When the time comes, I’ll pour out my Spirit on those who serve me, men and women both, and they’ll prophesy.
Acts 2:17 (Eugene Peterson’s The Message)
In my work with churches who are in the midst of a pastor search, when the subject of considering a female candidate arises, I all-too-often hear the phrase: “I don’t think our church is ready for that.”
I think that often the reluctance comes not from any great theological struggle with the idea that God can call a woman to preach and to pastor, but rather because the whole idea is so foreign to some congregations. I suspect there are folks sitting in their pews who may never have been exposed to a female proclaimer in the pulpit of their own church.
The Baptist Women in Ministry organization offers a pretty painless opportunity for Baptist churches to have a woman in the pulpit in February of 2010 by observing the annual Martha Stearns Marshall Women’s Preaching Month. (Marshall was an 18th century Separate Baptist female preacher.) The idea is to invite a woman to preach in your church on any Sunday in the month of February. It could be someone in the congregation, a seminary student, a professor or someone in the community. If you don’t know of anyone to ask, that is easily remedied. Simply contact CBF (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Baptist Women in Ministry organization (email@example.com) and we can provide you with possibilities. If your church already has a woman pastor, invite another woman to preach during the month. If you are a layperson, carry this request to your pastor and urge him to invite a woman to preach. If you feel you need some concrete information to accompany this request, CBF has a pamphlet authored by pastor Mike McKinney entitled Why Women Ministers? Order this free resource by calling 888-801-4223.
This is a terrific opportunity to model for your church just what a woman preacher looks like! As the Nike ads say: Just Do It!