Thursday, September 20, 2007

Keys to Team Ministry

(Author's note: While this article does not pertain primarily to women in ministry, it does have merit in the "egalitarian" view. Team ministry is a component that some place in the same category as women in ministry.)

“TEAMWORK makes the DREAM work!” This statement is one that I have relied heavily upon and love to quote! As a matter of fact it has become a mantra for Craig and me when working in a team-based ministry. Without a healthy, functioning team the dream will not become all it was intended.

It seems that upon every success Craig and I have ever celebrated there was someone who approached one or both of us, heaping accolades and Atta’ boys.” This is some thing that neither one of us really care for. It isn’t because we are afraid to accept a compliment rather it stems from the fact that Craig and I operate as a team that leads a team to the victory at hand.

There is such a need for the Body of Christ to understand the necessity and components of true team ministry. When we realize how much more effective and powerful we can become when we embrace the team ministry concept there will be no stopping us.

How do we get there? I have shared five keys below to achieving true team ministry in the church. These keys are not “law” but they contain powerful concepts that Craig and I have been blessed to experience and execute.

1.) No “I” in TEAM

True team ministry involves mutual and shared authority. Craig and I have met and worked with many ministers and staffers who seem to forget that the TEAM has the same goal. The competitive nature in these individuals takes away from the overall “power” of the team. These people become “energy zappers.” Meetings become a dreaded event because it is all about how “I” can out perform everyone else. Eventually a power struggle erupts and the common goal shared by the TEAM gets back burner-ed. Competition with one another concerning power should be stopped out immediately. TEAMs achieve much more when each learns to value and accept the input of the other.

2.) Pick Up the BALL

True TEAM ministry involves mutual responsibility. One of my own personal pet peeves is not when a ball is dropped but when it is allowed to roll around and around without the immediate attention of other TEAM members.

Here is a hypothetical example of such an occurrence:

Team member Bob heads up the Building and Grounds department. He does a great job leading his “sub-team” and is a valued asset to the ministry. On the way into Sunday morning service, Team member Ida sees two soda cans lying on the ground. She quickly finds Team member Bob and begins complaining about the soda cans. Following the service she sends an email to Team member Pastor and cc’s the entire TEAM about her findings.

Obviously Team member Bob or someone on his sub-team had dropped the ball, innocently I am sure. However, my question is, “Why didn’t Team member Ida pick up the ball? Why didn’t she take care of the soda cans?

Now some would say, “Well, it was Bob’s responsibility. He needed to be taught a lesson and see where his team was coming up short.” I disagree because at the very moment Bob was isolated and pointed out, he was also cut out of the team.

When a valued player on a basketball team has an “off night,” the only way the TEAM will win is if the other players rally together, stand in the gap and take care of business. Now this does not mean trample all over the effort of fellow TEAM members because you believe you can do a better job. Instead applaud accomplishments, offer assistance and execute together.

Christopher Avery writes, "Becoming skilled at doing more with others may be the single most important thing you can do" to increase your value - regardless of your level of authority.

TEAMs recognize that the each aspect of ministry is not just the charge of a single individual who may have been assigned to a specific area, but equally belongs to the entire TEAM. The days of “pass the buck” are over. True TEAMs cover one another and pick up the ball whenever necessary.

3.) Kill Pride

"Dependent on Him, the whole body-- its various parts closely fitting and firmly adhering to one another-- grows by the aid of every contributory link, with power proportioned to the need of each individual part, so as to build itself up in a spirit of love." Ephesians 4:16

This is a difficult one for many in TEAM ministry. While education and training is critical for effective ministry, the danger is that we can equate training and biblical knowledge with spirituality. If TEAM members view other TEAM members as untrained and uneducated in spiritual leadership or less experienced or that everything is MY way or NO way a rift is established that undermines effectively working together as a TEAM.

When TEAM members fail to understand and value one another, tensions arise. For there to be teamwork, it is vital that the all TEAM members learn to value the spiritual insight and sensitivity of each other.

When the pastor or other TEAM members constantly says "no" to any new idea or proposal, the teamwork begins to waver. TEAM members should remain open to new ideas and be willing to openly evaluate change. People who are inflexible and prideful refuse to accept any opinion or proposal that is not in full agreement with their personal concept and/or convictions.

