Is the church in danger of losing its next generation of women leaders?
A couple of years ago a leadership mentor challenged me with a tough statement. She said, “Jenni, how you steward your influence as a leader will directly impact the rest of the women in your church.” That statement has haunted me ever since.
I’m ashamed to admit that up until that conversation, my leadership had been very me-centric. I was worried about me instead of being intentional about developing other leaders, especially the young women leaders around me. In fact, I wasn’t even sure who the young women leaders were in our church. There were hundreds of 20- to 30-something women coming in and out of our doors each week, but I was seeing very few of them lead.
I knew it wasn’t because they didn’t have the potential. Statistics tell us that there are more single women in the U.S. than married, and those who do marry wait until age 30, on average, to do so. Women also are more educated than ever before.
I also learned by way of conversations and observations that many of the single women in our church were serving at local non-profits and other organizations throughout our city. They want to serve; they have time to serve. But their volunteer and leadership horsepower wasn’t being put to use in the church. Why?
thanks for this article. I agree. At FVC, Pastor Tom and I intentional seek out our young women and men (Blessed Alliance wise) to lead, but it is difficult and the sifting process can be grueling, although always exciting! we have group #3 entering our leading the journey development program this weekend. as a seasoned (is this a kinder word than older?) woman leader, I take a special interest in our young women and I am so blessed to know them, learn from them and watch God grow them.
Karen, I love that you’re intentional about this, especially with the leadership and influence you have on your church staff. I agree… “seasoned” is a good word 🙂
I don’t understand why being single is directly related to having leadership ‘potential’, as you call it. Are you saying married women do not have this potential?
Kathryn – very fair question… I realize that paragraph doesn’t read as well as it should. I certainly wasn’t saying that since I am married :). The point that I should have elaborated upon a bit more is that demographically this group of women have greater education and work experience than ever before plus they are still single which possibly gives them more time to invest their leadership gifts inside the church.
For me, there is a tension between being an authoritative, Type A female leader and finding a place to actualize that in the church, while also understanding and cultivating my ability to serve the vision of Godly men and growing in my ability to be a help mate, something that may feel less natural but to which I am certainly called. I believe that the Lord made me with every ability, talent, and gifting that I possess. There should be a place for utilization both inside and outside of the church. The world certainly supports me being a strong, leadership minded woman. However, I also need to understand my role as a woman of God. God has called, and specially designed, men to be in positions of spiritual authority and leadership. He has called me to learn how to utilize my giftings to support and encourage men in their God given roles. Figuring out how to do both of those things is where the real tension lies for me because I have certainly seen situations (particularly during my time in D.C.) where women did step up so to speak but often times that fostered a spiritual leadership lethargy in males. That dynamic was certainly out of order and not necessarily beneficial towards both men and women growing in our God given roles. The discussion of how to navigate that tension is one that I would love to see developed more within the church.
(as you can see I have a lot of opinions on this, and seemingly every, topic 😉 )
You spoke my heart on this. I see the potential for women in leadership and know that there are women that have the gifting. I attend the church that Jenni Catron is the Exc. Dir. of and she is amazing at what she does for that church. She leads but gives way to the “biblical” roles of men to be filled by men. (Please don’t think I am saying women couldn’t do these roles, as Jenni can tell you I am very open to more study and conversation regarding women’s roles in church.) I had to comment on your take because it is really where I am on this. I struggle with how to deal with the gifting of women who are great leaders and communicators. Where do we place them and remain true to the Word? Were there not early evangelists that were women? I know there were reports of women persecuted and killed in 100 A.D. by the Romans for being church leaders and preaching the Gospel of Jesus. There has to be a better way than where we are to involve this talent and help God to be glorified in it all. I hope all that makes sense and this discussion is developed more and more in the Church.
I attend Cross Point as well, Warren and agree Jenni does an excellent job. everything you said makes perfect sense to me. For me, my main prayer is that through the power of the Holy Spirit, that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart would be pleasing. Coupled with that, I pray for the wisdom of Solomon to know when, how, and in what context any wisdom the Lord gives to me is to be shared.
I truly feel that if we become students of the Word, people deeply committed to prayer and to obedience to the manifestations of the Spirit in our lives and churches, and willing to grapple with these topics together than God will be faithful to give us revelation as to how to best steward and develop the gifts and roles of men and women alike.
Thank you Jenni for investing in the next generation female leader, thanks for investing in me 🙂
Great thoughts! I think for many women, it’s hard to “break into” the church club. Being involved in church leadership for many years, I’ve heard a lot of women say that their women’s ministry group feels more like a clique. If you don’t have that Type A personality, putting yourself out there can be intimidating. When women are out serving in the community, it’s something they can do on their own, without having to worry about any insecurity or trying too hard.
That being said, I think that there’s a definite gap in church leadership reaching out to both men AND women. I think a lot of people who are currently serving as leaders within various ministries are doing so mainly because they stepped up on their own, not because someone reached out to them on a one-on-one level.