We have reached the tipping point!
For the last 15 years I have known it was coming; now I believe we are there. Whatever your churches preference and experience, women will now become part of the equation if your church is seeking seminary trained clergy. In 1994, 30% of seminary students were women. In 2008, 51% were women.
Churches that will only consider men have fewer candidates to consider. Often the same church that will only consider men consistently eliminates men older than 55. This fixed bias can lead a church to take a less talented candidate. From a numbers only consideration, churches that will need to consider women have a larger talent pool.
Women are entering seminary with the same motivation as men—responding to the call of God, to serve the Church. If we hold to the view that women can’t be pastors, we have to assume that one half of seminary students did not understand God’s call on their life and shouldn’t be there. That is a profound assumption when we are willing to accept a man’s response to God’s call without much reflection.
I believe we are asking the wrong question: “Should women be pastors?” When we ask that question we tend to answer from our perspective, but part of the answer should come from our Lord. It will be more informative to ask if God is gifting women for ministry. Then analyze the gifts God is giving women. If the gifts enable women to function as pastors, it then appears God intended women to serve as pastors. The converse is also true: if God did not intend for women to serve as pastors, why are they gifted for the responsibility?
The region’s goal in the search and call process is to provide names of persons who match the identified ministry skills desired by the church involved. We tell search committees our intention is to provide names of quality persons who meet their criteria in such a manner that they will have a hard time choosing between them. Increasingly, 40% or so of the good matches of skill and experience that the church identifies are women. And yet many churches reject this group of persons who meet the criteria that they choose.An excellent resource for study and reflection is posted on ABC-Dakotas.org.
by Rev. Dr. David M. Scholer