Monday, September 22, 2008

Women's Roles and
Pastor's Wives Retreats
Guest Blogger: Leanne Weber

Today we're once again having a guest blogger and we're invited our good friend, Pastor Leanne Weber to guest blog today and share share about a recent "Pastor's Wives/Credentialed Women's Retreat" she attended:

I've been thinking a lot about the roles of men and women in a marriage lately. More precisely, since I got back from the "pastor's wives/credentialed women" retreat for our district. The title was a bit misleading, since there were not that many credentialed women there...mostly pastors' wives! Some highly involved pastors' wives - like my pastor's wife, for example [who co-pastors] - but quite a few who, when asked, didn't even consider themselves to be leaders.

The speaker, although she had some good things to say, was not exactly one of the best retreat or conference speakers I have ever heard. I am all for making my home a comfortable, peaceful place. This is something I strive to do. However, I believe that it is up to BOTH my husband and me to foster that kind of atmosphere. I can plan a family dinner at the table, but he needs to sit at said table and eat with me. Right now, eating EVERY meal together around the family table is physically impossible, since he works 2nd shift Friday - Monday. On the days when he's not going to be home for dinner, we try to do breakfast together so we have at least one meal..because I do feel like it's important to connect and not just grab our plates and go off to separate areas of the house to eat.

She talked about being there for your kids - not just rushing from a job to a zillion church activities. That's all well and good, but:

a.) We need two incomes right now, and I'm not talking about wanting a whole bunch of expensive stuff. We have nothing in our house that we went out picked out ourselves from the store and bought brand new - other than our bed and a bookshelf, which were made possible by a check from our insurance company when our apartment flooded - all this to say that we are catching up on old bills from a very difficult chapter in our lives, and just to cover that and our basic necessities, we need two paychecks; and

b.) We are called...plain and simple. I could make the excuse that "I'm a woman...I need to start a family and stay at home with them!" But I think God was fully aware of my gender when He called me. As a woman who is planning to start a family soon, I have wrestled with the question of "How on earth am I going to do this?" but honestly, I think we've got a pretty good set-up. One of Patrick's desires has always been to be able to be an active parent - not just a sperm donor who then goes off and works and never gets to spend time with his kids. With his job not starting until 2:00 pm, he will have the whole morning to spend with them...I'll have the evening...and there will be a few hours of time in the afternoon when we may need to find a cute little old lady or responsible teenager from church to take care of them (once they get older and start getting into stuff!)

From this retreat speaker, I got the impression that being a wife and/or mother means that it's all on me. That means that in addition to being a children's pastor and the primary person who keeps our house clean (as egalitarian as my husband claims to be, I've discovered that men just don't see dirt the same way women do, LOL!!), I get to be the full time parent to our kids as well. Now, if I was to be a stay-at-home mom and wife, I would embrace that role 100%. That would be MY job. But since I do work outside the home, as does my husband, we need to share some of those roles. To us, "division of labor" does not mean that there are certain jobs that are a man's domain and other jobs that are a woman's domain. It simply means that the best person for the job is the one who does it. Most of the cleaning is done by me. My husband cooks when we have company, because he enjoys doing big, elaborate meals. Trash is taken out by whoever first notices that it's full. He takes care of our finances because dealing with numbers gives me a headache and makes me cry. Oil changes are done by Valvoline :o).

When I listened to this speaker, I got the sense that she would feel that I was stepping outside of my God-given role. She said a couple of times that "it's a 'trend' in the A/G right now for women to get credentialed." I thought she should have done her homework, since the A/G has been credentialing women from the start. She also said that if a pastor's wife is co-pastoring with her husband, the church is out of order, and the wife needs to step down and give the authority back to her husband where it belongs. This didn't sit too well with our pastor's wife, who does, in fact, co-pastor with her husband! Our church is most definitely not "out of order." It is, in fact, the most functional church I have ever been a part of!

I used my "brain filter" to try and glean some useful information from the retreat, and I'm not saying it was a total waste. But instead of feeling uplifted and refreshed upon leaving, I felt frustrated and discouraged. Like I wasn't "doing it right."

