Women Are Preaching From the Margins

Monday, October 21, 2019

Women have been preaching about Jesus ever since his first female followers found his tomb empty. They've been prophesying since the days of Miriam, if not before.

The books of Acts and Romans tell us that women preached, prophesied, and led churches in the first century Church. Evidence from the first few centuries reveal that women continued to preach and hold offices within their local churches.

But today? Women are preaching on Instagram, on Twitter, on blogs.

They're preaching at conferences, Bible studies, retreats.

They're preaching everywhere but in church on Sunday mornings.

Where are all the Miriams? The Lydias? The Junias? Why aren't their voices being heard within our local churches today?

Why is it so easy to find women praying, prophesying, and preaching on Instagram but so difficult to find women doing the same things within our local churches? Why can we can find them on podcasts, on blogs, on email subscriptions, but not on our church websites?

Because our churches are not making room for women to preach from the pulpit, women are flocking to spaces outside the local church where their voices are being heard.

It's no secret that white, male pastors are the primary voices who are discipling our American congregations today. If 50% of our population is female (which is a low percentage, as there are typically more women than men in our churches today), why aren't they being represented in the church's leadership? When our churches don't have female voices making decisions and representing the women in the pews, our worship services, programs, and even sermons are in some ways "men's ministry." After all, if it's "women's ministry" when a woman preaches or leads a Bible study, shouldn't we at least be consistent with our messaging?

I have a theory that the reason why there are so many women's ministry resources is because women don't have a voice from the platform. Have you seen how many women's resources there are? It's overwhelming! Now, don't get me wrong: some women are specifically called to minister to other women, and we should celebrate this. However, I fear that many women create and lead women's material because there doesn't seem to be very many other opportunities available to them. Think about it: when was the last time you ever heard a man say that he's called to "men's ministry"? I can't say I've ever heard anyone ever say that. They're called to just "ministry."

This isn't just about churches who refuse to ordain women -

Even churches who do recognize female preachers are not hiring, mentoring, or inviting women to share the pulpit.

If we look at our elder boards and preaching calendars and notice that women are not being represented well, we need to start making room for them. We need to start filling our platforms with women, and not just during times when we're out of town, not just because we're desperate for a pulpit to fill. We need to grant women these positions because their voice matters and they represent a segment of the image of God that men cannot represent alone. This is where it gets hard: to make room, you sometimes need to step aside or relinquish control. Handing the decision-making and the microphone over to others is one of the most mature marks of a leader.

Church, there are Priscillas and Deborahs and Huldahs and Junias and Chloes and Phoebes and Johannas in our pews.

Their mouths are already overflowing with sermons - they're just not being heard in our churches.

5 Facts About My Genesis Commentary

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Wow, how did my name get on THIS?

I'm as shocked as all of you are that my name somehow stayed on this project - I kept waiting for the editors to pull it all the way up until it was published. Alas, I somehow fooled them into believing that I actually know things about the Old Testament and... stuff!

The fact that I was a contributor says a whole lot about my co-writer (and editor of the series), Alex, and far less about me. Alex has been one of my biggest champions and cheerleaders. I wouldn't be where I am without his professional mentorship, and I'm grateful to him for believing in me.

Here are five more things you need to know about this commentary:

1. Alex Varughese may be a giant of an Old Testament scholar, but he needed my celebrity status to really sell this book.

2. Jesus endorsed this commentary, but we had to cut his foreword because we were limited in space.

3. I finished my section a whole year in advance of the due date because I looked at the date wrong (as far as "fails" go, I'm sure glad it was early instead of late). This mistake's the making of a horror movie: the manuscript has been haunting me and tormenting me ever since. Now that this book is published, I can finally lay that ghost to rest... I think.

4. Fundamentalists break three commandments just thinking about this commentary (four if it's read in conjunction with Joseph Coleson's work on Genesis 1-11).

5. The green spine looks really great on your shelf, so even if you never open it, you'll have great home decor!

My section is the Joseph stories (chs. 37-50), so if you find any typos in this section... it's all on me.

And if you do happen to learn something from reading it... it's all on God.

Snag a copy here!

