Prayerfully consider the following questions and write down your answers:
When you hear the word “leader,” what ideas come to mind? Make notes about an ideal leader. Use your imagination to create a picture of how they look, dress, act, communicate, and present themselves.
Describe the personality of a leader. In your opinion, should a leader be aggressive? Cooperative? Do they lead from the front? Do they lead by putting others in the front? Are they loud? Soft-spoken? Assertive? Gentle?
How are each of these attributes valued by your community? How are each of these attributes valued by your community? Do they reflect the character of Jesus or other biblical leaders? How are they valued in the men or women who exhibit them today?
Does your image and/or description of leaders reflect traditionally male characteristics? Is it difficult to “picture” or envision a female leader? Elder? Pastor?
Can the women in your church picture themselves as leaders? When asked, do they confidently accept, or do they express doubt? Are women comfortable being assertive in the church? How is a woman received when she is assertive?
How much of your church leadership is female? How have you looked for female leaders? Are you having a hard time recognizing female leaders in your own congregation?
71% of Protestants, but only 39% of Evangelicals, were supportive of female pastors.
What answers do you give congregants for tough texts about male headship and female submission, or women speaking in the church? When someone questions the difficult texts, do you feel able to answer with confidence?
When you consider who has “experience” for a particular leadership role, are you taking into account the different opportunities and/or barriers men and women have encountered within that area and how it might impact what “experience” looks like?
What is the difference between being “experienced” and being “qualified?” In interviewing candidates, do you develop questions that test for competence regardless of education or professional positions held?
What type of training do you provide for those who are qualified but perhaps not experienced?
What’s your church’s decision-making process? How does it reflect gendered expectations?
Does it test for competence regardless of education or traing? Is it hierarchical? Cooperative? One, central leader versus a team approach? Do leaders explain their thinking before making a decision? Is there a system to ensure each voice is heard, especially under-represented, quieter, or less assertive voices?
How are decisions communicated to the church body? Is there time for asking questions? Is there room in the decision-making process for questions or concerns to be addressed/incorporated in the solution?
Do your male leaders have female mentors? Do female leaders have female and male mentors?
At which leadership meetings/activities is childcare available? What implications does this have for women or men who wish to attend these leadership meetings/activities? How easy or hard is it for moms/dads to bring their children with them to minister/volunteer?
What assumptions underlie when childcare is or is not provided? (Studies indicate a gendered division of labor persists despite women’s entry into the paid labor force, with women continuing to bear the majority of “caring” tasks.)
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