When Women Preach
What does it mean to be a preacher?
More specifically, a preacher of the gospel of Jesus? Well, at its simplest definition, one that I think most pastors would agree with, the preacher is one who shares the good news. That news being the resurrection of Jesus. So, going off that definition who was the first preacher?
Paul? In front of the Romans?
I think we should go earlier
Peter? In front of the crowds at Pentecost?
Do you see the preacher I'm talking about? The one running down the streets in the dawn of the early morning. The one throwing open the door and running up the stairs to an upper room where a group of men wait in silent fear for a death sentence they are sure is coming. This preacher runs in and changes their whole world. They'll never be the same. Do you see this preacher?
Do you see her?
Matthew saw her
The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened by also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel's message. And as they went Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them "Don't be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee for they will see me there." -Matthew 28:8-10
Mark saw her
After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene. She went to the disciples who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened -Mark 16:9-10
Luke saw her
So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples -and everyone else- what had happened. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what happened. -Luke 24:9-10
John saw her
Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them "I have seen the Lord!" Then she gave them his message -John 20:18
Jesus doesn't just operate in a world where women are "allowed" to preach. He opened up his post resurrection ministry with women being the first ones entrusted to bring his truth to humankind. To those closest to him. The men who walked with him every day were hiding in a room afraid for their lives. The women who walked with Jesus couldn't stay away from him even in death and for that they were rewarded by being the first to see. The first to see and hear.
How can we expect and strive for any less today? If you don't have women regularly preaching in your church ask yourself why? If you're a male pastor ask yourself if you're doing enough to lift up the voices of women in your church. There's a woman sitting in her congregation who has something to say. Something to share. There's a woman who has seen the Lord and she needs a platform to tell others about it.
When women preach we become a better body. We engage with our full selves not just half of ourselves. When women preach other women are lifted up and encouraged. When women preach men are taught to hear truth from places they don't always have the chance to hear from.
Willow Creek Community Church, one of the largest churches in the country, announced last week that when their senior pastor retires he will be replaced by a co preaching team. A man and woman. Both married, but not to each other. It's unprecedented in the American Church. And yet it shouldn't be. Because when women and men come up alongside each other to do the work of Jesus something amazing happens....we connect to who we were always meant to be.
When women preach we fully embrace Jesus. It's not enough to have it in our denominational bylaws. We have to be proactive in making it happen. Encourage the gift when we see it. Teaching our men that if they sit under the leadership of a woman it doesn't make them weak. It makes them like Peter, James, John, and all the other disciples who heard the good news from women. It will make them aware of who this God they serve really is...what he's all about.
He's about speaking from the unexpected places. He's about shaking up the status quo. He's about lifting up the voices of the voiceless. He's about empowering those the world says don't need power but rather protection. He's about women preaching.
Let us speak.