DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Let’s talk about what really matters.

Written by: on April 5, 2019

Teaching at a middle school FCA this week.

If you can suspend your bias and personal belief (and maybe your identity) to read through the text Two Views on Women in Ministry, you would likely finish with the perspective of, “I could be either a complementarian or an egalitarian.” This is because the biblical scholars have argued through Old and New Testament Scriptures to create logical and well-founded conclusions on both sides of the debate. Yet, this is not the case for most. Often there is too much at stake, particularly in terms of power, with almost none of it actually having to do with the context of the biblical narrative.

The primary issue that arises out of considering the Bible’s stance toward women in ministry is that women can minister or they cannot. There are nuances to both perspectives as noted in this week’s text. Two Views of Women in Ministry is a compilation of four author’s perspectives on an egalitarian, almost egalitarian and complementarian reading of Scripture. The author’s themselves offer that the issue is less about women being gifted or called to minister, this is a non-issue. As Linda Bellevue rightly asserts in her chapter, the debate centers on women in leadership, particularly “women leading men.”[1]

The authors do well to teach from their education on the various biblical texts and their implications for today. Through their extensive study, at least two of the authors have changed their position from either egalitarian to complementarian or vice versa. Yet, one thing stands among each of the authors and is especially highlighted in Keener’s text. The hallmark here is humility. Blomberg notes he may be wrong in his complementarian stance, Belleville asserts that brow beating is missing the point in the argument and all of the authors are charitable in their responses to one another, agreeing and disagreeing on multiple points in their scholarship.

Now that I know the term “virtue signaling,” I am weary of my next point. While I have studied and taught the texts on 1 Timothy, Genesis 1-3, Galatians 3 and many of the others highlighting women and men’s roles, I am certain that our efforts to be right about women in leadership are causing more distraction than help to the gospel. There are so many MAJOR issues today that need to be addressed and this is one that I am unwilling to debate currently. After having come much closer to the gravity of sin’s affects on whole communities in the last week and multiple recent discussions on topics that are no small matter with regard to human fate, particularly around sexuality and the environment, I care much more about focusing on the core of the gospel. We are all sinful broken people loved and able to be made whole by God.

Friends, we have ministry to do. Pick a side if you must, but then move on. These scholars show that we can honor Christ whether as a complementarian or an egalitarian.

Of course, if you know me, you know I have been a pastor for nearly twenty years. I am a female. I am ordained. I preach and teach men on a regular basis. We are all submitting ourselves to Christ and we are all learning and growing with Christ as our head. Originally, I did not even care about being ordained but was encouraged by other ministers that it was an affirmation of my calling. Today I am glad as it has given me the opportunity to bring the gospel near to people in hospitals, weddings, funerals, churches, family and community. There is a responsibility that comes with the authority of ordination.

In my time at my Baptist undergrad, I did my debating and had my moments of standing up in class to state my case about women leading. It was, and pretty much still is the same: “If God has called me to lead, given me gifts and produced fruit that is glorifying to God, then why not?” Perhaps I did my theology wrong, but by the guidance of the whole of the narrative of Scripture and a compulsion to see all know Jesus as Lord and walk in that fullness, I continue to share the good news.

When looking at the text, it is obvious that male and female are made in the Imago Dei and that women such as Deborah, Esther, Martha, Junia, and others led and enacted God’s kingdom alongside men. Yes, the Bible is set in a patriarchal context. But when applying the text to today, I wonder if the church needs to be more open to women leading in ways that bring the kingdom near. Throughout the Bible many outsiders, particularly women such as Rahab and Tamar, were used by God in powerful ways. Perhaps churches and denominations today need to make accommodations just as God has done in Scripture, to allow women not traditionally given roles of leadership opportunities, with the same standards for ministry as men.

As I mentioned earlier, the challenge has much to do with power. There is a perspective in the United States at least, that churches should be pastored by men because that is what is known. Women do not step into leadership because they have few to no role models and men are not benevolent advocates apprenticing them. Thus, often men are expected and then validated by Scripture. However, the landscape of the United States and Christianity is changing. Creating space for women and men to lead in mutual partnership does not upset the Bible as much as current positions of privilege. The gospel matters more than male and female leadership positions and currently the culture is seeing neither operate in the fullness of their potential.

 

[1] Linda L. Belleville and James R. Beck, Two Views On Women in Ministry, rev. ed., Counterpoints (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2005), 23.

About the Author

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Trisha Welstad

Trisha is passionate about investing in leaders to see them become all God has created them to be. As an ordained Free Methodist elder, Trisha has served with churches in LA and Oregon, leading as a pastor of youth and spiritual formation, a church planter, and as a co-pastor of a church restart. Trisha currently serves as leadership development pastor at Northside Community Church in Newberg, OR. Over the last five years Trisha has directed the Leadership Center, partnering with George Fox and the Free Methodist and Wesleyan Holiness churches. The Leadership Center is a network facilitating the development of new and current Wesleyan leaders, churches and disciples through internships, equipping, mentoring and scholarship. In collaboration with the Leadership Center, Trisha serves as the director of the Institute for Pastoral Thriving at Portland Seminary and with Theologia: George Fox Summer Theology Institute. She is also adjunct faculty at George Fox University. Trisha enjoys throwing parties, growing food, listening to the latest musical creations by Troy Welstad and laughing with her two children.

13 responses to “Let’s talk about what really matters.”

  1. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Trish,

    I am taking your advice to “move on”! Well written by you, with so many other “MAJOR” issues confronting us.

