After coronavirus, the popular and ever-growing ministry field split into two groups: pre-coronavirus and post-coronavirus.
The drastic change within the church atmosphere has become evident amongst churchgoers. According to Pew Research Center, only 13% of U.S. citizens continue to attend church after the coronavirus quarantine was lifted in July of 2020. In March 2022, church attendance jumped to 30%, not including those attending services virtually.
The need for leaders has grown, but in a way most would not expect. There was a previous increase in churches shutting down or losing their pastors before the coronavirus pandemic, but the problem grew immensely during and after quarantine.
Many churches have taken to hiring or modifying their leadership rules so female leaders could potentially fill what has been considered predominantly male positions.
The phrase ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ has been used heavily to describe the recent shift in women’s ministry roles. This phrase is just an excuse to diminish the capability of women in leadership positions in the church. Women have and always will be called to serve the church as well as be a guide to others. Their gender should not be the determining factor undermining this calling along with any other physical attribute.
The passage from I Timothy 2 saying “women should learn in quietness” and are not permitted “to teach or to assume authority” has been cited in various arguments on women in ministry (2:11-12). However, in depth looks into this passage show there is a much deeper textual meaning underneath Paul’s writings.
Personally, I believe it is much simpler than many view it ase. It has to do with culture, or rather, the context of the culture. During the time Paul wrote the letters in 1 and 2 Timothy, he was in Ephesus, a place where many worshiped Artemis and women specifically were teachers. This was a fear of Paul’s, as he was worried women would assume false authority in light of the Artemis cult rapidly rising in Ephesus.
Chrisitanity has often been criticized for sexism or hypocrisy towards women, which has created a clear segregation of leadership in the church. Granted, this is highly individualistic to the church itself as well as being denominational, but it is clear when churches have a role for women and when they prefer a more societal standard which is assumed but never said aloud.
Most churches have opportunities for women to serve in missions, but a lot of the bigger and seemingly more impactful leadership roles are unavailable to them. Each person has been called into a role within the church, whether it be as a churchgoer who dutifully tithes and serves the church to the best of their ability or as a calling to lead and guide others to the gospel. Gender should not be what separates someone from their calling to God’s mission.
The gospel does not, by any means, have to be taught by a pastor or significant leader in the church. Christians have been called to share the gospel whether it is with a friend or a crowd of non-believers.
With this being said, my call to ministry has been a difficult journey. Recently, I have felt a call to be a youth or college pastor, and it has truly excited me with all the possibilities of reaching out to the younger generation. I had the opportunity to teach this past summer and it has inspired me to pursue this calling further.
With graduation in spring of 2023 fast approaching, job hunting for youth or college pastor positions has been well under way. It broke my morale to hear I could be nothing more than a children’s pastor because I am a woman. It depreciates women’s capable teaching abilities, especially in regards to sharing their testimonies as a part of the gospel message.
I went through multiple applications and was immediately shut down because I did not “meet the church’s standards.” It has resulted in applying, praying and hoping the right job will arise.
I know this is in the hands of God, but to be combated by humanity and the church because of my gender or marital status makes me doubt God’s true calling for me. Paul mentions again in I Corinthians 14 how women must remain silent in the church, but this was purely contextual like it was in I Timothy 2. Paul is addressing a specific cultural issue and to apply a standard which is hundreds of years old to the modern day church is somewhat naive.
The church has the ability to set a new precedent and bring in so many believers when they are more subservient to the ideas of the present time. These ideas being stifled are hurting the church overall because women have the ability to create a stronger community and perspective on other points in the Bible which can be easily overlooked. Later on in I Timothy 4, Paul says we are all to be “an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”
God used women like Deborah or Esther throughout the Bible to do great and powerful things for his glory and will continue to use them. They never suppressed the opposite gender or battled against them, but worked with them and fought to improve the lives of believers and non-believers alike. God called everyone to a great purpose and no matter the gender, they can do great things for his Kingdom.