A conference for “pastors’ wives”… What about pastors’ husbands???

In a few months a conference will be held in San Diego exclusively for “pastor’s wives called “Defined by God.” I think that in many ways this is great. I know that my wife and the wives of many male pastors would benefit from this conference greatly. I think this will be a solid event… asumming it doesn’t seek to reinforce victorian house code ideals (usually upheld by complementarians as the “biblical roles”).

As regular readers of this blog realize, I believe that women ought to have their Spirit inspired gifts fanned into flame, including the gift of leadership. Women are called by God to have the unhindered chance to seve Christ as pastors, elders, and bishops. I defend this view in a short series called, “Liberating Women for Ministry?“.

Like I said, assuming this conference doesn’t impose a theological complementarian perspective, it would be something that I would be happy to support. The description is very good:

You have a lot on your plate. Your husband is a pastor, and that means you’re the woman that everyone in your church looks to. You face conflict and gossip. You balance family and work life. You raise children and counsel adults. And that’s not easy.

At Defined by God, you’ll connect with other women like you. You’ll discover how other pastors’ wives are applying the Bible to their marriages, families, and friendships. You’ll leave empowered and equipped for greater service. You’ll also enjoy a two-day break from any distractions!

The wives of pastors ought to connect with other women like them. I think its a great thing. The video also looks good. Check it out if you’re interested:

My concern is that conferences like this easily reinforce the myth that the spouses of pastors are automatically women. The reality is that we need more conferences that are for the “spouses of pastors,” as there are MANY faithful female leaders within the church in North America. In my denomination, women are free to serve on all levels of leadership – being judged by their spiritual gifts/calling, not by their gender (as Scripture clearly teaches when read in context).

So, what do you think? How long will it be before we see evangelicals creating conferences for pastors’ husbands?

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  • Tiffany

    As a female pastor, I’ve seen my husband feel awkward and excluded. I don’t like seeing that, and I don’t like the assumptions it brings. BUT, instead of creating ‘pastors’ husbands’ type conferences/groups, why don’t we just say ‘pastors’ significant other’ so there is no gender issues to be brought up and everyone is on the same level?

    • AmyS

      What kinds of scenarios seem the most problematic?

  • http://www.area-f.ca LadyIslay

    I’m not a pastor. Or a pastor’s wife. Or a pastor’s huband. Even so, I suspect that there are gender-role issues here that would make separate functions useful, or at least focus groups at a “pastor’s partners” conference specifically for husbands OR wives. For good or bad, gender roles exist, and there are specific challenges for specific genders. For the same reason that you might want to have a women’s business network or a special work-place association for LGTB members (like in a police force), it might make sense to have a “Pastor’s Husband Club” or a “Pastor’s Wives Conference” to explore the unique challenges of the situation. Of course, it is great to get together with both sides to explore where the challenges overlap our genders. Just because something is gender-exlusive doesn’t mean it’s bad.

    • AmyS

      I suppose some might be interested in a husband’s club, but my own husband would laugh that idea off. He’s got too many other things to occupy him–like mountain biking, kicking butt at Scrabble, and sampling the latest micro-brews. Sometimes, folks just need to get a life and let somebody else get sucked into the drama.

  • AmyS

    Having spent my whole life engaged with the church, I have noticed a phenomenon among Evangelical high school and college aged women. Some young women are enamored with the notion of becoming a pastor’s wife, as though it is their calling and vocation. I find this disturbing. What would we think if a young woman declared: I feel God calling me to become a mayor’s wife. Or, insert any other profession (especially those with a high profile or power associated with it).

    As I observe my own husband (who, with his subversive sense of humor, calls himself a pastor’s wife) and my fellow pastor’s spouse (his wife) function within the church, I am increasingly convinced that spouses do not have to be chewed up and spit out by their congregations. Both of these individuals came to be a pastor’s spouse quite by “accident.” Neither of them could have anticipated that they would find themselves married to a pastor. They certainly had no fantasies about being so.

    In fact, I was a homeschooling, all-from-scratch-cooking, no-birth-control-using, anti-feminist, stay-at-home mom of 5 for 14 years before deciding to attend seminary, and my colleague was happy being a carpenter. None of us had designs on pastoral ministry. And, neither of our spouses associated their own callings with ours. Consequently, they have been able to serve in the church according to their own callings, gifts, and limitations–just like anyone else in the congregation. This appears to be a very healthy arrangement for them, for the congregation, and for our respective marriages/families.

