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Dear Bill Hybels and Other Men Who Affirm Women in Ministry

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I can’t think of a single pulpit that I have stood behind that wasn’t because of the invitation of an affirming male pastor. I am grateful for you, dear men who affirm women in ministry. Your affirmation and your encouragement have at times been a courageous counter-cultural move. I am thankful that you have plowed the way for so many of us women who wouldn’t otherwise have had any opportunities to exercise our gifts for leading the Body of Christ toward maturity. The church has needed your voice and continues to need your voice!   

But at times I have to wonder, dear men who affirm women in ministry, if your affirmation is enough. Don’t get me wrong, brother, I know your intentions are sincere. I am sure that if you were asked if you affirm women in ministry, you would proudly wear your “egalitarian”[1] badge. But here’s the thing, dear men who affirm women in ministry, sometimes a badge might not be enough.

On August, 6, 2015, Bill Hybels stood before tens of thousands of people and humbly and courageously confessed that although Willow Creek made the decision to affirm women in ministry in the 1980’s, he made mistakes along the way. 

Somewhere in the middle 90’s, I think, I said, I don’t have to carry that flag anymore.  Because the whole church gets it; we are done with that.  We’ve crossed over.  In the last ten years, I am embarrassed to say, it’s gone the other way.  There is a generation of leaders coming up now who are back in the old school of limiting the potential of what women can do; limiting where women can serve; limiting their potential service in the church.  I don’t get it. But I freely admit that I misjudged where I thought the church was going.  Corporations are way in front of us, universities, my gosh the military is in front of us. And churches are lagging behind on this. If I could do it over again, I would have kept the pressure up until every last church that I could influence would allow women to serve, and to use their gifts, and to be full image bearers in the church.

I am so grateful Bill took a moment at the Global Leadership Summit to not only affirm the role of women in ministry, but also confess some areas in which he missed the mark. Sadly, Bill is not the only one to miss the mark, but all too many pastors are unwilling to make such a confession. Although most egalitarian pastors almost always have the best intentions, countless women are discouraged, frustrated, and even walking away from their call to ministry.  

I recently came across this info graph on a denomination that has affirmed women in ministry since it’s inception. According to this info graph, only 7% of its pastors in the Great Lakes Mega-region are women. The median worship attendance of a church with a female pastor is 33. When I dug a little more, I learned that although 24% of newly ordained clergy are women, only 8.2% are senior pastors, 0% are District leaders, and 19.3% of women are unassigned.[2]

Sadly, this is not a far cry from the landscape for many women in ministry. While pastors who proudly wear the “egalitarian” badge are getting cozy thinking that this should be a non-issue, it's a crying shame that more and more “celebrity pastors” are passionately denouncing the role of women pastors and are gaining a lot of momentum. Women are left without wings to soar, pulpits to preach, and churches to serve. 

Brothers, your silence is deafening.

Dear men who affirm women in ministry, it’s time to step up your game – to do more than wear your badge, and run the ball across the field. While I am glad for your affirmation for women in ministry, might you consider ending the silence and using your voice so we can co-labor in this great calling together? Let’s be honest, men are still the ones who primarily hold the seat of privilege in the church. As the group still in power, you have an opportunity to change the landscape by opening strategic doors, inviting women to decision-making tables, and reconfiguring systems of power. 

Here are 8 things you can begin doing now to move from verbal affirmation to concrete support. 

  1. Stop using the wrong argument for why women should be in ministry.

While I, along with many others, applaud Bill Hybels for his confession at the Global Leadership Summit, his argument as to why women should be in ministry is ultimately unhelpful. Hybels said, “Corporations are way in front of us, universities, my gosh the military is in front of us. And churches are lagging behind on this.” The church should never be playing catch-up with culture; the church has always been and always will be a radical counter-cultural community that is defined by scripture and the Spirit of the Living God. Think for a moment about what grounds churches and pastors are using to inhibit women from ministry and leadership positions. It’s not because they don’t like women. It’s because they genuinely believe that it is what scripture teaches, so when we don’t counter their case with a solid Biblical teaching, we will always be seen as the ones who allow culture to lead the way instead of scripture. Women aren’t in ministry because it’s where the rest of the world is headed, but they are in ministry because it is so beautifully illustrated in scripture and because of the empowering presence of the Spirit.[3] I, for one, am in ministry because the Spirit has called me and the Bible tells me so.[4]

