When It Isn't Good News for Women by Gina Butz
Gina Butz is a stellar communicator, and gifted leader and a good friend. I'm grateful to have her telling some of her story today.
I was 20 years old the first time someone told me I couldn’t serve in a particular ministry role simply because I was a woman.
I wasn’t asking to be a pastor or an elder or a deacon--I simply wanted to serve as the president of a college student Christian ministry. It didn’t matter that I had vision for the role, or that I felt that God had clearly called me to it, or that I had leadership experience preparing me for the role. I lacked nothing in the way of skills or intelligence to serve as president.
No, the only problem was that God made me a woman. This was not good news for women--or for me.
In the end, those choosing new leadership relented, and allowed me to serve. I think I served well, as did the woman who served after me. The ministry was not led astray. God continued to work.
Good news for women
Several years later, on a mission trip to Trinidad, I was asked to share my testimony at a local church, along with a few other members of our team. Afterward, the pastor approached me and said, “Hey, you know, you’re a good speaker. How would you like to give the sermon at our church Wednesday night?”
“Can I do that?” I responded.
“Why not? It’s my church!” he told me.
So that Wednesday night I preached the Word of God to a packed room. I’ve never had such an exhilarating experience, as there was barely a moment of silence while I spoke. The crowd gave constant encouragement in the form of “Amen! Preach it, sistah!” It was a rush, I tell ya.
I believe God spoke that night. He gave me a gift of communication, and that night He used it to say something to them. It was incredibly humbling and honoring--an experience I’ll never forget.
But wait. I’m a woman. I’m not supposed to lead.In the past few years, I’ve had more and more conversations with people about the issue of women in leadership in the church. I understand and share the desire to be completely in line with the Word of God on this topic.
As someone who feels gifted in teaching and leadership, I have a vested interest in understanding how best to use what God has given me. I have held my breath, hoping to arrive at a conclusion that is both scripturally based and empowering to women. In other words, I hope there is good news.
Love, grace and open minds
This is a topic that must be approached with love, grace and open mindedness that does not focus on verses pulled from a few passages, but on a holistic view of scripture and the nature of God. Most of all, I would hope that as we approach this topic, we would be sensitive to the implications of the stand we take as a church.
When people insist that women cannot lead men, or cannot hold certain positions in the church, what we women hear is this:
You must not have heard from God if you thought He was calling you to use those gifts. You might have gifts in these areas, but you can’t use them to bless the whole church. Only women and children (but at some point you’ll have to stop teaching the boys).
You are a danger--if you serve in one of these roles, something will be amiss. God will not use you. He will not bless. You are less valuable to the kingdom than your brothers.
You are less valuable to God.
This isn’t good news for women.
If women aren't meant to lead, how do you explain the stories of women like Deborah and Esther from scripture? How do you explain parts of the world where women lead in the church, and the church is thriving?
Is it because God can't raise up men in these situations? Or it is because He believes women are just as capable? If women are in violation of His plan as leaders, why does He use them?
My point is not to argue each biblical point, but to ask if perhaps we might be holding back what half the church has to offer, based on a narrow interpretation of a few verses? When I look at scripture, I see a God who creates with great delight every person regardless of gender or color, who values His creation enough to die for it, and who gives spiritual gifts to bless the body without discrimination. This is good news for women.
What do we have to lose by allowing women to fully use all that God has given them for the kingdom and for His glory?
What do we have to gain?
Gina and her husband, Erik, have served with Cru for more than 15 years, 13 of which were spent overseas. They recently returned to the U.S. with their two kids, and serve now with Global Leadership. Gina enjoys writing, speaking, and coaching other women, particularly in issues surrounding transition and living wholeheartedly. You will love her blog, The View from Here. Friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @gina_butz.