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Pulpit or Not, Women Preach All the Time

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Perhaps you’ve read the articles that have been circulating lately about whether or not women should preach in church. This is certainly not a new debate, but the timing of this fresh batch of articles just days before Mother’s Day has reinvigorated the debate with a particular vigor. Since the editorial team here at ChurchLeaders doesn’t take an official position on this debate, I’m not going to rehash the theological aspects of it for you. What I do want us to mull over is this idea: Whether women stand behind a pulpit or not, women preach all the time.

Ultimately, the point of preaching in church is to teach people about the nature and character of God, to instruct them in developing their relationship with God, and to point them toward a lifestyle that is more Christ-like. In this respect, I think your average woman’s life, whether or not she lives part of it behind a pulpit with a title, does a great amount of preaching.

Women Preach Through Caring for Other People

One of my favorite aspects of Jesus’ character is how he cared for other people. I love the stories about him stopping to heal someone and doing things like making sure that the crowds who came to listen to him had food. I think Jesus showed an incredible amount of care for people, even when they exhausted his earthly body with their needs and he would have to go and recharge with God the Father. Sometimes he would delay rest to meet their needs. These stories of him remind me of women caring for the needs of others.

I know plenty of men who care in this capacity, but I know even more women who do. There is something God-given in a woman’s nature that makes her particularly in tune to the needs of others. When they take care of other people, women preach that God cares and that he sees. Like the mother who can discern the difference between an “I’m in pain” cry and an “I’m restless” cry in her child, God knows our unique needs and responds to them. And God, in his goodness, often uses women to meet those needs.

Women Preach Through Spiritual Formation

Barna recently released an article titled “The Powerful Influence of Moms in Christians’ Households.” In it, Barna gleaned information from a survey in which they asked church-going Christian teens who they do certain activities with the most. For questions like “who do you pray with?” and “who do you talk to about God and faith?” the majority of teens surveyed said they participated in these activities with their mothers. The article points to the fact that more often than not, children receive critical spiritual formation training at home from their mothers.

Of course this is not to discount the role of fathers, who also rank highly in several faith-related categories, but the data shows there is something particularly significant about a mother’s role in the house. “Over and over, this study speaks to the enduring impact of mothers—in conversation, companionship, discipline and, importantly, spiritual development,” Alyce Youngblood, Barna’s managing editor for the report, says.