Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Preaching Voices of Women

Amy Mears, left, was one of the preachers and a seminar leader at the women's preaching conference last weekend. She is talking here with Melissa Roysdon, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Cookeville.

Amy, co-pastor of Glendale Baptist, Nashville, not only delivered a wonderful sermon at the conference, she shared significant insights about how women might be perceived in the preaching role.

What Do Women Bring to the Pastorate?

I will admit up front that I am treading on dangerous ground here. I fear that I will fall into stereotypical assessments of the qualities that a woman might bring to the pastoral task, but I welcome being challenged on these observations.

What particular strengths might a woman bring to the pastoral ministry? First, I certainly think that she would be more concerned and, perhaps more importantly, sensitive to relationships than many men are. From a male perspective, we often fail to detect the signals that someone is hurting, puzzled, or just plain angry.

Second, I think that most women ministers would be more concerned about aesthetics than the majority of men in the ministry. We tend to be interested in the content rather than the context. Male ministers are concerned about the task and reaching the goal, while females in the ministry are more concerned about presentation--"How will this be perceived? Will it be acceptable?"

Third, because women have so often been placed in roles where they are powerless, I believe that a woman minister will have a different approach to both authority and leadership than a male minister does. My guess is that the woman's approach to leadership will be rooted more in community than in position. This certainly fits the postmodern context in which we do ministry today.

Fourth, I think that women will have a healthier balance between public ministry and private life. Because of their concern for relationships and community (see above), I have found women in ministry to more concerned about self-care and private time, whether that is family, friends, or leisure activities.

Am I missing the boat here? What do you think?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Women as Pastors

I just returned home from our first women's preaching conference which was entitled "Celebrating the Preaching Voices of Women." Tammy Abee Blom, TCBF's associate coordinator for leadership development, planned the program with the assistance of Cheryl Prose, Carolyn Blevins, Nennette Measels, and Amy Mears. Amy Mears and Elizabeth Evans (a former TCBF scholarship recipient) preached. Danny Chisholm and Amy led seminars. It was a good (OK, an excellent) meeting, and I will be debriefing it on this blog for awhile.

The gathering reinforced my conviction that "moderate" Baptists in the South have missed the mark by doing little to encourage women to pursue their calling to the pastoral role. To be very clear, we don't consider women as viable candidates to pastor our churches. Yes, we talk a good game, but the recent study by Eileen Campbell-Reed and Pam Durso on the state of Baptist women in ministry should cause us to hang our heads in shame.

I may be a traitor to my gender here, but I am continually amazed that if churches have a choice for pastor between a highly qualified woman and a marginally qualified man, the man will win out!

When the group was asked today, "What would be your response to having a woman pastor?" I replied, "I could get used to it!" Nennette said that was the right answer. I have had several women as mentors in my life, and I have learned as much from them as the men who have mentored me. I think it would be the same for a pastor.

Why don't we see more women in the pulpit? Because we don't give them the chance. I will reflect in a subsequent submission on the unique qualities that a woman brings to pastoral leadership, but isn't it time that we start acting like the progressive Baptists that we say we are and open the door to all called to the pastoral ministry?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Christian Education in the 21st Century

In the last several years, I have noted a trend in churches away from talking about "Christian education" to discussing "spiritual formation" or "Christian formation." Churches are no longer looking for "ministers of education" but are seeking "ministers of spiritual formation" or some similar title.

My question is, "What has driven this shift in nomenclature?" Is this just a fad or does it represent a fundamental change in our approach to adult faith development? If it is a fundamental change, does this mean that Sunday school is on the back burner and has been replaced by something else or does it mean that we are still looking for viable alternatives to SS?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Why pastor?

Some weeks, I find myself asking, "Why would anyone want to be a pastor?" Many pastors I know are struggling. They see needs and try to lead their churches to meet those needs, but they run into resistance. They think they understand what their church members expect of their pastor, and suddenly find that they have it all wrong. They go the second and third miles in ministry, but they find it is not enough. Therefore, many pastors of my acquiantance are disappointed and even depressed. They are seeking other places of service or even considering leaving full-time ministry.

Is it any wonder that many of our young adults go to seminary, but boldly declare, "I don't want to serve in a local church!" We have to find ways to help our pastors lead and serve. Maybe then more people will want to be pastors!

Am I just having a bad day?