Who is at the Table?

On July 31, 2015, friends of the Preacher Girls made a presentation at the Assemblies of God District Superintendent’s Forum. Pastors Rachel Ross, Donna Barrett, and myself (Leila Ojala) discussed briefly the need for us to consider the past experiences and roles of women who are voted to be in decision-making authority, whether it be on boards, committees, task forces, or a presbytery. These notes are a follow up to that presentation, and a Preacher Girls take on what was presented.

Every leader knows that the Body is made up of different parts, and each has a place and a role. Paul goes to great lengths in 1 Corinthians 12 to point out that having a different role in the Body does not equate to a difference in value. Our value and honor is given by God, by being His child and representative of His Kingdom, and every person that He has created has a different, creative way of living that out. We would never wish for everyone to be a hand, or everyone to be an eye—then where would the sense of smell be?

I, for one, am incredibly grateful that we all serve in different functions but have equal value before God; the alternative would make for a very dull world. There is no better mural of the beauty, intricacies, and difficulties of living in unity through diversity, than the local Church. And we all have been in seasons where we have been without titles or positions, and yet the authority and influence that Jesus gives remains. All of this speaks to our value and importance to God and the Kingdom of God, regardless of what is on our business cards.

At the same time, most leaders would also agree that shared experience and a similarity in callings is helpful when people are making decisions together. Specifically when it comes to women serving in decision-making positions, having women at the table who have served in lead pastoral roles or vocational ministry is helpful because they will have the same context for discussion, even though there will be a great diversity of opinions and perspectives. Women who have led boards, dealt with budgets, had hard conversations, and been the primary vision-caster for a church or organization, are able to speak to the same issues and possibilities as their male counterparts. Having them at the table will allow for greater discussion and diversity, while ensuring that they have the necessary shared experience to give input.

As we move forward, it would behoove us to ask some questions as we invite women to the table in the future:

* Does this woman have similar ministry experience to her peers on this board/committee/team?

* Does this woman have earned credentials that are comparable to her peers on this board/committee/team?

* Does this woman have a quick repo ire with others on the board/committee/team?

* Does this woman have a proven track record of stepping up to give input even in a room of more male peers?

* How can I support the women I am appointing (or who are being elected), so that they feel empowered to give strong feedback that will be representative of other female leaders?

Thank you for your time and attention.

Pastor Leila Ojala

The Preacher Girls

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