    My point is this: I suspect that many of the pastors’ wives who find themselves deeply embroiled in church drama, and burned out from trying to fulfill a congregation’s unreasonable expectations, have a degree of responsibility in creating those scenarios. Unknowingly, they may voluntarily seek out a job that will, by definition, disregard them as whole persons and place them at the mercy of others to define their own meaning and purpose in the world. This is a recipe for disaster.

    For what it’s worth, at least one of the conference speakers, Jani Ortlund, is married to a pastor, Ray Ortlund Jr., who is a member of the Gospel Coalition. And I couldn’t help noticing that Francis Chan was on stage with his wife (Heading? Authorizing?) I strongly suspect that the conference is oriented toward complementarianism.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Excellent observations friend! And yes… I’ve heard Dave say he is a pastors wife… Hilarious!

  • Meghanln

    Thank you! Even in the very progressive Boston area, when I describe my ministry and seminary work everyone asks if my husband is the senior pastor! (which he isn’t) It’s tricky even when it is a ministry marriage/spouse offering because he’s often the only spouse there who’s a husband and also having a career outside the church

    • AmyS

      Are there many female pastors in your denomination?

  • http://www.facebook.com/owen.weddle Owen Weddle

    I come from a different angle, given my background in ministry and psychology/social sciences. I feel like the reason you don’ts see a lot of “Pastor’s husbands” conference is the same reason you don’t see guys specifically planning a “guys night out.” They just kind of gather without formally planning it. It is the personality that tends to be associated with gender. Women (in general) tend to be more primed towards social goals, which a Pastor’s Wives conference fits into. Men (again, in general) tend to be more prime towards tasks and individualist goals, meaning male-dominated conferences will tend to have specific tasks at the center of the meeting. On average, males will not gather as much because of association because of their own social status and relationships (unless that status/relationship is associated with lower levels of power to perform goals, but then that the status/relationship is a symbol of ‘unfair’ restriction and used to obtain the desired power).

    Secondly, there just aren’t as many males married to ministers. Because it is traditional gender association, there just aren’t as many men who are married to female pastors. These type of things require a critical mass of people who network together to get it started. There just aren’t the men out there.
    This phenomenon isn’t the direct result of traditional gender roles. I feel to associate this with restrictive stereotypes is a bit alarmist and doesn’t really analyze the reality itself. Traditional roles are indirectly related, but it is more due to actual realities that have been formed by those roles along with gender personalities.

    • AmyS

      I’m not buying it, Owen.

      1) Someone with your psych/soc science background would be familiar with statistical analysis of variance and the relationship between within group and between group variance. How do you support your assertions about the supposed differences between men and women? What do you mean by “gender personalities”? I am trained and have practiced as a psychotherapist, and I am not familiar with that particular term.

      Anecdotally, I observe both men and women gathering for task-oriented and non-task-oriented socializing. In my own household, my husband is the one who is far (and away) more likely to organize a gathering in our home (spontaneous or planned in advance, task-oriented or freeform) than I am. He is the one that had stronger social skills and social interest than I did when we first met. Over the last 24 years, I have learned a lot from him about how to make friends, how to make social plans, and how to just hang out with no agenda.
      Also, having raised (nearly so) 4 sons and 1 daughter, any lingering gender-based stereotypes I still have are hanging by a very thin (and fraying) string.

      2) I wonder if you are making some pretty big assumptions about the structure and substance of such a conference. Have you ever been to a women’s conference before? What makes you think that a women’s conference is “more primed toward social goals?” What does that even mean?

      3) How is it that mean are more likely to “gather without formally planning it” and “to be more prime towards tasks and individualist goals, meaning male-dominated conferences will tend to have specific tasks at the center of the meeting.” Isn’t formal planning necessary for accomplishment of tasks–especially shared tasks? I’m not following your logic. It sounds like you are saying that women are more intentional about planning their gatherings, but don’t actually intend or care to accomplish anything of substance. Whereas men just show up and spontaneously achieve their goals. I must be misunderstanding you.

      • http://www.facebook.com/owen.weddle Owen Weddle

        To give a little more of my background, I graduated college with a BS in psychology, have read well over a 100 books on various psychological fields since graduating (cognitive science and linguistics, personality psychology, gender studies, neuroscience, psychoanalysis, social psychology, etc.), along with having a mother who worked as an esteemed psychiatrist for over 3 decades. This doesn’t make me right, but it does mean I have an educated perspective.

