“What will you do after seminary?” – A Female Grad on Becoming a Pastor

I will graduate on May 11, mere days from now. God willing, I will soon possess a diploma that says M.A. in Theological Studies. I took the scenic, part-time, pay-as-you-go route through seminary, so this has been a four-year project.

Which is why so many are recently asking: “What will you do after seminary?” In return, I often respond with an ironic, sad little smile. But I am not the only female seminarian who answers this question with a bit of nervous laughter and a hedge. I know I’m not, because I listen to my seminary sisters when they are asked this question. I listen to their answers, and later, I go home and I cry.

So I have decided that perhaps, in the style of Jesus, it might be best to turn the question into another question for my questioners. (Did you get all that?) I have decided that in certain situations it’s OK to ask: “What will you allow me to do with my degree?”

Because this is the question that will largely determine what I do with my degree.

A year or so ago, I served on a temporary assignment as an interim pastor of evangelism in a local congregation. If I had any doubts about the place of God’s daughters in his church, they were dispelled. Pastoring was as natural to me as breathing and wildly challenging and heartbreaking and beautiful. It felt like I had found what I was made for, and I poured all my feminine, life-giving experiences and brokenness and training and life into those I ministered to and with. While I was helping out at a funeral one day, a 70-something woman approached and had this to say: “A female pastor. How wonderful! And I got to see it before I died.”

There’s no doubt it was meant as a compliment, though I was rendered completely speechless.

And I got to see it before I died.

What will it take for sisters to join with their brothers in advancing the cause of the Kingdom? How many times will a search committee or personnel committee say, “Well, we’d be open to hiring a female, but we don’t want to make an issue out of it.” I wonder. And as I wonder, my heart grieves. You see, I believe that Jesus sending Mary Magdalene out as an evangelist and an apostle to his chosen 12 made a tremendous issue out of it. An inappropriate, unbelievable, not-acceptable issue out of it.

There he goes again! That Jesus! Defying the religious norms, breaking society’s rules, hanging out with the marginalized and then promoting them as first ambassadors for his gracious rule.

What will he think of next?

Male and female pastors and leaders serving side-by-side?

This is my dream, this is one of the areas I believe the gospel restores. It happened when the relationship between men and women, broken in the Garden of Eden, sprang to life again as Jesus traveled through another Garden, the Garden of Gethsemane. This gospel-sized dream calms my heart and lifts me from discouragement to a spirit of wonder about all that could be accomplished through God’s original team—a man and a woman—created to spread his gracious rule.

So in answer to the question I know you’re still wondering about, perhaps my answer should be this: I will be joining with Christ’s body to advance His Kingdom through all means available. When given the opportunity to use my preaching and teaching gifts, I will preach the gospel, his outstandingly good news.

Each Sunday evening, I will continue to lead a Bible study for women in chemical addiction recovery. Throughout the week, I will write of God’s dream of reconciliation for his sons and his daughters, for his Church. I want to take seriously Jesus’ command to feed the hungry and to welcome the oppressed. And in all things, I want to announce his gracious rule; I want my life to announce that Jesus is King.

This is what I will be doing after seminary. But for me, and for hundreds of other women who will graduate this May, the question to the Church still remains: “What will you allow me to do?” How we answer has Kingdom-implications as we seek to reflect his gracious rule—his unbelievably good news of reconciliation—to a watching world.

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Suzanne Burden enjoys weaving personal narrative and questioning with the grand story of God’s Kingdom purposes as revealed in His Word. She is coauthoring the book Reclaiming Eve: What the Bible Says about Every Woman’s Identity to be published in January 2014 through Beacon Hill Press. Find her on twitter.

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  • Jenn Baerg

    Suzanne thank you for sharing. I share in your pain and struggle. I left the church I grew up in and deeply loved because they changed their policies on women, over the course of my 20′s firing their female staff and preaching against women. I changed churches and remember how life altering it was to sit in a sermon preached by a woman, to have church with a female senior pastor. I hadn’t seen myself in that role within the church, it’s been a long journey but I switched my MA to an MDiv this past summer.

    As an aside I would love the Church to understand how unbelievably hard it is to speak graciously and with love about the Church’s general policies (yes not every congregation is against but it seems the ones most against are the most vocal) against women. I work as a nanny for an atheist family (where religion/faith is discussed openly) who are dumbfounded at the hurdles put in against women and I am trying to show them the NT witness of support for women, and it’s not easy when they can see the disconnect in our Churches.