It says a lot about this district and how they feel about women in ministry for them to even bring in a speaker of this nature...and I found myself once again missing my old district - with one of the highest percentages of female pastors, whose leadership would never dream of bringing in someone like that to speak to their credentialed women. All I can say is thank goodness they're NOT doing this retreat next year (they only do it every other year, I guess!), which will leave me free to go to the "Unstoppable" Conference in Tampa!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Women are leaving
the church in droves!

Last week I posted this about Runaway Women. I've seen and felt this for years on a personal level and seen huge ramifications coming for the church at large, but never saw a research study done on it. Apparently one has been done and the results are absolutely staggering. Read about it here. Among other things, the article states that at least 50,000 women a year are leaving the church because it is no longer relevant in a world where females are empowered to do and be anything they want. Many women see the disconnect with this in the church and want nothing to do with it.

Sadly some women are even turning to cults and false religions because there they have found more acceptance when it comes to utilization of their gifts and talents in the area of leadership. Others have completely abandoned the idea of church altogether because they view it as a place of male hierarchy.

Been sayin' this for years folks...

The article goes on to say the hope of turning it around is in getting more female "bishops" as they worded it (translation: leaders in the top posts of our churches) and in becoming user friendly to single Moms and those working outside the home who comprise the majority of the female population.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Yes, I am a feminist

Today we'd like to yield the floor a very good mutual friend of ours, Pastor Leanne Weber, as she shares one of her many recent insightful writings on the issue of equality. To go to Leanne's daily blog, click here.


by Rev. Leanne Weber
Children's Pastor
Trinity Christian Center

Zion, Illinois

First of all, regarding Sarah Palin's appointment as the Republican VP candidate: I can't even believe that in 2008, this is an issue for some people. Seriously - as a child of the 80's, the two things that were drilled into my head were:

1. Just say NO (to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco)...LOL!!

2. Women have the brains and the ability to do anything that they desire.

I assumed that others of my generation were taught the same. I grew up in the Assemblies of God, a denomination that has ordained women for ministry since its beginnings, and so becoming a pastor wasn't even a moral/ethical dilemma of "should I or shouldn't I?" [Well, okay, I did go back and forth on it a bit - but not because I'm female!]

I have always taken for granted that women can pursue a career. I have met and continue to meet many women who have successfully raised godly kids AND worked outside the home, whether in ministry or in corporate America.

As Christians, we are sometimes reluctant to use the term "feminist," because it is a word that comes with a lot of baggage attached to it. We hear the word and we automatically think, "pro-choice, lesbian, liberal, tree-worshiping pagan or Wiccan." So for my purposes here, I am going to define the term feminist as "someone who believes that God calls ALL people - male and female - to different roles."

Two of my dearest friends in the world are sisters - both pastors, both moms, and both married to non-credentialed men. One of them worked full time until her baby was born, and then accepted a "part time" position in a church (I put "part time" in quotes, because I don't think a pastor is ever NOT a pastor - you either are one or you aren't one. This friend simply works in a church that does not pay her a full time paycheck, and therefore, she has the freedom to work from home and not put her son in daycare while she goes to the office). The other friend, with both of her kids, went on a "partial maternity leave," in which she still conducted kids' church on Sundays, but stayed at home in the initial 6-8 weeks after her kids were born. Then, she went back to working full time in the office. Her pastor was extremely generous in that he allowed her to bring her kids to work until they became toddlers (at which time she voluntarily chose to keep them with a sitter during the day, so that she could get work done, lol!). Both of them are doing what works best for them - for their ministry - and for their household, and although their kids are small, I see happy, well-behaved, very much loved kids in BOTH families.

