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During Women’s History Month, and especially on International Women’s Day, we have a unique opportunity to correct the marginalization of women’s accomplishments and influence. Those blindspots exist in the church too, especially when it comes to women pastors. Women pastors are not a new phenomenon, but many Christians aren't aware that there is a long tradition of women pastors in the church.  Women in history were faithful to their pastoral callings—against all odds. Many pursued ministry against the cultural tide of patriarchy in the church. These tenacious women are a vital part of our Christian legacy. But also, when we celebrate women pastors in history, we open doors wide for women in ministry today. With that in mind, here are ten awesom... Read more
Recently, Relevant published an article on the importance of reading books by women (which has since been taken down at the request of readers). In the article, the male author began by lamenting the absence of women authors from his bookshelf. Inspired by the #metoo movement, he resolved to correct the omission of women’s perspectives by intentionally reading women authors. At the recommendation of a bookstore clerk, he began his education with a supernatural fantasy romance novel written by a woman. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the romance genre, readers were quick to point out that stereotypically “feminine” romance novels aren’t the ideal choice to fulfill his goal—insight into women’s lives and experiences. Further, they added, wome... Read more
Every week, members of our small group Bible study share their “highs,” their “lows,” and how they’ve seen God this week. A couple of weeks ago, I co-led the group in a discussion on what it means to be both a Christian and a feminist. To begin, women in the group spoke openly about our “lows,” “highs,” and “how’s” of being a woman in the church. Unsure how receptive the men in our audience would be, we opened with personal stories to ease them into the potentially tense conversation. Women told of being overlooked and undermined—both inside and outside the church. We voiced our collective anger at the structural sin of patriarchy. We read and discussed tweets from #thingsonlychristianwomenhear, #thingsonlyblack... Read more
Black History Month is a life-giving banquet of black history, culture, literature, art, film, music, and theology. For black people in the US, it's a time of joy, pride, lament, and reflection. It's an imperative pause to honor the work, stories, and excellence of black people. Naturally, there's usually a massive surge in lists and resources highlighting the contributions of African American people in the US in February. Beyond celebration, Black History Month is also a great time for white Christians to check our historical bias and expand our lens. However, the onslaught of easy-to-access think-pieces and listicles during February is not an excuse for March-to-January apathy. We have year-round work to do! If we are serious about widening our historica... Read more
I grew up in Finland—one of the most egalitarian societies in the world. Though no culture is perfect, Finland continuously tops UN and World Bank rankings for best place in the world to be a mother and woman, and is also home to some of the happiest people in the world. The World Economic Forum named Finland the third most gender-equal country in the world in 2017. As a young person, it seemed that my generation had moved beyond the issue of patriarchy. Due to the work of my grandmother’s generation and many generations before her, gender equality and egalitarianism were well-established cultural values in secular Finnish society.   Historically, the Finnish nation-building project didn’t start out with a feminist ethos. It was birthed by a small, northern people... Read more
Not long ago, I served on an advisory board for a Christian organization. After a morning of listening to departmental reviews from operational staff, I shared my opinion on the notable differences in the last two presentations with a male fellow board member. Sally, I’ll call her, gave a warm interpersonal overview of her journey into her new role and department yet did not provide us with much vision for where she planned to take the department. On the other hand, George, a young male director, provided clear vision for where he wanted to take the department and gave his perspective on what the CEO and founding chair needed to do differently. The two presentations were starkly different. I wondered: Was it gender? Was it an issue of the confidence? Was it a style difference? Was... Read more
Few Christians can say that their church has handled abuse, sexual exploitation, and domestic violence against women properly. Likely even fewer can say that their church has acknowledged male victims of abuse/violence. Patriarchy is bad for women. But honestly, it’s bad for men too. Egalitarian theology is good for both. I was introduced to egalitarianism, the radical notion that women are equal to men and Scripture supports that conclusion, by a former professor. It convinced me that God didn't make a mistake when he called me, a woman, to be a pastor. I am qualified to preach—not because of my gender but because of my God. But, egalitarianism doesn’t just uplift women. It shows men who don't fit stereotypes that they don't have to break themselves into pi... Read more
Last week, theologian John Piper made headlines for saying that women shouldn't be seminary professors, because seminaries train men to become pastors, and since women shouldn't preach, they have no place training men for those positions.  I'm not a seminary professor, so I'm not writing this because I'm vying for a job.  I'm not a theologian, so I'm not going to break down the Greek words and the context to show you why he's wrong (though plenty of other theologians have done so.) I'm just a small woman with a big voice in my soul that doesn't come from me. When I read Piper's comments, I was a little angry and a lot sad.  I was sad for sisters like me with big voices in their soul they know they're meant to share, who ge... Read more
“Joy to the world, the Savior reigns. Let men their songs employ!” We sang these words a month ago on Christmas Eve. I quietly sang “all” instead of “men” to myself and wondered how many other people found the use of a masculine noun for a mixed-gender group strange. Our church is normally very careful about using gender-accurate language in our songs and in the pulpit, but at Christmas-time this year, several gender-inaccurate songs slipped in. Granted, these are old songs and reflect an old way of speaking. But still, language matters. It impacts our ideas. It reflects our biases. It influences those we speak to. As I sang on Christmas Eve that all men are to employ their songs, the picture in my head was of men singing praises to God. Not one woman... Read more
If you’ve spent any time in church (or studying the New Testament text), you’ve heard of the famous couple, Priscilla and Aquila. Biblical narratives centered on co-laboring couples like Priscilla and Aquila have always excited me. Long before I met my husband, I envisioned a marriage of mutuality and shared ministry. Most of the marriages around me didn’t function that way. I was used to the Pinterest standard for ministry wives—dresses cute; does arts-and-crafts; bakes cookies from scratch; makes parenting look easy; and has dinner ready when the husband comes home hungry and tired from a day of ministry. While I genuinely think that’s a beautiful reality for women who feel fulfilled by it, it just isn’t me or my reality. I’ve never done a seri... Read more

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