    • Suzanne Burden

      Hi Jenn: Bless you! It’s painful to switch congregations, I know, even when you feel God is leading you to do so. A post for another time…how the rise of fundamentalism in the U.S., coming around 1920, actually displaced women from their pulpits in so many denominations, including even the most “conservative.” For instance: in the Nazarene denomination, 20% of clergy were female when it began 100 years ago. But there was no formal written doctrine on the issue. When fundamentalism rose up, the numbers dwindled to 3%. From what I understand, the numbers are now up to about 7%. May you be blessed as you pursue the biblical languages. I’d love to do so myself, but going to seminary has been quite trying for me emotionally, and I realize now that in order to press on further I would need to be in an environment where I am encouraged and supported. May God bless you and keep you through the completion of your Mdiv.

      • Jim Ennis

        This discussion hits very close to home for me, Suzanne. When I think about the issues that I care most deeply, what rises to the top of the list is how the structures of many churches oppress women by holding them back from using their leadership gifts and fulfilling their call to preach, teach, pastor, and lead the whole flock of God.

        Phoebe Palmer wrote, “We believe that hundreds
        of conscientious, sensitive Christian women have actually suffered more under the slowly crucifying process to which they have been subjected by men who bear the Christian name than many a martyr has endured in passing through the flames.”

        The only thing I would change to make it relevant for our day is that in the church it is not just men who are responsible for this oppression, for many women are just as much a part of this problem. My wife became the Senior Pastor of her own church five years ago and has had to fight many unnecessary battles to faithfully serve the flock she loves. I have three daughters (and a son, but I want to speak of my daughters for the sake of this conversation) – one volunteers ministering to victims (male and female) of human sex-trafficking; one is the wife of a youth pastor and seminary graduate herself preparing for ordination; and another one currently serves as Assistant Middle School Ministry Director and is searching for a full time position in youth ministry. Like you, she graduated from seminary last Saturday. And like you, she is facing the same up-hill battle of discrimination in the church. You and Jennifer were very gracious in responding to Kevin. It is scary to think he is actually “on your side.” (Note to Kevin – there’s probably more you could do to support these brave women than scold them for playing the victim card, which I did not hear at all). As a male pastor of nearly 30 years, I want to express my deepest regrets and apologize for how the church treats women; especially women like you. I am so sorry. May God have mercy!

        • Suzanne Burden

          Jim! What a gift to hear from a man like you in this forum, and to hear your heart for your wife and daughters and for other women like me. You have indirectly hit on something that’s hard for me to talk about: when I have served as a pastor or chaplain, it is often women that have a hard time with me doing that, or at least they are the vocal ones.

          And BTW, I’ll say this with as much grace as I can muster, telling a woman to “just plant a church,” however well intentioned the comment may be, still puts her on the outside looking in. Plant a church with support from whom? God bless those who are called to this important work, but I fear it is yet another way to marginalize our sisters who feel called by God to minister. Let’s be facebook and/or twitter friends and keep this conversation going. Be blessed!

  • Jennifer Harris Dault

    This breaks my heart — and it does so because I am there with you. I graduated from seminary last May (with a project to complete, so fully done this past December). I work as a part-time church administrator and supply preach about twice a month. I’m dreaming of starting a church, but I do experience a small ache as I watch men easily step into positions — sometimes even men with major red flag issues. My capstone project for seminary was my first book — a compilation of the call stories of women from Baptist backgrounds. God is calling us. I long for the day when the church — the WHOLE church — honors that call.

    • Suzanne Burden

      Rise up, daughter of the King, and do all that you can whenever you can preaching the gospel however you can for the sake of our King! May God bless you as you serve him, Jennifer, and thank you SO MUCH for posting here.

  • http://joelzehring.wordpress.com/ Joel Zehring

    My uneducated, unsolicited graduation advice: such great passion and gifting is wasted behind a pulpit. Follow Jesus out to where he is working in the world and shake the dust off your sandals anywhere you are rejected, for his sake or any other reason people may suggest.

    • Suzanne Burden

      Thank you, brother. Rather than being discouraged today, I am eager to jump in where I can. Part of the reason is the beauty of having brothers like you and Kurt encourage me to keep on…and to pull up a chair.