Effective teams are built upon openness and willingness. It never hurt anyone to be open to an idea and evaluate ideas by actually hearing others before formulating their decisions. TEAM members, pastors included (I have been there!) need to be willing to "agree to disagree" and willing to support issues and proposals even if they are not in full agreement.

Embrace and Accept One Another Warts and All!

"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all" 1st Corinthians 12:4-7

I hate the word outsider! The intention behind the word is not one of affection, it is meant to “cast out.” Craig and I briefly pastored a church in a rural area where we ran into a lot of resistance to TEAM ministry. I remember vividly seeking the guidance and wisdom of one of the overseers and being called an “outsider” at least five times. It was painful and a slap in the face. We didn’t stay there long because we quickly learned that if the overseers and board viewed us as outsiders the congregation would begin to question us as leaders.

The same is true in TEAM ministry, if TEAM members fail to embrace and accept one another the congregation will not see a unified front. It is critical that the TEAM sets an example for the congregation.

Some reasons a lack of acceptance may occur is because:

· Frequent turnover in TEAM members

Unfortunately there are a number of churches that experience frequent turnover in their staff. This can cause a “let’s see how long they last” attitude which breeds nothing but an “I’ll show them” attitude and no one wins.

TEAMs need to rise to the occasion and embrace and accept new TEAM members so the new TEAM member will begin to “gel” with the rest of the TEAM.

· Cultural differences

I remember being told as a child that “not everyone thinks like you.” As I grew I found that is very true! I also learned that is the beauty of life! We are all different! Cultural differences will exist between TEAM members. As TEAM members come from different cultural settings (such as from the city to the county or from one geographic region to another) they may discover that people are reluctant to accept him/her.

Remembering that not everyone thinks like you, looks, or acts like you is a good rule of thumb. By learning to embrace and accept one another warts and all (the good, bad, and ugly) the TEAM will be strengthened and more unified.

Become Allies

"My brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier" Philippians 2:25

Something very few people know about Craig and I is that we worked on a ministry team fulltime without compensation and with a few benefits for an extended period of time. However, we were loyal and faithful to a fault. I worked a secular job and also ministered with Craig on the road whenever possible to make ends meet and when Craig and I got home we worked our other “job” for the church. We loved our pastors, the team we were on, and our church. If anything was needed we were there! We were connected and valued.

A mistake many TEAM members make is in how they view their role on the TEAM. Many see themselves as a “hiring-ling,” a mere laborer who is paid to do a job and go home. However, by changing that dynamic from “hiring-ling” to someone who has embraced the vision because of their love of the church a brand new TEAM will emerge.

Hiring-lings have nothing vested in their work as a Ministry TEAM. If they are treated as someone hired to punch a timecard that is what will be received. However, when TEAM members embrace the vision of the house and are given access to feel connected and valued they become allies!

Ministry is all about warfare and I warfare you need all of the allies you can get! I don’t know about you but I’ll take an ally who will fight with me for the vision at hand any day over the guy who was hired to run errands and fill in where needed! I want someone who is vested in what I am vested in, someone who will give their life for the vision at hand. That is an ally!

Order and organization are necessary in the church and in TEAM ministry. Believe me I am all about it, but when we begin to see our TEAM members as “allocations” we have deemed them “hiring-lings.”

These keys aren’t “gospel” but they have certainly been tried and tested. When we truly understand the importance and impact of TEAM ministry the flow of our churches and ministries will change. God loves TEAMwork! He called a TEAM of disciples and HE is part of a TEAM (Father, Son & Holy Spirit)!

In closing, I’d like to encourage every pastor or elder to examine their TEAMs. It is an established fact that healthy churches are operating with healthy, unified teams. Put an end to power struggles and experience the value and importance of shared authority. While all TEAM members have different functions and roles within the church, they also recognize that only by working together can they lead the church in the fulfillment of its destiny in Christ!

Rev. Tara D. Sloan, co-founder Equal Time

Thursday, September 6, 2007

He's working for the Lord...

My husband and I have worked together side by side as equals in ministry for the past twenty years, sharing the role of pastoring a youth group or, as we have done for the past 13 years -- an entire church.

Despite the fact that Larry sees my role in ministry and my work as important as his very own, that has not always been the case with others. Although I have not been on a soapbox to right that wrong, I will say I’ve taken a lot of arrows over the years that have pierced my soul and really hurt. The Lord has gently bandaged my wounds many times and kept me going over these last two decades.

