As we enter summer and times of refreshing ourselves at the pool with glasses of lemonade and ice tea, I envision a summer where we experience a time of refreshing in the church. How might we do this? What if we experience a new, fresh voice from the pulpit: a female voice? Those who know me know that I am always advocating for the need to get women in the pulpit. I should also take a minute to thank the many gracious pastors who have listened to my heart and passionate pleas on behalf of women in ministry. I am privileged to have so many wonderful ministerial colleagues.
I have made the case that in order for women to get more opportunities to preach, male pastors need to advocate in words and deeds on behalf of these women. That’s right men; we need you! We need you to teach and preach that women are called and gifted for the ministry of proclamation, but more than that, we need you to make a point to invite women to the pulpit. I want to challenge pastors to invite a woman preacher to their church some time during the summer. Not only does this offer an opportunity for women preachers, who often struggle to find a venue where they can use their giftedness, but it is an opportunity to bless your congregation through the experience of hearing a woman preach. It is an opportunity to affirm God’s calling on women; it is an opportunity to inspire the young women in your congregation, who may doubt God’s plans on their life; and it is an opportunity to celebrate the experience of the refreshing work of the Holy Spirit through a diversity of voices in the church.
Recently, I had the great privilege to be a guest preacher at a church. At the end of the service, congregation members came and shook my hand and thanked me for coming and sharing with them. It was during this time that I received the best compliment of my preaching career. An elderly woman came up to me smiling and said, “I’ve never heard one like that before; it was good, though.” Here I was, a stranger to this lovely group of people, yet though I didn’t preach in the manner in which they were accustomed, they embraced the message, and accepted me as I am. Wow! The love and acceptance that this congregation shared with me was a powerful witness to me of the willingness of congregations to accept diversity in the pulpit. I was not disregarded because of my different preaching style; I was accepted for the person God created me to be. They received the message of God spoken through my experiences and my life. They did not count it against me that I did not imitate the style of others. I didn’t have to conform to a prescribed set of preferences in order to be recognized as a preacher of the Word. In all my uniqueness, I was embraced and accepted.
Will you take the pulpit challenge?
Would you consider inviting a woman to come and preach in your church?
Will you affirm a gifted and called woman preacher in your congregation or area in deeds as well as words?
Would 100 pastors make a commitment to support women in the pulpit this summer?
Will you offer the members of your congregation the opportunity to say, “I’ve never heard one like that before; it was good, though”?
I’m praying that your answer is yes.