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Just Tryin'

I'm looking for a way to have a thoughtful, meaningful, productive, and maybe even fun discussion about the issue of women in church leadership in the 21st Century.

Updated: 2014-10-04T18:55:29.835-05:00


Just Tryin': It's Finals Week


Just Tryin': It's Finals Week

It's Finals Week


I apologize for not submitting a new post in the last week -- it's finals week and I am deep in the midst of putting together a final paper for my class (are we having fun yet?). The heat went out in my apartment as well so it's tough to do much typing while wearing gloves.

The latest book I am reading is by an Anglican minister named Giles who writes about the impact of the doctrine of Subordination of the Trinity that has found it's way in quite a bit of conservative evangelical’s theology -- this particular theology has a direct impact on thinking regarding women's place in the church. It's fascinating stuff...and quite eye-opening.

Gender and Opportunities


I read an amazing statistic the other day -- in 46 countries in the world (there are only 193 total), girls are given no education whatsoever. That is 1 out of every 4 countries on this planet do not provide or allow formal schooling for girls. When you consider the vital role that education plays in most cultures to open up opportunities for economic independence as well as to provide a path for meaningful contribution in a society, the statistic is devastating.

In the book "Gender and Anthropology", the author writes "If you were born a male instead of a female, or a female instead of a male, how would your life be different? In other words, how has your sex defined, constructed, constrained, or expanded your opportunities and experiences"? I think this is a fair and important question to ask as followers of Christ -- followers of the One who is free of the sin of bias and prejudice.

As late as the 1880's women in the western world were not allowed in most universities because science had shown that women's brains were smaller than men's brains. This being a sure sign that women were of inferior intelligence so it did not make sense to grant them the opportunity to pursue higher education. Later, a more thorough and objective scientific study showed that the size of the brain had no correlation with intelligence. Soon after this, the barrier that prevented women from attended higher education in the western world came down and women entered universities in droves. Thank God that this bias towards was exposed.

Is This the Aroma of Christ?


I was doing my usual Saturday morning news reading when I came across an interesting dialogue in an Australian enews webpage. The author was blogging about a woman being appointed to the Australian high court. His point was that feminism has made a way for a woman to actually get appointed to this high level position. He then digressed into talking about the Baptist church that he attends and that wouldn't it be nice if the church would start promoting their women leaders. One of the commenters to his article nicely explained why "women can't rule over men" in the church. So it is not "right" for this kind of gender affirmative action to be displayed in the church. I couldn't believe that this guy came right out and said the bold faced truth of what does on in a good chunk of the church. I cringed to read how some of the non-church commenters would react: Here is a sample comment: I still find some of your contributions fascinating Boaz, if only in the same way I find fascinating the curling of a lizard's tail after it has been shed, or an orb weaver spider eating her mate. "There is a clear scriptural mandate for women not to 'rule over men'" Err... not to be in any way doubtful of their motives, but were the scriptures written by men, by any chance?

Needless to say the commenter said nothing to "Boaz" about wanting to visit his church because clearly Christ can be found there.

Women Churchplanters


During one of my on-line class discussions, a classmate who happens to be a missionary in Estonia asked me how I thought the North American church would respond to the people who are doing the majority of the churchplanting now in Estonia -- they are women. He also went on to say that by far in that part of the world where Christianity continues to grow, women are the leaders in their churches.

My best guess is that the response would be that it's great for "over there", but as soons as it gets here, theological concerns crop up. Rarely have I seen any thoughtful discussion of why it is ok for women to do it "over there", but not in our backyard. This is a dynamic that is as old as mud. Revival/renewal takes place in the church, God pours out His Spirit to empower women to do alot of His work. But when it gets time for a movement to move toward institutionalization (i.e. formalized training, developmennt of formal heirarchy) women are pushed out of the positions of leadership. It is a well-known and even better documented trend. Is that the Holy Spirit at work in our church?

Leadership and Family


I've been thinking a lot lately about how leadership fits in with a woman's life as she gets married and has kids. Being a single woman, it's not terribly complicated. I watch my married with kids friends -- it's a big deal to figure out where to put their time and energy. I struggle because I've seen women passed over in the business world because their bosses were anticipating their inevitable departure from the work world to raise a family. (I've also seen bosses promote women despite the possibility that they could lose their female employees to the raising of children). Is it a good thing for women to devote lots of time and energy to raise their kids -- at perhaps the expense of not being able to give quite as much time to leadership activities? That is an easy yes. Is there a way that we have not explored where women can continue to grow in their leadership in the midst of raising kids? Let me know your thoughts.