A prime example of this type of situation occurred years ago in our previous church where we were pastoring. If I close my eyes and picture it, I can remember it so clearly, even the temperature outside, what I was wearing, and other very vivid details. It’s kind of like remembering where you were when 9/11 happened, or when JFK was shot. There are times in your life that are significant, not for good but for the bad and you never forget them. This is one such time.

We were outside hanging many thousands of lights on our church property for Christmas time. Every year we did this and were even featured in the local newspaper for our magnificent display. My husband and I were always right in the midst of leading and helping with this project and that year was no different. Larry had been up on the roof that afternoon putting the finishing touches on the roof light display and I was out on the edge of the property on the hill where our sign was, working there. My team discovered we needed something from the hardware store, so I went to find Larry, knowing that he often makes trips at times like this to get things. Most times, he always asks me first, “do you all need anything while I’m out?” This time, he forgot. When I went to ask his team, “where’s Pastor?” they said, “gone to the hardware store.” This was before the days of cell phones, at least a cell phone that didn't cost an arm, a leg or your first born child. Actually it was even before he had a beeper. Wow, this makes me feel really old writing this! Anyway, the point is - there was no way to get ahold of him. We would just have to make two trips. Although I didn’t explode with anger or anything (it wasn’t that big of a deal) I was a little frustrated that he never let me know he was going because we needed so many things for our work out front on the hill. So, a little frustrated, I said, “oh no! I wish he would have told me he was going…” To which an older lady in the church quickly chastised me and said, “Don’t be upset with him! Remember, HE’S THE ONE WORKING FOR THE LORD. You need to just support him.”

I wish I could say that I just sweetly answered back with a “that’s right” or “praise the Lord sister” but unfortunately I can’t say that. I was so mad when she said this, that I said, “WORKING FOR THE LORD? OF COURSE HE IS, BUT WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE…CHOPPED LIVER?” And then I strode away back down to the hill to work on my lights. I worked in silence most of the afternoon, just repairing Christmas lights and fuming inside that somebody viewed my husband as working for the Lord, but evidently did not view me in the same way, although I work just as hard for our Lord.

I’ve come to realize in the past twenty years of ministry that many people will never have the same understanding of our roles as Larry and I do. There are still those that view him as “working for the Lord” and me as the one supporting him. Or to use an illustration from Pastor Tara, they view him as the baseball player who is on the field scoring all the home runs and me as the bat boy, running out to give the weary player some water and encourage him as he “goes back out into the game.” Thankfully I don’t have too many people in the church we currently pastor who view it this way, but of course there are many out in the world who do.

I’ve learned some people will always see things from this viewpoint, as it is the only paradigm they have ever known. Getting angry over it or stewing really does me no good and is very unproductive. I realize that most people are simply uneducated about the subject or have been indoctrinated another way through the years and they really know no better. In such cases what helps me is to simply focus on those who “get it.” It helps as well that I have a husband who cares about educating people as to my role and equality in the ministry.

When it comes down to it, even when others don’t understand, no matter what anybody else thinks, God knows I’m working for Him, and so does Larry. And really, the rest is chopped liver in comparison.

Rev. Deanna D. Shrodes, Equal Time Co-Founder

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Hypothetical Look at Reality

“Pastor Smith, I put the resumes for the Associate Pastor position on your desk this afternoon,” the administrative assistant called out. Pastor Smith nodded and waved a hand of thanks her way as he pushed open the door to his office. As he sank into his chair he eyed the overflowing pile of envelopes addressed to the Pastoral Search Committee of Liberty Worship Center. There were at least a hundred. His eyes drifted to another stack of resumes that had been omitted. There at least two hundred there. Liberty needed to find someone fast. The load had been more than Pastor Smith and the board had expected. With a deep sigh Pastor Smith dove into the pile of fresh resumes praying for a qualified candidate.

After more than two hours, the “keep” pile was much smaller than the new discard pile. Pastor Smith took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “Okay, just one more then I’m calling it quits for the day!” He reached for an envelope postmarked from Florida. He read aloud as he unfolded the thick resume, “Reverend Cameron Woods of Jacksonville, FL.” As he continued to read a smile crept upon his face. The list of qualifications alone placed Rev. Woods at the top of the list.


