May 1, 2008
The following post is from my perspective as a woman who has served in the Evangelical tradition of the Church for the past thirty years. There are many groups marginalized from the Church today, at the center of each group are those that hold the power to give access, to share power with those at the margins or those that have been denied to function in all of their God-given gifting, talent and calling.
As a woman navigating leadership in the church (not the church I serve but the wider church) my experience has been “ being caught” between two worlds. I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church where I didn’t question the issue of leadership. From my perspective the way a woman attained leadership was to become a nun. Having left the RC at the age of eighteen, my next church experience was in a Pentecostal/Evangelical church where male and female leadership was modeled. My next church experience was in a Vineyard church that embraced biblical equality. It wasn’t until the time of my ordination in 1996 the realization hit, I had been insulated from how far behind the wider church was on this issue.
While I believe this falls under an issue of justice, I have learned to restrain from pugnacious arguments on this issue. In some ways, restraint has been necessary to get a hearing, but at other times, since this is an issue of justice, I have used my power to speak up even when it is not “politically correct” to do so.
Part of the issue of power and understanding power is being self-aware enough to know when you are reacting and when you need to stand for what’s true. These are not easy issues, especially when you have felt the injustice of someone judging you because of your gender. In many ways this injustice is not unlike the caste system, one does not have control over what position in life they are born into.
This brings me to the question at hand. How do we change structures in the Church that have not allowed women access? I know this is a complex issue with many implications when you are dealing with denominational structures. What I do believe is that if people that are in the seats of power will not share power (this usually comes with a cost), i.e., step aside and let those without access have space, then real change, systemic change does not occur.
The Vineyard is in the midst of navigating how to give women access to all levels of leadership. This means changing structures that have been in place since the Vineyard’s inception that have not allowed women equal access. This is reflected in the amount of female lead pastors, the AVC Board of Directors, (all men, while their wives attend and give input, their vote does not officially count), and in countless other ways.
My husband and I have been asked to participate on a task force within the Vineyard to address empowering women for senior leadership. This is a great start. However I still have questions.
How do we navigate this kind of change? Local Vineyard churches are autonomous, with each church deciding its own governance and stance on women in ministry. It is a centered set movement. However, when we come together for regional or national events, there will now be women recognized in senior leadership. I believe this decision has caused some churches to disengage from the Vineyard.
The implications of how to move forward in a movement that embraces both sides of the issue of women in ministry but nationally adheres to a Theology of the Kingdom in this area is no easy matter. I don’t for a minute think I can speak to all of the issues that this kind of change in a movement raises.
What I can speak to is the issue of power. You see, I believe when this kind of change is on the horizon, the people that hold the power must be willing to step aside and make room for those very ones that have been without access. This means when you have an all male board of directors, a few of them would give up their vote to qualified women. It means that if you are a woman with access to power in the existing system you lobby for the women who are as our founder would say are, “doing the stuff” and you hand them the mic so to speak. Does this come with a cost, you bet it does. This kind of change does not come without the cost of someone giving up their “rights” their “place” for the sake of the “other” think Jesus.
I am hopeful that our movement can have the courage to make the necessary change structurally to give women access. I believe that the intention is to do so. Will those that actually hold the power be willing to step aside (not out) and share the power they possess to make space for others…I hope so.
What changes in structures do you see that must happen for this kind of change to occur?
April 28, 2008
“Good deeds create goodwill which eventually leads to good news”
Amen and Amen
April 12, 2008
Over at Kingdom Grace there is a conversation about Mark Driscoll’s Doctrine versus the Shack. I have not read the Shack. Nor do I need to in order to comment on the absurdity of Mark Driscoll’s rant. What kind of an environment are you cultivating when (you have the “largest church in the most unchurched city in the United States”) and you are telling people what they can and cannot read? Here are a few of the comments from Kingdom Grace’s blog:
Speaking for myself, I see him as a christian brother, but I am also aware that we view faith and doctrine very differently. My criticism for Mark isn’t based on the difference in doctrine. It is based on the fact that he repeatedly calls those he disagrees with heretics.
I do believe Mark is wrong about the trinity. The Reformed camp has latched on to a hierarchical view of the trinity as a foundation for hierarchy in marriage and church authority. In my opinion the mutuality of the trinity is to be our model for relationship.
This is an area where dialog and discussion isn’t likely to produce agreement. Ideally there would be tolerance for differences of beliefs on secondary issues. Many people have not experienced this kind of tolerance or respect from those in the more fundamental side of the Reformed church world.
I agree with Grace. I consider him a chrisitan brother, I disagree with his theology. It is not a theology of the Kingdom. He continually presents his positions as “the” christian world view. His view of God and doctrines is what fuels the church being on the wrong side of justice issues throughout history (see my last post). Bad theology is an evil taskmaster. The sexism that continually pervades his presentation of Scripture is an injustice to women.
I’ve observed Mark’s tactics often enough to recognize the pattern.
