That Woman Pastor
Jan 16

Written by: Lin Wurzbacher
1/16/2011 9:04 AM  RssIcon

Just recently, I sense a change in the wind beginning for acceptance of women in Church leadership in America. Yes, a few Christian denominations have been supporting women for quite some time. There are other denominations that 'claim' to support them, reality shows their support is often weak or close to non-existent at times.

Like my husband is fond of saying, talk is cheap. As much as many denominations and famous leading pastors want to say (when they're backed into a corner) that they support women as leaders in the church, there is often little evidence in their own ministries to back up their claim.

To me, it's like the elephant in the room that no one is ready to talk about.

Why not?

For obvious reasons, it's still very controversial.  The Christian Church at large is still very divided on this issue and I believe there is a lot of fear around this issue.  I think there are a lot of well known pastors in our country who believe in women in church leadership, but refuse to speak up openly for women because of  their fear of how it will affect their own rising star status. And I do understand. The reality is they likely would take a ton of heat about it.  No one wants to rock that boat quite yet, the personal cost would be too high.

That's why you see so very few women pastor speakers ever at leadership conferences of any type.  That's why there is not one senior church planting woman speaker at the National Church Planters Conference in Florida each year. Oh yes, out of over 100 speakers, there is around 10 women speakers.  Yes, that is a huge improvement and a step in the right direction.  But still, all the women speakers are either pastor's wives, leaders of para-church organizations or church consultants of some kind: But not one woman pastor who has actually planted a church.

I was thrilled several years ago (2008) to know that Bill Hybels took a huge stand for women at this conference.  Well known anti-women pastoral leadership speaker Mark Driscoll took the stage in a video and made it incredibly clear that women were not being addressed nor acknowledged as church planters in any way, shape or form. Bill Hybels took the stage following Mark and said:

“After that video I would like to acknowledge that there are women in this room and they have spiritual gifts.”

Apparently, the room erupted in applause after Bill’s comment.

Those are huge steps in the right direction for sure.  But still, we have a long way to go to see true change happen.

Sometimes I get the feeling that some of the male pastoral leaders in our country want to instantly label women like me as simply being 'trouble' that they don't want to deal with.  I understand that it's not personal.  It's really the whole issue that they simply don't want to deal with.  It's easier for some of them to label us as angry, bitter women who are trying to fight our way into acceptance.  Or they want to label us as liberal trouble-makers, which couldn't be further from the truth.

I've also been amazed to meet so many women who are in pastoral leadership who have totally bought into this thinking that females in pastoral leadership are to remain silent on this issure.  Sort of like some of the male leadership will accept our presence, as long as we don't dare start talking about the elephant in the room. 

These women have said things to me like: "Oh, I don't think about the gender issue too much. I'm just focusing on serving and nothing more."  I understand because I've said very similar things in the past.  After all, that is the message we keep receiving from the Church at large.  Those who treat us with respect and let us enter their circles in small ways have found a way to still send us the message that on this issue, we are to be silent when it comes to female senior pastors or women church planters.

I think most of us women are happy for any forward motion regarding women in leadership and we often happily accept any small bone we're thrown.  Change takes time, we understand that.  But my question (and prayer) is:  who will be the history maker who will finally have the courage to stand up and take a stand on this issue?

There have been a few in my life.  One of my great heroes of faith is Dan Southerland.  I was attending a leadership conference he was leading with over 400 pastors in attendance.  There were only two women pastors present and I was one of them.  The issue of women in pastoral leadership got brought up and Dan (despite his Southern baptist background) took a stand for women.  He stood up for women in church leadership and even claimed his wife was a better preacher than him.  Because he's a friend of mine, he acknowledged my presence and leadership gifting to the group and I will never forget how good that felt to me to feel even some acceptance in a place like that. I have no doubt Dan took some 'heat' for making such a stand.