        1) There is plenty of psychological literature out there that recognizes personality differences between men and women. It isn’t always as the stereotypes suggest, but the principle different is that women focus their attention more on social stimuli and tend to be higher on agreeableness in the Big Five Personality (which goes hand in hand with social concerns). Men on the other hand, tend to be more focused on specific goals they have in mind and tend to be lower on the agreeableness scale. One of the results is that feminine personalities tend to think in parallel (various people, each with their own responses that need to be taken into consideration), whereas men to think linearly (what are the steps needed to accomplish a goal).

        While individual women can think like the average man and individual men can think like the average woman, the above tendencies is what dominates over the population groups as a whole. In other words, there is in group variance, but when analyzing societal trends, we need to look at the between group variance as that is what will become more prominent in group settings. And given the post talks about men and women corporately and why the society does not see more “pastor’s husbands conference,” the between groups variation is much more relevant to this discussion.

        And the term “gender personalities” is simply a category for the very common terms of “masculine” and “feminine.” “Gender” does not refer directly to biological sex: male and female. It is correlated of course, so gender and sex will be intertwined often times (particularly in global descriptions of men and women as distinct groups). Instead, it refers to ‘styles’: masculine and feminine.

        2) There is no assumption made; rather it is based on theory that leads to those inferences (correct or incorrect). It is based upon my understanding of cognitive linguistics and social psychology. When a conference is specifically geared towards a certain group of people, it has a social aspect to it, where it be women’s conferences, African American conferences, etc. The social reality is a dominant factor for gathering, whether it is conscious/subconscious influencing during the meeting or consciously/subconsciously setting the initial nature and people coming to the occasion. Furthermore, when the titles or explanations are focused around people’s roles, it will on a whole tend to be focused around social realities also (this is cognitive linguistics)

        Once again, this is on the average. There may be individual outliers, but when we are arguing about groups of people, we need to look at the average. And even if I had been to one of those conferences does not mean I am qualified to speak to all of them.

        3) I am not saying anything regarding women not wanting to accomplish anything of substance. When I speak of “specific tasks” I am speaking technically: a clear and concrete goals in mind that facilitate a gathering (such as watching a football game, making a political statement, etc.). This is the linear thinking of many men in action. For women, the social goal tends to be more of a factor in creating a gathering. Given the feminine-parallel type thinking, there won’t tend to be one central goal for their gatherings; rather it will be more dispersed across multiples goals.

        • AmyS

          Thank you for your thorough reply. I think I understand you better now. You made a much more compelling case in your second post :). I especially appreciate the distinction you made between masculine/feminine and male/female. We all have some degree of both feminine and masculine characteristics. Sex and gender are not as clear cut as most of us are led to believe. I appreciate that you took the time to be more specific. The Evangelical church (which I have a lot of direct exposure to where I live) seems obsessed with drawing strict boundaries between men and women–If a man expresses femininity, he’s less than a man. And what could be worse than a womanly man? A manly woman? No, a womanly man is worse. (irony)

          I am highly sensitized to these issues because, in my family, we cross those lines frequently and freely. While none of us identifies as LGBTQI, we have been maligned and abused at times for our freedom to traverse the masculine-feminine spectrum. And, I suspect that many people would express (and report) a wider range of behaviors if our social worlds were more hospitable.

          I have more to discuss on the subject, but I’d rather let the blogosphere roll on and let this thread be.

          • http://www.facebook.com/owen.weddle Owen Weddle

            To respond in brief (brief for me at least), I don’t think Evangelicalism is inherently responsible for the strict boundaries. Rather it seems to be more a product of the traditional, non-urban cultures where evangelicals seem to be more prevalent (such as my own home state of Mississippi and the rest of the Deep South). They contrast with urban cultures in one particular area: whereas both urban and non-urban cultures split the people into categories based upon specialization, they contrast in how they do it.

            Urban cultures assigns roles to people based principally upon tasks/actions that they specialize in, which each individual chooses to participate in some way (in the West it is based more upon individual choice, outside the West it tends to be based upon family influence). Non-urban cultures tend to specialize people based upon more physically salient/prominent characteristics, such as size and biological sex, which is not chosen. Given those physical characteristics do correlate with other realities, such as physical strength or personality, people are given roles based upon the correlations with those physical traits.

