Women In Ministry | A Shift?

I’m slowly making my way through ‘Missing the Point’ by McClaren & Campolo (you know those renegade right wing liberal socialists? I kid, I kid!). Anywho, there’s some really though provoking stuff in this book. And I’m trying my best to digest and think through some issues. I think there’s a time to land on some issues – I tend to try and stay open minded on non-doctrinal (church) issues, but I am having a desire to search out and become more educated on some issues; women in ministry is one of those issues.

My parents left the Presbyterian Church when I was young over this issue. The church decided to allow women elders, and my parents didn’t believe that was biblical. Now the PC(USA) is having it’s own crisis of identidy. So that’s my history. I’ve always been a part of a traditional “women don’t teach over men” model of church. Then I read the chapter on Women in Ministry in this book and really started thinking. Talked with my wife this evening about it. She said she’d feel weird in a church where there was a woman pastor teaching. I told her that it’s probably just a cultural thing – that we’ve never experienced it before so it’s foreign. But I have to admit it’s throwing my mind for a spin.

To me there’s two issues I’m dealing with. First there’s Biblical interpretation – what does the bible say about this issue. Because I believe that the bible is the authority. And second there is personal preference – how do I personally feel about this, and what am I comfortable with?

Biblical Interpretation (short version)
According to Campolo, all the verses that we use to keep women out of preaching/teaching and/or leadership roles are mis-interpreted in modern culture. In new testament times, apparently Paul was condemning women who publicly embarrassed their husbands in a local church setting. Or Paul was trying to keep women from becoming a barrier for men coming to Christ, since the culture was so male dominated. According to Campolo, Christ’s atonement on the cross broke the male/female barrier in the eyes of God – repairing the damage that was done in the garden of eden, the original sin.

Paul in fact, acknowledged and encouraged many women as leaders and teachers/pastors in the new testament. And as Campolo notes in the book, we are happy to send women into the mission fields of the world to teach, preach, plant churches, etc. But the bible specifically says they can’t preach in our churches… I don’t get it.

I’m still digesting this and am going to read more on the subject.

Personal Preference
Like I said, I am used to a male dominated church culture. I’m used to women leading women’s ministry, children’s ministry, missionary work, volunteer work, office work, etc. The best way for me to share my feelings on this is just some bullet points:

  • Over the past couple years I’ve really come to know and respect some amazing women in and around ministry – especially through blogging where there’s less prejudice. Here’s some in case you’ve never met them:
    Anne Jackson, Jenni Catron, Tam Hodge (hope that’s right), Kem Meyer, Kendra Watson, Jane Broe (you can only catch her every once in a while on our church blog), and of course, oh wait (my wife doesn’t blog…)
  • I’ve really been pushing our church to utilize women worship leaders – not just vocalists. We’re getting closer on that one.
  • I’ve never liked the idea of a supreme male driven church. ‘Supreme Pastor’ who is all powerful, all knowing, and does no wrong. It seems typical man to me. I’d love to see what happens when you throw some female power into that mix. I think you may end up with a more balanced church/organization.
  • I know I can learn from women. I do all the time. I just wonder how ready the average ‘american’ joe church goer is ready for that.
  • I’ve worked and do work with some amazing women at LifeChurch. One is on our executive team and she is wise.
  • Our student pastor’s mom is an executive pastor in SD – I think that’s cool. I hear she’s amazing. Trying to hook up and learn a little somethin from her soon.
  • Honestly? I cringe at most of the portrayals of women preachers out there: Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Jan Crouch, and of course I’m extremely poorly cultured so I don’t get exposed to much else. Beth Moore would be one that I’ve only been exposed to through Passion – and she rocked.

Oh yeah, and this post has nothing what so ever to do with the fact that Sarah Palin spoke at the RNC tonight. But it is an interesting coincidence…

So, enlighten me.

14 thoughts on “Women In Ministry | A Shift?

  1. Jon Lloyd

    Hey Alex, I believe in women not only being in ministry, but being pastors as well. My grandmother was a pastor for over 35 years and had an incredible ministry who impacted hundreds of people.

    She was nothing like the “TBN” women pastors you see on TV. She always had a quiet, calm, leadership ability. She is 87 now, but still has an incredible way of communicating still.

    Jon Lloyds last blog post..Hookers and Robbers

  2. tam

    you said…

    “I’d love to see what happens when you throw some female power into that mix. I think you may end up with a more balanced church/organization.”

    sometimes, i think this is a crucial part thats missing in the mix. i think in the same way women and men work together in a marriage, we ALL, as His bride, compliment the bigger picture as a whole. anne guest posted yesterday on jenni’s blog about this and the first commenter spoke to this as well. we offer a complete different texture & perspective that i believe, when in the mix, will pour out and effect a broader group of the people we are attempting to reach.

    when i was a Willow for a conference and Nancy Beach spoke on her role at willow, i took notice. i immediately saw the church from a different view point. not that my original one was bad, at all! but something was added at that moment. i knew this group of leaders were confident and not afraid to push the “limits”, step out and take risks. it spoke a lot to me. it definitely inspired me!

    and, wow. i feel a little under qualified to be included in this group of women. kinda jaw dropped here…

    tams last blog post..“fail” the other “f word” (sorry)

  3. Rich Kirkpatrick

    Is it not clear to you that Campolo and McLaren really use sketchy hermeneutics? That being said, I still view that fact that churches are usually ran by women and for women. Men are left out. They might preach, but they do not really run things. It is the passivity of men that is the issue, not the absence of female preachers.