I used to stress about what would happen when I had kids, but I have confidence that my co-pastors (who raised two girls while co-pastoring!) and I will come up with a satisfactory arrangement.I believe I am called. Whatever shape that calling takes in the future (as in, if I am a children's pastor for life, or if God calls me to a different type of ministry!), I am called for life. God didn't give me an escape clause, "redeemable upon the birth of my first child." And if I am called, then God is going to give me the strength and resources that I need in order to do my job AND raise godly kids. I refuse to feel guilty because I will not be staying at home baking bread, sewing clothes, homeschooling my kids, and growing my own vegetables (Can I just say - we'd STARVE if I did that? Our tomato plants yielded a grand total of two tomatoes this summer - slightly larger than cherry tomatoes, and although delicious, not nearly enough to make the buckets of fresh salsa that I was envisioning when I planted them at the beginning of the summer, lol!).

I refuse to feel guilty that I am now 32 years old and have not yet had kids. Waiting until now to start trying was a conscious choice that Patrick and I made when we got married - for a lot of different reasons that are, frankly, no one's business but ours! And for those who say it's okay for me to be a pastor, as long as I'm "just a children's pastor," let me give you a little advice: First of all, you NEVER use the term, "JUST a children's pastor" around someone who is called to preach to kids. Second of all, I have a License to Preach from the A/G, which qualifies me to be any kind of pastor! Although to get me to be a senior pastor, it would require God coming down and telling me in an audible voice, and providing at least three references to prove it was really Him :o).

All this to say that I am perfectly happy to have a female VP candidate. But in true feminist fashion, I do not plan to look at the fact that she is female - but where she stands on the issues...beyond just the "hot button" ones like abortion, gay marriage, and the like. And for tonight? My husband is making me steak on the grill, so that's what I'm concentrating on at this present moment - ciao!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Runaway Women

For thousands of years, the Bible has been misused to keep women in bondage. Many early church leaders who have been revered and quoted in sermons throughout the ages held these repressive views and weren't afraid to proclaim them. Listen to these actual quotes from some people that no doubt, your pastor has probably quoted at some point in his/her messages. (I'm sure they probably did not use these particular quotes - and may even have no idea these people held such views. Many people don't realize what I'm about to tell you. They usually quote these men concerning other issues that have nothing to do with women or equality.)

"Take up a stick and beat her, not in rage, but out of charity and concern for her soul, so that the beating will rebound to your merit and her good."
~ Friar Cherubino
(on what a husband should do if his wife does not respond to verbal correction.)

"Woman must neither begin nor complete anything without man:where he is, there she must be, and bend before him as before a master, whom she shall fear and to who she shall be subject and obedient." ~ Martin Luther

"Woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active power in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex, while production of woman comes from defect in the active force."
~ Thomas Acquinas

"God maintained the order of each sex by dividing the business of life into two parts, and assigned the more necessary and beneficial aspects to the man and the less important, inferior matters to the woman."
~ Early church father John Chrysostom (A.D. 347-407)

"Men should not sit and listen to a woman, even if she says admirable things, or even saintly things. That is of little consequence, since they come from the mouth of a woman."
~ Origen, the early church Father (A.D. 185-254)

and my personal "favorite"...

"Men have broad shoulders and narrow hips and accordingly, they possess intelligence. Women have narrow shoulders and broad hips. Woman ought to stay at home; the way they were created indicates this, for they have broad hips and a wide fundament to sit upon, keep house and raise children."
~ Martin Luther

As "fathers of the faith" abused and twisted the scripture to suit their own carnal and selfish desires, they suppressed women for thousands of years only to have them finally break free. But to what? Did they really break free? Well, from many unhealthy things, yes. Through the equal rights movement, the right to vote was gained, as well as equal pay for equal work (well, acutally we're still working on that one!), equal opportunities in the workplace, and equal rights with men in general.

Unfortunately with the women's liberation movement very unbiblical things such as man hating and bashing, abortion, and stupidity such as bra burning also came along. That's a shame for without these unbiblical factors, the women's movement would be nothing but positive.

For many years, so called men of God twisted scriptures and held extremist and abusive views. Yet,they continued to be revered by some and even quoted in sermons as "fathers of our faith." Do you know how many sermons I've sat through over the years where Martin Luther has been quoted? If these are the fathers of our faith, it's no wonder so many women have run away from home over the years. What I mean by that is that they have not only gotten the idea that they don't need men and have run away from their natural homes and families but many have also run away from the house of God. What a tragedy.

