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
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.