  1. Invite women to hold positions of leadership on your church board/council.

Look around at who sits at the table of your local church board. Do you have women who sit at table? And by women, I mean more than just one or two. By having little to no women at the table, the status quo will remain the same and churches will continue be a male-only culture.

  1. Educate the local church the biblical and theological grounds for women in ministry.

When the average person in the “pews” comes across difficult passages such as 1 Timothy 2:11-12, they are typically confused by it’s meaning and context. Without proper education and solid biblical teaching, many in your congregation will remain confused.

  1. If you have the ability to hire pastors, work hard to seek resumes from female candidates.

It’s easier to continue hiring people who are like us. The reason women are continuously unassigned to churches isn’t because they aren’t gifted enough; rather, it’s because they are being bypassed for equally gifted men.

  1. Stop wondering why people are still talking about the importance of women in ministry.[5]

We are not yet in a season where the conversation should be put to rest. By not talking about it doesn’t make it all of the sudden a non-issue; rather, it perpetuates the male-only culture.

  1. Empower women to use their gifts on the platform during weekend worship.[6]

Week after week, gifted women sit in the seats that are equally gifted as the men leading on stage. When men continue to dominate the worship experience, not only are you perpetuating the status quo, but a message will continuously be sent to women that they aren’t welcome. 

  1. Have a sharp eye for women in your congregation who might have gifts like teaching and preaching, or even a potential call to vocational ministry.

Are you identifying women in your congregation who might have gifts like teaching and preaching and encouraging them? I often wonder how many women go through their entire lives without even knowing that they have a gift to teach and preach. 

  1. Seek opportunities to mentor women as emerging church leaders.

Think for a moment of all the wonderful mentors you have had in your life. More than likely, your heart is grateful for the nuggets of wisdom you've received along the way. With the majority of pastors being men, not all women have the luxury to be mentored by other women pastors. Mentoring women as emerging church leaders will entail moving away from the Billy Graham rule. Women miss out on being mentored by male pastors when the Billy Graham rule is fiercely practiced. Women, then, continue to remain on the fringe. Also, read here and here.  

Dear men who affirm women in ministry, you are precious. But us women who are called can’t do this without you and your affirmation, your support and your voice. Before us is a new frontier, an opportunity to change the status quo so that our daughters wont even know a world where countless women are unassigned.  I pray that our daughters will know a world where men and women stand behind the pulpit as co-laborers, together using their gifts to edify the body of Christ and together participate in the mission of God in this world. I pray for you, dear brothers. I pray that you would see the opportunity that is before you, and move into a space that helps propel our generation into a whole new world.   

Sisters, I recognize that this list is in no way exhaustive. What would you add or take away? I’d love your thoughts in the comment section.

                                                                            

[1] Global Research Center for the Church of the Nazarene – USA/Canada Region.

[2] I put the word “egalitarian” in quotations because there is a lot of good discussion as to whether or not this is the best term to use.  Some prefer “mutualist” or “co-laborers” or “blessed alliance.”  Scot McKnight brings the discussion forward here.

[3] For those who like to learn more on this subject, I suggest a great blog post written by Michael Wiltshire on the Junia Project Blog.  I would also like to recommend the following books:  Scot McKnight, Junia Is Not Alone (Englewood, CO: Patheos Press, 2011); John G. Stackhouse and Jr, Finally Feminist: a Pragmatic Christian Understanding of Gender (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005); William J. Webb, Slaves, Women and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001); Scot McKnight, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010).

[4] Eugene Cho writes a beautiful and extensive post about Biblical grounds for supporting women in ministry here.

[5] Gail Wallace writes a thought provoking post how 10 ways male privilege shows up in the church here.  