-diversity of experience in 18+ years of ministry

-visionary with proven ability to put vision into action

-proven ability to evaluate, equip & mobilize people into action

-proven ability to work independently & in a team oriented environment

-highly relational in communication personally, in small groups & large public gatherings

-proven ability to delegate effectively

-proven ability to lead a team that effectively cares for the needs of over 1,000 people

-proven ability to manage teams of up to 100 people on a daily basis

-proven ability to manage teams of up to 150 people for single large events

-proven ability to be creative in problem solving

-proven ability to be intentionally relevant to people outside of church culture

-proven ability to serve simply, practically & tangibly the “not-yet-believer”

-proven ability to effectively communicate verbally, in writing, media & the arts

-proven ability to shepherd, counsel & guide people towards an authentic relationship with Christ

-proven ability to laugh, enjoy life & people, not take self too seriously, be gracious & “roll with the punches” along the way

Pastor Smith jumped up from his seat knocking the rest of the pile to the ground. He grabbed his coat and brief case and walked into the lobby. “Andrea, please contact this candidate and set up a phone interview for myself and the search committee. The sooner the better!”

The next morning an email confirming the date and time for the phone interview popped into Pastor Smith’s inbox. As an added note, Andrea wrote that her conversation with Rev. Woods had been pleasant and a blessing. “Good to know,” Pastor Smith thought aloud. Talking with church attendees and staff would be a daily part of the position.

As with every candidate, Pastor Smith then forwarded a questionnaire to Rev. Woods as well as a formal application. Picking up the phone Pastor Smith phoned the four references listed on Rev. Woods’ resume for references. He smiled bigger with each call. They were all the same, “Rev. Woods is a person of exemplary character.” “Cameron is a team player and a leader of leaders.” “Pastor Cameron would be a coveted addition to any church.” The questionnaire and application came back and mirrored everything that was said and exactly what was in the heart of Pastor Smith. There was no way he was letting this one go!

The next day came and went quickly. Pastor Smith was almost giddy to talk to Rev. Woods. As the time for the phone interview approached Pastor Smith made sure each of the search committee had a photocopy of Cameron Woods’ resume, questionnaire, and application. After a word of prayer Pastor Smith asked everyone to view the resume in front of them before they made the call.

Pastor Smith read through the resume aloud pointing out interesting facts and reference points. “Family status, married to Tracy, for 15 years, three children 3, 5, and 9. Spiritual gifts include shepherding, leadership and administration…” As Pastor Smith looked around the table he was pleased at the nodding heads and smiles of the committee members. “Additionally, Tracy, Rev. Woods’ wife also has extensive ministry experience,” Pastor Smith read from the questionnaire. “Tracy’s ministry involvement is extensive and executed with excellence. Tracy’s experience includes leadership in missions projects, First Impressions, small groups and outreach events.”

“Pastor, let’s go ahead and make the call,” said one of the committee members. “I’m anxious to talk to Rev. Woods.”

Pastor Smith dialed and placed the call on the conference call mechanism. “Woods’ Residence,” a cheerful female voice answered.

“Well hello Mrs. Woods. What a delight it is to speak with you,” Pastor Smith said with a grin on his face. “My name is Pastor Mark Smith from Liberty Worship Center in Michigan. I am joined this evening by our pastoral search committee. We are certainly looking forward to speaking with Rev. Woods this evening.”

“Um, yes, I am excited too,” said the woman on the other end. “Would you like to begin?”

“Most definitely,” answered Pastor Smith. “It’s been a pleasure talking with you Tracy. Is Rev. Woods around?”

“Pastor Smith,” the woman said giggling. “Tracy is my husband, I am Rev. Cameron Woods. That’s okay though, it happened with names like ours. I’m ready when you are.”

The silence on Liberty Worship Center’s end was deafening. Pastor Smith felt his face and neck redden. As he looked at the other members of the committee their faces were in disbelief.

“I am sorry Cameron. I, uh, didn’t realize that you were a wo…, I mean Rev. Woods,” stammered Pastor Smith.

The rest of the call lasted only 15 minutes. The committee disbanded and shook their heads as Pastor Smith hung up the phone. “Oh well, back to the drawing board,” he said as the rest of the committee laughed.