            Evangelicalism, given it is consistent with the American Christian tradition, will be more appealing to the traditional, non-urban culture. But the central tenets of Evangelicalism does not inherently lead to the strict boundaries between men and women (except, when it comes to matter of sexual intercourse). Rather, that is more of result of who are more drawn to Evangelical type thought.

            And apologies if my first post seem to be dismissive of women. I wanted to avoid getting to technical and overloading my first post with technical details. The hazards of speaking in general about men and women (or any people/cultural group for that matter) is that it is possible for it to be seen as stereotyping and dismissive by others.

            [BTW a urban location can be culturally non-urban in many ways, such as Memphis. Or a non-urban location can be urban culturally, such as the state of Alaska in my experience. Urban/non-urban location and culture are correlated, just like the biological sex and gender personality are correlated.]

          • AmyS

            Certainly, there are many factors affecting individual and group expressions of gender and social sexuality in any given setting. I am mainly speaking from my own cultural setting, which is why I named the Evangelical church (and should have specified the U.S.) as a reference point, even though there is variety even among that group. There are tons of variables, many of which are at the core of culture and development of personality.

            I’m inclined to disagree with you, regarding your statement that “the central tenets of Evangelicalism [do] not inherently lead to the strict boundaries between men and women.” Evangelicalism in the U.S., as I understand it, is heavily influenced by Reformed theology, and a pretty extreme form of it these days. At the center of contemporary Reformed Evangelical theology is a low view of humanity. This low view informs much of Evangelical belief and practice, and I see it influencing perspectives on leadership structure. Hierarchical power structures are preferred, even considered the only right way to organize the church. People cannot be trusted to do the right thing without hierarchical structures. “Someone must be in charge.” I hear it all the time in discussions about marriage, submission, and women in leadership. Reading the epistles through assumption that Godly leadership is definitively hierarchical, renders interpretations that place women at the bottom of the hierarchy (with the exception of children). Evidently, women are the least trustworthy with power. Even their authority as leaders of children and younger women is subject to the sanction of men.

            This low view of humanity also characterizes the “Bride of Christ” as utterly depraved, repulsive to God, but for the love of her husband. If a church culture embraces a core theology that says Jesus Christ himself considers his bride completely without inherent goodness or merit, and Paul (through that lens) affirms a hierarchical leadership structure for the sake of reigning in women who would otherwise run amok and destroy the church, how can women also be highly valued as whole persons with equal authority as men?

            In that kind of church setting, strict boundaries must be drawn around male and female roles, and culturally defined expressions of male and female sexuality. Otherwise, families will be destroyed and the whole church is at risk of destruction. Ambiguous sexual roles are a threat to the church, and femaleness is particularly dangerous. Strict hierarchy is demanded, largely defined according to gender roles, which is born out of the core tenets of contemporary Evangelicalism (as informed by contemporary Reformed theology, and as expressed in my local context).

            Anyway, that’s my, admittedly limited and hastily described, analysis :)

  • A. Amos Love

    Kurt

    You write…
    “Women are called by God to have the unhindered chance to seve Christ as pastors,”

    Have you ever wondered – Why? – In the Bible…NOT one of His Disciples – Was Called – To be a – Pastor – Leading a congregation?
    Don’t know if you ever checked – BUT – In the Bible…Can you name – one of His Disciples – Who was Called – Pastor/Leader?Can you name – one of His Disciples – Who Called Them Self – Pastor/Leader?Can you name – one of His Disciples – Who had the Title/Position – Pastor/Leader?Can you name – one of His Disciples – Who was Hired/Fired as a – Pastor/Leader?
    And every “pastor” I’ve met also had the “Title” “Reverend.”
    Does anyone have the “Title” Reverend – In the Bible?
    When working with “burned out pastors”these are the first questions asked…When they can answer them honestly – The healing begins…And – The Doctrines of Men – The Traditions of Men – begin to fall away…And – They wind up enjoying – The Spirit of the Lord – And – Liberty…
    When you believe the lie you start to die…
    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice;”and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.John 10:16
    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – One Leader
    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    • AmyS

      Maybe it’s because the church hadn’t been established yet? Just thinking aloud here. Also, I’ve never read that one of the disciples was called to be a church custodian either. So, maybe not all the practical details about the way the church can be structured and run is in found in the gospels? Again, just spitballing here.