  • Kevin W. Bridges

    There are lots of churches in need of a pastor and willing and accepting to have a female lead them. Why must women continue to press in areas where they have not been called by the people? I’m sick of hearing victim language from those whose proclaimed desire is to serve the Lord. My male friends whine in other ways but they all have the same thing in common…(in a whinny voice, “Why won’t somebody pick me?”) Jesus has called you. Now, as my favorite professor used to say, “Grow up and get to work!”

    • Jennifer Harris Dault

      Kevin, I think you misunderstand your sisters — and the position many find themselves in. Most of us are not rattling the doors of churches that are proudly advertising for “the man God is preparing for us.” We get that they are only interested in hiring a man. Many, MANY churches look to be inclusive, and only at the end of the search process will a woman hear “clearly you are the best candidate, but our church just isn’t ready for a woman pastor.” And yes, this is said incredibly often. We aren’t standing up as victims, we are standing up as educators — and as ministers, speaking truth to churches. We are all serving as ministers — in whatever paid roles we have. I’ve known women who have stepped into chaplaincy-type roles at the clothing stores they have worked at, etc. Do some churches call women? Yes. But the percentage is still really low. We have grown up and gotten to work — but we will continue to serve as prophetic voices, calling the church to do better.

      • Kevin W. Bridges

        No misunderstanding on my part. (By the way, I’m on the same side of the argument as you.) If I sound angry, it’s because the world is desperate for Christian leadership of any kind (male or female), and I am sick and tired of victim language. When language of oppression is used and a mindset of male permission-giving is the dominant excuse why women with obvious gifts don’t use them, I say pooh. You illustrate my point… “the position many find themselves in.” What does position have to do with anything? Women could change the world for Christ but like many men, they are just vying for position. If you want to preach the gospel of Jesus, do it. The church that says NO GIRLS ALLOWED HERE is not the place I want my daughter to be anyway! She deserves better. And so do you. You don’t need a man or a position to fulfill God’s calling on your life, but if you desire vocational ministry, then go were the people are happy to have you and ready to have you. That’s all I’m saying. I don’t think that’s misunderstanding anyone.

        • Suzanne Burden

          Kevin, it sounds quite simple when you put it that way. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy for a woman to find a place where “people are happy to have you and ready to have you.” In some cases, if a woman is committed to certain doctrinal principles, it is nigh unto impossible. Rather than giving up on the Church, I want to bring God’s message of reconciliation into it, and of course to serve in any way I can, as I noted I am attempting to do above. Peace to you, brother.

        • Jennifer Harris Dault

          But it is misunderstanding, because it assumes that each woman who isn’t able to find a position is intentionally ignoring the places that are waiting with open arms. We’re not. I don’t think of myself as a victim, but I do think of myself as a woman called by God to the pastorate. My calling isn’t out of the church but TO the church. And so I do need affirmation from the church (and receive it from quite a few — but none of them need another staff person!). That isn’t to say that I’m not changing the world where I am — or that I’m simply “vying for position.” Frankly, that kind of language comes across as insulting and demeaning — especially when women are often going to the small churches (the ones who can’t pay much) or the broken, unhealthy churches (which are incredibly demanding).

          None of us are banging on the doors that read “No Girls Allowed” to try to be their pastor. As I stated above, most are far too subtle. Many churches ordain women and send them to seminary, but would never think of inviting a woman to serve as pastor — and they don’t realize that until they are in the position to do so. And no church search committee jumps up and down with signs reading “we want a woman! apply here!” If we want the church to do better, to recognize the ways God gifts all people, then we have to continue telling stories. THAT is how we continue to preach the gospel. God doesn’t give up on the church, and neither do those called to minister to the church. Churches change — I’ve watched it happen. But as Suzanne said, it takes all of us working together.

          PS – If you know of a church that is happy and ready to have me, by all means — tell me who they are!

          • sg

            I do think of myself as a woman called by God to the pastorate.

            Ever occur to you that maybe you are wrong?

          • Jennifer Harris Dault

            Seriously? You’d going to take that line out of context? That was not my statement of call, it was half of a sentence about something else entirely. But have I thought I was wrong at times? Sure. Just as I’ve questioned most things during times of self-doubt. But God consistently calls, and others consistently affirm that call in me in the form of churches that love me, and pastors that continually invite me to care for their congregations when they are on vacation or have family emergencies. If you wish to read my call story — and the stories of other women ministers, I point you here: http://nurturingfaith.info/?p=974

          • Suzanne Burden

            Jennifer:

            In affirmation of God’s working in your life and the calling that beats in your heart, I thought you might be affirmed by an amazing little piece by Dallas Willard (who is now with Jesus!) on why he believes women like you are obligated to use your gifts for the Kingdom’s sake:

            http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=154

            Please don’t take an anonymous comment to heart. And, by all means, keep shining!