We Need Better Disciples, Not More Leaders

Monday, October 14, 2019

As a discipleship pastor, I'm always inundated with lots of church resources - some of which I've subscribed to, some of which make me wonder who's on the internet selling out my information to the highest bidder.

Over and over again, I see words like "influence," "reach," and "development" thrown around like confetti. I can't tell you how many articles, podcasts, and book titles I read that sound something like this:

"7 Traits of Effective Church Leaders"
"How to Become Influencers in a Digital Age"
"5 Steps for Developing a Larger Reach"
"The Do's and Don't's of Recruiting Leaders"
"Ways to Lead a Successful Team Without Providing Snacks"

(I've tried that last one and it's impossible, by the way)

By and large, here's what I've been noticing: Christian leadership is trying to replace Christian discipleship.

Now, don't get me wrong; leadership is an important skill to develop. God only knows how much mine needs strengthening! However, in the American church today, leadership has become unconsciously competitive with discipleship. In some circles, I would even argue that it's being presented as discipleship, or at least as a better, more efficient form of discipleship.

The end result is that we in the American church are constantly looking for ministry professionals and those with "leadership promise." We're identifying, training, and empowering leaders instead of making and growing disciples. Instead of being captivated by Jesus' call to faithful sacrifice, we're being captivated by America's metrics for success.

You see, a "disciple" by definition is not a leader - it's a "follower." A disciple is someone who is so deeply in love with his Master that he's willing to follow Jesus everywhere and pattern his life after his.

There are people in our churches who are not gifted at leading teams or serving on committees, yet they faithfully follow Jesus privately and publicly every single day. There are people who serve quietly in their churches and communities and are never in the spotlight, yet they become more and more like Jesus. These are disciples: not people who lead teams or people who have thousands of Instagram followers, but people whose love for Jesus flows into their daily practices and relationships.

Not every Christian is called to become a leader, but every Christian is called to be a follower.

You can be a really great leader without being a disciple. Unfortunately, I fear that this is what many of our pastors and lay leaders have become. 

Jesus' invitation to us is to "come and follow me." If we who are leaders in the local church are not actively following Jesus, then we can't invite others to follow our example. If we can't say as Paul said, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ," then we really have nothing to offer (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Church, the world needs better disciples, not more leaders. Thanks to our 21st-Century technology, we can find Christian leaders just about everywhere from the convenience of our phones. Disciples, though - the die-hard followers who resiliently lay down their lives and model Christ's love when the camera isn't rolling and the "likes" aren't accumulating - are much harder to find.

Available Now: Revelation Study

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Once upon a time, I wrote a master's thesis about the influence of the Old Testament on the book of Revelation. It was as geeky as it sounds - alas, I am a theonerd. For years, I forgot about it (as one often does with school papers) until last year when my small group expressed an interest in this often misunderstood and misinterpreted book.

What began as a weekly study morphed into illustrations and articles on my blog. I felt like I was onto something. My Revelation study has been a year in the making, and I'm finally ready to share it with you! This study combines responsible scholarship, imaginative illustrations, and reflective prompts to help you understand Revelation's first-century context. It is my hope that by the end of the study you will notice the following three major themes in Revelation:

1. Revelation is not about the end of the world, but about how to live in light of the world to come. It is not about a rapture out of this world, but about radical discipleship while living in this world.

2. Revelation is theo-political, meaning that it critiques all political powers that claim god-like status or favor. Revelation challenges all forms of "Babylon" past, present, and future.

3. Revelation is not about the "antichrist." It is about the Living Christ. Jesus, the Lamb who was slain, is the key to reading the book in its entirety.

This study is for anyone who is afraid of, confused by, or even preoccupied with Revelation. If we really believe that this last book in the Bible is God-inspired, then it's incredibly important that we understand it responsibly within its various historical, literary, and theological contexts. I hope to be able to give you some of the tools so that you can study God's Word alone or with a group of friends like I did.

Revelation is one of my favorite books, because I believe that it has so much to say to the American church in our cultural moment. This study is available as either a PDF for $5 or a softcover book ($20 including shipping). You can purchase a copy here.

Latest Instagrams

© Christina Bohn. Design by FCD.