[6] Christ Church of Oak Brook is a beautiful example of this as it has 3 women who are on the preaching rotation and have women represented on every level of leadership.

[Photo: Willow Creek D/CH, CC via Flickr]

 
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55 responses to “Dear Bill Hybels and Other Men Who Affirm Women in Ministry

  1. You hit the nail on the head, Tara. While I appreciated Hybels’ comments, it seemed like an afterthought or an aside rather than an intentional teaching. It will be interesting to see how he follows through at Willow, which has a strong history of egalitarian practice. Honestly, I’m tired of hearing from pastors who tell me they affirm women in all leadership roles, but aren’t willing to change the status quo in their churches, due to fear of conflict or people leaving. The conflict is already in play, and not valuing women as equals harms our ability to reach the secular world, so I really don’t get it. I have at least a dozen friends I can’t invite to my church because they would be offended at the mostly male “cast” on the stage most Sundays. Thanks for speaking out about this! And thanks for featuring a couple of our http://www.juniaproject.com posts!

    1. Gail, thank you so much for sharing here. It sounds like you and I have the same exhaustion… “I’m tired of hearing from pastors who tell me they affirm women in all leadership roles, but aren’t willing to change the status quo in their churches, due to fear of conflict or people leaving.” This is exactly what has caused me to have many sleepless nights over the last week leading up to this blog post. Thanks for your encouragement…and thank YOU for all of your writing over at the Junia Project. I’m a JP junkie!

    2. It actually was an “after thought.” Bill made these remarks following the second female speaker at the Summit. He stepped to the podium and said that he had not intended to say this but he felt led by the Holy Spirit in the moment to say something and so his comments were “off the cuff” and from the heart. He admitted that he had failed to speak out for women in the last decade because he thought the Church was moving in the right direction and that people were getting it. He said he misjudged and he was sorry that he had not “kept the pressure on.”

      I applaud him for listening to the Spirit and speaking up in the moment and I hope he will continue to use his influence to speak out now that he realizes there is much work left to be done.

      1. Thanks, Jeannette, I totally agree; it was an afterthought.  I was so thankful watching him share from his heart at the summit, I almost wanted to stand on my seat and shout AMEN!  It was an incredible (goose-bump-type) of moment.  It was brave, humble, and courageous.  I in no way expected him to share a 10 part sermon on why women should be in ministry, but I did want to use his statement as an example to how we can do better with our langauge.  Thinking back, I wish I would have been a little more fair towards Bill on my post on point #1. I know he knows the biblical reason, he's taught about it, written on it, preached on it, etc.  But at the same time, I didn't want to lose the moment.  It's important that we (the church) think about our language as to why we affirm women in ministry.  All in all, I am so thankful for what Bill shared off the cuff.  

  2. This is brilliant Tara! I too was grateful for Bill’s words, but the moment he said what he said, I knew comps. would say, “We are not trying to follow culture” and one comp. did say to me, “What scripture did Bill use?”

    I wonder, if Bill thinks this is an important issue, why did he not prepare a sermon using scripture. The summit would have been an ideal place to preach such a sermon.

    I would add to this list that male ministers need to sit down sometimes when a female is more gifted for a job.

    Thanks again for being quick to write such a needed post. Praying this one goes viral!

    1. Thank you, Jory. You were on my heart during the entire writing process of this post. Your story is one that needs to be told over and over and over and over again. What a good addition: “I would add to this list that male ministers need to sit down sometimes when a female is more gifted for a job.” AMEN. So grateful for your work, sister!

  3. Tara – you speak of “empowering”, “dominating”, “holding the seat of privilege,” “the group still in power”… and you have missed completely the point of servant leadership. Perhaps the reason attendance at churches led by women is lagging behind (as if this is a race) is because of the attitude of so many women who want to be “empowered”, given “the seat of privilege” and the right to “dominate” “strategic positions” in the church. Who in their right mind would wish to attend a church led by such a person? Women with the gift of servant leadership will find ways to serve without looking for a scriptural loop hole that enables them to hold a “seat at the decision-making table” and a “reconfiguring of the system of power”. Re-read the scripture about Jesus making Himself NOTHING, and taking the role of a servant, and then look around at congregations where women are making THEMSELVES NOTHING, taking the roles of the SERVANTS, rather than seeking “power” & a place of “privilege,” and you will find women blessed and at peace, serving and blessing the least and the lost, loved, appreciated, and not the least bit frustrated at being out of the “seat of privilege.” Who would you rather spend time with each Sunday?