What Could It Be Like?


I'm really excited these days...last Thursday we started a once a month meeting where we gather a good chunk of our young women leaders in our church. It was incredible to see all those women in Eloise's living room laughing and talking together, praying for each other. It was exciting to think of how our world could change if we keep moving forward together.

My favorite moment of the night was when my 50 something year old friend LoAnn talked to these young women about the true nature of Christian leadership: to take on the same attitude as Jesus did when he washed his disciples essence becoming a slave for them. I loved that my friend with all her years of experience and wisdom stood in front of these young women and poured out to them stuff that -- if they grab hold of and take in -- will change their worlds.

Women and Insecurity


Something that bothers me quite a bit these days is the experience of going into a bookstore -- especially one that sells Christian books. My interests are history, contemplative Christian life books, political and cultural current event type books. There are plenty of books on the shelf, many of them amazingly good but most are written by men. The books written by women generally are the relationship, self-help, focus on feelings kind of literature. Some of these can also be quite good, but few I would describe as serious and scholarly -- the kind of book that would end up as a classic decades or centuries from now. Please know that I am speaking in broad generalizations -- there are women out there who write serious stuff. But it's like pebbles in the sea...

Why is that? I know so many women who are so darn smart, articulate, full of life, brimming over with gifts and skills who could make a significant influence by writing down or speaking what is inside them. Again, without the benefit of good data to back me up, I would argue that it boils down to self-confidence. How many women have you been in a conversation with lately who has started off a thought by giving a million qualifiers to what she is about to say and why it probably should not be paid attention to anyway? In the last 2 weeks, I can think of at least 6 interactions. I'm thinking that there is a correlation to that dynamic and why we see so few women writing solid books out there.

Here is an invitation for you: I want to post on my blog your serious thoughts on leadership. Send it to my email at and I will post you to perhaps influence or help any who read your writing.

More Thoughts on Leadership Development



The following is a post submitted by one of the young women I know who is focused on the development of her call from God to serve His church with her leadership and pastoral gifts.

When asked to write a little about what I thought about leadership development, I was initially very excited. However, after I actually thought about it, I realized that leadership and leadership development is a hugely broad topic, and it proved to be much more challenging then I had anticipated. I narrowed it down to two issues that are huge in developing leaders, and that are close to my heart.

Most of developing leaders does not have to do with leadership. It should be called people development. It is first about developing whole and healthy people, and then helping those people learn to be who God has made them. Everybody (but I think, especially every leader) struggles with finding their worth in their giftings rather then in the fact that God loves them. So I want to start at the root of that problem, and build them up as a person before being concerned with their abilities. The truth is, as much as we all like to think that we find these normal people and turn them into amazing leaders, God gives people their leadership giftings and generally, it comes pretty naturally. Those giftings are already there, the key is helping those people be confident in themselves, and in the authority that they have. In trying to develop leaders, I concentrate on building them up as people, validating their feelings, concerns, and inevitably their hurts of the past.

I realized the importance of the second aspect when talking with a friend of mine lately:

This friend came to me with the scenario that a leader she is pastoring is participating in really damaging habits with the women she is leading. This friend was wanting to know the most loving way she could approach this leader without making her feel “bad”. She wanted to not even approach her about it, but just hoped it would come up in conversation.
What I told her is that this leader does not need to be hugged, she needs to know that what she is doing is wrong, and that she is not just not helping the women she is leading, but is damaging them. We should never come with the aim of guilting people into change, but there is a biblical level of conviction that is often necessary. Unfortunately some people are so afraid of offending each other that they lose the honesty part, and it is a big part to lose. We need to be blunt! We need to call our leaders out! How are they going to grow if no one ever helps them see where they need to change? There is a time for hugs, and there is a time for challenging people, and leaders who are never challenged in the choices they are making become stagnant. It is true that we should be leading in love, and the most loved I've ever felt is by someone who is not afraid to tell me when I am making poor choices.


Guys, Let's Talk!


I want to talk with men about these issues. This stuff impacts men as much as it impacts women. It's not a women's issue -- it's a kingdom of God issue. So guys, I am inviting you to weigh in on this topic. By the way, I know alot of men who are amazing leaders and who have tremendously impacted my life. May their numbers only increase for the sake of God's kingdom here on earth.

If you post a comment soon, you may win a prize.