Of course this story is fictional, well, this time anyway. Unfortunately, this type of prejudice happens. How devastating it is when a fully qualified woman is disqualified because of her gender. Imagine getting a resume that reflected Cameron’s qualifications yet it would be discarded because it belonged to a woman.

The incredible thing is “Cameron” could have gotten a position at a reputable corporation with the resume she submitted. And they would have hired her. She would have climbed the ladder of success much faster in the secular workplace than in most churches. She would have been respected and valued for her wisdom, experience and knowledge.

Closed minded legalism wants to dictate to women that their involvement in ministry be limited and that their gifts and abilities be in the background. The biggest issue I have with this is the fact that after women are told “no” countless times they are then chastised for becoming successful in the secular workplace.

Women react to such prejudice by deciding to use their talents where they were appreciated. Extra time at work is appreciated and rewarded; extra time at church may not be. There are many women who have become Sunday-morning Christians; it has become easier. There is a terrible temptation not to be involved much at church that exudes such a legalistic approach because it’s not clear how we as women will fit in.

Some congregations make women feel as though they are not as valuable at church as they are at work. Some women are made to feel that their contributions are not needed or wanted, and that their gifts are expendable.

Women are tired of being a different person during the week from the person they are on Sunday. During the week, what they do makes a difference as to whether their company succeeds or fails. During the week, the people at work notice their demeanor and tone of voice and if they seem unhappy, they ask if something is wrong. At work woman are told that the company needs their ideas, productivity and talents. When a good result is achieved, someone says, “Good job! Thank you!” Studies have shown that most people are motivated by understanding how their performance fits into an organization and how their work makes a difference.

Some will say that I am making excuses or looking for a bone to pick. They may say that “What you get out of church depends on what you put into it.” And to be honest and fair, there is an element of truth to that; it is certainly more rewarding to be involved than to disengage.

However, we must all realize that it gets harder and harder to convince one’s self that God really wants us to contribute such a small portion of our talents to the church community in comparison to our workplace. The Word tells us to stir up the gifts within us. My question is why stir up what will never be consumed?

Again, it is time for equal time in the body of Christ. Deborah(s), arise!

Rev. Tara D. Sloan, Equal Time Co-founder

Monday, September 3, 2007

Equal In Creation

Equal in Creation

By Fuchsia Pickett


In my more than 50 years of ministry, I have discovered that because people often study their Bibles through the eyes of their own prejudices, customs and traditions, they tend to read into the Scriptures what they have been taught instead of reading out of them what the Holy Spirit meant when He inspired His servants to write them. This practice leads to much deception in the church. Nowhere is the deception more apparent than in the misunderstanding about God's divine order for the genders.

Many Christians believe that God created man to rule over woman. They cite as proof God's words to Eve after she ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you" (Gen. 3:16, NKJV). But in making this statement, God was not revealing His divine order for the woman. He was imposing on her the consequences of her fall. He was telling us how a fallen man and woman were going to relate to each other.

Results of the fall of man can never be construed as God's divine order for him. God told Adam he was going to eat by the sweat of his brow (see Gen. 3:19), but that was a consequence of sin rather than God's divine intention for him. God had purposed that Adam and Eve eat of the vegetation in the beautiful garden He had prepared for them and that they have dominion over every living thing.

PRIEST OF THE HOME? Another misconception prevalent in the church is that the man is the priest of the home. But this is not a scriptural concept either. The Scriptures declare that we--male and female--are all priests: "You at a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, holy nation" (I Pet. 2:9).

The New Living translation of the Bible translates royal priesthood as "a kingdom of priests." There is no distinction here between male and female.

REVEALED FAITH: Some of us have difficulty accepting the truth about God's design for the genders because we have not "come to faith." When we read the Scriptures, we don't come in faith with an open heart and mind to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. Paul explains, Before faith [comes], we [are] kept under the law up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed" (Gal. 3:23, emphasis added).

We can't understand the Word until we have "revealed faith" because tradition, prejudice, culture, denominationalism, pseudo-masculinity and other bondages of the carnal mind hinder us. After revealed faith comes, we are no longer under the law but walk in the grace Jesus brought to us through redemption. Paul tells us, "After that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For [we] are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (vv. 25-26, KJV).