          • Kevin W. Bridges

            Jennifer, I definitely know you have been called.

            1 Peter 2:21 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

            1 Peter 2:9 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

            1 Peter 1:15 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;

            1 Timothy 6:12 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

            2 Thessalonians 2:14 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

            Romans 8:28 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

            Matthew 28:18-20 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    • Suzanne Burden

      Hi Kevin: So glad you read the article…or at least I hope you read all of it. It is my humble opinion that declaring the state of things as they are is a lot different than acting like a victim. There is hope, Kevin, for all of us. But I believe there is a profound breakdown in gender reconciliation within the Kingdom Jesus came to build. Let’s work together to make that right, all of us, his sons and his daughters.

      • Kevin W. Bridges

        Good article Suzanne and I’m glad you wrote it and have the
        gifts and love you have for the Lord. I guess where I get “victim” is
        from the question “What will you allow me to do with my degree?” It’s not just your article either, but my own frustrations with the church and with seminary friends who’ve struggled in the same way and I want to just tell them to please not waste a minute on people who don’t get it! But sometimes they just keep pinning away, desperate for affirmation. It’s painful to watch. I just keep thinking, why don’t you go use your gifts to change the world instead of persisting in the face of machismo idiots! You have the only permission you need given by the one whom has all authority in heaven and on earth.

    • Mabel

      “there are lots of churches…willing and accepting to have a female lead them” Where do you get this idea? MOST major denominations are AGAINST women pastors, and even those who accept them on paper, do not ordain them in practice. You are blaming the victim. I listened to Katie Hayes’ story and weep. I listened to Kathy Escobar’s story and cried. Kevin, do you attend a church with women pastors? What is your personal conviction?

  • http://www.chaseandre.com Chase

    Thankful for you, Suzanne. Looking forward to hearing (through the e-vine) how you begin/continue to thrive in the gifts and calling God has for you. This post struck deep for me. Thanks again.

    • Suzanne Burden

      Thanks, Chase. God loves his daughters and his sons…and I believe he delights in watching them work shoulder-to-shoulder and side-by-side.

  • Traci Espeseth

    Beautifully expressed – thank you for sharing your heart and passion so eloquently.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=201001680 Carrie Allen

    Thanks for sharing! I am a girl with a BA in Theology and half a MA in theology. I LOVE preaching and teaching the Gospel, as well as discipling. I also love social justice, so I decided to embark on a new adventure of getting a masters in social work. I graduate in a few days, and yet, the desire to finish my theology degree is still there because hey, I love teaching and preaching the Gospel!

    I felt the need to leave my program in theology because I too kept asking myself the “what am I to do after” question. How would I support myself as a single woman who wanted to serve others? My social work degree will give me the opportunity to support myself, serve others through medical social work, and then continue to share the gospel throughout campus and in bible studies for undergrads on the campus. I am doing so many things that I love and I consider myself lucky… but alas, I still feel as if something is missing… full-time ministry is missing, because it’s what I love. One day women will be able to express themselves freely in any way desired through ministry. One day…

    • Suzanne Burden

      Carrie: I get it. Congrats on your graduation! Evangelist Christine Caine has a habit of saying “God can open doors no man can shut.” I hope you’ll friend me on facebook (Suzanne Cross Burden) so I can hear about where you end up. Cheers!

  • Maggie

    I graduated 4 years ago w an Mdiv. God called me to church planting. Quickly began living the call planting in Durham, NC. I don’t recall ever asking anybody what they would let me do…more like move out of the way cause this train is not stopping. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He is faithful and true. Leading is hard work. Do it with all your heart fired by God’s Spirit. May God do wonders through you, sister. Be encouraged! Maggie

    • Kevin W Bridges

      Yes! That’s what I’m talking about! There’s no waiting around here. Maggie just rolled up her sleeves and got busy for Jesus.

    • Suzanne Burden

      That’s wonderful, Maggie! I don’t feel I am called to church planting, however. And I do not have the freedom to move at present. But, not to worry, God’s going to use me right where I am.