Not only have many church leaders who are now dead remained on a pedestal after oppressing women, but new leaders who have emerged over the years who are alive today and hold these archaic views are also trumpeted as men of God to be respected. Add to that the myopic systems in place in many churches today that practically shout, "we don't want you here!" to women and it's no wonder why many sisters have run away from the family of God and never returned.

I was visiting a church and at the close of the service, they issued a reminder announcement that at all the men of the church would be meeting in the fellowship hall. I questioned the person who was my host at the service and said, "are they having a men's brunch or a special event?" They said, "no, it's a specially called church business meeting." I was a little shocked and said, "oookkkayyyy...and why are they calling only the men to the fellowship hall?" She said, "they are going to vote and take care of the business of the church." I said, "where are the women going? She said, " well if they are single they will just leave, and if they are married they will wait for their husband in the sanctuary or foyer or they will just go on home to prepare lunch and wait for them." I was shocked. You might think this was 20 or 30 years ago but I'm sad to say it was in just the past few years and the church was a part of a major, well respected denomination.

People today sometimes wonder why so many women have left the family of God. Some churches needn't ask. There's a lot of talk today about relevance and how important it is for the church to be such. There's nothing more relevant biblically or culturally today than the equality of women. Jesus is all about equality but so is any relevant church. Many women know they are not welcome in the body of Christ as equals and they'll be more than happy to take their talents elsewhere and invest their time and resources in a place that fully celebrates them.

I never quote any of the above church "fathers" nor a few others like them when preaching except for an illustration such as I'm giving in this post. I wouldn't put them on a pedestal or quote them any more than I would a guy in a white hooded gown who burned a cross on somebody's front lawn. It's time the church stop tolerating prejudice in any form...otherwise we can expect more runaways. Seriously folks, can you imagine a woman coming to your church who is a VP at Bank of America, going home or waiting in the sanctuary for her husband while he goes off to 'cast his vote and do the business of the church?" No. I can tell you, that's a definite NO. I can tell you definitively because I've been privileged to pastor a woman who was a VP at Bank of America and one of the first things she said upon becoming a member was, "one of the reasons I chose to become a member here of this particular church was because it was evident there is no glass ceiling. Being that the church has a female co-pastor and women on the board, I know this is a church that fully embraces the equality of women and that's very important to me." That woman was not alone. Over the years, we have received that comment from many, many women who are searching for a place to belong. Some ran away from home but are searching for a place once again where they might be welcome to do more than work in the nursery, sing in the choir or run the church bake sale.

Churches can keep the men going to the fellowship hall and the ladies outside waiting...they can keep them out of pastoral leadership, off the board, out of key leadership roles in the church... but eventually all that will be left in those churches as far as women are concerned are those who can their own vegetables and have about 100 denim jumpers in their closet with apples on them.

Stay at home Dads are going to hell?

Does anyone else find this disturbing?


"Hell is your future home?" Wow.

Make no misunderstanding, laziness is wrong, however he really makes no distinction and just says that if you're calling yourself, "Mr. Mom", hell is your future home. Also indicates it's wrong if the wife is the breadwinner.

Why do some preachers (or people in general) feel it's any of their business who works outside the home in the family, how much money they make, or who spends the majority of the time caring for the kids?

The important thing is, does the job get done? Does it work for the family? This is all that matters.

Time to change the channel.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Glass ceiling not shattering anytime soon

By now everybody is bouncing back from the shock of Sarah Palin being chosen as the Republican VP nominee. Relax. This post is not about who I'm voting for...or not.

I'm an admirer of BOTH Hillary Clinton AND Sarah Palin. (Okay, pick yourselves up off the floor...) I know what you're thinking. These two women believe COMPLETELY different things. You're right! I read a blog yesterday that said, "The only thing Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton share in common is that they have the same kind of genitals." Well, perhaps. I actually think they'd probably find a little more common ground than that, but here's where I'm going with this...although I might not agree 100% or even 10% with what a person stands for (their values) I can look beyond that to see the admirable qualities in a person. Just because I admire someone doesn't mean I'd vote for them.