He declares that when we come to faith we will see "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for [we] are all one in Christ Jesus" (v. 28). Faith comprehends God's intentions in creating mankind. But the fall of man has so damaged us that we are unaware of the purpose for which God created man. We the are oblivious to the divine order He intended for man and woman to enjoy.

Until faith comes to our hearts we cannot expect an illumination o the Word of God that gives us understanding of the purposes of God. The Scriptures teach that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14, NKJV). No wonder the church, which has not yet come into a proper relationship with the Holy Spirit, is living without a true understanding of God's divine order for mankind!

A basic misunderstanding arises from our definition of "man." The word we translate from the Hebrew as "man" actually has no gender; it is more accurately translated mankind." In mankind--in Adam--was both "male" and "female." Thus when God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (Gen. 2:18, KJV), He was announcing His plans to do "surgery" to separate mankind into two sexes.

After God made the woman, He brought her "unto the man" (Gen. 2:22); He didn't put her under him. His purpose was for them to be one.

God ordained that the woman should be a "help meet" for the man. One of the definitions of the Hebrew word for "help meet" is "reflection." That is a beautiful picture of God's divine intention in creating mankind to walk together as one in fellowship with God.

IN ADAM'S IMAGE: Unfortunately, it is not the picture we normally see--because of our fallen nature. When God was about to create Adam, He said, "Let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness" (Gen. 1:26, NKJV). Then He created him; male and female He created them" (v. 27). So Adam was created in God's image.

But the Bible tells us that after the fall of man, Adam "begot a son in his own likeness, after his image" (Gen. 5:3, emphasis added). This means that Adam's descendants--including us--were born not in the image of God, their heavenly Father, but rather in the image of Adam. We were born with his nature, not God's.

God's eternal plan for us was not thwarted, however, for He had anticipated Adam's failure before the foundation of the world and had prepared a Savior for mankind. John assures us: "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). That word "destroy" is the Greek word louso, which means "to loose, to undo, outdo and overdo." So Jesus came to undo, outdo and overdo everything the devil has ever done.

When we accept Christ, who is the called the "last Adam," as our Savior, we are restored to the image of God. Restoration is a wonderful reality that promises we will become all God ordained for us to become in His eternal purpose and will experience what mankind would have known if the first pair had walked on with Him and not fallen.

God knew we couldn't change ourselves back into His image, so He designed the costly plan of redemption through the blood of his own Son, Jesus. Jesus was the express image of the Father, sent to live in us by the power of the Holy Spirit until that image takes over our inner natures-our spirits and souls. He begins to change us from glory to glory. When He fills our beings, as He wanted to do before man ever fell, we are going to go home in His image, complete and mature;

By the action of Calvary, we are being changed into Christ's image so male and female can walk together in their own realms of authority. God puts both genders back into Christ, not as male and female, but as mankind, walking with God. Husband and wife, male and female preacher, man and woman leader will walk in the cool of the day with Jesus, who is talking to us, fellowshipping with us, giving us authority and changing us into His image. In the "last Adam," God is restoring what we would have had if Adam had not fallen in the beginning.

RETURNING TO DIVINE ORDER: God ordained that man and woman should walk with Him and be as one, and He would meet the innermost needs of both of them. Divine order is higher than the plight of fallen man. It is far more liberating to men and women than having to live under the doctrine of the curse of a fallen Adam and a fallen Eve.

As God delivers His church from the bondages of tradition and culture--and from fallen man's doctrine of divine order--we will see men and women function together to build godly homes and to fulfill God's purpose for the building of His church. When redemption cleanses us from the desire to rule, man and woman will not be threatened by each other, but will welcome each other's godly counsel.

The Bible gives many examples of women who provided godly leadership. Deborah was appointed by God as a judge, prophetess and general in the army. She was able to tell Barak what God had said to her, and Barak then declared he would not go to battle without her (see Judges. 4:4-8).

I believe in these last days of God's outpouring of His Spirit, many Baraks will say to their Deborahs that they will not go to battle without them. I believe it is the timing of God to restore man and woman back to divine order both in the home and in the kingdom of God. It is the hour for man and woman to come to faith, to stop living under fallen doctrine and to start living according to divine order--male and female walking together as one in Christ, each with his or her own delegated authority.

FUCHSIA PICKETT is the author of numerous books, including How to Search the Scriptures (Creation House). She has earned doctorates in both theology and divinity and teaches at churches and conferences throughout the United States.

