"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message Is Not a Creed

In 1962 and 1999, Southern Baptists formed respective committees to modify the Southern Baptist Faith and Message, the denomination's confession of faith. The results of their respective efforts were the 1963 BF&M and the 2000 BF&M confessions of faith.

Three times in the last century (1925, 1963, 2000), Southern Baptists changed the Baptist Faith and Message.

Confessions are meant to change over time. The 2000 BFM will change within the next decade.

Few people understand that a confession is not a creed

A creed is intended to separate orthodoxy from heresy. A confession addresses specific, practical needs in a denomination.

Southern Baptist leaders have always made this clear.  Listen to what the 1999 Committee said about their work (emphasis mine):
With the 1963 committee, we have been guided in our work by the 1925 "statement of the historic Baptist conception of the nature and function of confessions of faith in our religious and denominational life . . . ." It is, therefore, quoted in full as a part of this report to the Convention:
(1) That they constitute a consensus of opinion of some Baptist body, large or small, for the general instruction and guidance of our own people and others concerning those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us. They are not intended to add anything to the simple conditions of salvation revealed in the New Testament, viz., repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
(2) That we do not regard them as complete statements of our faith, having any quality of finality or infallibility. As in the past so in the future, Baptists should hold themselves free to revise their statements of faith as may seem to them wise and expedient at any time.
(3) That any group of Baptists, large or small, have the inherent right to draw up for themselves and publish to the world a confession of their faith whenever they may think it advisable to do so.
(4) That the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience.
(5) That they are statements of religious convictions, drawn from the Scriptures, and are not to be used to hamper freedom of thought or investigation in other realms of life.
Last month, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary hired Karen Swallow Prior. Fundamentalists within the SBC have gone on social media, bashing SEBTS and Karen Swallow Prior for her perceived lack of conformity to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Her sin? Karen Prior is deemed a feminist. In reality, Karen Sallow Prior is an smart, orthodox follower of Jesus who is making an impact in our culture. 

Beth Moore has been preaching in Southern Baptist churches on Sunday morning, and is one of  the best known preacher of the gospel in the Southern Baptist Convention. By the way, "I preach" comes from the Greek word kerusso, which phonetically imitates the sound ancient Greeks heard the rooster make while proclaiming the risen sun. To preach is to proclaim the risen Son. Fundamentalists in the SBC have vocally and vigorously condemned Beth Moore. Her sin? She's speaking of Christ to men. Beth Moore is changing lives through her ministry. She's one of the best thing Southern Baptists have going for us in terms of reaching people with the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

Dr. Sheri Klouda, a female professor of Hebrew at SWBTS, was removed from her position by the architect of the 2000 BF&M (Paige Patterson) because she was a woman. 15 years ago, just five years after the adoption of the 2000 BF&M, I spoke out about Sheri Klouda's unjust firing. Paige Patterson, the architect of the 2000 BFM, terminated Dr. Klouda. Fundamentalists in the SBC went ballistic when I pushed back on Dr. Klouda's unjust firing. 

A Southern Baptist Church in South Carolina recently advertised their need for a Senior Pastor, suggesting that gifted men and women, called to preach the Gospel, could apply. Fundamentalists in the SBC went crazy

I find it remarkable that in 2007, "local church autonomy: was the reason given by the SBC Executive Committee's for their rejection of my request to track sexual predators in the SBC. However, when a local Southern Baptist Church believes that leadership is based on spiritual gifts and not sexual gender, local church autonomy seems to go out the window by Fundamentalists who condemn churches that place women in leadership.

I believe that leadership in Christ's church should always be based on spiritual gifts and never sexual gender. I'm being biblical in my views.

However, people tell me that "women in leadership" in my church - women pastors, women preaching, women leading, etc... - is a violation of the 2000 BFM, I gently respond:
"I believe the Bible. I respect your freedom to only have have males in leadership and to send the women home. I would never be a member of your church and you would never be a member of my church. But can we partner with each other in missions, disaster relief, and other cooperative efforts that help our world?"
Of course we can, and of course I will!

For those Southern Baptist churches and church leaders out there who feel the BFM 2000 is used as a club to keep males in authority and to send women home, I remind you that confessions are never designed to be a creed. 

Follow Scripture.

Follow the Savior.


It's time Southern Baptists understood that the 1999 BFM had an agenda.


I get my marching orders from Jesus.

The 10th Anniversary of Forgotten Ministries, Enid

Ten years ago, I made a request of Jeremiah and Sarah Herrian.

"Come to Enid, Oklahoma," I said, "And help us do our county what you've been doing in Los Angeles."

At first this young couple was confused. Jeremiah and Sarah were operating their base of ministry on Skid Row in Los Angeles. The homeless man portrayed by Jamie Foxx in the film The Soloist, was a product of their ministry.

"Surely," they said, "there can't be the kind of poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, and ministry that we see on a daily basis in Los Angeles in Oklahoma."

Jeremiah Herrian speaking at Forgotten Ministries banquet
Jeremiah and Sarah led people from our church and our city on a "Walk Across Oklahoma" that summer, with Jeremiah carrying a cross. When that summer walk was finished, Jeremiah told me he was shocked at what he saw. "The same issues we face in Los Angeles are present in Enid and throughout Oklahoma. They're just underneath the surface and hidden from public view."

That was 10 years ago. Jeremiah and Sarah moved to Enid.

Dedication of Women's Shelter, Refuge at the Well
Forgotten Ministries was born.