      By the way, I know many pastors who do not go by the title “Reverend” including myself. In fact, I’m just called by my given name most of the time. “Pastor” is not my first name. I think you may be creating a false dichotomy.

      • A. Amos Love

        Hi Amy
        .
        You write…
        “never read that one of the disciples was called to be a church custodian”
        .
        You’re correct. LOL – That’s because – In the Bible…
        There are NO buildings called church. Believers are now – the house of God.
        And – Jesus – the Custodian – Lives in us – And takes care of His Temple.
        .
        Custodian – dictionary
        A person who has responsibility for or looks after something.
        .
        And Jesus – He is the head of the Body (The ekklesia, the called out ones)
        The Church. Col 1:18. It’s Christ in “us” – The hope of Glory.
        .
        Seems “church” – In the Bible – always refers to people – God’s people.
        It NEVER refers to – a building – denomination – institution – organization – or
        501 (c) 3, non-profit, tax deductible, religious corporation. The IRS calls church.
        .
        Soould His Disciples call a Corporation – the Church of God?
        Soould His Disciples call a Corporation – the Bride of Christ?
        .
        Shouldn’t we first find out what the word “Church” actually means?

        • AmyS

          I completely agree! We should find out what the word “church” really means. I just spent the last five years of my life in full time study of that very question in its various forms. I can confidently say that there is a whole lot more to it than what you have presented here.

          • A. Amos Love

            Amy
            .
            I was a part of “Todays Religious System.”
            I was ordained, I was in leadership. But…
            I left in the early 90’s – thru much pain, tears,
            and “Spiritual Abuse” that “Led’ me to Jesus. :-)
            .
            And – We mis-used the word “church” – a lot.
            “Go to church” Join a church” “Give Tithes to church.”
            Jesus warns us about “Traditions of men”
            that make “Void” God’s word. Mk 7:13.
            .
            Don’t know if you ever checked or not but…
            In the Bible, I found…
            .
            NO one ever *led* “A Church.”
            NO one ever *joined* “A Church.”
            NO one ever *went to* “A Church.”
            NO one ever *pastored* “A Church.”
            NO one ever *gave tithes* to “A Church.”
            NO one ever brought their friends to “A Church.”
            NO one ever applied for membership in “A Church.”
            NO one ever gave silver, gold, or money, to “A Church.”
            NO buildings with steeples and crosses called “A Church.”
            NO – Pastors – in Pulpits – Preaching – to People – in Pews. ;-)
            .
            Yet – this is how “church” is understood and talked about today.
            .
            In my experience… that’s what happens in the church of man.
            The 501 (c) 3, non-profit, tax deductible, religious corporation,
            the IRS calls church.
            .
            In the Bible… Believers become “the Church of God.” :-)
            .
            The Ekklesia, the Called out ones, The Church, becomes…
            Kings and Priests unto God
            Brides – Servants – Sons
            Disciples and Ambassodors of Christ
            .
            Instead of teaching folks – “Go To Church.”
            Why not teach them – “Become The Church of God?”
            .
            “My people” have been “lost sheep”
            *Their shpherds” have caused them “to Go Astray”
            Jer 50:6
            .

          • AmyS

            It saddens me to hear that you have been abused by those who claim to be followers of Christ. It sounds as though your experience of the Church (or something/someone masquerading as the Church) has left scars. When violence is done in the name of Christ–spiritual, physical or otherwise–the Church should be grieved, just as the Holy Spirit is grieved by such misuse of the Lord’s name. It seems to me that injustice and soul-mangling, when done by so-called believers, is the most egregious expression of taking the Lord’s name in vain.

            If I could apologize on behalf of your abusers, I would. Sometimes I am ashamed of the Church, and am sorry for the sins attributed to all believers by proxy.

            In the light of your Bible study on the subject of ecclesia, what do you now envision that the Church should be?

          • A. Amos Love

            Amy
            .
            Thanks for the kind words.
            .
            I NOW count the Spiritual Abuse as a benefit. It drove me to Jesus. And also caused me to search the scriptures
            .
            You ask…
            “what do you now envision that the Church should be?”
            .
            I suggest you, Amy, go find a full size mirror – And take a good look at – “The Church of God” – The body of Christ –
            The Bride of Christ – An Ambassador for Christ – You – AmyS – You are “a called out one.”
            .
            Be blessed in your search for truth – Jesus.
            .

          • AmyS

            I certainly agree with you on one point. The Church is made up of people, not buildings, programs, or organizational structures. That’s one reason why my ancestors built “meeting houses” instead of “churches.”

