Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

a day late…but hopefully not a dollar short

Written by: on April 8, 2019

I have often told young leaders when looking for staff or when looking for a staff position, to find a team that lets you thrive and helps everyone look good because everyone’s gifts and abilities have”complemented” each other. Jake I am stealing some of your thoughts because I loved what you said about egalitarians complementing each other. If each of our own gifts and abilities are all used for God’s glory whether in the church or in the home, then we would see God unleashed upon this world. I am writing this on the morning after our blog time so I have the benefit of knowing the thoughts of my class. (Yes that is cheating a little). So yes, I am an egalitarian and am thrilled that in my family my wife and I share responsibilities. There are times that I lead and times she does. We do complement each other this way. We have found that within our home and our ministry we need the strength of one another and see ourselves as a team. There are days living abroad that culture shock (or cultural weariness) causes us to loose focus and question our call. Having a partner in ministry that is able to pick up the slack when I am down (and vice versa) helps make us a great team.

One of Zondervan’s counterpoint books, Two views on women in ministry1, tries to present major views from opposing sides and how scripture is used to reinforce the foundations around their arguments. I thought it interesting but knew that this kind of book was designed for discussion with the intent on bringing understanding and unity rather than to convince one side or the other that their arguement was right. In light of that I will take this discussion a different direction.

I had an opportunity this week to sit down with a non-christian woman and talk about the role of Chinese women in leadership. This topic fascinated me in light of the propaganda we often hear about the liberation of women when the communist government took over. Communism ( or in reality, socialism) is designed to level the playing field and allow both sexes to work, live and view life equally. Yet the reality of this is far from the original intention. As with most discussions we talked first about the positive moves of the country. We looked at the progress women had made within this Confucius country and how the opportunities were greater than before 1949. “Among many Chinese, as well as some people in the West, the perception is that Chinese women enjoy great gender equality, thanks partly to Mao Zedong’s famous proclamation that “women hold up half the sky”. The reality may be more complicated.”2 The leaders in China are men, whether that is within the government, the business world or the church. Honoring a women, respecting women, and letting them lead us are very different views.

For many women, Chinese tradition tells them that they have worth only when they are married, have children and contribute to the future generations of this great country. Those that have chosen to not conform to the social norms are considered outsiders and sometimes ostracized for their desire to be free from the expectations of the family. 

As you can see there is great shame given from the parents and often shame from the community when other understand that the children of members of the community is not doing what is traditionally expected of them. This very slow move to allow women to seek after happiness in a new and different way, is something that is not understood by those from traditional homes. “The latest World Economic Forum report ranks China a lowly 100th out of 144 societies on gender equality.”3

For Chinese Christians the church is mostly made up of women. The ones that attended the prayer meeting several times a week, the ones leading or hosting Bible studies, the ones calling on the sick are mostly women. Women are the backbone of the church in China. I could probably make the case for them being the backbone of the church around the world. However when it comes to “official” leaders or pastors, men dominate. I believe this is a result of both the Confucius hierarchal culture and the well established denominations that have taught a complementarian view of leadership. In China’s house churches there are often one or two main pastors for a whole network of house groups(This could be up to 1000 people). So the one they designate as the pastor is really the administrator of the network more than he is the pastor of all the people.

In our work, we often corrected individuals and redefining the role of pastor. I teach that whether they have 4 or 50 in their group, that is a church and leading it. I believe we have falsely taught that a pastor is someone that has reached a certain level of status (by education or experience) rather than teaching no matter you education, sex, ethnicity we are all called by God to use our gifts and abilities for His glory.

Like changing minds in the Chinese culture about the place of women within the family, true change takes time. I live, work, and serve in China knowing that I am watched in how I speak, in how I act, in how I treat my wife and children and in how I love. Some of my greatest moments have been listening to a young woman open the Word and lead a Bible study with no theological background only a full reliance on God and know that what she said and what she taught brought us closer to understanding our own relationship to God as well as our own reliance upon him. We are truly known by our love and how that love is demonstrated in our work to train the generations falling us.

1 Belleville, Linda L., and Beck, James R. Two Views on Women in Ministry. Rev. ed. Counterpoints (Grand Rapids, Mich.). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2005.

3 Ibid

About the Author


Greg has a wife and 3 children. He has lived and work in Asia for over 12 years. He is currently the Asia Director of Imanna Laboratories, which tests and inspects marine products seeking US Coast Guard certification. His company Is also involved in teaching and leadership development.

One response to “a day late…but hopefully not a dollar short”

  1. Kyle Chalko says:

    Hey Greg, Great input on this issue. I often wonder how much of my theology is affected by my culture. In the USA we have all been heavily impacted by feminism. Would I have been egalitarian 100 years ago?

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