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Effectively Integrating Women into Ministry at All Levels

November 2, 2012

My particular brand of church (Vineyard) made a decision several years ago that leadership in the church is based on gifting and calling, not gender.  However, making this decision and working out the implications of this decision are not one and the same. What does it look like to actually walk out leadership teams that consist of both women and men?  This is where my original paper begins:

Our Challenge: Integrating Women into Ministry at all levels

This is an issue that will affect not just the Vineyard movement, but every church and denomination that has decided on an egalitarian view of women for many years to come.  For these churches, the incorporation of women in leadership at every level is no longer debated, it is decided. Where the debate is over, the practical aspects still remain. As we move forward, it is essential that we look at this from a Kingdom of God perspective.  What can we do to incorporate women into effective leadership that reflects the ever increasing presence of the Kingdom of God?  How can we as a people of God operate from a Kingdom perspective in this area?   How can we reflect the advancement of the Kingdom in the ways that we work with one another, rather than the effects of the fall? As we approach leadership development of women, we need to examine our views, assumptions and vision for women in leadership in this light.  How has the fall affected women and the view men have of women, specifically in regard to leadership development.

There are several views and assumptions that I believe need to be addressed early in this process of learning to develop women in leadership.  The first has to do with reflecting God’s image in leadership.  The second issue has to do with assumptions about how people develop as leaders, and the third with the effect that these assumptions have on our views of children and child rearing in relation to women’s leadership development.  I’ll be addressing each of these issues in posts to come.  Today, I want to start by looking at the idea of reflecting the image of God in Leadership teams.

As we look at current business leadership, the trend is toward teams and team building, with an emphasis on creating teams that are strengths based. From a biblical perspective, I would say that this points us to one of the first issues.   As we seek to develop leadership teams for churches, don’t we want to reflect not just “strengths”, but God’s character and nature on our teams?  Men and women are created in the image of God, yet are often different in the ways they think about and approach issues.  As men and women, we both reflect the image of God, yet somehow differently; different aspects, different ways of looking at things, different ways of processing information.  I would suggest that leadership teams for non-gender specific ministries that are not mixed gender teams fall short of fully reflecting God’s nature and character in the leadership team.  Well balanced single gender teams, while they may be highly successful, might find that they are even more effective moving to a mixed gender model, although they may have to learn to operate a bit differently!

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