Leadership Potential


Ok - I'm trying to kill two birds with one stone by writing in my blog thoughts I have while reading a book for seminary. Bear with me...I think it's the only way that I will be able to stay regular in blogworld. A great book to read about leadership is "Spiritual Leadership" by J. Oswald Sanders. It's one of those books that kicks you in the fanny when you are not looking. Oswald has a whole list of things to consider when evaluating your leadership capabilities.

#1 on his list: Have you broken a bad habit? To lead others, you must master your appetites.

Think about that one for awhile...

An Honorable Ambition II


Hangin' on made a comment today that I resonated well with -- by championing women in greater leadership in the church, are we saying that women ministering to women is somehow less or not as important? Truthfully, I have heard a number of women comment negatively about "women's ministry" as if it were some silly, pointless aspect of church. I could not disagree more with this kind of thinking. Having a viable, dynamic women's ministry (where women are learning or being cared for by other women) is so critical to the discipling and training of women.

My only point is that this (or children's ministry) is not the only arena women should be expressing their leadership gifts if they have it in them to serve in a broader way in the church.

An Honorable Ambition


I Timothy 3:1 "To aspire to leadership is an honorable ambition."

Many women are uncertain about desiring leadership. I've heard it said so many times by so many women: "I don't need to lead, I only want to serve." I've also heard lots of women accused of being ambitious or proud for aspiring to some kind of leadership position. No doubt the scripture is clear that we are to shun selfish promotion. Ultimate spiritual leadership is found in her service to God and other people.

A great quote from Samuel Brengle (Salvation Army guy): "It is not won by promotion but by many prayers and tears. It is attained by confession of sin, and much heartsearching and humbling before God; by self-surrender, a courageous sacrifice of every idol, a bold uncomplaining embrace of the cross and by an eternal, unfaltering looking unto Jesus crucified. It is not gained by seeking great things for ourselves, but like Paul, by counting those things that are gain to us as loss to Christ."

Why Care About Women in Leadership in the Church -- Part II?



These two young women want to be pastors -- they feel that God has spoken clearly to them regarding this. Who knows all the ins and outs, but what I do know is that clearly these two have the gifting and the intangible quality of wanting to follow Jesus the rest of their lives. Another (couple of) reasons why I care so deeply about the issue of women in leadership in the church.

I'm Going To Seminary Tomorrow


That' right -- I start classes at Fuller Seminary tomorrow. It's on one hand exciting (can't wait to learn all kinds of new things) to slightly scary (the last time I was in a classroom was over 15 years ago).

"Frickin" (actually it was an anonymous comment) left a terrific comment yesterday. She was bouncing off my remark of why care about the issue of women in leadership in the church. Hers was not a scholar's answer, but rather an answer that pinpoints the consequences and pain that can come out of poor theology. It's not only a matter of abstract principle and integrity, it's also a matter of lots of people being profoundly hurt in a real way.

Little Papers about Women in Leadership


For those of you interested in reading thoughtful and well-researched articles that specifically address difficult passages in the Scriptures about this issue, here is one for you:

Don Williams, PhD: Vineyard Pastor

If you know of any other very good articles that I can post, let me know.

Why Care About Women in Leadership in the Church?


Jess left a great question in one of her comments: What is it that motivates those of us who care about the issue of women in leadership in the church? My answer to that lies in a story that one of my college student friends told me over lunch on Thursday. She told me the story of a friend of hers who feels that a good chunk of her life service in the church is about worship leading in the church. When this young women with aspirations to lead worship told her leaders and pastors in her church that that was the direction that she wanted to move toward, she was told that her aspirations could not be from God. They questioned her inappropriate ambitiousness as something that must be rooted in sinfulness. My college student friend took this aspiring (but crushed) worship leader to her own church where she saw for the first time a woman leading the congregation in worship. As you can imagine, she was so excited to see someone doing what she felt in her heart God speaking to her about...

This is what motivates me to be so passionate about this: real people are getting very hurt and squelched. Real people are not being identified, trained, and released to express all that God has gifted and called them to be (to the detriment of God's work). Real people are being caught up in theology that instead of bringing freedom (what Jesus promises), it brings death.

I've posted several papers in my links section that gives the biblical basis for supporting women in leadership in the church. Check it out.

Vineyard Conference


Evanston Vineyard is doing their part in bringing the church into the 21st century. They are hosting a women's conference in April 2006.

They are bringing in amazing speakers and worship leaders to teach and encourage women to do the things that God has called them to do. What is exciting is that they will be targeting some of the areas that usually do not get emphasized for women in the church: preaching, worship leading, pastoring, leadership, missions -- it's going to be amazing.