Yes, the tide is beginning to turn and it will take time.  I am so thankful that I was born into a time such as this that I know it's God's plan to use me to be one very small piece in the turning of this tide. There are very, very few women church planters.  I know because I have continually searched for them for the last 8 years since our church began.  (It is more acceptable among African-American style churches but not with Caucasians.) I have found non-denominational female church planters to be almost non-existent. 

Yes, there are now more husband-wife team pastors planting churches but that is not the same.  Even though my husband (of 30 years) is 100% by my side, he does not have the calling or gifting of pastor / leadership. 

I sometimes feel like a watcher on the wall, waiting to see how God will change the tide of women in Church leadership in this country.  I feel like I'm waiting for something to happen but not sure what.  I think I may be waiting for a leader among men who will accept God's call to lead this change in our culture.  I've seen many possibilities, but so far, no one leading the charge yet.

So in the meantime, I am happy to see any little shifts in acceptance.  I was thrilled to see this discussion take place on Ed Stetzer's blog.I am pleased to see Rick Warren allow his wife to stand at the pulpit.

I'm happy to have had some encouraging conversations with Dave Ferguson about how he's been raising up women pastors. I'm thrilled to have a good friend like Steve Sjogren as an encourager and inspiration.

And I am excited because I feel like God is calling me to get ready for a new chapter of mentoring other women church planters in my life. I've started a book that I believe God will use to open the door of that chapter. I can't wait to see all He will do to change the tide in the near future!  To Him be the glory forever and ever!  Amen!



4 comment(s) so far...


Re: Women as Senior Pastors / Church Planters

Lin, you might be interested to know that we are starting a new campus in Chicago (COMMUNITY-Lincoln Square) on March 20th and Tammy Melchien will be the campus pastor. In my opinion, a campus pastor is the exact same as a church planter. She is a great leader developer and will do a brilliant job. She will not only do a great work, but pave the way for more female church planters.

By Dave Ferguson on   1/16/2011 5:17 PM

Re: Women as Senior Pastors / Church Planters

Yes Dave, I do know about Tammy and am VERY excited at all you are doing to raise up and encourage women pastors!!! (Although I didnt know it was happening this soon...YEAH GOD! But that is also why I mentioned your name as someone who is definitely taking the lead on this!) I absolutely think this is a HUGE step in paving the way for more women church planters in the future!!! God BLESS you for this! You are doing pioneering work there for sure! I'm hoping this blog will bring out more stories of what women are doing in church planting in this country! Let the winds of change begin! (To His GLORY!)

By Lin Wurzbacher on   1/16/2011 5:25 PM

Re: Women as Senior Pastors / Church Planters

Hi Lin,

Katie Driver connected me to this post. I come from the simple/organic church paradigm, but I just wanted to voice my agreement that God is doing something right across the spectrum of churches with women in leadership in the Kingdom. We too are seeing a definite shift. As people come into a different understanding of the Scriptures, particularly the challenging passages on women, many, both men and women, are being set free from the old, restrictive understanding of a woman's role in the church, and women are being liberated into their full potential in the Kingdom.

I have blogged fairly extensively on this issue eg

By Felicity Dale on   1/17/2011 1:59 PM

Re: Women as Senior Pastors / Church Planters

Wow. Thanks for the post and for telling it like it is in a way that doesn't denigrate men but still challenges the Church to wake up to what God is doing among all of His people. And a major shout out to Dave for being courageous enough to raise up women pastors/church planters through his ministry!

There are so many contexts that will emerge that call for God-called and Spirit-empowered leadership, we must use ALL of God's people to accomplish His will in the earth.

Lin, I look forward to reading that book and seeing what else God has for you!!!

By missional girl on   1/17/2011 5:30 PM

Your name:
Gravatar Preview
Your email:
(Optional) Email used only to show Gravatar.
Your website:
Security Code
Enter the code shown above in the box below
Add Comment   Cancel 
Copyright 2011 That Woman Pastor. All Rights Reserved.
: : Login

We rolex replica can clearly see replica rolex that the left side of the figure for the 40 mm of swiss replica watches the second generation DD, the right side of replica watches the traditional DD of 36 mm.