God gave you a voice—use it
I talk too much.
It's a habit. I talktoofast and talktoomuch.
Sometimes I could stand to zip it. I'm working on it.
However, I hate to contribute to what has been a common refrain in society—a common refrain also in some churches. The refrain goes like this: women might need to PIPE DOWN already.
God's opinion on the matter appears to have a refrain more like this: Do not neglect to use your voice.
If ever a story demonstrated that the clear voice of women matters to the God of the Bible, it would be the story of Pontius Pilate's wife.July 21, 2014
How do you spell team?
July 17, 2014
We hear it said often, "There's no "I" in team." Yes, that's a fact, but unfortunately some clichés are said so much they lose their power. We know team means working together effectively for the common good, a joint project with shared vision and goals. But the question is; do you really care about working together for a team goal—especially in ministry? Do you really have the team on your mind? Are you really excited about what your team is about to accomplish? Are you thinking about how hard your team has worked to save souls? Or are you more excited about all the praise you'll receive at the end of day? Are you wondering when the current leader will step down so you can take over? Are you happy that the new person with the MBA in Leadership Structure, who kept trying to join the team, finally left the church?
Become a minister of presence
My husband and I couldn't eat or sleep. We couldn't think clearly enough to work and yet couldn't imagine being home with the walls caving in around us. We had cried until we were surprised there were any tears left. The news we had received was devastating. We found ourselves in one of those time-stands-still experiences that we had seen happen to others but never expected to happen to us. There was no fix or solution or possibility of wishing it away.
And then my parents showed up. They dropped everything in their lives after our call that morning and made the five-hour drive to our door. Not telling us ahead of time, knowing we would try to talk them out of it, they came not to make it better, but to simply be with us.July 14, 2014
Building a team of very different minds
The outreach team at our church had a daunting task. We were responsible for attracting the unchurched, making newcomers feel welcome, and helping reach out to our community in practical ways. All of us were enthusiastic about doing just that, but not all of us agreed on the best methods to accomplish such a herculean task.
Robert* was a man who loved charts. He immediately wanted to graph the different people groups in the community and map a strategy to reach them. He felt that everything should be in writing and that the team should develop concrete, measurable steps to take in reaching out. In his estimation, each month's activities should be planned at the outset of the year and then we should stick to that plan like glue. His approach to outreach involved a comprehensive door-to-door evangelism strategy that would leave no one untouched.July 10, 2014
Contrary to popular mythology, everyone is an artist
If you spend five minutes scrolling through your Facebook feed, you are bound to come across at least one post that promises to help you determine whether you are right- or left-brain dominant. The lateralization theory explains your thinking and behavior based on which hemisphere calls the shots: the left (making individuals more rational, logical, precise, and having a strong preference for dogs) or the right (edging others toward being intuitive, subjective, and creative, which apparently translates to a general avoidance of printed directions and a predilection for cats).
However, according to Stephen Kosslyn and G. Wayne Miller, authors of Top Brain, Bottom Brain, this idea is little more than "a dominant pop-culture story" which has never "stood up to careful scientific scrutiny." Recent work done by neuroscientists seems to indicate that both hemispheres of the brain work together in complicated processing tasks.July 7, 2014
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An interview with worship and executive pastor Gail Song Bantum
Reverend Gail Song Bantum is the Worship and Executive Pastor at Quest Church in Seattle, Washington. She is passionate about leadership development and leads seminars in diverse contexts. This is what she had to say when we sat down to talk about leadership:
As women, and particularly Christian women leaders, we talk a lot about identity and living our calling. What are some of the challenges you've faced as a woman and ethnic minority in pastoral leadership, and how have those challenges equipped you as a leader?
I am a second-generation Korean-American woman, grateful for 17 years of journeying this life together in marriage with a biracial man, and grateful for the gift and opportunity to raise three beautifully multiethnic children. I have a passion and prophetic call to pastoral ministry and leadership development particularly, in order that people and communities can live out and embody their true calling in Christ. I received my M.Div. from Duke Divinity School and am an ordained minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church. All of those things have shaped me as a person, Christian, and leader.July 3, 2014
10 Things I’ve Learned while Walking with Wives of Sexual Offenders
The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that one in six American women is a victim of attempted or completed sexual assault in her lifetime. Forty-four percent of victims are under the age of 18. The fact that these offenses are being perpetrated so regularly within the church should serve as a severe beacon to the Christian community. Now is the time for raw and regular conversations about healthy sexuality, sexual addiction, and sexual sin. Now is the time to ramp up our best practices and protective policies. Now is also the time to minister to the ones who remain: among them, the wives of sexual offenders.
Over the past eight years as a pastor's wife, the Lord has given me a somewhat bewildering ministry to these women. I love them heartily and consider it my great privilege to offer support and shelter. But I've yet to experience much in ministry that comes close to this kind of confusion and devastation. Lives ripped apart. Innocence shattered. Hearts broken.June 30, 2014
Sometimes ministry feels like one long struggle toward compassion and forgiveness
He didn't say, "Take up your sofa, the really light comfy one, and follow me." He also didn't say, "Click 'like' and follow my entertaining tweets from the comfort of your own home." Just like he didn't say, "Here's an Instagram of a dead person I raised. Share if you think I'm awesome."
My Jesus is not virtual. I sometimes wish he was. I could be all up to date with his stuff and get on with my life by 8 a.m.
But the real Jesus. My Jesus. He asks hard stuff that requires me to get off my backside and say sorry. Yeugh. Not only that, but to mean it, and forgive the back stabber, to even offer the other cheek. For real? Do you know how much this hurts? To know exactly what she's said, the words she's used, the names she's called me, in public. Not. just. once. The gargantuan effort it takes daily to let her off without retribution, shame, punishment. Gosh. It's too much, Jesus.June 26, 2014
Reclaiming Eve's place in history means claiming our own
Hot tears splashed down my cheeks as my new husband stared at me in confusion. I had been studying the creation story when I stumbled across the strong Hebrew word God used when creating Eve: the ezer. In that moment, God's intentions leapt off of the printed page and started a revolution in my heart. I never would have guessed how highly God thinks of his daughters. I hadn't understood how invaluable we are to his kingdom. I felt a strange combination of exhilaration and anxiety about what it would mean to stand shoulder to shoulder with my Christian brothers, instead of taking my usual safer back row seat.
The tears eventually dried, but the question remained: Would I be willing to follow the blueprint I discovered in God's Word, or would I shrink back in fear? The journey for me would mean reevaluating why I wasn't using some of my spiritual gifts, asking what God meant for my marriage relationship, and reimagining how I and my sister-ezers could more effectively join with our brothers in Christ to better serve a world that desperately needs God's love.