    Women may have the same gifting as men, but that does not mean they have the same role. Complimentarians do not devalue women because they view women and men in complimenting roles. It is simply the whole of scripture that really patterns this much deeper than the few debatable verses Paul the Apostle wrote on this subject.

    Rich Kirkpatricks last blog post..Doodle of the week: coffee cup, Bible and GOD is GOOD

  4. Shannon Lewis

    I used to be a Campolo ‘fan’, and it slowly led me further and further down the ‘neo-orthodox’ post-modern route, which resulted – as poor theology always does – in some very bad personal decisions. I was a bit more cautious when I stumbled upon McClaren, though I have to admit that I do have a special place in my heart for his book “Generous Orthodoxy”.

    I have friends who at one time or another were female head pastors, and the trend tends to be a slippery slope towards liberalism, since the same hermeneutic that makes that practice possible, also opens the doors for openly, unrepentant gay pastors, and the like. If we try to have one without the other, our congregation will eventually recognize that we’re simply playing word-games, and will move on without us.

    I’ve written about this issue myself after a 6 month study and discussion (we had about 50 people – including greek & hebrew scholars – in on it…both feminists & conservative folk). These were my personal conclusions… note: I actually entered the discussion on the ‘feminist’ side of the debate:


    Shannon Lewiss last blog post..Worship Songs that Move you…

  5. Brenda

    I believe in women in ministry. . . I AM a woman in ministry. But I am serving in a traditional womans role, as a missionary, but serving in a nontraditional way as a leader over men.

    I guess I have always felt that, like Deborah, we should just obey God and that means ministering in the venues where he places us. It might be womens or childrens ministry and it might be pastoring a church.

    I’m just not worried about it. I just do 🙂

    Brendas last blog post..Crazy Hair Day

  6. Jenni Catron

    Alex, I really appreciate the way that you are approaching this subject. It seems that your heart is set on understanding what God’s word has to say rather than denominational rules or cultural norms.

    I’m going to tell you that as a female church leader I too am grappling with this subject. Like you, I grew up in church environments where women were not elders, did not teach in the main services, etc. I accepted some of these limitations without learning and studying for myself. I don’t feel like I have found complete clarity on this subject yet, but I have committed this year to some intense study on the subject.

    One of the best resources that I’ve studied so far is Gilbert Bilezilkian’s book “Beyond Sex Roles”. I blogged about it at: http://jennicatron.tv/2008/04/22/women-in-church-leadership/

    Thanks for engaging the subject!

    Jenni Catrons last blog post..Vacation Week – Guest Blogger Miranda Telford

  7. alex

    James – that’s why I try not to subscribe to any “man’s” (or woman’s for that matter) theology as my sole source. I’m trying to balance their ideas with what the Bible teaches, with what my discernment is saying.

    Jon – that’s awesome that you’ve got that in your blood. I imagine you’ve got tons of respect for your grandmother – what a legacy!

    tam – I enjoy reading and hearing your thoughts, great perspective. Also regarding the list of women, there’s a ton that I don’t know, that I’m not aware of – this is kind of my sphere of influence. Not to cheapen anyone, but it’s just cool how blogging kind of levels the playing field. Glad to have you on board here!

    Shannon – off to read that post! Thanks for the link.

    Brenda – I think those words about just doing are awesome. I think we’re always guilty of over analyzing when there’s just real work to do. Powerful.

    Jenni – thanks for stopping by and being real. I’m in the same place – I just want to know what I believe and why, and stay flexible. Off to read your post as well – thanks again.

  8. alex

    Whoops-a-daisy, I left Rich out of the responses. I do think women have a way of leading without being in positions of leadership. As the saying goes “a title doesn’t necessarily make a leader” (or something like that). My issue is kind of like, why NOT the title?

  9. Peter

    Great post! I am never one to say what someone can or cannot do/say. I believe that it is important to educate ourselves across the board by reading different/opposing views. I had the honor of taking a class in college on this very subject. Amazing what you will find out about yourself and others as you begin to disect what you believe and why. check these books out for further study.

    Two Views on Women in Ministry by various authors

    What Paul Really Said About Women: The Apostle’s Liberating Views on Equality in Marriage, Leadership, and Love by John Bristow

    P.S. I really feel this debate comes down to where you begin your study. Genesis or Pauline Letters. Talk amongst yourselves.

    Peters last blog post..DAN & SARANN OLSON 8/17/08

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