Note: Fuchsia Pickett passed away on January 30, 2004.

Instigators & Initiators... in a GOOD Way!

The following is a prophetic word spoken by Kim Clement in Dallas, March 3rd, 2007.

Kim Clement
Prophetic Image Expressions

God said, "I'm looking to women again to bring forth and to birth what will change a generation" The Spirit of God says, "You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses--the greats of yesterday that stood out amongst men, amongst royalty, and made a difference--they are surrounding you . For there was a sound in each one of their spirits when they faced the giants of their time--that sound exists in this generation of women," says the Lord of Hosts. "This sound is a sound of tenderness; this sound is a sound of bold gentleness. This sound is a sound that has petrified the powers of hell, for this same sound existed within Esther. The same sound existed within Deborah. The same sound existed in Mary when the Rock came forth, and satan has watched the women of this generation and said 'no more,'" but the Spirit of God says, "they will arise, and when they arise, they will bring forth the Rock, Christ Jesus again!" As a prophet, I have heard the sound--In this day, and in this year of acceleration--women suddenly accelerating and touching the untouchable, and reaching the unreachable. That's what I saw and God said, "Tell these women, you are the instigators and the initiators of this movement that is about to touch the entire earth." "It has been some time now," says the Lord, "that I have focused My attention once again on the women to bring forth the Word--the Rock. It has been a while now, that I have looked for a sound to come from a place where women would arise not with temperament, but with character and with virtue. And a sound that would come from them for one reason, 'God, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. And Lord, what You are dictating in Heaven right now, we want to perform on earth,' this is their prayer." And God says, "There's been a sound that I've been waiting for, and this year was the year that I designated to bring forth women of great virtue and of great power. Some of you have been locked away; some of you have been bound. Some of you have been freed to the point of now understanding the bondage of others. But this is not the question at hand today." The Spirit of God says, "Do you know that there is inside of you--about to be born that which has been there for a long time, for a long, long time," says the Lord. "And this time as women who worship come forth," God said, "there has been a quickening--something is moving inside the spiritual womb." Now God says, "This place has been transformed into a delivery room." God says, "No, you will not walk from this place saying, 'I received much.' But you will walk from this place saying, 'I delivered something; I delivered something.' A delivery room, as you know, is a place of pain and a place of stress where there is blood," but God said, "in the midst of all of this, once the sound of life comes forth from the womb," God said, "something new, something fresh begins to take place in the atmosphere." God said, "I'm looking to women again to bring forth and to birth what will change a generation. You have not gathered together in vain. What has happened, is you have brought forth and I hear the sound of a child being born. I hear the sound of a child being born. From your spiritual womb a movement shall take place," says the Lord, from this house.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Lopsided Theology

There’s an unbalanced thought floating around Christian circles that respect goes only one way -- woman to man (or wife to husband) and as long as men love women, they will want to respect them, and as long as women respect men they will want to love them.

Right off the top let me say I totally believe it’s important to respect men and I would certainly hope they love their wives. I just happen to believe the balanced notion that it’s supposed to go both ways. I wish this lopsided theology was only within the framework of marriage, but unfortunately it has seeped out to mean even more than that – and that is, the notion that men are wired so as to be insecure in so many things that if we just make a point to respect and admire them to the max, well, basically it will all but make them putty in our hands. If that’s not manipulative, I don’t know what is, but getting back to my original thought…

There is a danger in taking one short scripture such as Ephesians 5:33 and building a theology on it. I remember when the extreme version of the “prosperity” doctrine came out, the scripture most of these teachers readily spouted out as their foundation was: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” The reality is, this scripture in 3 John 1:2 is a greeting from John to Gaius, and really has nothing to do with whether somebody in 2007 should be riding around in an Escalade or buying their dream house. But that’s what happens when you build a theology on one scripture instead of looking at the whole counsel of God’s word.

What does the Word of God tell us? It tells us over and over again to love everyone. It tells us to humble ourselves – all of us. It tells us to be servants. The last time I checked, nobody was exempt. Not only am I to be a servant to my husband, and he to me, but we are to be servants to the world. We are not to be servants more to men than we are women. Giving honor and respect to men is not wrong, however when we begin to believe or act as though they are worthy of more respect than women, or that a husband deserves more respect than a wife, we have developed a lopsided theology at best.

