In a recent posting on his blog, Al Mohler comments on the fact that few moderate Baptist churches have called a woman to serve as their preaching pastor. Al is right to point out that “the proof is in the pudding.” If moderate Baptists really believe that women are called to and capable of serving as preaching pastors, then they should demonstrate that by calling women as pastors.
This does not mean, of course, that these same churches shouldn’t call men as pastors. I don’t know of any moderate Baptist who takes that position.
Having agreed with Mohler, I do believe that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
What would happen if we applied the same principle that Mohler advocates to churches in the Southern Baptist Convention?
For instance, the SBC has renounced its racist past and claims to have put racism behind it. If this is true, how many African-American pastors have been called to serve as preaching pastors for Caucasian SBC churches?
I don’t have the statistics, but I suspect it is a lot fewer than 61 and a lot smaller percentage of the SBC churches than the percentage of women serving as preaching pastors of moderate Baptist churches.
The truth is that moderate Baptist churches and seminaries have a lot of “catching up” to do. Although women have been trained in Baptist seminaries for years, they have not been explicitly trained to be pastors until the last few years.
We would be further along if seminary leaders like Mohler had not reversed the trend of encouraging women in ministry that was developing in SBC seminaries under their former moderate leaders.
Fortunately, moderate Baptist seminaries are encouraging women to consider the option of becoming a preaching pastor, and more of them are doing so.
In the local church girls and young women must see that women can preach and provide pastoral leadership, which means that moderate Baptist churches must provide preaching opportunities for women and consider women candidates when a vacancy occurs.
Women must seize this opportunity and demonstrate that they are “up to the task”–as many have done–by demonstrating their skills at preaching and pastoral leadership.
I believe that moderate Baptists, and especially Cooperative Baptists, will move in the same direction as the American Baptists have. We will have more and more women serving as preaching pastors.
Cooperative Baptists are showing the way by having women lead the national organization as well as the state organizations and by having women lead in worship and preach at their annual meetings. This seed will bear fruit–more and more fruit–in the years to come.
Philip Wise is senior pastor of Second Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas.