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Dare Mighty Things

A Book Review

The book:

Dare Mighty Things: Mapping the Challenges of Leadership for Christian Women

By Halee Gray Scott

Published by Zondervan

Why I picked up this book:

Simply put, there is no other book on the market like it! Author and Ph.D. Halee Gray Scott has done her research and clearly presents her case with theological reflection, without defense, and through humbly sharing her story (both successes and failures) as well as the convictions and challenges of other Christian women who are leading.

Who Should Read Dare Mighty Things:

This book is for any Christian woman who currently is leading or feels called to lead. Most of the research is from the Christian nonprofit arena and would be of particular interest to that audience. However, the issues she raises are important for men and women, as men still hold key positions of leadership in the Christian community at large and can better serve as mentors and sponsors when they understand the perceptions and challenges that their sisters are up against.

What’s in Store for You:

Dr. Scott holds no punches when initially stating her conviction that “the church has failed Christian women because it has failed to cast a comprehensive vision of what God can accomplish in and through the life of a woman.” However, anyone who may be concerned as to whether she is advocating for the ordination of women, or if she is leading her readers to pick a side in the egalitarian and complementarian debate, can fear not. She follows her courageous introduction by disarming the great debaters. She gives an unbiased (however brief) presentation of both sides and then leads the way by revealing the points that they both have in common, namely: “1. Women can be leaders…2. ...

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Thu, 18 September 2014 08:00:00 CST
A Voice for the Sinned-Against, Part 2

Ministry to survivors of sexual abuse

Childhood sexual abuse victims experience lifelong battles to gain understanding of what happened to them and why. Statistics show that 1 out of 20 boys are sexually abused as children, and the number is much higher for young girls: one out of five girls is sexually abused, 60 percent by someone they are familiar with and 30 percent by a family member. The abuse young girls endure will stay in their memories, tormenting them well into adulthood. If one out of five young girls is sexually abused, is it safe to assume a large number of women in church are living as adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse?

In her dissertation (Fuller Theological Seminary, 2001), Dr. Leah Coulter wrote, "A Christian woman sexually abused as a child feels like a theological exile in her relationship with God. The adult Christian victim finds it difficult to trust God because she believes the reason God did not stop her abuse is because she was bad. She feels helpless, trapped and angry. She may constrict her world and withdraw from church relationships in an attempt to feel safe—yet while she is alone, her isolation reinforces her belief that no one cares."

In The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of ChildhoodSexual Abuse, Dr. Dan B. Allender helps us understand "the need in church to replace the model of simplistic sanctification with an understanding of the gospel that is both simple and penetrating, reaching with power into sinful damaged souls." More often an adult childhood sexual abuse victim is offered a "trust God" Scripture to "get over" their hurt; however, this approach ignites more anger and questions about Christianity and gives no hope for healing.

As a new Christian, ...

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Mon, 15 September 2014 08:00:00 CST
A Voice for the Sinned-Against, Part 1

Ministry to survivors of sexual abuse

I walked into church in December 2007 as a 32-year old new Christian, full of anger, hurt, and bitterness. I spent much of my life feeling like a failure and did not see a purpose for myself. My father left when I was very young. My mother was searching for her own self-worth and didn't have much time for me or my sister. My stepfather did not treat us like his own. Because of my mother’s instability, we moved all the time. I never made close friendships. I was very shy and an easy target for bullying, which I endured at every school I attended, all the way through high school. Soon after high school, I married someone who would "love me" and give me purpose, but I found out that fairy tale was just that—a fairy tale. He was extremely cruel and physically abusive. My eldest son was born during my teenage marriage. By the time I was 21, I had been married, divorce, and a single mother—mad at the world. The older I got in life, the angrier I grew at God. I was never taught anything about God growing up, but I knew for the most part he could give me purpose, and since I felt I had no purpose, I resented him.

I accepted Jesus after I discovered a book buried in a box inside my garage. The book,The Sermon on the Mount by Emmet Fox, had been left there by the previous owners of our house. I felt God went out of his way to reach me so I had this renewed sense of joy and belief that maybe I did have a purpose. I enrolled into Bible college after accepting Christ, and my family and I quickly found a church home. Being around others who longed for Jesus was exciting! However, I could not get over the feeling that something was missing in the church. I was there almost every day as women's ministries ...

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Thu, 11 September 2014 08:00:00 CST
Why Avoid Talking about Gender?

Its more important than our discomfort

Despite the reality that gender issues are trending in culture and on social media, many in the church seem to equate talking about this polemic topic with swimming in a shark tank: too dangerous and not worth the thrill.

