The Future of Baptist Women

A recent ABP article, discussed how women ministers are being received in the moderate baptist world and there is some good news:

Opportunities to lead churches are increasing for women in Cooperative Baptist life, but not fast enough to stop the loss of qualified female ministers from the Fellowship, a panel of ministers said during the 2014 General Assembly in Atlanta Thursday night.

I went to the CBF General Assembly excited to experience and learn for the first time as a pastor rather than a student. While it was so good to see so many women in ministry who were doing well and had accepted pastorates, I was overwhelmed with the number of recent women seminary graduates who couldn’t find a church to serve. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. In some instances, these women have submitted resume after resume and in some cases have made it to the final few candidates only to be told one of two things: you don’t have experience or we aren’t sure we are ready for a woman.

Their experiences were in internships and other ministries positions, not pastor positions. It makes me wonder what has shifted in the seminary experience. So many of my professors spoke of the churches they pastored while they were in seminary. Have churches who invest in student pastors disappeared?  It also makes me wonder if the women who are being called to pastor positions are overwhelmingly women who have held church staff positions for years. While this is certainly wonderful, it leaves a predicament for the future of baptist women in ministry.

If baptist women who are just graduating seminary are leaving the baptist world in order to find churches who support not only women in ministry, but young women in ministry, then in 5-10 years, moderate baptist life won’t have women pastors. The issue in moderate baptist life is not merely a gender issue, but an age issue as well.

This is a change that the moderate baptist world will have to consider if it wants to stay viable, but change is not easy:

The older we get, we more easily default to what we know. It’s like a river that for many years has cut a deep gorge in the earth. It would be hard to change its course. It simply becomes harder to think about other options.

Our brain’s habit centers more easily kick in as we age. It’s like a tug-of-war between the familiar and easy (what we are used to, our habits) and the unfamiliar and difficult (the change).

What we have created is a wonderful opportunity for possibility, but that possibility has to have churches and leaders who are looking ahead and planning ahead.

I am so happy to pastor one of those churches. We hope others will join us.