Over the course of these past 10 years, Forgotten Ministries has opened a homeless shelter (Mercy House), a men's transitional house (Oasis), the 580 Coffee House (downtown), a women's transitional house (Refuge at the Well), a garden where men and women work to provide food for the shelter, various ministries to the Pacific Islanders in our county (especially children), a massive clothes closet for those in need, and has sponsored neighborhood clean-ups throughout the city.  The people mostly "forgotten" in the city of Enid have been ministered to by Forgotten Ministries on a daily basis. It's been fascinating to see all that God is doing through FM. Mission teams from all over the nation come for training and ministry under the leadership of Jeremiah and Sarah Herrian and their amazing staff.

Pacific Island ministry at Forgotten Ministres
Sunday night Jeremiah told a story that I think epitomizes the Lord's blessings on the Herrians’ ministry to the Forgotten in Los Angeles and Enid.

Francis Chan, a Los Angeles pastor, would often come and minister with Jeremiah on Skid Row. Jeremiah would often preach the gospel on the streets while offering food, clothing, and ministry to the poor and homeless.

"Every day, as I proclaimed Jesus, a fierce looking, clean-cut body builder would stare at me. He was the major drug dealer on Skid Row, watching to make sure that all the dealers under him weren't cheating him as they made deals. I'd be preaching and seeing drug deals occurring all around me. The drug dealer in charge never took his eyes off me. It was very intimidating."

Becca and the PI kids at FM
Francis Chan observed Jeremiah at work in Los Angeles on many occasions. One day, he called Jeremiah and said, "Listen, Jeremiah, the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers are friends of mine. They want to go down to Skid Row and help you minister to people today."

Jeremiah, having never met the two men, told Francis that they needed to be warned that it wasn't always safe on Skid Row. Francis said he would tell them and that they would meet Jeremiah at a time and place they designated.

On the appointed occasion, Jeremiah met the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Clippers and reiterated what he'd said to Francis as the men walked to Skid Row. "Listen guys," Jeremiah said, "we're going down to Skid Row to do some ministry. You'll see drug deals, assaults, and other crimes. It can get scary, but we are here to preach Jesus."

At that moment, a drug addict who'd heard Jeremiah preach in the days preceding, stepped in front of the men and said to Jeremiah, "If you preach that *&%* today I'll break this beer bottle and slit your " *&%* throat."

After the threatening man walked away, Jeremiah said he turned to face the owners of the Dodgers and the Clippers. "Their faces were drained of blood and their eyes were wide open. I told them that we came to preach Jesus and Jesus would protect us."

Work of Forgotten Ministries on Pacific Island Building
When they arrived at the designated place on Skid Row, after ministering to the people, handing out food and clothes, Jeremiah stood up on a box to begin preaching Christ. True to his word, the drug addict walked up to Jeremiah, broke the beer bottle in his hand, and made his move to cut Jeremiah's throat.

"I thought to myself," Jeremiah said, "Lord, I guess it's time for me to come home to You."

All of the sudden, that clean-cut body builder in charge of Skid Row drug deals, the man who'd been staring down Jeremiah every day that Jeremiah preached the Gospel, suddenly appeared. He looked the drug addict with the broken bottle in the eye and menacingly said, "If you touch Jeremiah, you're a dead man." The man dropped the bottle and walked away.

"I looked over at the owners of the Clippers and the Dodgers and their mouths were open. On their first day on Skid Row, they saw both the danger and the deliverance. Jesus cares for His own."

That story illustrates to me the hand of God on Forgotten Ministries.


Jesus is taking care of His own.

Happy 10th Anniversary, Jeremiah and Sarah. We look forward to the next decade of ministry in Enid!

A Pet Test to Find a True Pastor of God's People

Rachelle, my wife, loves cats. I take the 5th regarding my charity toward the furry felines.

When Rachelle’s business takes her away, I must "fill in" to care for the cats. The cats love my wife, She's their caregiver. She's tender with them. She loves them. She shepherds them.

I am a hireling for the cats.

My wife is a true pastor to the cats.

Yes, that's right. Rachelle meets the biblical definition of what it means to be a pastor.

Rachelle doesn't "rule over" our cats. Cats weren't designed to be "ruled over" by anyone. It's not in their nature. There's a reason that attempting to do something without success is compared to "herding cats."

So too, when Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior, He makes it very clear to us that only He is to reign as King over our lives. Jesus alone is Lord.

Nobody else is to rule over His people.

Especially pastors.

A Pastor Never Rules 

In the average evangelical church, there's this concept that an elder, or a bishop, or a pastor, is someone who should "rule over" God's people.

The typical "ordained" pastor in an institutional church believes in pastoral authority over people because it’s been taught by those who trained him. Further, says the average evangelical pastor, the church “pastor" must only be a male, never a female, because the "pastor" must be in authority over his church like the husband is in authority over his wife and like a father is in control of his children.

But that's not how the New Testament defines a pastor.

The New Testament definition of a pastor looks more like my wife’s care of her cats than it does the traditional pastor's control over his church.

Am I being silly? I don't think so.

In the Greek New Testament, there are four different words used to describe the person whom the evangelical church calls "pastor," or "elder," or "bishop," or "ruler" of Christ's church. Not one of those four words speaks of authority or control over. Rather, each of them describes what my wife does for our cats.

Let me show you.

