Women in Leadership

I haven’t had time to blog recently. It’s been a hectic few weeks with our graduation, a major alumni event (200 people), banquet planning for our upcoming banquets this Saturday in Winnipeg (http://horizon.celect.org/winnipeg-banquet) and next Thursday in Saskatoon (http://horizon.celect.org/saskatoon-banquet), planning and reporting for May Board of Governor meetings next week, and attending two major conferences: the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada General Conference in Saskatoon at the end of April, and a Competency Based Education conference, from which I’m writing this blog now in San Antonio.

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Me in San Antonio at the CBE Conference, hanging with the Mariachi band.

The Competency Based Education conference is fantastic, laying out the model of education we are adopting at Horizon (come to one of the banquets to hear more!).

Attending this conference, it occurs to me that this is one of very few non-specifically-Christian conferences I’ve attended, and I’m struck by the demographic.

As I look around this room of professional, university leaders and administrators, I’m struck that the room is about 50-50 male and female. Furthermore, of the 5 presenters – all leaders in their fields -, 4 are women.

By contrast, every Christian-related conference I attend is made up overwhelmingly of males. (White males, but let’s not push it!) This is true of academic conferences, such as the Society of Biblical Studies, and is certainly true of our district and national conferences of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada has been fully ordaining women since 1984. Pentecostalism as a movement, in fact, would not exist were it not for the leadership of women in the early 20th century.

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Aimie Semple McPherson, early 20th-century evangelist and founder of the Foursquare Church.

Nevertheless, a glance around the room at any conference of Christian professionals shows that Christian leadership remains overwhelmingly male.

This troubles me.

I realize that many earnest Christians continue to stumble over such texts as 1 Timothy 2.12, which seemingly self-evidently prohibits women from having authority over or teaching men. (Interestingly, these same earnest Christians seldom stumble over 1 Timothy 2.15, ony 3 verses later, which seemingly self-evidently proclaims that women are saved through bearing children – hardly the New Testament formula we confess. Apparently, we can explain that text by reference to Paul’s “clearer teachings” on salvation elsewhere.)

For many Christians, however, the New Testament’s “clearer teachings” on women come from egalitarian texts such as Galatians 3.28 and the notion that God gifts people to serve him, regardless of age, race, or gender. For many Christians – on paper, anyway! – this problem is old news and women are welcome to inhabit leadership positions for which they have been gifted.

So why does Christian leadership remain such a male-dominated industry?

I don’t have good answers but, looking around this non-Christian conference filled with competent women leaders, I’m compelled to ask the question. In my own role as a Christian and, specifically, an educator of Christian leaders, I’m also compelled to do what I can to encourage and empower our women to embrace the leadership roles God is calling them to inhabit. I encourage those who feel likewise to do the same.