The topic of women serving as senior pastor of a church has come up a lot lately at my church. We are currently in the process of looking for a pastor and many conversations have been initiated by our search team with various groups within our church. Without any prompting, this issue has come up several times. This particular blog entry is not to “air our laundry” in public (I’ve actually been very proud of our church members on this particular topic…pleasantly surprised!).
A couple of preface statements…
- I am totally supportive of and harbor absolutely NO theological objections to women serving in any position of leadership/ministry role/etc. within the church–this is one of the top reasons I am proud support and participate in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
- While CBF is supportive ordaining and promoting women in pastoral roles, I believe the reality of individual churches giving equal opportunity to female candidates is FAR FROM BEING A REALITY. (I’ve read this very observation made by die-hard Southern Baptist fundamentalist leaders who are totally against women serving in pastoral roads…they have named our hypocrisy.)
- All that being said, I don’t want a pastoral selection made based merely on a political/social statement. (That’s easy for me to say as a male, it probably sounds like a cop-out to female pastoral candidates…more churches need to take initiative in this area).
I’ve heard some form of this statement articulated many times over the last several months (not just with our church): “I’m totally supportive of having a woman pastor, but I just don’t think our church/town/region is ready for that yet.” My purpose is not to criticize that reality as much as to ask a sociological question: What does that mean? Why are we “not ready?” What is going on within our religious life/institutions in 2008 that makes us not ready for female pastoral leadership?
I’ll just point out one thing…we, “the Church” (universal), are so self-absorbed in our own very small reality that issues such as this can linger…for years! I recognize that systems such as institutional religion are very slow and resistant to change. Ultimately that really is a cop out. My friend Sam wrote and interesting post on his blog about this issue that I believe to be one step toward moving out of this malaise. I think his offering of “skipping a step” is insightful and introduces a fresh way of thinking into our crotchety system. However, its time our crotchety system take responsibility and show some leadership in this area. There are some really big issues the church should be concerned with in our world. The role of women in leadership should be one (of many) in which the church is leading/modeling from the front. Rather, we are woefully behind.