1. Pastor (Greek: ποιμήν, transliterated poimaino).

This word literally means "one who feeds, nurtures, and guides with tender care." The Greek Septuagint uses this word in translating the Hebrew of Ezekiel 34 where God condemns Israel's leaders for being abusive "shepherds" (pastors) of His sheep (people).
"You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally." (Ezekiel 34:4 NIV)
God then gives a Messianic prophecy of the coming of the Son of David when He declares:
"I will place over them one Shepherd (poimaino), My servant David, and He will tend them; He will tend them and be their Shepherd (poimaino). (Ezekiel 34:23)
The great Hebrew linguist John Gill says of Ezekiel 34:23:
The shepherd is not David himself literally; who though a shepherd, and the servant of the Lord, yet had been dead many years before this prophecy was delivered... but the shepherd is Messiah, as is expressly owned by the Jewish rabbi Kimchi; who says, "This is the Messiah that shall arise from his seed in the time of salvation: he is called David because his name agrees with him, which signifies "beloved", he being beloved of God and man; and because the son of David, of his seed according to the flesh; and because David was an eminent type of him, in his person, offices, afflictions, wars, victories, and exaltation; and because he was David's Lord and representative, and in whom his everlasting kingdom is established." (Gill's Commentary on Ezekiel)
Jesus accepts the words of the prophet Ezekiel as a reference to Himself. He said:
"I am the good shepherd (poimaino). The good shepherd (poimaino) lays down his life for his sheep" (John 10:11)
The Greek word poimaino (pastor) conveys much more than "to feed" (Greek: boske) sheep. The word poimaino (pastor) involves feeding, caring, guiding, guarding, and protecting.

David is the epitome of a good poimaino.
But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear." (I Samuel 17:34-37)
In the famous passage from John 21:15-17, Jesus asks Peter about his love for the Good Shepherd. In the conversation with Peter, Jesus uses both boske (feed) and poimaino (pastor/shepherd) in reference to His people:

Jesus: "Simon, do you truly love me?
Peter: "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus: "Feed (boske) My sheep."

Jesus: "Simon, do you truly love me?"
Peter: "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus: "Take care of (poimaino) My sheep."

Jesus: "Simon, do you love me?"
Peter" "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
Jesus: "Feed (boske) My sheep."

My wife pastors our cats. She protects them, cares for them, guards them, guides them, doctors them, and feeds them. I will sometimes feed them. I am a fill-in for the true pastor. You could call me a hireling. I feed the cats when my wife's away, but I don't pastor the cats.

A pastor by its very biblical definition is never one who "rules over" any thing. A pastor is one who truly cares for God's people.

2. Ruler (Greek: προστῆναι, transliterated proistami)

This word literally means "to assist, to help, or to manage." 

Unfortunately, the English King James translators of the Greek Bible sometimes wrongly translated this word prostenai as "to rule." For example, Paul wrote to Timothy and gave the qualifications of character for those who truly shepherd God's people. 
 "One that ruleth (proistami) well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; For if a man know not how to rule (proistami) his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)" (I Timothy 3:4-5 KJV). 
The word prostenai doesn't mean "to rule." It means to help, assist, or manage.

The King James translators came across this same word prostenai in reference to a woman named Phoebe. This time, King James translators used the proper English words to convey the true meaning of the Greek proistemi. Paul told the Christians at Rome to:
"Receive Phoebe in the Lord as becometh saints, and assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you; for she hath been a succourer (proistami) of many, and of myself also." (Romans 16:2).
Succourer is an old English word which means "helper."

Ironic, is it not, that English translators in the early 1600's wanted to make men "rule" over women and children, while at the same time, they wanted women and children to help and assist men?

Sounds like John MacArthur would have felt right at home in London during the early 17th century.

When proistami is properly understood in the New Testament as a word that means "to help, to uphold, to care for, and to support," then a pastor/shepherd is seen as one who "helps" God's people and not one who "rules over" God's people.

I Timothy 5:17 is a verse where proistami is used, and when properly translated, makes clear that God's people who "help" widows are worthy of double honor.
"Let the elders that rule ("protect, uphold, care for, and support") be counted worthy of double honor." (I Timothy 5:17). 
Who are these "elders" deserving of double honor.

Women. That's who. Let me prove it by showing you the context of I Timothy 5:17.

Paul has been discussing the need to care for widows in the church where Timothy ministered in the preceding verses:
"But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man. Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work." (I Timothy 5:8-10)
Then, in the verse immediately preceding the "double honor" verse of I Timothy 5:17 where Paul states that those elders who protect and uphold widows are worthy of double honor, Paul writes:
"If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed." (I Timothy 5:16). "Let the elders that rule ("protect, uphold, care for, and support" the widows just mentioned) be counted worthy of double honor." (I Timothy 5:17). 

Oh my. The "elders" deserving of "double honor" for caring for widows are the women believers who care for widows so as not to burden the church."

Greek scholars J.H. Moulton and G. Milligan point out that the word proistami was used as early as 256 BC by a Greek son writing to his father.
"There will be nothing of more importance for me than to look after you (proistami) for the remainder of life, in a manner worthy of you, and worthy of me." (Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament; Moulton/Milligan, p. 551)
 Paul's use of proistami represents the New Testament principle that God's people should be cared for by people with shepherding, caring, helpful, and encouraging hearts.

My wife caring for our cats comes closer to the New Testament definition of pastor/shepherd than a male ordained pastor who sees himself ruling over God's church.

3. Bishop (Greek: ἐπισκοπή, transliterated episkope)

This word means "one who looks upon, considers, has regard for, is concerned for, or cares for something or someone" (Kittles, Vol. II, p. 599f).

The word "bishop" occurs 6 times in the King James Version of the New Testament to identify leaders of the church, but without any clue to its meaning (see Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7; Acts 1:20; I Peter 2:25; and I Timothy 3:1).