    1. BBir You’re preaching to the choir. We know that already. We have lived most of our ministry lives in that posture while guys who are ’empowered’, ‘occupying the seat of privilege’ and ‘dominating’ in ‘strategic positions’ make choices to remain the only gender that does that.

      You are completely misreading this post because of your bias. What is being said is that it’s Bill’s point about lagging behind the world is not the right point to make. There are women (whom you may have overlooked because their ‘servant leadership’ has left them unvalued for the years of their lives) who are called of God to operate as leaders in the Body of Christ in the manner of Phoebe, Pricilla, Junia, but who will never fulfill their call because they’re endeavouring to swallow hard and follow advice such as yours.

      Honestly, it gets so boring… and one day, you’ll have the opportunity to hear the Lord explain to you just why your reasoning is faulty.

    2. You have totally missed the point and are trying to put false guilt on Tara. Most of the women fighting for gender equality in the church are not trying to “dominate” others at all. They just want a place to serve out their calling like most male ministers tend to find. Take me for instance. I have been a servant leader (as you call it) in the church my whole life (31 years) so basically I have 31 years of ministry experience. I hold an AA in practical theology, a BS in Church Ministry, and an MA in Christian Doctrine and History. I am not bragging at all, but I am more qualified than most male lead pastors, yet the only job I can get in the church is that of a children’s pastor. I never wanted to be a children’s pastor, but I was one for 2 years because I have over $80,000 in student loan debt and have totally niched myself in ministry and have a hard time getting other jobs. I feel God has called me to work in the church, but I can’t get a job. It is not right that a man with lower credentials than me has no problem getting a job. I have no desire to dominate anyone or make big money; but I would like to be able to do my calling and make a regular salary to help support my family. Don’t overspirutalize this. It is a simple matter of gender equality in the Church (not female dominance).

      1. Fully agree with your points. Sorry to hear of your struggle, it shouldn’t be like this when your calling comes across so clear.

        1. Thank you so much for understanding Paul. It is actually very hurtful when people say that women are trying to dominate the church when we simply want to be an equal part.

          1. My wife and I are joint ministers of a church and it is a blessing from God to share ministry and church leadership together. But I know too that my wife is empowered by the Holy Spirit to be more than capable of fulfilling her calling to be a minister without my involvement. There is still work to be done on some levels within my denomination but at least at the local church level, the gender equality is evident, if not perfect. And so that makes it tough to hear of your struggle and of other women too in having gender equality in ministry. We pray that doors will open for you.

          2. You are very kind Paul; thank you for your prayers! God will open a door for me someday and when He does I will make sure I fight for women who were shut out like I was for so many years! 🙂

          1. You wrote an important piece. I’m grateful that the denomination I’m in emphasizes the equality of women in ministry and that it is
            evident at the local church level. But there are still strides needed to be made before that is fully evident at all levels of my denomination. Until then, we need to keep hearing (and responding with action) to voices like yours. Every blessing to you.

      2. Airhead, you think you’re so brilliant, but look at the really DUMB choices you made. You’re whining and moaning about having $80K in student loans – well, did you seriously expect to get a high-paying job with an MA from Regent? An MA does NOT prepare for the ministry, dunce, an MDiv does. You made some dumb choices and now you’re living with the consequences and complaining about not getting paid what you think you’re worth. If you were capable of logic you’d get an MDiv and link up with a denomination that ordains women. Instead you’re screaming about how you’re being discriminated against. God did not call you to ministry, you obviously have zero common sense, no capacity to plan your career and make intelligent choices. Starbucks hires thousands of people like you, people so dense that they go into debt getting a degree in art history or women’s studies or some other useless nonsense, then whine because they can’t get a job. You’re a child, not an adult – grow up, you made some dumb choices about your career, instead of blaming the sexist churches blame yourself for having zero foresight. You’ll never get a job pastoring a church with your useless degrees, so just prepare yourself for a job waiting on tables. God help any poor congregation that would hire some whining harpy like you, you wouldn’t last a week in ministry, you’re a total narcissist.