            I disagree with you that I (or any other individual) is the Church. Rather, each follower of Jesus is a part of the Church. Just as a human body is not made of one part, so the Body of Christ is a unity of many parts. And, I am not the Bride of Christ, the unified Church is (unless Christ has many brides).

            Since you are using the original Greek as a key to your argument, I’d like to respond a little to your translation. First, translating ecclesia (or ekklesia, if you prefer) as “the called out ones” is interesting, but incomplete.

            Yes, the root words are “kaleo” (a verb meaning to call, to call to, to summon, to send for, to invite, to name, to style, to be regarded) and “ek” (a preposition meaning from, out of, among, caused by, by means of, made from, authored by, of (a certain class), after, since, from a time, for, with, for (a certain price), for (a rate of payment), at (a certain position), and more). Accurate translation requires determining the syntax of the sentence and the contextual meaning of each word usage–one occurrence at a time.

            As root words, kaleo and ek combine to make a new word, which is informed by the roots but the resulting word is not a simple sum of the two. Words just don’t work that way. In fact, some words are so far removed from their roots that the roots provide no information as to the meaning of the word. Scholars at least as far back as 1898 (FJA Hort, The Christian Ecclesia London: MacMillan) have found compelling linguistic and biblical evidence to put exclusive notions of the Church as the “called out ones” to rest. More recent resurrections of the notion may seem novel and compelling, but they are ill informed and misleading.

            In the NT, ekklesia means (in English) congregation or assembly of believers, as read in Acts 7:38 (referencing the gathered people of God in the desert at Mount Sinai); and Hebrews 2:12, quoting Psalm 22:22 (referencing a gathering of worshipers). It also refers to a secular assembly or gathering, as found in Acts 19:32, 39, 41 (twice in reference to a mob, twice to a political gathering).

            I agree with you, as I said above, that ekklesia refers to people, not buildings or organizations. But, maybe you are missing an important aspect of the word’s meaning. The ekklesia is a gathering of people. Your assertion of “the called out ones” is acceptable, if the understanding is that they are called out in order to be assembled. More specifically, the translation could be: “the assembly of those who were called out.” Ekklesia is never used in the NT or its contemporary Greek writings in reference to individuals. It should also be noted that ekklesia is sometimes used without any implied “calling out” so layering that connotation over every use of the word (see the Acts 19 texts referenced above, there was no “calling out” of the mob that gathered) renders an inaccurate and misleading translation. I, alone, am not the ekklesia of God, the (or a) gathered assembly of Jesus’ followers is. Neither are you or any other individual.

            Furthermore, whenever people gather, they organize themselves. No matter how informally. There is no completely unorganized group (perhaps the rioting mob qualifies as unorganized). Groups have meeting places (and somebody pays for those places). People express their various gifts and talents. Some members are leaders, some are followers. Structures develop–even in home churches. And those organizational elements are strategies. They are not the church itself, but functional means by which to gather for meaningful interaction with one another.

            Finally, throughout the NT, the word ekklesia is used in both plural and singular forms. There is one Church and there are many churches (both are used in reference to gatherings of Jesus’ followers). And, the word ekklesia is sometimes used with the definite article “the Church,” with the indefinite article “a church,” and with no article at all, “Church,” as a title or name.

            A full-length mirror won’t show me the church unless other believers are standing beside me.

  • AmyS

    I’m less concerned about the assumption that pastors’ spouses are automatically women, that the reality that many churches look to those spouses with such overinflated expectations. You said that this description of the conference looks good: “Your husband is a pastor, and that means you’re the woman that everyone in your church looks to. You face conflict and gossip. You balance family and work life. You raise children and counsel adults” Is that description always true? Is that the way it has to be? I have seen things done very differently. Spouses do not need to be put on a pedestal (or a peddle stool, for any fellow IT Crowd fans), and should not be.

    As church planters, Kurt, you and your team have the opportunity to shape a church culture that doesn’t buy into the assumptions that this conference makes–and is dependent upon.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      That’s actually a great point… One that Lauren and I have discussed thoroughly. She should have the freedom to hang in the background or be as involved as she wants. In a church culture, no one should be on a pedestal than Christ :-)

      • AmyS

        The sad thing, for many women, is that they have pastoral gifts, but the closest thing they can get to being a pastor is to be married to one. For those who are power hungry, they gain access to power. For those who want to exercise their gifts in ministry, they have a sanctioned outlet that is typically unavailable to the average woman in the church. No wonder some would need a special conference. Pastor’s wives have careers in ministry (whether defined explicitly or not) and would benefit from a professional conference–education, networking, resourcing, etc.

