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How I got here: Challenging the status quo

October 29, 2012

Several years ago, I started down a path of challenging the status quo at the church where I have been employed for almost 13 years.  At the time, I was just past 50, a pastoral coordinator (pastoral staff without the title of pastor).  This church has been my church home for 20 years. In this time, I have seen the senior pastor and the senior pastoral team transition from a complementarian view of women in leadership to a fully egalitarian view.  Our church is very diverse and values reflecting that diversity in our staff.  At the time I wrote my initial paper, I wasn’t seeing this reflected with regard to women in pastoral roles.  There was a clear promotional path for men, especially diverse men; yet women who had been serving in similar roles, often for longer periods of time, seemed to be passed over for promotion.

This was in the early days of Vineyard USA’s public embrace of women in leadership at all levels.  Our senior pastor had been one of the strong advocates for this position.  Yet, it seemed to me that we didn’t reflect this in practice in our own church.  I felt led to write a paper challenging what I was seeing, and addressing some of the short sightedness that I believed was contributing to the lack of promotions. For the sake of integrity, I should note that I was promoted to Pastor within 6 months of the submission of the paper.  I had not anticipated this outcome. I had reached a point of peace with the role & title I already had.  When circumstances in our church opened up the role I was asked to fill, it honestly did not occur to me that I would be asked to fill it.

So, why am I still beating this drum? Why this blog? Didn’t I get what I wanted? Not really.  I wasn’t primarily after my own personal promotion, although it certainly was a question in my mind when I wrote the initial paper. I addressed several issues beyond simply the promotion of women, having to do with leadership development, growth and how we could work more effectively with the flow of women’s lives.

I’ve met with “aren’t we done with the women’s thing?” all too often in the ensuing years. As though we had somehow arrived and could stop working on this issue. Quite honestly, I believe that we have only just begun. I care that the church and particularly my own brand of church, the Vineyard movement, continues to move forward in embracing the Kingdom role of women in a way that honors women as they are created, not expecting them to behave like men to be promoted or heard.

Ive been encouraged to get my thoughts “out there” so I’ll be posting my paper over the next several weeks in bite sized pieces.  Some of it will be the original paper; some of it will be my more recent reflections.  I invite your comments, but ask that you refrain from rehashing the question of women in ministry. Please read, knowing that my passion is for the kingdom and the release of women into kingdom ministry based on gifting and calling.

From → Women's issues

  1. We indeed “are not done with the women thing”. I attended a church planting conference in April with world-known church planters and many pastors seeking to grow and discern their next steps.

    I was the only female pastor present.

    One of the speakers made a comment in his presentation about “all getting to play” and a pastor at my table said he still ‘struggles with’ women being called to pastor. A great discussion ensued and I was thrilled. However, saddened at the same time as I realized close to half of the men present believed women are not called by God to pastor.

    While many churches and denominations have embraced women’s gifts as pastors, many have not. And they very… in denomination and in age. In fact, a chaplain that I serve with at a local hospital is in his twenties and believes without one single doubt that I am sinning by being a pastor. We have discussed it but there is absolutely no openness in him seeking to believe anything else.

    The women thing is not done. Blogs, papers, and discussions must continue so that people may walk in the freedom of the giftings woven into them by their Creator… and be unleashed in the Kingdom.


  2. Sue and Tress,
    I’d love to enter this discussion with you! I have been the recipient of much pastoral care and ministry by gifted and consecrated sisters at Ashland over the years, and thank God for their ministry – for your ministry! – as much as I do for the ministry of the brothers that have given me pastoral care as well. And yet I live and work in a denomination that does not ordain women to the Pastoral Office. This is not the place for that conversation – this is your blog, and I am your guest here! It is sufficient here for me to say that I have indeed struggled with my own church body’s arguments against women pastors, and my observations about how women who are ordained in other denominations are treated by other pastors and congregations. I keep coming back to a question that I asked one of my sister pastors who provided me with much pastoral care while I was slogging through my dissertation:
    “Why is it that in my denomination (as in many others) we refuse to ordain women but we will ordain fatheads?” Her laughingresponse was “In my denomination we ordain women AND fatheads!”


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