I’m sure some of the teachers who started the various emphasis on these passages of scripture never intended people to take it to some of the extreme to which it’s been taken. That is something no teacher can really control. But it’s alarming to see how many people will grab on to a small shred of the Word and go to such an extreme that it makes for a very unhealthy life and relationship.

Does God want me to respect my husband? You bet. Does God also want my husband to respect me? You bet. Don’t agree? Think about this. God said, “husbands, love your wives.” I’m so glad mine loves me. But do you think that because God didn’t tell me to love him means God is giving me license to skip that part or to not love him? Of course not. Based on the whole context of the Bible, it would be a given that I would be required by God to love my husband, and everybody else for that matter. I would call this the “duh” factor. Are some people actually so clueless and out to lunch (or desperate to come up with something new to sell books) that they believe God is only asking us to respect our husbands, but not love them? No. Does the fact that God tells my husband to love me mean that he expects him to give me no respect? Of course not. God’s word, in fact tells us to engage in the practice of mutual submission. As far as good old fashioned R-E-S-P-E-C-T, God expects us to give it to everybody. This is the essence of the golden rule. When we look at scripture we mustn’t just look at a sentence, but the full context and also the overall tone of God’s Word. God would not give instructions to everyone to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and then expect a wife to respect her husband, but not necessarily have to give others respect or vice versa. Look at the plethora of “one another’s” in scripture… love one another, forgive one another, bear with one another, etc. The overall mandate in scripture for how we treat one another is very two sided…love and respect is definitely not a one way street. God’s street, in fact seems to be named, “one another.”

I do know if I were a man, I would be offended of the notion that some people teach that men are so fragile, and insecure that they can’t handle truth telling by their partners, that if they are not met with a quiet surrender and reverent respect in all situations that they might feel such intense pressure, they might not succeed in life or relationships, or God forbid have a breakdown. I submit to you, if that is the case with a man, he needs counseling, not for a woman to enable his insecurity. Are there perhaps, many insecure men in the world today? Perhaps. There are a lot of insecure women too. The truth is, their security needs to be found in Jesus, not in the way someone else speaks to them, doesn’t speak to them, respects them or doesn’t respect them.

With that said, do I believe that when men love women it makes it easier for us to respect them? Absolutely. And do I believe that when we respect them it makes it easier for us to love them? Absolutely. But this does not mean we are not to grant both to each other.

Taking this issue beyond the marriage setting, we have heard recently about a woman who, after being exposed to this lopsided theology decided to “try this” on every man (exclusively) in her office building. This was in an effort to better get along with them and have a better working relationship by understanding how much they “needed it” because of “the way they’re wired.” My question is, isn’t that sort of manipulative, unless she was doing this with all of her co-workers across the board? The fact that God would be asking her to extend this to the men in her company, excluding the women sounds particularly un-Christ like to me. Some would say, “maybe a woman’s goal in doing this is not to manipulate but to rather honor men.” My point to this would be: why would she be honoring men over women, or versus women? There is no scriptural mandate to do so. Unless one is trying some pop psychology experiment, it would seem rather pointless.

When I am in a group setting of colleagues of both sexes and we are working on a project, I do not defer to a man in his opinion or way of doing things simply because he is a man in the group. I do not give his opinion more respect than a woman’s, nor answer him in a fashion that gives him deference versus the woman. As long as we are lateral colleagues, I would extend to him the same level of respect that any other man or woman in the group would have and would value his opinion as such but no more, no less. Respect is not to be increased, nor decreased because one is a man or a woman. God expects us to treat all people with courtesy, humility and love no matter what their gender. Even if a person is not in authority, we should still treat them with respect. While we should treat our boss with respect, God is definitely not saying, “treat your boss with respect, but don’t worry about showing care in how you treat your co-workers.” When you break it down, it’s really so simple, you wonder how so many people are missing it.

The danger when a Christian woman speaks out on this is that people get the impression that she is speaking from the standpoint of believing it is okay to disrespect a man. Speaking for myself or Pastor Tara I can say this is definitely not true. We absolutely do believe men deserve respect. We just believe that women do as well…for respect is also an issue of…equal time.

Pastor Deanna Shrodes, Co-Founder of Equal Time