OK, here’s a topic that has come up a few times over the years I have been here in Warrnambool, so it’s time it was explained for all to understand. The issue that has been mentioned to me a number of times is the one of pastoring the women in the life of the church. I have been told things like, the women have no one to pastor them because the pastors won’t meet with them, that women aren’t valued in the life of our church, that women can’t be leaders in our church and a few other misconceptions.
Firstly, let me just say that I am married to a woman. I love her, live in the same house as her, sleep in the same bed as her, share a bathroom with her, have had kids with her (which involves a certain degree of physical interaction people!)…my point is that the leadership of Extreme Life does not shy away from or have a lack of respect for or a disregard for women in any way at all. All our pastors/elders are married to women for goodness sake! We value, love and respect women including and starting with our wives.
Secondly let me clarify that any of our pastors will meet with any of the women in the life of our church. There will be some parameters to that meeting… For example it will not ever be alone. Either their husband or our wife or another leader in the church will also be in that meeting. This is a matter of sexual security. You see I don’t ever want any of our pastors to be asked to justify a one on one meeting with a member of the opposite sex and they are found to have no way of proving beyond any doubt that the meeting was all above board. I don’t want any of our pastors to ever be caught in a position where some one else can’t verify that the meeting was exactly what they said it was. So many pastors from around the world are no longer in ministry today because a one on one meeting with a member of the opposite sex deteriorated into a relationship that it should never have become…(or there was an accusation that it did that could not be absolutely refuted). We will completely avoid that by ensuring that all meetings between our pastors and the women of the church always have a witness in the room to verify the nature of the entire meeting. If any accusations or questions are ever raised, they will be answered by simply producing the witness that was there at the time.
As far as women not being able to be leaders in the life of our church…allow me to remind you of a wonderful woman called Melissa Passlow. She is a wonder woman raising two kids and running a business while being a valued and faithful contributor to the life of our church and an ordained member of our deacon team. She prophesies, preaches, leads home group meetings, has assisted with youth, JaM and many other areas within Extreme Life. So I guess that ends that myth.
As far as it being difficult for women to be pastored in our church, maybe we just need to understand God’s ordained structure a little better. I will never go directly to a married woman in the life of our church and try to pastor her. Because God has set a husband in place in her life and it is his role to pastor her.
I can think of specific examples where my pastors have come to me and pointed out areas in my wife’s life that needed adjusting. They told me and expected me to fix it…because God made me her first pastor…and YES, before I was a pastor in the church. They also expected that I wouldn’t go to my wife and say “A pastor has pointed out this issue and asked me to fix it“. No! They expected me to take responsibility for my family. I got to address it and pastor or lead my wife through the issue. This is exactly how we aim to do it at Extreme Life.
So every married woman in the church, has her very own full time pastor living right there in her house with her. If she is not being pastored it is not the fault of the Extreme Life pastors, but that of her husband who is obviously not leading/pastoring her. For us to bypass a husband is to step outside of God’s authority structure and that is asking for trouble.
For unmarried women, they are either still under the authority of their fathers or if they have left home, they are the authority and we will speak directly pastorally to them.
I can think of so many examples where stepping outside of these parameters has lead to disaster and we aim to honor this God ordained structure at all times.
This is not because we don’t love women, it’s because we do! We are doing our best to ensure that every safe guard is in place for our women to be well ministered to, well loved, well provided for, well cared for etc…by raising up their husband as their first pastor and the priesthood of all believers that form our local church. This also ensures the absolute sexual purity of all involved in any ministry with members of the other gender. Also, any of the pastors/deacons wives or female deacons would be more than happy to meet with any women who felt they needed to meet with a woman in leadership to discuss their needs. We do very much love and value women in Extreme Life and honor them as God’s precious daughters.
I hope this helps clarify for those that have asked the question or not been sure of why some things are the way they are.