    3. Actually, women are usually given small and struggling churches – it is very unfair to try and make a correlation between women-led churches and numbers. Very few women pastors I know have the attitude you suggest. And besides, if what you say is true, why aren’t men giving up their positions of privilege and sharing power?

      1. I think my point was why is any of this about “positions of privilege” and sharing “power?” Why are any positions in a church considered positions of privilege that seem so crucial to attain? Jesus laid aside His position of privilege, humbled Himself, made Himself nothing. And our attitude should be the same. (Phil. 2:5-8) 1 Corinthians 12:18 says “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.” It is not our place to rearrange them – for a “left hand” to demand to be treated as a “right hand” because it feels the “right hand” has a position of power or privilege that it should be sharing. There is so much hurt in the world, so many lost people needing to be loved into the family of God, that the body of Christ should be so busy loving and serving the hurting that we simply have no time at all for this type of power struggle. There is work to be done, and we will have a hard time explaining why it wasn’t accomplished if our only excuse was “but the men wouldn’t share the seat of privilege with us.”

        1. I believe that it goes beyond the reality that “there is work to be done,” to the point where capable and willing women are prevented from doing the work because of their gender. It’s not about attaining a “position” or grabbing a piece of the “power” pie as much as it is removing the barriers that have firmly been in place for centuries that relegate women to the piano bench…or worse.

  4. I agree. I think there’s been a lot of miss information about the mechanics of “put women in leadership roles.” I think people get really frustrated one both sides about “affirmative action”-type leadership decisions because when it comes to smaller communities it feels like a poor use of resources. And I get that. I get thinking, “this guy is a natural leader, heck he’s already doing what I want him to do off staff…” But as a church I think there’s a general lack of education about how socialization works and how women are disadvantaged in ministry because of the ways they are taught not to be leaders in everyday life. That should bother pastors. It should ruffle feathers enough that they would want to take actions to counteract this kind of social environment. While it’s great to say promote women, there are also a lot of women who aren’t getting the mentorship that would otherwise make them great leaders. It is a blessed rare group of people are ready for leadership all on their own.

    1. Thanks, SJ. It is a tricky balance, that’s for sure. I am hoping for ruffled feathers leading to action, too!! Mentorship is key! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Tara, I couldn’t agree more. It’s encouraging that Bill has spoken out, but too lightly. I am not critical because I appreciate any advocate but it’s not about falling behind society, but about seeing the call of God on the lives of women and obeying Him to validate it.

    I also believe that those who are in senior leadership of networks such as Willow Creek need to be more proactive about putting more women on their platforms. Bill does have women, but they are way in the minority in comparison to how many are actually out there, doing the stuff …

    1. Thank you, Bev! Ultimately, I am grateful for Bill’s words and am eager to see how Willow continues to implement this. Thanks for your words!

  6. Hi I just wanted to comment from being a young girl who grew up and was trained in ministry leadership at Willow, there may have been a slight misunderstanding. While Bill commented on how society is far ahead in recognizing and following capable women in leadership, his reason for saying this is NOT to keep up with society but rather a commentary on how much the Church is not affirming women in leadership. The elders and staff of Willow biblically studied and came to their position of women in leadership, eldership, directorship back in the mid 70’s when Willow began. It was cutting edge and sadly in many cases still is. But they came to that decision not because they wanted to be culturally relevant but because they believed Scripture and in the redemptive power of Christ in the Church who unleashed His spirit upon both men AND women.

