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Why the Church Needs to See Women in Leadership

“Where are the women leaders?”

I wish there were more out there…”

“I just wish there were more coming through, but there don’t seem to be any anywhere.”

“What’s happening?”

Like their sisters, they feel called to serve but as leaders within the church. To lead churches, to exegete the Scriptures, to lead teams, to preach, to lead worship, to train leaders, to lead prayer movements, to share strategic insights, to pioneer ministries, plant churches, to pursue missional frontiers. Sometimes, it’s like a quiet persistent hum in the background; sometimes, it’s like a raging fire in their bones. There’s a conviction, a passion, a calling. They’re just not sure what this calling looks like beyond their passions and their dreams…

“Where are the women leaders?”

They’re asking because they can’t be what they can’t see. They’re asking because they need to see who they could be. There’s been so much controversy, so much debate, that at times it’s cut deep into their sense of identity and relationship with God. They’ve questioned repeatedly whether they are just too proud, just ambitious, not feminine enough. They’ve prayed, wept, and walked away, only to find that the restless nagging sense of call won’t leave them alone. Oh, they’ve tried to not be called, because that would be so much easier, far less costly. But they’ve flown away on the wings of the morning, settled on the far side of the sea, dug themselves into the dark shadows – and He was there. Loving, affirming, but still commissioning. Calling. And when they’ve dared to respond, dared to whisper yes…they felt alive.

Seeing helps. Seeing the lives of the women of the Scriptures – Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Junia, Priscilla, Lydia, Mary, Phoebe, Elizabeth. Hearing their names, understanding their lives helps. Seeing Christian women through the ages helps. The martyrs of the early churches like Perpetua and Felicity. Leaders in the Celtic Church like Hilda of Whitby. The women through the ages: Susanna Wesley, Phoebe Palmer, Catherine Booth, Sojourner Truth, Mother Theresa, Jackie Pullinger. As mentioned in a previous post, you cannot underestimate the power of what you can’t see. What we see (or don’t see) speaks incredibly loudly about what is possible. Seeing inspires from afar; seeing ignites possibility. But I believe that to equip and empower women who sense a call to leadership, they’ll need some things that are much, much closer.

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Jo Saxton is a leader within 3DM a movement training churches and leaders to do discipleship and mission in an increasingly post-Christian world. Originally from the U.K., since moving to the U.S. 10 years ago, Jo has served on church teams discipling young leaders and planting missional communities in areas ranging from the suburbs to the inner city. Jo and her husband Chris are lead pastors of Mission Point Church in Minneapolis. She is the author of "More than Enchanting" exploring the subject of women in leadership. Jo loves running, good music, reading books, blogs and magazines and laughing loudly with family and friends over a great meal.