However, there are other biblical texts where this word is used - episkopos (noun) or episkeptomai (verb) - and the context makes clear its meaning. The KJV translators chose other English words other than "bishop" to translate it (bold words below translate episkope)
When Jesus raised the son of the widow at Nain, the people observed the miracle and declared:"A great prophet has appeared among us. God has come to help his people" (Luke 7:16).
When Paul and Barnabas came to Jerusalem to report all that God had done among the Gentile people, James responded, "Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself." (Acts 15:14). 
Later, when Paul and Barnabas decided to go back and check on the churches among that had been established among the Gentile, they said, "Let us go back and visit (i.e. care for) the brothers in all the towns where we preached." (Acts 15:36). 
 In Matthew 25:36, Jesus said that those found acceptable at the Judgment would be those that had bishoped" Him: "I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited (cared for) me." On the other hand, those who would be condemned on judgment day have said of them, "I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me" (Matthew 25:43). 
"Religion that is pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27). 
A bishop is someone who "looks after," and "visits" and "cares for" God's people with regard and concern.

Every Christian is to be a bishop. Every Christian is to be a pastor. Every Christian is to be a minister.

A few Christians are called to serve others vocationally, but every single Christian is to serve others volitionally.

God forbid that a man or woman draw a paycheck as a "pastor" or as a "ruler" or as a "bishop" without a heart of care and concern for God's people. 

My wife's care for our cats better epitomizes the role of a pastor than any man who rules over God's people.

4. Elder (Greek: πρεσβύτερος, transliterated presbuteros)

This word simply means "older, or elderly."

An "elder" is someone older than the average.

Presbyteras, occurs in 1 Timothy 5:2 and  refers to aged women.

Paul uses this word in Philemon 9 where he says he is "an old man and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ."

Over the years, the word "elder" took on an additional meaning in the institutional church, but throughout the New Testament, the word presbuteros simply meant "old" or "mature."

When Peter wrote to some aged men and women who followed Jesus in the early church, he writes: 
"To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers..." (I Peter 5:1-4). 
 That last little phrase, “serving as overseers,” is not found in any of the early Greek manuscripts.

Elders are people who “care for God’s flock.”

Every Christian should be a minister. Every Christian should be a bishop. Every Christian should be a pastor. Every Christian, especially as he or she grows older, should be a shepherd of God’s flock.

A group of Christians may at times gather and determine that a gifted person among them is to be “set  aside” to fulfill a specific ministry on behalf of the assembly. However, nobody is to “rule over” God’s people.

If you want to find who has a true pastoral heart among your gathering of Christians, just think of the pet test I’ve given you.

My wife is fulfilling the call of pastor to our cats.

Pondering our pets and how we care for them keeps you on track to determining those who are true pastors of God’s people.

Those who focus on “authority,” “control” and “ruling” are disqualified from being considered pastors of Christ’s people, at least according to the sacred Scriptures.

Hat Tip: David Tinker, Quentin and Eileen Vennum, and Rachelle Burleson

Sheep Among Wolves Vol. II: Christianity in Iran

Two hours. That's how long it will take for you to watch this life-changing movie about a Great Awakening occurring in Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran has the the fastest growing Christian church in the world today. It is a rapidly-reproducing discipleship movement that owns no property or buildings, has no central leadership, and is predominately led by courageous women.  It will be the best two hours you've spent in a long time.  #Iran

When Men Rule the Church, Men Fool the Church: FBC Clarksville, Tennessee, and the Mistakes Made

A Conference at FBC Clarksville, Tennessee (2017)
My heart goes out to the people and leaders of First Baptist Church, Clarksville, Tennessee. They are in a mess.

Emails flooded my inbox at the beginning of this week with people asking if I'd "heard about FBC Clarksville calling a pastor who had used his position as a youth pastor to sexually prey on young women in his youth group." 

I had not. I then read this newspaper article.

I then read that Southern Seminary, the place where this pastor had taught as an adjunct professor, suspended him this week.

My wife and I then read the account of the sexual predatory behavior from the two women groomed by this former youth pastor, the man who is was the leading candidate to be the next Senior Pastor of FBC Clarksville, Tennessee.

Our hearts broke while reading what the girls wrote.

I then listened to the Chairman of the Pastoral Search Committee explain to the church last Sunday morning that there were "a few adversaries" that were opposing their recommendation to bring this man as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Clarksville, Tennessee, (see video below).


I could not believe what I heard from the Chairman of the Pastoral Search Committee.

I had to listen to the video three times to make sure I comprehended what he was saying.

I was not misunderstanding him.

I'm sure the Chairman of the Pastoral Search Committee at FBC Clarksville is a wonderful man who is doing his best. I can't imagine the pressure he must be under.

But he made three huge mistakes:
1. The moment he heard from victims about the leading candidate's previous sexual activities with females in his youth group (with photos and testimonial corroboration), he should have made that leading candidate the last candidate his church ever considered. The information he obtained should also have been shared with the leading candidate's current church. 
2. Calling the two young women that were groomed for sexual activity by their former youth pastor "adversaries" is like calling a victim of a robbery, dying from a gunshot wound inflicted by the robber, an "adversary" because the killer was your relative. The impartial see through this subterfuge instantly.
3. In the age of the Internet, when the Chairman seemed to excuse what he learned about the sexual indiscretions of his leading candidate by comparing him to previous pastors of FBC Clarksville, he made a fatal mistake. Classic sexual abuse is when someone in a position of influence and authority preys on others. No previous pastor of FBC was in ministry when their sexual indiscretions occurred. Pre-conversion stories don't match post-conversion stories. And on top of that, the sexual indiscretions of the leading candidate occurred while he was a pastor! The leading candidates' previous grooming activities are unacceptable - period. No excuses. The candidate's social media profile has gone dark. But the websites which seek to protect the church of Jesus Christ have lit up. It's a new day, but I'm not sure that the chairman of the FBC Clarksville Pastoral Search Committee has the wherewithal to understand it. Sunday's statement to the church is unconscionable. 
The leading candidate to be pastor of FBC Clarksville is no longer the leading candidate.  He can't be. He won't be. It just hasn't been announced publicly - yet.

