Aug 17, 2011
Right now there are many churches where only half of their members are recognized as leaders who can actively participate in the guidance and teaching of the church. Even in the churches who like the idea of this segment becoming involved, it’s hard to actually make it happen.
Who knows what we’re missing because we keep half of our congregations on the fringes, allowing them to mingle in a few areas without really paying much attention to them. We blame them for some of the problems we ourselves have caused and then act like they do nothing but whine when they point out the junk we dump on them.
I’m talking about women.
Even in churches that are progressive, I still see a lot of men standing up front. A few things get tweaked but we still hear something like this from a guy up front:
Be missional, buy into the vision of my church and it will be awesome….
Be inclusive and accepting, buy into the vision of my church and it will be awesome…
An then there’s the men leading the old guard:
Be seeker sensitive, buy into the vision of my church and it will be awesome…
Be more committed to the truth, buy into the vision of my church and it will be awesome…
As much as I applaud the conferences that have worked to put together a greater diversity of voices, our leadership in the church today is still lacking because women are only taken seriously when leading children, teaching natives in the jungle, or speaking to other women.
We still haven’t sought the guidance of female leaders as if the integrity of our witness and the reflection of God’s character depended on it.
Legit Female Leadership
A bunch of my friends in the Twittersphere were at Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit last week. Their Twitter feeds lit up with awe and wonder at a speaker from Egypt named Mamma Maggie Gobran (this has links to her profile and tweets from her session).
Mama Maggie soon trended on Twitter because everyone recognized the power and authority of her message. While I didn’t get to see her talk, I did track down some notes.
And here’s my deal. I know that you can learn lots of good stuff from business leaders. I know that men have lots of wisdom to share. I know that there are all kinds of different churches with different leadership styles.
However, in a room full of years of business expertise, church growth chops, and pastoral perseverance, a woman serving among the poor stole the show. That begs the question:
What else are we missing?
If one woman can show up that many dudes, maybe it’s time start asking ourselves, How can we encourage other women to follow God’s calling to lead?
I have sat under the leadership of women in church meetings, during Sunday sermons, and in small groups. God recognizes their authority and uses them to lead. I’ve seen powerful ministry accomplished by women.
It’s true that a woman could just as well fall into the same trap as a man, or perhaps a different kind of trap altogether. Women are not the magic bullet that will fix the church. It’s just that we’re pretty comfy with the flaws of male leaders, but since we aren’t used to the flaws of female leaders, we may somehow think that these are worse.
If God can use women like Deborah and Huldah to lead his people, then we shouldn’t be surprised that Momma Maggie rocked it at the Leadership Summit.
Women and men share the same calling to lead.
What Can We Do?
It is incredibly clear to me that I am a writer and not a church leader. I can’t train anyone to lead because I wouldn’t know what to tell that person to do. I’d say something like, “Sit at a desk and start using words like vision and critical mission.”
However, I can tell stories and start conversations. I can affirm the truth that women have an important role in the church.
Do you know of a woman who has effectively led others? Do you have a calling from God to lead a ministry?
Please share your story below because there may be a young woman who is called to lead and needs to read your story. Let’s keep this conversation going. If we don’t encourage the church to embrace the diversity that God intends, who will?
One last thing, if you’re going to start throwing Bible verses at me about women NOT leading, please check out the other posts on this blog where I have that debate. This is a post about encouragement. If you want to debate my points here, check out this post.