Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My first church sermon

*NOTE: There was a hiccup with the audio file to this sermon. Thanks for your patience. The audio file will be posted here yet this week.*

Last Sunday, I preached for the first time in a church. It was a big deal, a game-changer in my life, if you will. And then again, it was as natural as breathing. Is this how one knows when she has found a sweet spot? A place where the world's hunger and a person's giftedness and passion meets?

Pastor Jim Kane, me, and David
The title of the sermon was "Why Women Matter to God," and in it we turned to the Genesis Creation story. We unpacked the amazing truth that we are made in the very image of God, of being created as God's ezers (the Hebrew word used when God created Eve), and we discussed how women are desperately needed in God's Kingdom.

The central truth: "Women are part of God's Plan A, fully equipped to do his good work."

One woman, who looked to be about 80, said afterwards: "Thank you--you helped me realize I'm still worth something." And my heart soared. I addressed the young girls in attendance, as well as the grown-up woman, and in a moment at the end as I asked the "ladies" to stand for a prayer of blessing, the girls elbowed each other until they stood up as well. A woman is an ezer--a strong helper, warrior, and rescuer--from the cradle to the grave, and I wanted all of them to know it. Our heavenly Father's intentions for His daughters were made known on Sunday, thanks be to God!

But there was also something happening in my heart, something I find hard to articulate. I know many dear brothers and sisters in Christ who do not believe a woman should preach in church--and quite honestly, many of them use particular Scriptures to back up their views. I understand where they are coming from, though of course I don't believe those passages, set in very particular contexts, mean that at all.

What I am trying to say is the road to my first sermon has been costly to me personally. But when I walked up to the front of the auditorium on Sunday, none of that mattered. It didn't enter my mind in the least. Instead of being silenced, I was set free to simply expound the Word of God to his sons and to his daughters.

"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all peoples. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. . . Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy."Acts 2:17-18

As I stood up to preach on Sunday, the prayers of many undergirded me, and I knew there were other women around the world approaching the pulpit as well. I know this because some of them have emailed or commented following the article on The Gifted for Leadership blog, and they remind me that being gifted to preach or teach is about faithfulness. A simple willingness to be used by God, to be obedient no matter what others think.

I have yet to meet a woman who is a leader in ministry for the wrong reasons. I'm sure there are some, but by and large, the women I meet have sacrificed greatly to use the gifts and express the calling God has traced on their hearts. It is not easy, but they choose faithfulness. Many of them switch denominations, lose friends or family relationships, and take poor-paying jobs that no one wants so they can serve the Lord with their gifts. I admire them—and though I don't know the specifics of what God is calling me to do yet, I pray for grace to simply obey.

Your turn. Do you believe women should fully use whatever gifts God has given them? If you do, are you still somewhat uncomfortable when a woman gets up to preach? Let's discuss with kindness and charity.


  1. I'll start. For the first 35 years of my life, I listened to men preach exclusively. So I'm still a bit uncomfortable when a woman approaches the pulpit, believe it or not. Much of the discomfort actually comes from what I feel others think around me...I feel a touch of apprehension for the woman who opens herself to criticism in this way. But the larger part of me thrills to see God's image displayed through a female, to be taught from Scripture in a uniquely feminine way. Perhaps this explains why the first time a woman served communion in my presence, tears welled up in my eyes. It was as if I heard, "After 35 years, here is another aspect of God's image being displayed through one of his daughters. And it is beautiful to him!" My two cents.

  2. I'll admit, I get nervous sometimes when a woman preaches. Yes, I do! I think part of that feeling comes from sensing that the audience is analyzing her in a different way than they would a man. Because so few women preach, those that do often feel that the kind of job they do subtly reflects on whether women should be preaching in people's minds. That's a lot of pressure. Thankfully, our heavenly Father sees things differently.