Go Evanston Vineyard (and Adey)!>

How To Post a Comment


This is for my 40+ year old friends who are not that familiar with the world of "blog". You blog "pros" can take a pass reading this -- maybe check out my links to my favorite preachers instead...

Ok -- first things first.

1. Read an entry that looks appealing to you (since I'm your friend, it should be all of them -- feel free to disagree with this in your comments).
2. Decide that you would like to comment on what have just read.
3. Click on comments (just like you are opening up any other application).
4. You will see a box that says "Leave Your Comment". This is the box you type your thoughts, comments, disagreements, additions etc...
5. When you are finished typing your comments -- it's time to choose an identity. If you have a blog, "sign in" (if you have a blog, you will know how to do this). If you want to type your name (or someone else's, click on "other". Type your name or alias and an identifying web page if you have one (probably not...). If you don't want me to know your identity, click "anonymous" and you are done picking an identity.
6. Finally, fill out the word verification -- type in letter for letter that you see in the word verification box. Click on the button, "login and publish". You are done.

White Sox vs. Tribe


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To my Tribe fanatic friend -- I am confident that we will be able to navigate these next three games despite all that is at stake!

The Gender Issue and the Scriptures


My new friend "Enoch" gave some helpful suggestions regarding posting some thoughts and or links that discuss the difficult scriptural texts that seem to refute the notion that women should have a place in leadership in the church. I will do just that because it is important to have a scriptural basis to supporting women in leadership.

It is a big mistake to make theological positions based on where the culture is heading. For example, because the culture has moved toward an acceptance of sexual expression outside of marriage (male and female kind) shouldn't the church be moving in the same direction so it does not appear outdated and intolerant. My personal opinion based on scripture is no -- that's an issue that to go against the culture is indeed to walk that narrow road that Jesus encourages us to walk in this life.

My first and foremost reason for being adamant about women taking a greater role in leadership in the church is the Scriptures. You will find books written on both sides of the argument that seem to give an airtight exegesis of the scriptures. To me, it's the exegesis AND it's also the hermeneutics of the scriptures that make the difference. (For you non-theology types, exegesis is what the text actually says; hermeneutics is understanding the meaning of the text in the context of today).

By far the best I have read: Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals by Webb.

Another serious Bible scholar (thanks Jan!), Gordon Fee says, "to give continuing significance to a male-authority viewpoint for men and women, whether at home or in the church, is to reject the new creation in favor of the norms of a fallen world." Don Williams from the Vineyard also has a wonderful discussion of the difficult texts.

What Does It Say...


Something that troubles me alot is what gets communicated to the world outside of our church community when we say that leadership is based on gender and not by gifting? In principle at least, our culture believes in equal access to every layer of opportunity available. No physical characteristics, i.e. gender, race, etc., should limit anyone. What happens when these same folks who buy into that basic cultural belief get interested in Jesus, but run into an institution that says every layer of opportunity is available only for one gender? What happens is they think we are nuts and walk away from our institution. Is it really the aroma of Christ they are walking away from?

21st Century Church for a 21st Century People


Sometimes I wonder why I feel so deeply about the issue of women in the church. Isn't there more important things that I should be spending my time and energy on than in progressing the role of women in the church? Hasn't Jesus already taken care of this for us anyway? Shouldn't I be throwing myself into something more central to the gospel message?

Hmmm...Then I consider the great civil rights campaign against slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries in this country. For me it is clear to see how this came out of the very core of the gospel message. That Christ came to this earth to establish his unending Kingdom once and for all -- establish His Reign on earth as such that drives it out all the pollution caused by our sin. The Church of Jesus is to be that witness of this -- driving out not only the pollution of bias based on skin color but also the pollution of bias based on gender.

Meet Daisy


Ok -- so I'm not reading into this or anything, but my post with the picture of my cat, Pumpkin, has by far gotten the most comments...

Growing up in the family that I did, I've been hardwired to treat equally those closest to me (i.e. everyone gets the same number of Easter baskets, Christmas presents, school clothes etc...). So here is Daisy. Where Pumpkin is the free-spirit, live life on the edge, provoke me to no end kind of cat -- Daisy is the always can count on her, steady-eddy, no abrupt early morning wake-up meows sort.

Those young women


I know lots of really fabulous young women who think they are called by God to serve the church with their lives. They have the gifting to lead, they are full of life, they are smart, they love other people well-- they are the salt of the earth that Jesus speaks of...they all have been making a significant contribution to bringing the Kingdom of heaven to this earth. It's because of my young friends that I want to see the current state of things in the church change and change quickly. So that all that is in them can be expressed in serving others...doesn't that make sense?