What's more, in my opinion, a new Pastoral Search Committee needs to be elected. The cultural, social, and church "tone deafness" of the current FBC Clarksville Pastoral Search Committee is stunning.

Were a woman to be the Chairperson of the Pastoral Search Team, or were women to be in prominent leadership positions of FBC Clarksville, what happened last Sunday at FBC Clarksville would not have happened.

When men rule the church, men fool the church.

FBC Clarksville has been taught over the years that "the man rules." Sadly, when "the man rules" alone, the church makes mistakes. Southern Baptists rightfully oppose homosexual marriage, believing that the male and the female in union is God's design?

Why do same sex leadership churches in our Convention not bother us like same sex marriages in our homes?

Both are against God's design.

No man should "rule over" the church but Jesus Christ.

When the full complement of men and women serve the church as the Spirit gifts them, mistakes like those made at FBC Clarksville, Tennessee, this past weekend are not nearly as likely.

The full-orbed wisdom and image of God is seen when both gifted and humble men and women serve God's church in leadership positions.

I was not going to write about this debacle until I saw someone on Twitter ask, "Why are leaders of the SBC not speaking out about what's taking place at FBC Clarksville?" 

If you happen to read this blog, I want you to know that many in the SBC understand the serious problems of attempting to excuse predatory behavior of our SBC pastors or leaders.

I'm going after the source of the problem. It's a faulty view of inherent male authority over females (e.g. "the man rules") and I am seeking to provide long-term, biblical solutions.

Men of the Great Assembly and Women Teaching

The Men of the Great Assembly were a group of 120 Jewish leaders who ruled Judea from shortly after the dedication of the Second Temple (516 BC) to the invasion of Judea by the Greeks under Alexander the Great (332 BC).

The formation of the Great Assembly is described in Nehemiah chapters 8, 9, and 10. Today's Israeli Parliament, called The Knesset (Hebrew for "assembly") also has 120 members, imitating the Great Assembly of Ezra's day.

Few Christians understand the significance of the Great Assembly and the effect it had on Jesus' ministry in Judea. 

1. Be deliberate in judging.
2. Educate many students.
3. Make a fence around the Torah.
Make a fence. The word pro-fane is from the Latin and it means "outside the fence." The Great Assembly interpreted the Torah and told the Jews how to live so as not to offend Yahweh. If you didn't abide by the judgments of the Great Assembly, you were a profane person. 

The spiritual descendants of the Great Assembly believed Jesus to be profane person

Jesus was to free. Jesus hung around people outside the fence. Jesus empowered women. Jesus paid little attention to religious rules of the Great Assembly. Jesus sought to transform lives from the inside out. 

The Great Assembly: The Foundation of Jewish/Christian Legalism

In 586 BC, Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple, carried away the Jews as slaves into Babylon, beginning what is called for the Jews "The Babylonian Exile." For the next seventy years (586 - 516 BC), the Jews had no Temple to worship Yahweh. 

Ezekiel the prophet saw the glory of Yahweh leaving the Temple before its destruction in 586 BC, and the glory of God never returns to Judea until the birth of Jesus:
"An angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the LORD shone around them, and the shepherds were terrified. "Do not be afraid! For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the nations, for today, in the City of David (Bethlehem) a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the LORD." (Luke 2:9-11). 
That's the first time the glory of the Lord appears in Judea since 586 BC.

Religion for the Jews continued, but the Spirit of God isn't present. When the second Temple is dedicated in 516 BC, the glory of Yahweh did not fill the Temple like He did at the dedication of Solomon's Temple in the 10th century BC

Any time there are attempts to be sacred without the Spirit, to prioritize rules over relationships, and to point the finger at others rather than to put the focus on oneself, religious legalism arises. 

Here's how religious legalism began among the Jews. 

In October 539 BC, the Persian army conquered Babylon and deposed the Babylonian king (see Daniel 5), Persian king Cyrus released the Jews to return to Judea and re-establish Yahweh worship in a reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem. 

Zerubbabel led the Jews in constructing the second Temple. The Jews dedicated it in 516 BC. After the Temple's dedication, the Jews struggled with Yahweh worship because the walls of the city weren't yet rebuilt. Foreigners had moved in to Judea while the Jews were in Exile. Several prominent Jews, including Daniel, remained in Babylon and didn't go back to Jerusalem. The Jews' attention was focused more on their enemies than their God. 

The Jews appealed to the Persian king for help. In response, a young Jewish scholar trained in the Persian court of Babylon, a scribe named Ezra, left Babylon in 458 BC and came to Jerusalem. 

Ezra created the Great Assembly to help the Jews interpret the Torah and apply it to their lives. Nehemiah followed shortly to rebuild the walls of the city of Jerusalem.

Ezra and Nehemiah helped the Jews build the fence. 

There were a few men who argued with Ezra, telling the scribe that it was Yahweh's desire for all nations (e.g. foreigners) to know Yahweh, and Judah was to keep the "gates open" (Zechariah 8:22-23)

But the Great Assembly prevailed. 