  • http://www.facebook.com/charles.riley.184 Charles Riley

    We were asking the same questions when I went through graduation at San Jose Bible College 1978 now Jessup University. As a man and a person that used a wheelchair for mobility with a serious disabiliy I wonderd about women and people like myself. I was told the Churches were not hiring women. I was told that it might not be easy for other professionals in ministry to work with someone in a wheelchair. I can only can guess what women were being told at the time. I went on to have a very fine career blessed by our Lord wheelchair and all as a Pschotherapist working in the Mental Health field. God found a great place for me to sever. I would have loved to have worked in the Church. I met so many women just like me but their disability was being a woman. Women make the best Therapis and they would have made even greater Pastors. A great essay. Corky Riley

    • Suzanne Burden

      I’m inspired by your journey, Corky. Thank you.

  • Al Cruise

    Follow your dream. We run our service by the gifts people have,male or female is irrelevant . The fruits have been amazing, we have seen hard core fundamentalists, being changed and coming to our service after seeing the fruits of it. You won’t change everyone’s mind, but that’s not really what were about anyway, go out there and love people like Jesus does, the rest will take care of itself.

  • nate

    “Let A WOMAN learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do NOT permit A WOMAN to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” (1 Tim 2:11-14 – emphasis mine)

    “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, HE desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the HUSBAND of one WIFE…” (1 Tim 3:1-2 – emphasis mine)

    “…and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the HUSBAND of one WIFE, and HIS children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination…” (Titus 1:5-6 ESV – emphasis mine)

    I realize many here won’t agree with the implication of those passages, but I would challenge you to think long and hard about what you are choosing to believe, if it truly syncs with those passages, and more importantly, *why* you believe it. There are good books on this (like “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood”) that I think it’s only fair to consider if you want to have an informed opinion.

    • http://www.facebook.com/retha.faurie Retha Faurie

      Nate, I can tell you that every woman who feel a ministry call did consider those texts, they even know where the male words that you put in capitals is translated into the English while the Greek is gender neutral. And they take each of these texts in context with the surrounding passage, and what it meant to convey to the original readers.

      • Brother in Christ

        Retha, I think there are a number of good arguments for women in ministry, but I find your post to be very incorrect. : ) Not that it changes the truthfulness of my response, but for the sake of conversation I am an MDIV student, a career soldier, and have
        preached and baptized.

        You said, “Nate, I can tell you that every woman who feel a ministry call did consider those texts”.

        This is obviously false. There is no way you can know this, or if the motivations of every woman (or man) is a pure motivation, or a motivation born of evil desire. Your logical fallacy can
        be found here

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum.

        We can’t know what everyone thinks, and we
        shouldn’t assert that we do. : ) It would be ridiculously unlikely that EVERY woman has considered these verses, but for the sake of gracious conversation, we can assume you are just using
        hyperbole. : )

        You said, “they even know where the male words that you put in capitals is translated into the English while the Greek is gender neutral.”

        I had to read this twice. You assert that the Greek in these passages is gender neutral?

        There are good arguments for women pastors, some that I greatly respect and make me pray and consider. There are some who say that Paul is speaking only in the short term when he prohibits certain teaching from women. Good arguments.

        The Greek not being gender specific is a very poor argument. Sister, please read up on what you’re posting here, so that the truth of the Gospel is not impugned. There are many resources, readily available that will diagram out the original Koine Greek, and statements about the Greek are easily checked with the resources we have today. Here’s an example:

        https://bible.org/article/interpretive-issues-1-timothy-212

        What do imagine the “original Greek” said, if it wasn’t gender specific? I do not permit a “person” to teach? I do not permit “anyone” to teach? Even if we could take a permanent marker to the Bible, what would you imagine we could write in that passage that would be both gender neutral, and make any sense? It’s an odd assertion, even if we didn’t have the original Greek.

        You said, “And they take each of these texts in context with the surrounding passage, and what it meant to convey to
        the original readers.”

        This is a much better basis for beginning a discussion. If in submission to the Holy Spirit of God a congregation feels that the plain reading of the text isn’t very applicable to today, they should discuss how to best love God and neighbor while honoring the will of God and honoring his word. I respect this sort of honest conversation.

        It’s tempting to make wild assertions to support an argument, which you really want to be true. As followers after Christ, who is the way the truth and the life, we must always embrace the truth of the word of God, and find ways to love our neighbors and love God WITHIN the scripture. Let’s always seek after truth.

        With Love.

        • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/ Retha Faurie

          On your first point, you are right: I should not use the word “every.” Rather, all those I have ever heard speaking of the topic of biblically motivating their call, have considered those texts. Consider me as having modified my first point. (Or rather, not modified, but spoken more clearly. It is never, sorry, very seldom, the right time to use words like always, every, or never.)

          As for your second point: Nate did not use only that 1 Timothy verse. He quoted among others, adding capital letters “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, HE desires a noble task” and “…and HIS children are believers…”

          So, Nate certainly did get things from his Bible that is not in the Greek.

          As for your statement “It’s tempting to make wild assertions to support an argument, which you really want to be true.” I believe that. Is that what you did – you wanted to believe I made wild assertions because I want them to be true, so you made the wild assertion that I made wild assertions …
          No, I know that is not what you did. You simply forgot that Nate used several verses, and the gender neutral terms I spoke of could be in another text among those. So please have the same mercy with me: Don’t simply assume a) I am making wild assertions and b) you know why I make them.

    • Eric Weiss

      Letters likely written pseudonymously, and quoted from a masculinist translation.

      [/sarcasm]

  • Suzanne Burden

    Dear community of Kurt Willems: FYI – I’m available to preach on the topic of the upcoming book I’m coauthoring, Reclaiming Eve. Here’s a link to the sermon from last Mother’s Day, Why Women Matter to God: http://sermon.net/gpnaz/sermonid/119915722

  • http://twitter.com/sabrinadpeters sabrina peters

    thanks so much for sharing, suzanne! i always wish i could connect with more women seminarians, and then i find something like this. i just graduated with an mdiv, but have not realized the possibility of pastoring until recently. just blogged about it today, lightheartedly.

    • Suzanne Burden

      Sabrina: Let’s connect on facebook (Suzanne Cross Burden) and twitter (suzanneburden). May the Holy Spirit fill you with peace and joy as you trust in him today, so that you overflow with hope. I look forward to hearing your story!

  • Red

    Suzanne,

    I want to personally apologize for the rudeness of some of the commentators. It’s hard for us guys to understand what you are going through. And frankly, it’s easier to dismiss it with a Bible verse here, a statistic there, and not think about your struggles as an individual. I have done this, and I am sorry for it. In our zeal to live for God, sometimes we place “old, tested doctrines” (though they are only a century or less in age) above communion, fellowship, and even God Himself.

    I know God has wonderful things for you. I am very optimistic about the future of the Church in America as it pertains to women in ministry (and not just babysitting or decorating committees). Though it seems hard many days because of the voices you hear so often (and even on here), know that God is using people just like you to break down the hearts of stone in people like me. Eshet Chayil.

    Red

    • Suzanne Burden

      Hi Red:

      And you didn’t even read some of those who went after me on facebook. :) I’m in a sensitive place right now, so it was a risk to post this. Quite frankly, spiritually it felt like more of a risk not to post it. How I long for gender reconciliation in the Kingdom, for brothers and sisters to serve generously shoulder-to-shoulder and side-by-side! Red, I hope you’ll do me a favor and buy Reclaiming Eve, a book I’m coauthoring, which will release in January 2013. Our agent (who is male) tells us that though it’s written for laywomen in the church, he feels it’s accessible and important for our brothers to read as well. And I’ll be starting a blog on July 1 at suzanneburden.com. Let’s keep this conversation going! Thank you for your encouragement.

      • Suzanne Burden

        Oh, yes, and let’s be facebook and twitter friends, too!

  • Eric Weiss

    If the New Covenant/New Creation just continues to keep in place the same old fallen old-creation/old-covenant hierarchical patriarchalism, then it’s neither News nor Good, and it’s not the Gospel, no matter what men call it.

  • Carisa

    Thank you for this article. As a seminary graduate twice (Master and PhD) as well as an academic advisor I have learned to reframe the question. No one, male or female, knows what we will do tomorrow much less how God will want us to use the education he has graciously given. Instead of giving some awkward and uncertain answer I simply say that I seek to be faithful to the Lord with the gifts and education he has given me. I do not know what opportunities he will provide. I do know that using my gifts can and may take on many forms. I desire to teach theology. I love to do so, but am open to what that looks like. In a time where ministry is ever-changing and the economy is unstable, everyone must rethink how they might use such training. Let’s stop asking questions only God can answer and start asking questions that can edify the body. What skills has God given you? What do you love learning or doing? What do you dream about doing? :-)


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