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.

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