    I lament in my sport’s coaching circles that there are not more women coaches, referees, announcers and administrators. I cannot for the life of me figure out why schools hire so many men to coach women’s teams. We have done better in athletics of equal pay, but the world of sponsorships has a long way to go…

    Thank you for your words on “power” and I am going to spend some time thinking about that before our Zoom on Monday…

  2. Great word Trisha! We are obviously on the same page with this issue and I couldn’t agree more with your statement at the end that although many tribes allow women to be in leadership, men are not stepping up to champion for them to fill those roles and because of this we have many churches across America with no pastor at all. I also appreciated you jumping in on Jay’s comment in my blog and clarifying why we have such a shortage of women leaders in the church and every other area of society. I affirm you as a leader and a pastor and grateful for your contribution to the Kingdom!

  3. Dave Watermulder says:

    Hi Trisha,
    Thanks for this post! I think you take a really measured and mature view on this when you say that really, if we read this book and listen to these scholars, we could easily fall on one side of this debate or the other. I think that it is really true that Christians of good heart and conscience can disagree about an issue like this, even from within the biblical/theological traditions in which we stand. I appreciate your call to pick a side and move on–for the sake for the gospel and the ministry that God has set before each of us. There are good times and places to get into the weeds, but to do so on a regular basis is a recipe to get really stuck and stay really small in our view about who God is and what the kingdom is all about.

  4. Thanks, Trish. Yes; let’s get on with the work of the gospel. Amen and amen.

  5. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Trish, excellent word this week! You are right…we can debate all day and end up in the same place theologically. Let’s get on with God’s work, all the while opening up space for women in ministry.
    I sense that your blog is driven by all that is happening in your world. Love and prayers continue to be lifted on your behalf.

  6. Great post, Trisha!

    You mention, “The authors do well to teach from their education on the various biblical texts and their implications for today. Through their extensive study, at least two of the authors have changed their position from either egalitarian to complementarian or vice versa.” I was also pleasantly surprised that both views engaged the topic intelligently, objectively, and thoughtfully. I was expecting a visceral debate that cornered the opposition; however, all authors sought to delve into the material at hand and provide a ‘biblical’ interpretation.

    Did you grow up in a context where women were pastors and/or leaders? Did that influence and compel you towards ministry? What ways can the church create conversations about gender inclusion in order to change the narrative and perception of those in their 20s and 30s? How do we acknowledge the discrimination that has taken place and move forward?

  7. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Trisha,
    I alway enjoy reading your perspective as you seem to get at the heart of the subject very well. I agree that both groups did a good job and really the most important thing is to follow God and the call placed on your life. I appreciate your call to get to the core of God’s call.

    Thanks
    Jason

  8. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Trisha,

    Like I have done with all the other women in this cohort let me apologize for any hurt you may have experienced around this issue. If, even in your undergrad, you felt belittled, demeaned, or ‘less’ simply because you are a woman I am sorry. I am sorry too if I have at any point caused the same in you or anyone else.

    I take your best point as the one on which I want to stand – “Pick a side if you must and then move on – we have ministry to do.” Yup! I’m right there with you. In my response to Shawn’s post I stated that I was convinced this is not a moral issue or one that impacts salvation or sanctification in any way. It just isn’t that important – which is why I was so frustrated in my own post that we are even dealing with it.

    Anyway….keep up the good work. Lead as you are called, preach the Gospel as you are directed, and minister as you have been gifted. You have my full support.

  9. Chris Pritchett says:

    I agree with you that power is likely the root of the church’s inability to change on this issue. And underneath the subconscious quest for power is fear of the unknown (which should no longer be a fear since women leading men is not new in this society anymore. While I wish we could all pick our side and move on in peace, I am concerned about all the future potential female leaders who will grow up in complimentarian congregations without responding to God’s call with courage as you did. I don’t want my daughters to even wonder if it’s okay for them to lead. Of course it is!

  10. Shawn Hart says:

    Trisha, I appreciate your defense of the gospel as the more important battle to be won here; I give you a hearty “AMEN!” in response, without trying to make it sound like a derogatory plug for my side of any issues on this topic. Like others have expressed, as well as yourself, I am so tired of fighting and debating over this subject. I still feel it is an important discussion; one that should be handled with love and Scripture; but I also believe that the hate that has fueled it for so many years is just…well…sinful.

    I do want to comment on one of your statements (I’ll be kind). You wrote, “The primary issue that arises out of considering the Bible’s stance toward women in ministry is that women can minister or they cannot.” I don’t believe that is really the issue. I believe it is all more derived from whether they can be in upper leadership, and if so, what limits are there? I have never been at a church, where on average, the men worked more diligently than women; I can honestly say that I have seen far more ministry done by women than men…and I have seen a lot of churches at work. At least in the conservative churches, most of our men know how stupid it is to criticize the ministry of our women; the church would nearly come to a stand still if we did.

  11. Greg says:

    Trisha.

    Love the approach of stop fighting and get busy doing the work of God. There are so many issues that we get stuck on that seems to be designed to serve as excuses for not pursuing the call or simply serving Christ. I have told you that I have a daughter that I believe is trying to understand her call and how to move forward in that walk. Especially when she feels like the church is limiting that walk.

    Thank you for your call and your passion to raise up the next generation of those called by God.

  12. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    good post Trish. I think you’re absolutely right about women not seeing enough examples of leadership. And when they do see examples of leadership they are very rarely top leaders. I personally only know two female senior pastors. You?

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    Nice blog here! Also your site lots up fast! What host are you the use of?
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