future. As a man in ministry, i have been programmed to "protect" myself from any form of sexual sins that may cause me to stumble. I've been taught to leave the door cracked open when counciling a female parishoner and to let the secretary know that I have a female in conference and perhaps to even check in occasionally to avoid any uncomfortable situations. There are books being written about accountability and how to keep a male pastor from joining the statistic of those that have fallen into sin.

So, here's my question: Do you think that this type of "programming" may be inadvertantly building walls from men hiring women into the ministry? Do the boundries change when you have a male and female on staff? Some men feel uncomfortable around attractive women and maybe would feel guilty hiring a women that he finds attractive. How do we deal with this?
Again, I strongly believe in women in ministry and it is going to be a priority for me to have women in my staff, but these thoughts creep into the back of my mind. Will it be wrong to spend time in prayer together in an office with a closed door? Will we have to create new boundries in order to protect our reputation. Eventhough nothing may happen, people can talk and sometimes that's even worse. So, just some thoughts as I was reading your post. I'd love to hear your thoughts or perhaps you know of some literature that is out there concerning this topic.

Also, guys... am I the only one with these thoughts?

Meredith Goertz said...

Well said. Thanks :) (I found this link rather indirectly - reading your father-in-law's comments on the early church and evangelism.

I'm a third-year female B.Th. student with a focus in youth ministry, and even in a denomination that ordains women, it's difficult sometimes.

And I enjoy the dialogue written as a response... nice.

Anonymous said...

i'm a wesleyan woman who is considering leaving the wesleyan church because of their lack of tangible support for women in leadership.

i haven't decided yet. i do need to be able to make a living, and if that means going to a different denomination after i graduate from seminary, so be it.

i have enjoyed reading this dialogue.
also, i'm curious, Amanda, how would you describe a "sleeping call?"

Amanda said...

Anonymous:

Thanks for replying...I would love to talk with you more in depth on this topic...would you mind carrying this conversation over to e-mail form?

If you're not comfortable posting your e-mail on this comment page you can send it to me at:

amanda.drury@gmail.com

Otherwise, if I don't hear from you, I'll try responding to your questions early next week.

Thanks.

Amanda

Anonymous said...

I prefer to stay anonymous if that's ok. No need to go into detail about the "sleeping call" question. I have a pretty good idea, but was curious about your own definition. Please do not feel pressure to share if this is not the right forum.

Amanda said...

To put it simply, I would describe a "Sleeping call" as being a call on one's life that is not realized right away. It hibernates in your life until one day it awakens.

Another term that's been swimming around in my head is a "misinterpreted call." Originally I had misinterpreted my call to think I was called to be a pastor's wife. I went from thinking I was being called to marry a pastor, to being a missionary, to being an itinerate speaker, until finally I've realized the call to be a minister. All along I had sensed a call, but it took me a while to interpret the call correctly.

Keith Drury has a helpful book out called, "The Call of a Lifetime" exploring many of these issues.

I'm a Wesleyan currently serving in a United Methodist Church (no Wesleyan openings in my area). I hope to eventually end up in a Wesleyan Church again, but for now this is where I believe I am called.

I think your frustration about a "lack of tangible support for women in leadership," is a valid complaint. I will say, however, that in the past two years especially I have been greatly encouraged through:

Wesleyan writers:
Keith Drury
Ken Schenck

Wesleyan Ring Leaders/encouragers:
Martha Blackburn
Joanne Lyon
Jim Fuller (from Holland, MI)
Mark Gorvette (DS in West Michigan)

I think our denomination is slowly returning to its roots on fully endorsing women ministers. While it's not going as quickly as I might like, the wind is nevertheless changing.

I don't know your struggle or what you have been up against, but I do pray that God will lead you to a place where you can fully preach Christ crucified and raised--nothing more, nothing less.

Anonymous said...

Mandy,
I loved yor posting about women in ministry. As a graduate from IWU living in South Carolina I am appalled at people's view toward women in ministry-even in my own church!
Ann