By Steve Rennick
We can do better! Do you know that in the first twenty years of the Church of God reformation movement, from 1880 to 1900, 66 percent of the recognized ministers and evangelists of this young, fledgling movement were women? 66 percent! Two out of three! Can you imagine? Do you know that today in the Church of God in Kenya this number is nearly the same? More than 60 percent of the active pastors of the Church of God in Kenya are women. In East Africa the clear majority of pastors in the Church of God are women! Do you know that today in the Church of God in North America that this number is now below 10 percent—that less than one out of ten of our active pastors are women? Really? Are you serious? I have a simple message: We can do better!
The hermeneutic of the Church of God has long read the promise of God in Joel 2:28–29, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” as being fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:17–18, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” (NIV).
This is not a new or modern interpretation of Scripture, nor is it a radical or reactionary departure from the Bible. In fact, this is exactly what Luke claims in Acts 2:16, “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.” From the Day of Pentecost to today, and until the Lord Jesus returns, we live in these days, the days when God has poured out his Spirit on all people, when both sons and daughters do prophesy, and God calls both men and women to be his Spirit-filled servants. Yet when I was an undergraduate student, all of my fellow male Bible/ministry majors received internships in local congregations, while that year’s sole female student, whose GPA was higher than most of our own, was not placed for a local church internship. The message was something like, “Perhaps the Lord has some other plan for you.” We can do better!
For too long too many called women of God have received a similar message—“Perhaps the Lord has some form of ministry for you other than being a pastor in the Church of God.” Those women have gone into a host of other ministries where they are accepted, such as cross-cultural and missionary service, hospital and institutional chaplaincy, and other denominational clergy roles. The Church of God has missed out on the benefits of several generations of capable pastors, who happen to be women, because of this often unspoken bias. We can do better!
I serve as part of a multiple-staff church. We have twelve people who currently carry the role and responsibility of a pastor—either as a ministry director, associate pastor, pastor, or senior pastor. Among the twelve of us, seven are women, and our congregation is blessed by their leadership. My sisters in Christ, who are my colleagues and peers, lead, serve, care, strategize, preach, and teach in inspiring and exemplary ways. I challenge you to reconsider both what the Scriptures teach and how God is calling both his sons and his daughters to ministry. This is an exciting season of life for the Church of God and we will be better positioned to hear and follow our Lord’s leading as we fully embrace and empower all of his children. Church of God reformation movement: we can do better!
I would love to hear from you. If you have questions, or if there is any way I can help you as you consider the promptings of Scripture and the Spirit, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-844-9355. I look forward to hearing from many of you!
Steve Rennick is the senior pastor of Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana. Article originally published by Indiana Ministries. Republished by permission. Learn more about the Church of God at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.