I went to a breakfast for the church planters in our network. I walked in with my husband to see a table full of men.
I was the only woman.
Am I the only planting woman integrally involved in the development of a church in our network? No, but somehow I was the only one who came to the table that day.
On the one hand, I was a bit shocked by the all male table. On the other hand, I shouldn’t have been surprised at all.
When we went for our evaluation to become church planters, they didn’t ask what I had done to start something from scratch or what I had made grow. They only wanted to know what Jon had done, even though we told them we would be working together to plant the church. I was only asked to answer questions about Jon and to answer a couple of questions about how I felt about our marriage and starting a church.
I am sure this was because I did not have my license to preach at that time. However, it wasn’t a clear evaluation since only half the planting team was assessed. Just like only halves of planting teams were represented at that breakfast. Licensed or not, those ladies are, more often than not, playing major roles in the development of the churches they serve.
I have never felt others were discouraging me from being fully engaged in ministry. Unlike the planters’ breakfast, I was not surprised by the make up of the room at my licensing exam. There were several other women there. Our fellowship encourages and welcomes women in ministry.
However, I have felt, like at our evaluation, that there is an assumption based on my gender that I might not be leading.
I don’t think this assumption comes as a signifier of a belief that women are not capable to lead. In fact, there are ample opportunities for women in ministry. Still, there are not many women in lead pastor positions.
Is this because women are not applying, or is it because churches are not hiring those who apply? I don’t have the answer to that question.
Instead, I present two steps in the right direction:
- If you are a voting member at a church, don’t hesitate to bring a woman on staff as the lead pastor. You know just as well as I do that ladies can study, hear from God, lead teams, plan events, counsel, market, budget, preach, encourage, guide, etc. as well as any man.
- If you are a woman that is afraid to sit at the men’s table, don’t be. They don’t bite. At the breakfast, we joked for about 30 seconds about the fact that I was the only woman there; then, we talked about the struggles and triumphs of church planting. No one cared one ounce that I wasn’t a man. They cared about what God is doing at Redemption Church Charlottesville and the other plants in the network.
There is room at the table.