    1. Mary – I think this was the message we all got, but the point is that Bill knows that complementarians could care less about culture and even though Bill was trying to be helpful (and I am now his biggest fan mind you), his word-choices were not near as powerful as they could have been if he had backed up his statement with the Word of God. 🙂

      1. I understand. You should request the elder statement on women in leadership and read Community 101 by Dr. Bilezekian, first elder of Willow. The statement is extensive and grounded in a full exposition of scripture that would have been a full message in itself. Sadly, one or two verses have been used to diminish women in the church. Their position is so thorough and challenging for every church to biblically come to a position. I have to say, that although every point was not made in the brief time re; this issue, for the past 40 years, Bill and the leadership at Willow has been setting the bar and even his confession shows that they are on the edge of this vital issue.

    2. Mary, I may not have been totally fair on my post – I’m open minded. Thanks for sharing your experience at Willow. I am a fan of Willow and visit often. I love Willow’s story, I love Bill’s story, and I love all that Willow does. Yes, I did know about the decision made back in the 80’s and I do know that they affirm women. My post was not meant to necessarily attack Bill, but use his story and statement as an example for other men who affirm women in ministry. Ultimately, I am grateful for Bill’s statement (as I mentioned in the post so many times), and I am grateful for his humility, love, and courage at the GLS. However, I did wish he would have not said what he said about culture – so many staunch complimentarians were likely shaking their heads in the moment (I’m just guessing). I could have completely misinterpreted Bill’s point, and if I did, I’ll not hold back on admitting that. But, I did want to use his statement as a point to an argument that I hear all the time in the greater church. Ultimately, that is not a helpful argument. Once again, Mary, thanks for sharing your experience!!

      1. Did you see the quote in context, or just read about it? Bill’s comments followed two excellent leaders who were great teachers and also happened to be women. Bill basically said “yes, we did that on purpose and we value the perspective of these women.” Claiming that he should have delivered those comments in a sermon is, I think, missing the point. Instead of standing up and talking as a man about women in leadership, he invited two women to stand up and talk about leadership.

        Isn’t the latter preferable?

        1. Thanks, Micah. I did see the whole thing in context. Like I said above, I wasn’t attacking Bill’s statement, nor was I attacking Bill (I applauded him quite a bit in my post – hope you were able to read it). Bill confessed to some short comings, and I applauded him for that – so awesome. I’m so grateful for his love and humility and for putting women up on stage at the GLS (they were awesome!). I was, however, trying to capture something he said – he confessed to missing the mark throughout the years (even though he’s done a phenomenal job in many ways, he regrets not doing more). My point is that I deeply wish more pastors would recognize that the church is completely missing the mark when it comes to empowering women. On Bill’s use of scripture… well, I responded to that above. 🙂

  7. Tara, thank you for such an encouraging post and for speaking the truth in love. It is so honest to point out that although as women it’s a blessing to be affirmed verbally ánd valued through words, it’s something completely different when we witness or experience seeing that verbal affirmation put into action. May more egalitarian pastors be brave enough to follow through by teaching, preaching and leading their congregations by placing gifted women in significant roles of leadership so these women have the joy and privilege of serving the body of Christ in how God has called them to serve.

  8. Thank you for this! Your challenge has been taken to heart, personally…my prayer is that it would be taken seriously by others in my denomination…we talk a good game, but are we really practicing what we preach?

    Interestingly, as I write this response, my wife (my partner in ministry) is one of three speakers at a large Bible Conference within our denomination. The other two speakers are men. She is the first women to speak at this conference in the history of the event.

    I’ve vowed to use my influence and strength to promote complete equality in this area…like Hybels, however, there have been times I’ve fallen short. Today, I renew my pledge to fight for ministry equality for women!

      1. I’m discovering that in our denomination, we aren’t developing or exposing women to the necessary steps for leadership. Whether it is as simple as sitting on the decision-making councils or participating in crucial conversations…they’re simply not at the table…then all of a sudden, whoops, there are no women capable of the top positions…that’s what needs to change…

        1. Rob, I think a lot of the holiness denominations are in the same boat. Both the Salvation Army and Nazarene’s have a long history of affirming women, but the landscape is pretty concerning right now. You are so right… it’s a snowball effect.