My husband and I have been leading long-term healing and discipleship programs in New England area churches for more than 20 years. We frequently—and willingly—jump in that shark tank to discuss gender and other taboo topics. What we hear again and again from participants is, “Why aren’t we talking about gender issues in the church?” We aren’t talking about gender issues in the church because it’s easier not to. Based on what’s happening in our culture on the topic of gender, God is offering us an opportunity to not only engage, but lead this conversation.

There’s potentially more at stake when we discuss gender—directly or indirectly—than any other issue. Remember the conversation about how to communicate summer dress codes for Sunday morning leaders that unraveled before you finished your coffee? Remember how your worship leader pushed back when you suggested that the songs he chose were a bit too feminine? When defensiveness shows up uninvited in your staff meetings or events, what might be happening is that the men and women are feeling threatened in a deep place. At core, we are gendered people. Though we can set aside our political, geographic, or denominational preferences, we cannot separate ourselves from our gender without some level of disintegration. Defensiveness, or protest, becomes a form of protection against this disintegration.

To some degree, this protest is healthy because we shouldn’t try to separate ourselves ...

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Mon, 8 September 2014 08:00:00 CST
Engaging Women and Men in Worship

A balanced approach to planning

Crafting worship is a relentless task. Meet, pray, plan, finesse, download, upload, sing and praise, then feel a sense of relief when Sunday is over. With 52 Sundays a year, every week we do this. Worship planners and liturgists constantly ask, “How can worship transform the heart of God’s people?” “What can we do to move people toward Kingdom action?” And “How can we be sure that everyone who comes regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status, or gender can connect with God?”

Every Monday, with laptops open, coffee in hand, and a four-pound jar of Jelly Bellies, our worship team wrangles ideas into liturgies. On our best days we imagine ourselves Jimmy Fallon or Tina Fey, brains exploding like the writers at SNL: “Somebody order a pizza!” But mostly we wonder how it is that the grace of God keeps slipping past our generations unnoticed. How do worship planners help a concept stick? Maybe a video? Maybe a Franciscan prayer? What about that latest Hillsong release? And do the elements this week speak to all our demographics? Will men and women alike feel met by God?

As the church maintains her divisive infighting over the roles of men and women in leadership, we must be all the more diligent in preserving a balanced approach to gender in worship. Wonderfully, each week I hear comments from our team like, “We cannot use that video, the guys will hate it” or “That prayer has too much macho, all the women will check out.” Worship teams must be sure they are engaging both genders. Regardless of which end of the complementarian or egalatarian spectrum you find yourself on, churches are filled with a near-50/50 gender split. God speaks to and ...

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Thu, 4 September 2014 08:00:00 CST
Something Is Different around Here!

A Note from Editor Amy Simpson

I’m thrilled to announce that Gifted for Leadership has a new look and a new home.

If you’ve visited this site in the past, you’ll notice our makeover—an updated design and a sleeker site.

What you may not notice as readily is that we are now officially hosted as part of the Leadership Journal website. Back when we launched in 2007, the quickest way to get started was to create a blog. It worked, but it meant that ever since, we have been housed in a small blog platform, the Internet equivalent of living in the garden shed out back. While were welcome at the table for every meal, it wasn’t quite the same as actually living in the house. Now we’ve officially moved into the house and made ourselves right at home. Because Gifted for Leadership is part of the Leadership Journal family of resources supporting the ministry of church leaders, it’s only fitting.

What does this transition mean for you, our readers? I hope you’ll find that our content is easier to search and navigate. It’s also indexed by the same keywording system used for Leadership Journal, and because we now live under the same roof, a search on Gifted for Leadership will produce matching results among our articles, Leadership Journal’s content, and all of Christianity Today’s publications.

Ultimately, these changes are designed to help us offer better support, encouragement, and connection to women in church ministry. If you’re new to this site (and even if you’re not), let me explain what we’re here for.

Gifted for Leadership is a resource providing community, encouragement, and practical tools for women leaders in the global church. We exist to equip, encourage, ...

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Wed, 3 September 2014 17:39:00 CST
Listen to the Shepherd

If you're going to follow God, you have to recognize his voice

Living life well requires following God. Leading others well requires following God.

Following God requires hearing God. Yet usually, our Lord doesn’t speak in an audible voice. We can’t hear him with our physical ears.

He has given us Scripture. We can read what is God-breathed. What treasure! Yet no matter how faithfully we study God’s Word, it remains locked to us if we cannot recognize God’s voice. Thankfully, he has made the way for every one of us to hear.

In John 10, Jesus said of a good shepherd, “The sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…and his sheep follow him because they know his voice” (verses 3-4, NIV). Jesus announced, “I am the good shepherd” (verse 14).

If Christ is your shepherd, you have the capacity to know his voice.

Many people think, “It would be much easier to know his voice if we had lived when Jesus walked the earth. If we could hear him with our physical ears, we would understand what he says.”