1. Describe the problem in technical theological terms to give intellectual weight to your position. (pride)
2. Declare the opposing view sin in order to scare people from considering its validity. (fear)
3. Label those who follow the other belief heretics. (shame)
4. Thus appointing yourself as the authority and guardian of truth. (control)
Grace nails it. This is a pattern of abuse. When you have oppression you have an abuse of power. When will those that listen to this week after week either get up and walk out or overthrow the oppressive regime? When will they wake up to the story of the Kingdom? When will we by the power of the Spirit live into our Story….”In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew or non-Jew, slave and free, male and female.”
April 4, 2008
From Divided by Faith
Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America
By Emerson and Smith
Why Christians Should Support Slavery
Key reasons advanced by southern church leaders.
Many Southern Christians felt that slavery, in one Baptist minister’s words, “stands as an institution of God.” Here’s why:
Abraham, the “father of faith,” and all the patriarchs held slaves without God’s disapproval (Gen 21:9-10).
Canaan, Ham’s son, was made a slave to his brothers (Gen 9:24-27).
The Ten Commandments mention slavery twice, showing God’s implicit acceptance of it (Ex 20:10,17).
Slavery was widespread throughout the Roman world, and yet Jesus never spoke against it.
The apostle Paul specifically commanded slaves to obey their masters (Eph 6:5-8).
Paul returned a runaway slave, Philemon, to his master (Philemon 12).
Charitable and evangelistic reasons
Slavery removes people from a culture that “worshipped the devil, practiced witchcraft and sorcery” and other evils.
Slavery brings heathens to a Christian land where they can hear the gospel. Christian masters provide religious instruction for their slaves.
Under slavery, people are treated with kindness, as many northern visitors can attest.
It is in ‘slaveholders’ own interest to treat their slaves well.
Just as women are called to play a subordinate role (Eph 5:22; 1Tim 2:11-15), so slaves are stationed by God in their place.
Slavery is God’s means of protecting and providing for an inferior race (suffering the “curse of Ham” in Gen 9:25 or even the punishment of Cain in Gen 4:12).
Abolition would lead to slave uprisings, bloodshed, and anarchy. Consider the mob’s “rule of terror” during the French Revolution.
Christians are to obey civil authorities, and those authorities permit and protect slavery.
The church should concentrate on spiritual matters, not political ones.
Those who support abolition are, in James H. Thornwell’s words, “atheists, socialists, communist [and] red republicans.”
In many ways I hear some of the same reasons to keep women from all God has put in their hearts to do and be…
March 28, 2008
I am blown away by the number of women, young, middle age and older that I have met here in Chicago that are doing and have dreams of living their lives organized around the Kingdom of God. I feel like this has been the best kept secret in the universe…hundreds of amazing women. Since the Vineyard has shifted to officially recognize women in every level of leadership…it is like the floodgate has opened…I am sobered and awed at the women I have met here. They are from all over the United States…I have met future theologians, scholars, pastors, small group leaders, future founders of non-profits, church planters… you name it they are here and they are an unstoppable force…
March 16, 2008
Last week was International Women’s Day. In 2006, Rachelle organized a gridblog entitled, “Dismantling Patriarchy”, (I was in Thailand officiating a wedding at time) which I participated in. This year I didn’t participate because I have been too sick and too behind in my studies. If I am going to take time to write I have to write for school. I have been too sick to concentrate on my studies or much else…in fact I have spent more time in the last two weeks watching T.V. than I have in years…it doesn’t take much energy to watch T.V…
While reading through some of the posts, I found I really resonated with Julie Clawson’s post.
From her post:
There are many issues that I try to be open minded about. I respect differences of opinion in theology and politics and disdain single issue voting, but this is a deal breaking issue for me. If a church sees women as inferior and denies them their voice, I honestly could not join as a member of that community. I could not worship week after week alongside those that denied my full humanity. I don’t deny their faith or anything, but it’s not worth it to me to subject myself to such life-denying forces. Others with far more patience are attempting to bring hope to those situations, but (at least for now) I can’t be a part of that world.
I have to say I agree with her. It is a justice issue for me, I am respectful of difference, but I couldn’t attend a church week after week that denied my right to be who I am created to be.
March 14, 2008
I don’t think many people would disagree on times are changing. The question to followers of Jesus becomes, what does it mean to be faithful in our time, what does it mean for the church to navigate the waters of societal change?
“Every few hundred years in Western society there occurs a sharp transformation…within a few short decades, society rearranges itself—its worldview; its basic values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions…fifty years later, there is a new world and the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. We are currently living through such a transformation.”
Peter Drucker. Post-Capitalist Society, New York: Harper’s Business. 1993. p. 1.
January 21, 2008
As I work on my dissertation proposal (actually a course that helps me prepare and hone in on what my proposal will be) I am rereading some thoughts from Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society
Some of my thoughts surrounding my working topic –
The Practicing Church – morphing from traditional to missional — what are the practices of:
With regard to leadership I find the following from pages 234-241 helpful:
“If I am right in believing, as I do, that the only effective hermeneutic of the gospel is the life of the congregation which believes it, one has to ask how such congregations may be helped to become what they are called to be.”