        And, in many churches, the pastor’s family is a type of royalty. They emulated, glorified, fawned over, plotted against, and assassinated. They function as ambassadors, lightening rods, a source of “national” pride, and reflections of the people’s dark side (think of what happens to the princes and princesses). Sometimes they are even paid a higher salary than their average congregants. (Throw in a parsonage and a company car and you’ve got the real deal.)
        Is this how I characterize all pastors and their families? Of course not. This is a caricature. But, there are real pitfalls that come with this work–some which we may even unconsciously seek out.

        (I seem to be a tad over invested in this thread. I wonder what that’s about.)

  • http://twitter.com/EsztikeT Esther Toon

    My opinion sees the whole topic not as an issue of male vs.female roles, but an issue of misuse of the word “pastor” as a title rather than a function of shepherding.

  • Wright

    Maybe they’re just trying to be inclusive to married same-sex female couples one of the members of which is a pastor.. though probably not.

  • A. Amos Love

    Esther
    .
    Much agreement when you write…
    “not as an issue of male vs.female roles, but an issue of misuse of the word “pastor” as a title rather than a function”
    .
    Seems today’s pastor has taken on a role – NOT found in the Bible.
    .
    Paul, encourages, in 1 Cor 14:26, that ALL can, and are expected to – Participate.
    “when you come together, **every one of you** has a psalm, has a teaching,
    has a revelation, Let all things be done unto edifying.
    .
    In my experience…
    .
    Paid – Professional – Pastors – in Pulpits – Preaching – to People – in Pews…
    .
    Prevent – Public – Participation – and – Promote – Passive – Pew – Potatoes…
    .
    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice;”
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16
    .
    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – One Leader
    .
    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  • AmyS

    If anyone is still reading this thread, I thought I’d share this video, which sheds some light on the challenges of being a pastor’s wife. I’m pretty sure the video expresses a common experience (a male pastor using his wife as a sermon illustration and unintentionally embarrassing her in the process), and it is done in good humor by “the wives” themselves. It’s pretty cute, and gets the point across effectively. (I wonder if women pastors are guilty of the same thing as often.) http://youtu.be/iY4khRpG8O8

  • Matthew Caminer

    Greetings from a clergy husband in the UK. I really enjoyed reading all the comments, and it sounds like a great conference! As regards the issue of pastors’ husbands, expectations, male v female etc., I know I risk sounding as if I am publicizing myself, but I have just published a book that covers much of this ground.
    http://www.facebook.com/AClergyHusbandsSurvivalGuide

    The issues I cover in the book arre mostly seen from a Church of England (Anglican/Episcopal) viewpoint – I’d be very interested to know if they are the same issues that you experience in this group.

  • http://kristinrichardson.net/blog Kristin Richardson

    Regarding your final question, I don’t think the evangelical community will ever host conferences specifically for pastor’s husbands. This is because “pastor’s wife” in connotation is more than simply being a spouse of a pastor; it is ingrained with notions of the female being the equivalent of a personal assistant to her husband. Accepting women in the pulpit goes hand in hand with rethinking the way husband and wife relate to each other. Actually, I’d much rather see pastoral conferences open to couples as well as individuals, so that couples in ministry can truly partner together, as opposed to one person being the pastor and the other being the pastor’s “helper.”

  • Matthew Caminer

    My original intention when writing “A Clergy Husband’s Survival Guide” was to provide a resource for ALL clergy spouses, regardless of gender, because I felt this was a largely gender-neutral area. It was the publishers who pointed me towards something specifically for clergy husbands. I was sceptical, but as time has gone by, especially with involvement with a large body of UK-based clergy spouses, I increasingly see signs of differences along gender lines. I think there are a number of reasons for this, and I wouldn’t now be too hasty in dismissing this. Glad to share my thoughts on this and all too happy to receive vigorous pushback!

  • Stephen Johnson

    I bet if you created a Pastor’s Husbands event, not many pastor’s husbands would come. I know a few, and not a one of them would be interested. They do not define themselves so much by their wife’s role as so many women married to pastors do (by choice or by force of the congregation). Good luck, though.


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