As logical as that sounds, it’s not true.

While on earth, Jesus said to the religious leaders, who stood before him with folded arms and hardened hearts, “I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me!” (John 8:42-43).

Jesus said of the crowds who gathered to listen to him teach, “They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand” (Matthew 13:13).

When Jesus told his own disciples, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees,” they thought he was scolding them for forgetting to bring bread. Jesus asked them, “You ...

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Mon, 1 September 2014 08:00:00 CST
6 Ways to Make Sabbath Realistic for Ministry Leaders

Yes, you really can

Finding the middle spot in the dim room between round tables draped in white, I push high heels into the carpet under a ceiling of twinkle lights and speak to women seated around china tea cups and glass plates of cookies. They’ve asked me to tell them about the Sabbath Society.

I share about my weekly email sent to a group of nearly 300 Sabbath-keepers who observe rest as a routine instead of something that suits convenience. How disciplines are easier in the embrace of community—dieting, Bible reading, exercise—when accomplished with accountability.

The weekly encouragement is proving life changing for many, transformational for relationships and physically healing in some instances.

My eyes shift to the pastor’s wife leaning over her empty cup balanced between both hands, mouth slightly open. A handful of volunteers sit nearby. Pausing, I know what their blank stares are saying. I’ve heard the question echo among ministry leaders in many cities.

How do you do it?

Rest is elusive. The desire is present, but those in the trenches don’t know how to Sabbath when Sunday responsibilities ooze over the sides of a full agenda and drip into Monday.

After 25 years in full-time ministry while raising two kids, I gently remind them that the goal is not perfection but steps toward stillness and internal quiet for intimate reunion. God cares more about who we are than what we do.

Here are six ways to approach Sabbath for those who find rest a luxury or a weighty commandment shackled with hoops of guilt.

Create white space: Carve out a time period for rest that becomes a weekly routine. For example, dedicate the first three hours of your day off to rest, reflect, and abide in God’s ...

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Thu, 28 August 2014 08:00:00 CST
We Are Better Together

Co-leadership really can work

Are two heads really better than one? Does anything with two heads really resemble a monster? It all depends on how we look at it.

English writer John Heywood actually coined "Two heads are better than one" in 1546. I am sure he did not realize he was speaking prophetically. But two heads together can work only when God is at the center. King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, wrote, "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

I have had the privilege and honor to share leadership with some phenomenal men and women in the body of Christ. Each of these experiences incited growth as a person and as a leader. My husband and I share the responsibility of pastoral leadership; we are as different as night and day. Making it work effectively has taken some crucifixion, prayer, fasting, and humility from both of us. It works beautifully now.

Additionally, I share leadership roles in two outreach ministries to leaders. By His Side Ministries is completely led by women. In some places, people would consider women in total leadership a recipe for disaster. It has been quite the contrary; I have learned more about myself and the women I serve with than I ever would have learned just sitting next to them in a worship setting. I learned that women can work together if they allow God to work out their insecurities, areas of immaturity, character flaws, and sin nature—yes, sin nature.

Another ministry, When Pastors Pray, is lead by both men and women. Many people say pastors cannot work together, but that is a lie from the devil. We make it work. ...

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Mon, 25 August 2014 08:00:00 CST
The Secret to Volunteer Retention

Just say thanks

A sign loomed outside my son's Sunday school class: "Room closed (unless someone wants to jump in and help today)." Fortunately, it was propped near a door but wasn't yet pulled out into the main area of the hallway. Apparently there were enough volunteers to staff that at that point in time, but if too many kids came and ratios were exceeded, the doors would be closed and the sign would get pulled out. I was grateful my little guy could still do his craft and hear a Bible story on that particular morning, but the sign offered a menacing warning: Volunteer or else. Most anyone in a leadership role knows the value of relying on volunteers. The benefits are enormous, such as multiplying manpower, staffing positions that aren't allowed for in the budget, and so much more. Yet the problem that doesn't need to be stated is that volunteers are just that: volunteers. There is no guarantee they'll be there when they say (hopefully they will!), but worse yet, there is nothing that obligates volunteers to keep giving their time to your cause. I don't want my son to be turned away from Sunday school any more than you want to cut programming because of a shortage of volunteers. So what are we to do? While books and trainings about volunteer retention spell out six easy steps, I like to take a much simpler approach, one that consists of six letters: Thanks! Before you write me off as overly simplistic, let me back up my claim. Francesca Gino, associate professor at Harvard Business School, had two groups of students make corrections to a fictitious person's cover letter for a job application. One group received a simple confirmation saying, "I received your feedback on my cover letter." ...

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Thu, 21 August 2014 08:00:00 CST
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