“…,the Church in the New Testament is represented by visible communities of men and women located in places which can be visited and to which letters can be written.”
“…they are represented by visible congregations which have a specific location–whether in the primary geographical sense, or in the sense of location within one of the sectors of public life in a complex and multisectional society. I have already said that I believe that the major impact of such congregations on the life of society, as a whole is through the daily work of the members in their secular vocations…but the developing, nourishing, and sustaining of Christian faith and practice is impossible apart from a believing congregation. It is therefore important to my thesis to consider, however briefly, the question of the leadership of such congregations.”
“In some Christian circles it is unfashionable to talk much about the ordained ministry, because of the fear of being guilty of elitism, one of contemporary society’s catalogue of unforgivable sins. Without going into an elaborate discussion on this fear, I will make two simple points. First, I hope I have made clear my belief that it is the whole Church which is called to be—in Christ—a royal priesthood, that every member of the body is called to the exercise of this priesthood, and that this priesthood is to be exercised in the daily life and work in Christians in the secular business of the world. But this will not happen unless there is a ministerial priesthood which serves, nourishes, sustains, and guides this priestly work.”
“Men and women are not ordained to this ministerial priesthood in order to take priesthood away from the people but in order to nourish and sustain the priesthood of the people.”
“The business of leadership is precisely to enable, encourage, and sustain the activity of all the members. To set “participation” and “leadership” against each other is absurd. Clericalism and anticlericalism are simply two sides of the same coin.”
“The minister’s leadership of the congregation in its mission to the world will be first and foremost in the area of his or her own discipleship, in that life of prayer and daily consecration which remains hidden from the world but which is the place where the essential battles are either won or lost.”
“…in the person of Peter—we have given to us a picture of apostolic leadership in the Church. Peter is first presented to us as an evangelist. He is a fisherman who, however, catches nothing until he submits to the Master’s instruction. When he does so, there is a mighty catch which he brings, with the net intact and as the fruit of his work, one undivided harvest to the feet of Jesus. Then the image changes and Peter is a pastor to whom Jesus entrusts his flock. He can so entrust it because Peter loves him more than all. But then, finally the image changes again. Peter is a disciple who must go the way the Master went, the way of the cross. He is not to look around to see who else is following. He is to look one way only—to the Master who goes before him. Ministerial is first and finally discipleship.”
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
August 2, 1963
October 6, 2007
Yesterday I was officially set in as the Area Pastor Care Leader of the Vineyard Churches in my area. Just over one year ago, the Association of Vineyard Churches sent this letter to the movement. Up until issuing this letter, the Vineyard did not have an official stance on women in ministry. The model that was passed from the founder, John Wimber was one of a pastoral couple. From my vantage point it seemed that most women leaders in the Vineyard “married” into their leadership role. Local churches were/are autonomous, making their own decision as to ordain or have women serving in senior leadership positions.
I was part of a planting team in the Seattle area in 1994. I was a single woman. In early 1996 I was ordained and recognized as the associate pastor of VCC. The lead pastor at the time, my friend and mentor, Jim Henderson.
In December of 1996, I married Rich. In August of 1999 Jim resigned and Rich and I together stepped into co-pastors of VCC.
My experience was different than most models I was seeing in the Vineyard for women. As a single woman I had been ordained and sensed a call to senior leadership. I was functioning in that position when I married Rich. The first two years of our marriage, Rich (who had pastored for thirteen years prior, spent ten years in a counseling practice and then married me, an active senior leader serving VCC) did not have a role in senior leadership. Rich can tell his own story. I will say, it was difficult for us to navigate the reversal (for Rich) of roles in the church. This is a longer story which someday we will write about. Suffice to say, Rich fully supported my role as the associate pastor of VCC and had come to a place in his own life of holding loosely before Jesus what might come of us ever ministering together. At the time we stepped into the co-pastor function of VCC we basically re-planted the church together sharing leadership. I did not marry into the ministry of senior leadership. I had never dreamed of being a pastor’s wife (there is nothing derogatory meant in that statement), over the years, I sensed I would be part of a lead pastoral team and for me that was not dependent on being married to someone serving as a pastor.
It has been a long, long road as a woman in ministry, even in my movement. Honestly, there were times we re-evaluated staying a part of the Vineyard because of this issue. I often felt marginalized and misunderstood. Last year when the AVC leadership passed the resolution to do everything they could to empower women at all levels of leadership I was thrilled.
About a month ago, the regional overseer for the Northwest Region, Dave Pardee, asked me to come aboard the regional leadership team as the APCL for our area. Yesterday, some of the guys and my friend Carol Allard prayed for me and welcomed me as their APCL. I am honored. I think that I am the first stand alone woman to serve in the leadership of the Vineyard beyond the local church. Looking back ten years, I could never have guessed this would be happening. I am thankful for the opportunity for women in the Vineyard and I am thankful to the men and women in my area who have cheered me on. My deepest thanks to Rich, his support and constant confidence in me is what makes all of this possible.