If you are a licensed, ordained female minister of the gospel of Christ, the way you are received, or not will depend what view is taken regarding the words of the Apostle Paul Those who believe women should keep silent in church take his words literally.
In the 1990’s I attended a Sunday evening service, where my pastor, turned to greet the preachers in the pulpit, I observed something that perhaps others were not aware of. My pastor smiled and made eye contact with the two male ministers as he welcomed them. He gave no recognition to the female preacher who was seated beside them. He looked truly disturbed that she was sitting in his pulpit.
During the roughly 90 minutes, we were in this sanctuary, the pastor had a pained look on his face. And he seemed in my opinion, to be purposefully trying to not even look at the female member of the clergy. It was as if she was invisible, to him. If this woman realized she was being slighted, she never let on. She smiled throughout the entire service.
When I shared my perception with an older member of the congregation, she acknowledged, that her pastor and other older clergy in the same denomination, did not believe women had any place in the pulpit, as preachers.
Recently I attended the funeral of a relative, where the baptist pastor asked for all clergy in the congregation to stand. There were 3 male preachers sitting in the pulpit. I was the only minister in the audience. As I stood, I caught the look on the pastors face, and sat down quickly.he had the same countenance, as the pastor I mentioned earlier.
Usually during funerals, the officiating preacher, welcomes guest clergy, thanks them for coming, asks what ministry they represent, and or extends an offer to sit on the pulpit when there is room. This pastor gave me a look that let me know he was not in agreement with my being a licensed minister.
A few years ago, however I attended a funeral at a baptist church, where the pastor asked preachers to stand, acknowledged both male and female clergy, and asked me specifically, if I would like to st n the pulpit I decline
On the flip side, there are Christian fellowships and denominations, where women are utilized in ministry. Many women today are pastors. If a female preacher stays within that type of setting, she may never know the hostility that awaits in other churches.
J Lee Grady editor of Charisma Magazine fully supports women in ministry. He believes the Apostle Paul was speaking to the women in the church of Corinth during that time in history and that Paul’s words do not pertain to women today.
For every J Lee Grady, there are people like the preachers mentioned earlier. Women in ministry need to be aware of possible adversity, they may face. If you are a female preacher, here are 10 tips that will help you maintain your dignity, should you encounter uncomfortable situations.
1. Pay attention.
Do not enter church buildings or even funeral homes, doing what you are used to doing. Do not automatically head for the pulpit, seek the pastors study, or a front row seat, unless you are in a situation where you know it is allowed.
2. Respect the order of the house.
If you are in a setting that you perceive, or know is hostile to women in ministry, it is not your place to try to change the opinions of others, or the rules in someone else’s domain. You may disagree with, but should respect opinions that differ from your own.
3. Don’t promote yourself.
Do not announce that you are minister so and so. Should someone recognize you, and offer to take you to the pastors office, a seat in the front, or on the pulpit, you have the choice to accept or decline.
4. Do not get caught up in titles.
While the term “reverend” is not in the bible, this is the prefix most used to identify clergy. If you have been licensed/ordained as a pastor, prophet, evangelist, or apostle, please do not become offended if someone does not call you by that title. My oldest son is called reverend 90% of the time, but it matters not to him.
5. Do not argue scripture.
Do not get caught up in debates, with those who say women should not preach. You will never prove your point. People are going to believe what they have been taught. Gong tit for tat regarding interpretation of the bible serves no purpose. You cannot force anyone to accept you.
6. When in doubt don’t.
If you feel strongly that you may be entering a hostile environment, you always have the option, to stay away. There may be times when you feel truly led by the Lord to minister in an uncomfortable environment. If however, you know that you will be tolerated, or even violated instead of celebrated, don’t go.
7. Follow protocol
Each church, ministry, pastor, denomination has it’s own protocol. What works well in one setting may be forbidden in another. The protocol you have been practicing, may be completely opposite of what you find in a different arena. Go with the flow and do not be offended. This is not personal against you.
If you know a pastor does not prefer women leaders to wear pants in the pulpit please don’t. It is much easier to always wear a dress or suit rather than having to ask about a dress code each time you attend a function.
8. Know who you are
When you know the Lord has called you, rest in that. Just because a man preaches all over town, is welcome in pulpits, and has doors opened, does not prove he is called by God. This only means that man finds him usable. And on the flip side, just because you do not get the same respect, does not disqualify your calling. It only means that others choose not to recognize it.
9. Practice humility
If someone else notices that you have been shunned as a woman minister, do not engage in mean spirited conversation. Explain that you understand that in ministry there re different strokes for different folks. If you do not seem affected, it takes the steam out of others who desire to make an issue of it. Walk in love and humility. It will open more doors than complaints.
10. Just do you
If He has truly called you, let your light shine. Do not allow others to hide it or attempt to blow it out. Walk in love, and be the best you, that you know how. There will always be controversy regarding the role of women in the church.