Women in Leadership | CBE International

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Women in Leadership

The other day, a good friend of mine was told that she looks like a "pastor's wife." She was a bit confused about how she could possibly "look like a pastor's wife." I assume she was told this because she has a heart for the lost. She helped start and build a thriving youth ministry. She organizes events, preaches, and holds Bible studies. Any man doing the same (or even less) would be told that he could be a pastor. So why the difference? Sexism is lurking in the walls of the conservative church. In subtle ways, the church is telling women that they aren't invited to the decision-making table. There is a quietly oppressive system in place that ensures women know their place (which is not behind the pulpit or in any position of leadership). M... Read more
In Part 1 of this series, I shared five strategies for helping churches create space for women in church leadership positions with the ultimate goal of ensuring equal opportunity for women at all levels of leadership. These strategies are based on my own experience as a lead pastor and now a candidate pastor searching for a position. Here are five more strategies to promote the full inclusion of women in church leadership. 1. Use Biblical Narrative Biblical narrative can be a powerful tool in leading people toward paradigm shifts. When our stories are directed by God's story, we are more likely to make intentional changes. As Christians, we must be aware of God's broader plan for humanity. God's over-arching message of inclusion and equality for men and women... Read more
I’ve seen you do it a thousand times. You speak, but you hedge, qualify, and apologize for your words. You backtrack. You surrender. You question your experience and viciously undermine the truth you speak. You tread softy and sit small. And who can blame you? It is what the world taught you to do. It is what the church taught you to do. You patrol the boundaries of your ideas carefully, allowing only the softest, sweetest version of the truth to slip through. You trim the jagged edges of your story away so men aren’t made uncomfortable. You’ve been trained to protect their privilege, so protect it you do. Women are used to suppressing and minimizing their opinions. For many, the instinct to capitulate to men is as natural as breathing. Many have even come to see that... Read more
It is 1942. The pilot steps into the cockpit, straps in, and nervously heads down the runway. This is the chance of a lifetime. Only the very best of the best will wear the coveted uniform and bear the name of this elite, groundbreaking unit. Flying straight and level simply will not cut it. The pilot pulls back on the stick, easily lifting the plane into the air. Now for the mission! A quick move forward, a tight bank to the left, pushing the aircraft to its limits as if dodging ground fire over hostile territory. Confidence grows as the pilot skillfully handles the plane, the tension flowing away with each flawlessly executed maneuver. Finally, the test is over and the plane lands. The pilot steps out of the cockpit, walks to the evaluators, and removes the helmet. She did it! S... Read more
After a long workout, I shuffled up to the front desk and made my usual request for a shower towel. The older gentleman at the front desk obliged, “Here you are, little lady.” Cringe. I had just spent the last hour slinging weights and sweating more than most of the men in my CrossFit class. To be fair, that man had no idea that I had just spent the last ten minutes trying to convince well-meaning gentlemen that, no, I did not need help putting my thirty-three-pound barbell up, considering I had just spent thirty minutes power cleaning more than that. I had also spent the entire two months of class so far trying not to audibly gag when called “sweetheart,” “darling,” or “girlie” during grueling workouts. After the better half of f... Read more
I was fortunate to be raised by parents who valued and encouraged education for their daughters. Growing up in a family of three daughters with a fairly egalitarian father, I never knew the sting of boys being favored over girls in anything—sports, education, career, or ministry. My parents cheered me on at my athletic competitions and proudly supported my academic accomplishments. My father administered the oath of office when I was commissioned as an officer into the military. I enjoyed the full support of my parents as I earned two master’s degrees and a ministry diploma. My father wanted his daughters to be educated women of character, capable of supporting themselves.  The importance of girls and women receiving a good education seemed obvious to me. I could not... Read more
A few years ago, my daughter landed the starring role of Mary in her school nativity. My heart thumbed in my chest as she took to the stage. My smile beamed from cheek to cheek as I watched her play the part brilliantly. Every Christmas, many young girls are given the role of this unknown, unmarried, unnoticed teenager who was told by an angel that she would give birth to God’s son. Yes, you read that correctly—she was to give birth to God’s son, Jesus. In our eyes, she was an ordinary girl called to do something extraordinary. Yet to God, she was an extraordinary woman called to do something pretty ordinary (to him). I have often wondered—what would we do with Mary today? If she was to come into our lives and churches announcing that she was pregnant with... Read more
Until I launched my own dream to plant a church, I found more freedom to be who God created me to be, and to exercise my gifts of teaching, leadership, and yes, even pastoring, in the military. As a Lieutenant Colonel, I have a great deal of latitude in how I lead, strategize, and execute plans to accomplish the mission. I have been trained, equipped, commissioned by Congress, and appointed by the President. The expectation is that I am capable and willing to conduct whatever operations necessary to meet objectives. The fact that I am a woman simply does not enter the equation. My experience in the church, however, has been quite different. I have been trained, equipped, and commissioned by Christ (Matthew 28) and yet, a pastor told me that I would not be ordained because I am a woma... Read more
Back in the mid-80's, environmental education trickled down into rural Kentucky. I quickly became a diligent crusader to save the fish caught in the plastic rings that held 6-pack soft drinks together. I carefully clipped the rings before throwing them away. I would even drag uncut ones out of the trash, while earnestly explaining to my parents why it was important to cut the rings apart. I felt like I was making a difference by keeping the fish safe from becoming trapped in the uncut plastic rings and dying unnecessarily. What I didn't consider was that our trash went to a landfill outside Berea. A solidly land-locked landfill, I might add. The fish were in no grave danger, despite my zealous efforts to save them. Years later, I asked my mother why she allowed m... Read more
Recently, Perry Noble, pastor of New Spring megachurch, wrote an article defending the idea that women should preach. To that, theologian Tom Schreiner wrote a response for The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). Though from a Southern Baptist background, Noble is open to a more egalitarian stance, at least to allow women to preach. Schreiner has argued for what can be identified as traditional complementarianism (men are the leaders in both the home and church). His overall perspective was that Perry Noble fails to persuade in his article for women preaching. I think Schreiner has some fair thoughts on the holes in Noble’s arguments (though not Noble’s conclusions about women preaching). However, both Schreiner... Read more