Tag Archives: women in ministry

Viva La Femme Friday: Hannah

When I was younger, my pastor nabbed me for ministry.  In my teen years, when I was busy planning and organizing events for my youth group, I’d drop by his office to ask really deep theological questions.  He was the first to begin planting seeds that I should consider being a pastor. 

So last summer a friend of mine contacted me and told me how her 4th grade daughter has decided she wants to be a pastor.  I love it.  I was more concerned with my bright white roller skates with big puff balls and groov’in to “We Are Family” by the Pointer Sisters in 4th grade than I was with sharing my faith.  Sure, I invited my friends to church, but because it was fun, not because I thought they might like Jesus. 

What can I say, I was a late bloomer.

Not Hannah.  This girl has it together, I can tell.  A few days ago her mom contacted me again, to tell me that Hannah was STILL talking about being in ministry.  So this wasn’t some passing phase.  And not only that, who needs to wait till you’re an adult to really be in ministry?  Not Hannah. 

Her mom sent me this interview about an organization Hannah has started called “Hannah’s Hope.”

You need to listen to this interview.  Seriously.  Please.  (Then you can hear how mature and cute she sounds)

(Hannah’s interview on Way FM)

Here’s what I love about Hannah.  First, she’s cute as a button. 

Second, she reminds me that you don’t need a degree, you don’t need lot’s of money, you don’t need to be 23 and you don’t need a fancy seminary degree to spread the message of Christ’s love for us.

And so, for my Viva La Femme Friday pick, I choose Hannah. 

And would you do me a few favors? 

#1

write a comment here to encourage Hannah in her passion for ministry and spreading the message of Jesus.  And,

#2

Keep your eyes open for young girls in your community that show leadership and passion for Jesus, and encourage them to consider serving Jesus in whatever capacity they feel called.

#3

Encourage your church leaders to make sure our young women see older women in leadership roles, including praying, singing, preaching, decisions making teams, children…anywhere, and everywhere. 

Yay Hannah for encouraging my spirit this week!

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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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Bottom Line

Fix this picture firmly in your mind: Jesus, descended from the line of David, raised from the dead. It’s what you’ve heard from me all along. It’s what I’m sitting in jail for right now—but God’s Word isn’t in jail! That’s why I stick it out here—so that everyone God calls will get in on the salvation of Christ in all its glory. This is a sure thing:

   If we die with him, we’ll live with him;
   If we stick it out with him, we’ll rule with him;
   If we turn our backs on him, he’ll turn his back on us;
   If we give up on him, he does not give up—
      for there’s no way he can be false to himself.”    (2 Timothy 2:8-13)

I’ve been taking a class at the local community college here in Kalamazoo.  I feel pretty old when I’m at class.  I’m the oldest person in the class besides the teacher.  Early in the class one of the girls said “I was born the year you graduated from high school” in a sweet happy voice.  Did she really need to point this out???  It always amuses me a little when the 17-year-old boy comes in and sits next to me and starts telling me how he’s SO tired and he had to risk life and limb to get to class on time at 9 am because it’s just SO hard to get up this early.  I try really hard to remember that when I was that age….that was stressful to me too.  But I really want to tell him everything I had to do this morning before class.  Feed and dress three kids.  Calm a handful of fights between three children.  Get the oldest child to school.  Remember all the oldest child’s homework and make sure she has a lunch packed and a snack.  Hope the babysitter arrives on time.  And somewhere in there hope I get a shower and can look decent for the day. 

I enjoy this class.  But here’s what I enjoy the most.

Each class, I am more and more surrounded by students who “casually” like to ask me about my job as a pastor.  It’s not often you see a young woman pastor and they have questions.  Like where I work and where I went to seminary. 

One of the largest churches in the Kalamazoo area has a male and female, husband wife team as head pastors.  Valley Family Church is a growing, vibrant, church making a difference in our community.  Men and women are at all levels of ministry serving as God called them to serve.

1 Timothy 2:14 goes on to say:  “Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s people. Warn them before God against pious nitpicking, which chips away at the faith. It just wears everyone out. Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple.”

I’m growing tired of defending women in ministry.  It wears me out sometimes.  The world doesn’t need to see the church divided on this issue.  The church needs to stop being nitpicky and focus on the task at hand:  Sharing who Christ was and is. 

If women shouldn’t be in ministry at any level of their giftedness, than why is someplace like Valley Family Church having such AMAZING success?  Why is their ministry so fruitful? 

I think the kids in my class are curious about me as a pastor because for the first time, they have seen the church as accepting rather than oppressive to people.  This matters, because when the church acts in this way, Christ is seen in this way.  This is the bottom line.

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