I know she's not in the race anymore this year, but like her or not, you have to admit, Hillary Clinton is a sharp lady. She's a worker to the core -- you might not agree with everything she stands for, or even anything she stands for, but the fact is, she'll work to her dying day for what she believes in and with passion, and never give up. She embodies perseverance. I admire that in a person. I haven't known as much about Palin for very long, she has simply not been as prominent as Clinton. However I see many qualities in her that are admirable as well -- an equal passion for what she believes in, standing against corruption, cutting unnecessary spending, being willing to brave the storm that inevitably comes into one's life by not caving in to the "good old boy network".

What I'd like to address in this post are the questions people ask women that they would NEVER ask men. As soon as Palin was chosen as the VP pick, people rose up to question whether she should take this job, having 5 kids, one of them being a newborn baby. No kidding, I actually heard one pundit ask if she would have to bring the baby to the White House for meetings to nurse him, and if people thought that should be allowed!! I had to double over laughing on that one. (And yes, I breastfed my kids, and yes, I think it's a great thing.) It was my brilliant husband who shook his head at the stupid commenter as well and said, "you idiot, by the time she gets to the White House for meetings, if indeed she is elected VP, the baby will be at the age where he would be weaned before she's even sworn in." (I love my husband!)

Here's my thought...the glass ceiling is far from being shattered until we start asking MEN the same questions we ask women.

Do you think anyone in 21 years has ever asked my husband, "Pastor Shrodes, how do you manage to pastor the church while still having three kids in your home?"

Do you think in 21 years anyone has ever asked my husband, "Pastor Shrodes, how do you get everything done? How do you balance it all?"

Do you think in 21 years of pastoring, my husband has ever sat in an interview with a pulpit committee and heard, "Now Pastor Shrodes, you are after all, a husband and father. Do you think with that as a factor that you will be able to effectively do this job if indeed you are elected the pastor of this church?"

No, no, no. They have asked Pastor Shrodes, alright, but it's been THE WRONG Pastor Shrodes! LOL We will have shattered the glass ceiling when people are asking men the same questions they ask us.

Some of you might be ready to rattle off at your keyboard and comment or e-mail me with... "are you saying being a wife and mother aren't important?" and "don't you know motherhood is a high calling from God?" and "don't you believe in putting your kids before your job?" Answer to questions: no , yes, and yes.

I simply believe that all the same applies to my husband. Being a husband and father is important, isn't it? Being a husband and father is a high calling from God, isn't it? Being a husband and father comes before your job, doesn't it? So why aren't people asking the man the same questions?

It's obvious from some of the reading I've been doing that Todd Palin believes the way that my husband and quite a number of husbands today believe: parenting wasn't designed by God to be a one person responsibility. Single parenting is hard and most people aren't doing it by choice. God gave children a father and a mother for a reason. My husband and I believe God has given us our home and our children to lead as a team - together.

It's about a partnership. It's evident both Clinton and Palin have husbands who are partners. This is another thing I admire about both women, and something, ironically I have heard both criticized about!

Some of these questions about Palin's fitness to lead at this time come from women who strongly supported Hillary. Shame! Shame! Shame on you women!!! It's as if you forgot that Hillary ever had a child! She might be an empty nester now, but remember, she was raising Chelsea the majority of the years she was in the White House. And by all appearances it seems she and Bill raised her equally together. With all the bad you might have to say about the woman, give her this - she's a darn good mother who together with her husband raised a fine young lady. At least if you are going to criticize Sarah Palin, do it concerning her policies, not about whether she's going to nurse the baby or not, or whether she'll be able to keep the laundry done and still work on America's energy crisis. How ridiculous!!!

Ladies, ladies, ladies...let's not hold our sisters back or down by this type of rhetoric, whether we agree with their policies or not. Whether you are a Palin supporter or not, don't tear down what so many of our sisters -- and thankfully many of our right thinking and compassionate brothers --before us have worked so long and hard for.

No matter who gets elected this November, please keep in mind, the glass ceiling is not shattered until we stop asking women certain questions, or decide to ask men the same ones.