The religious fence was constructed. 

Rules were established to keep Jews inside the fence. Rules were established to keep others out. These rules were interpretations of the Torah by the Great Assembly. But because of Great Assembly's alleged "authority" over the Jews, these interpretations became laws.

For the next 400 years, the fence did its job. 


He was despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:3). He came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him (John 1:11). All who saw Him mocked Him and sneered (Psalm 22:7). They condemned Him to death (Mark 10:33). 

He was profane. He didn't follow the rules. He was "outside the fence."

Those filled with the Spirit will often be called "profane" by the faithfully religious. 


The Modern Equivalent of the Great Assembly in Evangelicalism

Photo: Church Leaders.Com
There's within Christian evangelicalism a group of men, similar to the Great Assembly of Ezra's day, who wish to instruct Christians, churches, and all who follow Christ as to what Spirit-gifted women can or cannot do within "the assembly." 


My son Logan, a very intelligent follower of Christ who seeks to lead others to the freedom that comes from knowing Jesus, sent me an article about Christian women and "where they can teach." He asked if I had read it and if so, what do I think about it.

I had read it before. In fact, I read it three years ago

The article was re-posted on John Piper's Desiring God Ministries website this past week. 

Photo: Charisma News
All I could think of was the Great Assembly. 

There is a pretty big fence being constructed by the evangelical religious on the issue of women. 


After stating it is profane (outside the fence) for Christian women to teach in the place of "church fathers" (think Great Assembly) or to imitate the authority of a males by leading others, Mary Kassion explains how to determine whether a gifted, Spirit-filled woman is acting as a profane person in her biblical teaching. 

In 2016, John Piper published Mary's article with the title Women Teaching Men - How Far Is Too Far? - a very good fence-building title. 

This past week, John Piper republished Mary's article, with a few word changes, under the title "Where Can Women Teach? Eight Principles for Christian Churches."

At least there's progress in the titles. The 2016 title "How Far Is Too Far?" conjures up a fence. I think the modern evangelical Great Assembly is feeling the heat from Jesus' followers.

Below are some of the main fence-building efforts of John Piper and others in the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood as they seek to keep out gifted, humble Christian women from teaching or leading men. 
____
"Christians gather at many other times and in many other contexts. There’s Sunday school, small groups, prayer meetings, seminars, and conferences. What’s more, Christians often gather for religious edification and instruction with people who don’t go to their church. And they listen to podcasts, watch videos, and read books. The Bible doesn’t specifically address these contexts. As a woman, how do I decide if teaching in these other religious, coed contexts is appropriate?
The way I determine if teaching in a specific religious venue to a coed audience honors male headship is by trying to determine how closely that particular situation mimics the nature, role, and function of a church father in governing and providing public doctrinal instruction for the local-church family.
In particular, I try to pin down where the venue sits on the following eight continuums. The more a teaching venue leans toward the left (the first part of each pairing), the less likely it is that the venue is an appropriate one for me to provide coed instruction. The more the speaking venue leans toward the right (the second part of each pairing), the more likely it is that I might be a helpful teacher in this context.
Context: congregational (church) ⟶ non-congregational. Is this the local church, or is it not exactly church?
Nature: exegetical ⟶ testimonial/inspirational. Am I forcefully interpreting a text of Scripture or sharing from my life and experience with biblical support?
Authority: governmental (directive) ⟶ nongovernmental (nondirective). Am I establishing the official standard for the community?
Relationship: close (personal/relational) ⟶ distant (impersonal/non-relational). Am I in a community relationship with these men? Am I seeking to mentor them?
Commitment: formal ⟶ informal. Have the listeners made a formal commitment to me or to this community?
Obligation: obligatory ⟶ voluntary. Are the listeners obliged to listen to the teaching that takes place in this context? Can they be disciplined and corrected for failing to obey?
Constancy: habitual (ongoing) ⟶ occasional. Does this happen often and repetitively or infrequently?
Maturity: sister ⟶ mother. Does my age and spiritual maturity create a situation where I am speaking as a mother would to her sons.
______

I have a headache.

Genuinely, I have a headache.

When Christians spend more time fence-building to keep people out, or to keep people from, or to keep people in, you've missed God.

You've created an institution similar to the one that ultimately rejected the mission and purpose of Jesus Christ.
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32). 
 A fixation on authority is a sign the Spirit has left.

New Covenant Christian leadership is based on spiritual giftedness and not sexual gender. 

"Racism in Rural America" by Pastor Chris Gordon

Pastor Chris Gordon and family
Today's guest post is written by a friend of mine, the wonderful pastor of First Baptist Church, Hennessey, Oklahoma. Chris writes of his own personal experience with racism in rural areas of Oklahoma. It's because of people like Chris, those who are not comfortable with status quo, that change can - and will - occur in the Southern Baptist Convention regarding racism. Chris is pictured here with his wife and children (one foster child not in the picture per legal reasons). I appreciate Chris writing this narrative, and I'd encourage you to read it through carefully - again, and again.

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each
other’s eye for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau

I’ve heard it said lately that what we need in the world is more empathy. If we could see life through someone else’s perspective, we could then understand what they are going through. If we have a
better understanding of what they are going through then we can solve the issues that might be causing pain in their lives.

Over the years I have felt empathy for my black brothers & sisters as they have fought against the systemic racism that not only plagues us today, but has been a stain on our society for many years. I had that same perspective as Thoreau until I experienced an indirect form of racism myself. I say indirect because it was God’s providence at work keeping my family safe, but it was the ignorance of others that showed me racism is alive & well in the church today.

