A Southern Baptist Pastor’s Response to the SBC decision to not allowing Females to be called “Pastor”
Recently the Southern Baptist Convention voted to remove Saddleback Church and over 1100 other churches from friendly association with the Convention regarding the ordination of women as Pastors.
Bob Bender, a long time Southern Baptist Pastor in Oklahoma and Colorado spoke on the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention and said to the roughly 12,000 messengers, “What does it say when we are slow on the take addressing the sexual abuses of women and then fast on the draw to disqualify them from associate pastor roles?”
I couldn’t agree more!
I grew up a bi-vocational Southern Baptist pastor’s son in Kentucky. I have been a Southern Baptist Pastor in Texas and Colorado all my adulthood. My wife and I planted a Southern Baptist Church with the Home Mission Board in March of 1997 in Colorado Springs, Colorado named Vanguard Church. In its 26 years of existence, we have seen 3350 people make a public profession of their faith in Jesus and follow Him in believer’s baptism. We have also partnered to help plant 76 other church plants.
I have spent thirty plus years studying this issue of women in ministry and take very seriously what God’s Word has to say about it. I have written extensively about that in an article published by the Christian Post. Here is the link: https://www.christianpost.com/voices/biblical-conservatism-and-women-pastors.html
I am an evangelical conservative who believes the Bible teaches that women can be pastors and teachers in the local church. Currently, I’m on my 98th reading of the Bible.
Why do I tell you all of this? Because I want you to know where I come from and how seriously I take this discussion. I am a conversative evangelical. I am a graduate of Liberty University and Dallas Theological Seminary. I believe Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Nothing matters more to me than the Gospel. It is the reason I remained a Southern Baptist in 1996.
My wife, Tosha, and I went to the convention in 1996 in the same place it was this year, New Orleans, to see if we would plant an SBC church. That year Dr. Bob Reccord, the new President of the North American Mission Board, gave a powerful message and used a phrase that has shaped the last 26 years of our church’s mindset and mission. He said, “We are going to take risks to reach the lost of the next generation.” That statement and phrase grabbed me by the heart and that week my wife and I both concluded, “God wants us to plant an SBC church.”
Ironically enough my wife and I also met Rick Warren that year at that convention and had him sign our copy of his book, The Purpose Driven Church. Now here we all are coming full circle and even though I wouldn’t agree with Pastor Warren’s exegesis that the Great Commission proves women should be senior pastors, I agree with his conclusion that they should be allowed to have the title of associate pastor and serve as they do in a myriad of pastoral roles in the church. The truth is women already “pastor” in our Southern Baptist churches we just often don’t give them the label.
I greatly respect President Al Mohler but disagree with him on this biblical issue. As a conversative evangelical Christian, I understand the fears and concerns the Southern Baptist Convention has regarding the ordination of women. Most mainstream denominations that ordain women also hold to a view that homosexuality is not a sin, and the ordination of gays is okay as well. I would not be one of them. I don’t know for a fact, but my deductive reasoning tells me that the SBC is concerned that if they give ground regarding women that the next step will be to accept the ordination of openly LGBTQ people. I get this idea from the fact that the SBC released this statement:
“The Southern Baptist Convention does not ordain openly LGBTQ people, nor does it ordain women. However, alternative Baptist denominations such as the Alliance of Baptists do ordain both women and LGBTQ people.”
Nowhere in the Bible does the Bible give one positive example of a same sex relationship. However, there are many examples of women in the Bible fulfilling multiple offices of leadership from Deborah in the Old Testament to Nympha, Phoebe, Priscilla, and others in the New Testament.
For too long we as Southern Baptists have ignored the leadership gifts, the teaching gifts, and the pastoral gifts of our SBC female leaders. I realize other groups will attempt to push the envelope further and move the SBC more toward unbiblical ideas like the acceptance of homosexuality, but I think we need to rest in the confidence that we can do proper exegesis of the Scriptures and continue to stand solidly on the Truth of God’s Word.
It appears the SBC is on the cusp of a massive shift and change. The Gospel and church planting remain the focus on this denomination, it would behoove our denomination to step back and take a harder longer look at the Scriptures and wrestle with these matters with greater attention and clarity and move forward with a deliberate plan that honors all involved. At this point, it feels reactionary and fearful to move forward as such. It feels the movement is more born out of tradition than Scripture. It feels the preservation of a denomination will be the demise of its primary mission and purpose. Keeping women out of leadership roles is not a defense of the Gospel and God’s Word, it is sadly a tradition that hinders us from being more effective as a denomination.
As a student of God’s Word and a lifetime pastor, who holds to male headship in the home and church, I implore the SBC to reconsider and move in a direction that is honoring of God’s Word, God’s Church, and all of God’s righteous people.