  9. Thank you for this wonderful article. I am certain I can not add any great wisdom to this discussion by my comments. But as a 55-year old woman who avoided my call from God from the time I was 17 until I was 40, and greatly because I was convinced that God just did not call women – I can now only pray that God enables me to reclaim the years “the locust has eaten” and allows me the tremendous privilege of reaching whomever He has in mind in whatever way He has in mind with the truth of the Gospel. I am privileged to be ordained in the Church of the Nazarene and pray the road to acceptance of women as called ministers will gain ground. But in the meantime, I think the trouble is two-edged: women want to have their call recognized in a field that is all about humility and being a servant. By its very nature, ministry involves people living as servants with hearts fully submitted and fully humble – not exactly a recipe for “recognition.” And sadly, folks will often assume God will simply open the doors that need to be opened. But those people sometimes forget that freedom is never free and has always required a fight. If freedom is vital, it will require us to oftentimes gain ground the hard way. And most of the ministers I know (who happen to also be women) would rather spend their energy and attention on saving souls and ministering to the broken, rather than feeling they are wasting time swimming upstream in a very difficult current.

    1. Amen! Thank you for sharing your story, R.A.! It’s never too late to answer a call. I will say a prayer for you this morning,sister!

  10. Tara, thank you for writing this. I once had a vision in prayer of a thoroughbred race horse hobbled on three legs. It was standing courageously on one leg propping itself up against a fence.There were men in suits wondering why it couldn't run. They had invested a lot of money in the horse, but it was incapable of running. I knew immediately the horse was the church, the three hobbled legs were race, gender, and the clergy laity divide.  If we unhobbled those three legs, the gospel would run like the wind, and the glory of the Lord would cover the earth.

    1. Exactly!! Here’s what God thinks:

      Genesis 1:27-28
      So God created man in his own image,
      in the image of God he created him;
      male and female he created them.
      And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

      Male and female functioning side by side with authority and taking dominion on the planet!

  11. I loved this article! Because of growing up with these beliefs, that women had no place in leadership in the church, I never considered that my gifts could be in ministry. If I ever had the thought I would have most certainly pushed it aside in shame. But praise God, I do not need a seminary degree or a church to use my gifts. I do not need permission from anyone but Jesus Christ himself and the Holy Spirit to affirm any and every calling on my life. My ministry begins at home with my children, at work with my co workers and anywhere else the Lord would see fit and lead me. However, I get it. Many women feel that their calling is to serve in a larger way within a church body and the world. And many of these women who are so very capable. Look no further than Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter. Where the Lord calls, He will provide the way. And the fires of hell will not prevail against Him or His plans for each one of us. God bless all women who’s hearts are in it for the Lord and cannot be stopped. You have His blessing!

  12. Tara, while I agree with your view on women in ministry (both my wife and I are ordained United Methodist pastors), using Bill Hybels as a jumping off point for the 8 points is unfortunate.

    As one commenter noted, Hybels’ comments were “off the cuff.” My wife and I thought it was actually a pretty powerful statement!

    Re: #1, Hybels was simply comparing with other organizations (people from all of those organizations were in attendance), not using it as an argument. In fact, in the same segment, Hybels stated that Willow Creek had based their views on women in leadership on a study of the Bible. That’s significant!

    Also significant, Willow Creek recently promoted Heather Larson to Executive Pastor, which was described at last year’s Summit as the most important position next to Hybels.

    The 8 points are fine; I just think it’s unfair to use Hybels’ off the cuff, passionate, confessional statement as a jumping off point. 🙂

    The be clear, though, Hybels was NOT confessing poor practice at Willow, he was lamenting the fact that he hasn’t done enough, and stating that he will correct that. That’s a good thing, right? Please, let’s NOT criticize people who are on our side! 🙂

  13. Oddly, very few men have commented on the article.Perhaps instead of using human wisdom and reason you would be better served using the bible to support your case.

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