I am a pastor in a Southern Baptist Church in Oklahoma. My career has spanned 20 years and I have served in multiple capacities. My wife & I have served together now for 14 years in SBC churches in our state. I had the privilege of serving several years prior to our marriage as well. My wife & I found out pretty early in our marriage that we were not able to conceive. We were told that we were in the “unknown” category of infertility. Meaning it was unknown why we couldn’t, but that it was highly unlikely. Through many separate incidents, God led us to adopt. We had always thought we would adopt later, you know after we had our “own” kids. Well God had a different plan. Everyday I am more thankful He did. We now have four beautiful children. Three of which are half siblings, same birth mom but different dads. We are a multi-racial family. We have a Hispanic son and the three half
siblings are African American on their birth dads side, Native American on their birth mothers. Our daughter(youngest) is still in the process of adoption, but we have had her since birth. We have brought all of them home from the hospital, so they have been with us exclusively. My wife & I are Caucasian. White people with brown babies.

I was serving in a wonderful church as a Youth Minster when God called me to the Pastorate. I never dreamed I would be a Sr. Pastor anywhere, but God has a sense of humor I guess. I spent almost 2
years sending resumes to churches looking for a Pastor waiting to hear from one of them. I was stuck in that tough spot where churches were looking for a Pastor with Sr. Pastor experience, but I couldn’t get Sr. Pastor experience without someone first hiring me. But alas I plugged along.

As I was beginning to question God whether or not I had heard Him or if it was some bad burrito I had eaten for lunch, I received my first serious phone call. On the other end was a Deacon from a church in SW Oklahoma. I knew of the church as I had served near it while starting my Youth Ministry career. We had a nice conversation about his church & how they were looking for a Sr. Pastor. He had received my resume from one of my references who was a former Sunday School teacher at the church I had served near them. She was a school administrator who knew one of the ladies on their search committee who was an administrator at their local school. I was impressed with the conversation. It flowed easily & he asked all the right questions. He explained that they had two candidates they were interested in. They wanted to hear me preach as they had heard the other candidate. He asked for a video sermon because I wasn’t preaching every week. He told me I was his pick & to expect a questionnaire via email. I was naive in my thinking, but it was so good
to actually think it was a possibility. My mind began to race after that call. I received the questionnaire that night & I went to work immediately.

I sent the questionnaire back along with a video sermon. A couple of weeks went by when I received another call from him. He said they were impressed by my references & they loved my preaching. I of course was excited, who doesn’t love compliments? He encouraged me to speak to their former Pastor, he was a younger guy like myself who had made the transition from Youth Ministry to the Pastorate. I called the former Pastor & we spoke for quite some time. He told me of the challenges the church had faced, but that it was a good place with good people. All in all he had no hesitations about sending a young guy there for his first Pastorate. I called around the area, I spoke with the Director of Missions, I spoke with the Baptist Collegiate Ministry Director that lived close to them. Everyone had great things to say about how loving the people were. I was ecstatic.

The church was in a small country community of around 250. The church was the only church in the community. They were a few miles from a bigger, more diverse military city. It had never been a town, just a farming community with a church & a school. The community had grown over the years as people moved out there to commute in to the bigger city. They liked the small school & the rural feel I guess. Again, all I had heard was how loving these people were. Small town rural community churches are filled with wonderful loving folks. They are my kind of people, I thought. I grew up in the country six miles from town, in a church of 40 people. It was my dream church so I thought.
Never in a million years did I expect what happened next.

After a few weeks had passed I began to get curious as I hadn’t heard from the search committee. The chairman had assured me that I should expect a face to face interview. I was beginning to get
impatient. Was it something I said? Was it something I did? Something I didn’t say or do? All the while I was plugging along at my Youth Ministry position, but I was starting to imagine myself Pastoring these people in the rural community, yet not a word from them.

I called the reference who had shared my resume. She said she wasn’t sure what had happened, because from what she was told they loved me. Her friend had spoken highly of me & my preaching. She said they loved all the answers I gave to their questions. She offered to call her friend on the committee for me to see what was happening. I told her to wait a couple of weeks, if I hadn’t heard from them I would let her know. Three weeks went by, crickets. So I called her up & asked to make the call.

When she called me back she was livid. She was crying & she was mad. I’ll never forget her phone call. She started the conversation off with “YOU DIDN’T WANT TO GO THERE ANYWAYS!!!”. It sent chills down my spine, it does even as I write this. She went on to explain that her friend, former friend I might add, had explained they were going with the other guy. She told her that the church didn’t have any issues with my multicolored family, but that they were concerned the community would. They were entrusted by God to reach their community after all, and many in that community moved out there to “get away” from the color in the larger city. She was certain my kids weren’t “like” “those kids” in the bigger city, but how could they reach people that wouldn’t know that. It was best they moved on from me to protect us & reach their community. My friend apologized to me. She
could hear the anger in my voice. I responded angrily. I said things I shouldn’t have. I have since repented of those sins.

The church never told me they were moving another direction. Never heard from them again. They didn’t send a letter or even a phone call. They called the other guy. He was there 10 months. They fired him. God protected my family and for that I am eternally grateful.

So you see I used to feel empathy. I used to think I knew what it was like. But in reality, I didn’t. I didn’t know what it was like to have people spurn you because of the color of your skin. I didn’t know what it was like to have people stare at your wife in judgement when she’s at the
grocery store with her brown skinned children. I didn’t have a clue. But now I do.

