This past Sunday, our Pastor of Global and Regional Outreach, Jeanette Yep gave a powerful message as part of our summer series entitled, “Psalms: A Soundtrack For Our Lives.” You can watch/listen to it here.
Jeanette got me thinking about a number of things. This is the first church that I’ve served at where we’ve had women preaching from the pulpit, called them pastors and celebrated their many other gifts in leadership and I know we still have a ways to go but I love it. I know many fantastic evangelical churches that do not allow women to “preach” and while I want to be careful with my use of rhetoric here, I want to say as a brother in the Lord that it’s long overdue to examine what Paul is really saying throughout the New Testament, including passages like I Timothy 2 and I Corinthians 14.
For me, this is not about being politically correct but about being biblical. I for one was always troubled of the role of roles of Priscilla and Aquila until I examined the words of Paul (and Jesus’ example) in the New Testament regarding women in ministry in their historical context.
I can’t help but think that churches that aren’t allowing women in their pulpits are really at a disadvantage. It’s not just that they are “missing out” on solid messages delivered by unique voices. They are losing important words from necessary hearts. Losing.
Among what I loved about the message was how Jeanette talked about the tough times of life without actually depressing us. When this series was being planned we were trying to include a number of emotions that are found in life and in the Psalms. This included the difficult valleys and Jeanette focused on Ps. 13. In our planning, we encouraged one another to be personal and she certainly modeled that for us this Sunday.
I know as a preacher that this is a tricky thing as there are a number of people who are not ready to be confronted by their pain on a Sunday morning. I suspect that some people use “church” as a form of escape but I think a far greater number of others simply are not ready to hear difficult words in a crowded, well-lit sanctuary. Of course this brings up the importance of the community that can be found in small group gatherings but it also brings up the use of effective preaching to a congregation those who may be grieving and weathering the storm.
There have been a number of Sundays that if you were to look at me, you would think that I was disinterested in the worship. Sadly, there have been times where that has been true but there have also been a number of times that the most worshipful thing I could do was walk into the sanctuary. My heart was tired, my soul beaten, my mind exhausted from internal feuding and the countenance on my face looked like I hated the hymns and worship songs.
But it almost always did me good to hear others worshipping. I remember one time watching a widow sing through her tears and I was encouraged as we went found our way through a time where we were grieving a number of tragic moments including a family loss, years of infertility and a miscarriage. It was a also a time of feuding with people that I naively thought I wouldn’t be fighting.
In two weeks, I’m preaching on the theme of enemies and rivalries in the Psalms and this message has set a great context for me to reference (This Sunday is on remorse and forgiveness, so I must say, I’m liking where my Sunday is falling).
Hearing Jeanette’s stories and my own sermonizing has brought back a couple of thoughts and some hurtful words and memories. I would say the blessing of this has been seeing how far the Lord has brought us since that time. It hasn’t all been circumstantial however, some of it has simply been His peace and healing that have been found in the storm. Among the lessons that Susan and I have learned over the years is that God is a giver of life, healing and hope.
It was great to see Jeanette preach such a powerful message and I look forward to hearing more from the women on our pastoral staff and from many others who save the Kingdom with great gifts and passion.
If you are processing through the issue of women in ministry, I’d like to suggest the following titles:
Junia Is Not Alone by Scot McKnight – a brilliant and brief ebook for only $3. Highly recommend it.
How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals by Alan Johnson. This book is on a number of male pastor’s shelves – beautiful.
Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis by William Webb. For a very serious treatment on a some tough issues.
Check out also a post I wrote earlier this year entitled, “Does Piper’s “Masculine Christianity” Undermine Women?” It’s more about the masculine imagery and projection of God than women in ministry but I think if were to dig a little bit, we would see that two are very connected. There’s also a 5 minute video clip with NT Wright on the subject of women in ministry – it’s really good.
As always, comments, tweets, Facebook likes/shares are welcomed – thanks for reading.