Viva La Femme Friday


I stumbled across this article last week on Twitter.  Of course I read it with pure fascination.  You should read it too. 

If you’re not interested in reading the article.  Maybe I can entice you. 

Does it matter to you that when your daughters grow up, they are allowed to reach their full potential?  Is your daughter gifted in music or art?  Is she gifted speaking in front of others or in leadership? 

Or maybe YOU (speaking to women here) have thought yourself gifted in music, yet never given the opportunity to lead worship?  Have you always been a back-up singer, told you had a strong voice and stage presence, hinted around at trying to lead worship, but you’ve never been asked?  And to be honest, it doesn’t really make sense does it.  The fact that you can be on stage or you can teach a Sunday School class, but you can’t officially lead worship.  Or speaking, or preaching.  Why is it that you are a gifted teacher but never asked to preach?  Is it interesting that most denominations will allow women to preach in front of men in other countries but not here in America?

Many of you know this dilemma has been a struggle for me.  Most recently I was hired at my church as a pastor.  I was interviewed as a pastor.  I was introduced to the church as a pastor.  But some people complained I suppose.  And I spent several months trying to figure out why, even though I’m an ordained elder like the other two pastors and I was introduced as a pastor, I was not given the title of pastor publically in writing.  My door just said Jen, while the other doors said Pastor (man’s name).  Craziness.  I am in a denomination that publically supports women in ministry.  Our founder, B.T Roberts, wrote a book called “Ordaining Women.”  This shouldn’t be happening in 2010 right?  Well, it did.  I suppose after the announcement was made at the church, some people had issues.  When I asked my superintendent about it, he came to chat with me.  I wasn’t pushy about the issue.  But if I went to medical school, I wouldn’t be hired as a doctor and not be called a doctor?  Right?  I did spend 3 years getting an MDiv and 5 years in ministry (like a residency) to be ordained in my denomination.  But the leadership at the church caught wind of my meeting with conference leadership and I was fired a few weeks later.  

I’m sure if you’ve read my blog you sensed my frustrations, but I’ve never come out and told the story because it has been raw and painful for me.  I was fired because I was “la femme.” 

For a long time I have thought that staying silent would somehow make me look more “ministry-minded” I guess.  That I had “the betterment of the whole” in mind.  I decided I might never get a job if I’m pushy.  But I suppose this tactic hasn’t worked either since I’m still jobless.  So is it really any better to remain quiet and humble?  And in naivety as a young woman, I really thought that doing my job well, would mean I would get job offers.  But that hasn’t been the case.  I won’t go in to details, but I also planted a church and after giving two years of my life to planting that church, going from a team of 8 to a congregation of 52, I was replaced with a man, not because I had a choice.  So as of late I’ve had the quote from abolitionist Frederick Douglas in my mind.  He said about social justice: “Agitate, agitate, agitate.”  His feeling was that persistent agitation would result in response. 

If you’ve ever read the book “Blink” in the last chapter of the book it describes how classical music only allowed men to audition and perform before the 60’s.  It took drastic changes from within the classical music industry to change that.  It took men with power to say “let’s change this.”  It took men with power, seeking justice and saying “let the best PERSON win.”  And not being threatened by that.  So at some point, every person auditioning had to be behind a screen.  No one could see them.  They only heard them play. 

And now, classical music is both men and women playing music together, and it’s beautiful. 

We don’t have to worry that our daughters won’t have a future in classical music.

But we do if she shows signs of being a good singer with a passion for Jesus.  We do if she is gifted in leading ministries.  I showed signs of giftedness when I was a teenager and my pastor invited me to preach and teach and encouraged me at a young age to consider ministry.

So then, why is it that women aren’t being appointed to evangelical churches in anything other than children’s ministries (not that this is bad, I’m glad women are working with children, but what if a woman doesn’t feel called to work with kids)?   Why is it that there have been ZERO women in the top 10 Christian songs in the past 10 years. 

Thank-goodness I’m not the only one alarmed by these statistics in the Christian world.  Here are some great blog posts you should read as well:

Her-Menuetics on “Becky,” and Randy Elrod who has also written a book on my list to read called “Sex, Lies and Religion.”

If you read the above blog post from Her-Menuetics you know they refer to “Becky.”  She’s basically the demographic who buy’s the most Christian music.  She’s the 30-40 something year old woman. 

She’s also probably the biggest instigator of families attending church on a regular basis.  So “Becky” sits in our pews every Sunday.

I AM BECKY!  And “Becky,” from what they’re saying is jealous of “Becky.”  Are you “Becky?”

