Women as potential church planters

I appreciate George Bullard’s interest in women in ministry and in potentially helping discuss the issue of women seminary graduates finding church positions; however, I’m not sure church planting is the answer.

While church planting has been popular for bringing Millennials back to “church,” they are a tough crowd to market to as Rachel Held Evans points out in an article published recently:

Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates  edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated website that includes online giving.

Although Millennials, or 2o-somethings, are looking for something edgier, I’m afraid women as senior pastors is still too edgy for many young Baptists raised in the Bible Belt. Although there are many 20 somethings who were raised in moderate Baptist church congregations, did they see women as senior pastors in their churches? Yes, they saw women serving as deacons and as associated pastors, but as pastors?

Although as Baptists we may think that church planting would conveniently solve the issue of women as senior pastors and the lack of Millennials in our congregations at one time, we have to realize that baptists Millennials, whether conservative or moderate, may in reality find women in the role of senior pastor foreign.

Personally, I am not sure I would want to be the guinea pig in an untested field not knowing whether I was digging into fertile ground sure to produce a healthy church congregation or whether I was digging into red clay sure to hold lots of water, but not any roots.

Merianna Neely

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Merianna Neely Harrelson is a third year divinity school student at Gardner-Webb University. She is serving as the Interim Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Fellowship in Lexington, SC. She works as Editor-in-Chief of Harrelson Press in Columbia, SC.

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