Why is this happening?  Why can’t we support other women?  I don’t think it’s because we all want to be singers or speakers?  Maybe it’s because many of us stay at home and have un-met career goals.  Or maybe we have to work in a mindless job and we hate it because at one time we had dreams and the thought of listening to “Becky” singing sweet melodies and fulfilling her dreams while we drive our commute home makes us want to gag.  So instead we listen to Joe. 

There is a constant tension between those women that work and those that don’t.  The grass is greener on the other side, so maybe this is why “Becky” can’t listen to “Becky?”

All I know, is that I want this undercurrent of socially acceptable gender prejudice to STOP.  I know, there are a handful of you that may read me and you don’t agree with women in positions of leadership.  And that’s fine.  You probably won’t like this thread of blog posts every Friday.  But do me a huge favor.  Please.  Read this book and then decide. (It’s four views on women in ministry written from 4 different perspectives.)

I want my daughters to live fully this passage in Galations 3:28-29: “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.”

And I NEED Christian women in music and ministry as role-models for my girls.

So from here on out I’m calling my Friday posts “Viva La Femme Friday.”  I’m going to write about gifted women every Friday.  Musicians, writers, pastors, bloggers, survivors, whatever.  I’m going to find serious speakers, not the “fru-fru, throw a feather boa around my neck while I break out in show tune hymns, kind of speaker,” or the latest Christian Miss America, but the serious, theologically trained or relevant speakers like Anne Jackson or Beth Jones.  That’s my plan.  It’s the best way I know how to change this crazy anti-women trend in the church.  I need a positive outlet.  So it’s all woman, every Friday.  Women who God has gifted and how they are making a positive difference. 

And here’s how you can help me.  Make comments!  If you have a great new female author or musician you think others would like, please share it!  Let us know, give us links, so we can purchase and support other women!

Let’s stop being  jealous of “Becky” and start cheering “Becky” on.  This is for our daughters ladies.  This is for my Charis and Meleah.  So that someday they won’t ever have to think twice about following their calling.  That we won’t limit their potential for good.

What do you think?  What do you think can be done to change this issue in the church?  Can we change things like the classical music industry did?

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6 thoughts on “Viva La Femme Friday

  1. Kathie says:

    You are completely right. It is a leadership issue. Our denomination has ordained women for years but it is only this year (on our district in WA) that a church of significant size was given to a young woman. She began as an evangelist, establishing her reputation as a preacher of exceptional depth. She then worked as a supply pastor, taking the pulpit for months at a time in good sized churches while they looked for a pastor. One of these churches, a very large church, wanted to call her as their pastor but she wisely said no, and waited for the right church. One opened up and she is there, has been there for three years now. Through all of this, it is the district leader who has been her biggest cheerleader. He is the one who guided her, gave her opportunity to be seen and prove herself publicly. It seems that women must go through hoops that men don’t have to do to make it in ministry. That said, several of our churches have women as their paid worship leaders as well as children and youth pastors. I guess my word to you is, don’t give up.

  2. Jeff Finley says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’ve passed this to a family member who’s very interested in the topic of women in ministry.

    I partially wrote a blog post about the lack of women on the Christian music charts but never got it finished. If/when I do, I’ll try to let your readers know.

  3. Good for you! Speaking out is the new feminine!

    I went to Moody Bible Institute. Now I’m a pastor and writer. It can be done… but only with the wonderful resolve that you have. I’m so glad that you’re walking into the fullness of what God is calling you to.

  4. Janet L. Bohren says:

    I am a retired university professor (education) and am finishing an MTS at a local Methodist seminary. I am also.an elder in the PC(USA). I have spent the last 15 years or so studying feminist theology & biblical interpretation and Christian “her”story / “his”tory . It is amazing how many times your story has occurred in modern times and further back in history – e.g. Hildegard von Bingen. Dive into this scholarly work, you will love it. You have many sister’s shoulders to stand on as you move forward and speak out. It is so good that you are finding your strong woman’s voice. Many need to hear it!

  5. […] Comments Janet L. Bohren on Viva La Femme FridayCarol Howard Merritt on Viva La Femme FridayJeff Finley on Viva La Femme FridayKathie on […]

  6. DAWN says:

    Hey fellow GCer! I am making a comment on your blog. I would like to be entered in for the drawings. I enjoy hearing how other christian women make a difference! I am proud of your courage and your spirit! May you always find ways to meet your spiritual needs as well enrich the lives of others!
    Blessings always, Dawn

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