I am not advocating against empathy, I am advocating for action. It is a both/and situation. When I read about Marcus Hayes being victimized by people of FBC Naples, my heart felt empathy, and my
soul was called to action. We must speak out and act out against the evils of racism. We must call people out for their sins. We must first dig deep into our lives to see if the problem could be in us. The roots run deep. They are not easily torn out. God commands us in Hebrews to lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely. We must act swiftly. We must remember that the enemy wants to steal, kill & destroy. We cannot defeat the enemy of racism, but we serve the Risen King who can.

___

Note (from Wade Burleson) - Other issues besides "race" were present at FBC Naples that led to Marcus Hayes not being called as Senior Pastor. However,  it's been confirmed to me that racism was present in some members. Even if racism was .001% of the reason 19% voted "No" regarding Marcus Hayes, it is necessary to confront the .001%.

And finally, it was announced at FBC Naples on Sunday morning, November 3, 2019, that the church is going to conduct a re-vote on Marcus Hayes as Senior Pastor at FBC Naples and that the announcement in the services received a standing ovation.

This time, if there are "other" issues besides racial prejudice, go ahead and call the African-American pastor that God has laid on the hearts of the Pastoral Search Team (and staff) and deal with those "other" issues separately. #MarcusHayes #GraceTriumphs

#WellDone #FBCNaples

Kodi Lee and a Tribute to Truett Foster McKeehan


Christian artist TobyMac and his son, Truett Foster McKeehan

On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, 21-year-old Truett Foster McKeehan, son of Christian music artist TobyMac, died suddenly and unexpectedly in his parents' home. Medics responded to a cardiac arrest call to the McKeehan home, but they could not review Truett.

TobyMac and his wife have a faith in Christ that is not be shattered by unexpected suffering. Their official statement about the death of their son is filled with tributes to God's grace and goodness, not to mention His sovereignty and control over all things.

At Liberty University's convocation the day after Truett died, university officials asked guest artist Kodi Lee, this year's winner of America's Got Talent, to listen to an unfinished song written by Truett.

Kodi listened to Truett's song, completed it, and then sang it to thousands of college students, merging the song with "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe.

Well done, Liberty University.

Watch Kodi Lee's and LU's tribute to the Truett and the TobyMac family.



A Prophetic Voice, FBC Naples. and Marcus Hayes

This past Sunday, October 27, 2019, Marcus Hayes went with his wife Mandy and their three precious children "in-view-of-a-call" at First Baptist Church, Naples, Florida.

Marcus Hayes, the pastoral candidate presented to FBC by the church's Pastor Search Committee, was rejected to be the church's next pastor.

For the uninformed about Southern Baptist policies and practices, a "view-of-a-call" Sunday is when a visiting pastor preaches to the congregation and then the congregation votes on whether or not to hire the visiting pastor.

Pastor Marcus is an outstanding preacher. For the past several years he has been a Campus Pastor at Biltmore Baptist Church in North Carolina. He is also serving on the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.

FBC Naples is filled with some wonderful Christian people. Their former pastor, Dr. Hayes Wicker, once served as the pastor of Emmanuel Enid.

Letter to FBC Congregation 
Why did the church reject Marcus Hayes as their pastor? The staff of FBC Naples explains why in a letter they sent to the congregation this past Monday, October 28, 2019.
"Last week, through social media, texting, phone calls, and emails, racial prejudice was introduced into our voting process."
Let that sink in.

The Southern Baptist Convention began with racism, and the Southern Baptist Convention, unless there is radical, deep, personal and corporate repentance, will continue in latent racism.

Those are the facts. We best begin changing them. No more talk. Action.

As a parliamentarian, I know that a church's constitution can be changed by a 75% vote. I would change the constitution of  FBC Naples post-haste, re-vote, and call Marcus Hayes as Senior Pastor. IF that is impossible, FBC needs to imitate the 1860 Republican Convention. The delegates eventually voted for Abraham Lincoln to be President. They couldn't get the number of votes they needed, so they voted, re-voted, re-voted, and re-voted until eventually Lincoln became the United States Presidential Republican candidate.

In fact, I predict that will happen at FBC Naples.

Why? Because FBC Naples has a heritage of correcting wrongs. Listen to the prophetic voice of their former pastor, Max E. Cadenhead. It's a story told by Charles Colson, a member of FBC Naples during his lifetime of Christian service, and recounted in the 2015 book The New Pharisee by Jeff Saxton:
The late Max Cadenhead, when he was pastor of First Baptist Church in Naples, Florida, riveted his congregation one day with a bold confession. "My message today is on the parable of the Good Samaritan," Max announced. "Let me start with an illustration. Remember last year when the Browns came forward to join the church?" he asked. Everyone nodded; the Browns were a very influential family. "Well the same day a young man came forward and gave his life to Christ. I could tell he needed help - and we counseled him." No heads nodded; no one remembered. "We worked with the Browns, got them onto committees. They've been wonderful folks," Cadenhead said to muffled amen's. "And the young man...well, we lost track. Until yesterday, that is., as I was preparing today's message on the good Samaritan. I picked up the paper, and there was that young man's picture. He had shot and killed an elderly woman." Chins dropped throughout the congregation, mine (Colson's) included, as the pastor continued. "I never followed up on that young man, so I am the priest who saw the man in trouble and crossed to the other side of the road. I am the hypocrite." More of that kind of sober honesty in the church would be very healthy.
FBC Naples has a history of prophetic leaders.

The 81% of members who voted for Marcus Hayes should follow the pastoral staff's recommendations and do something about the racism.

No more talk.

Do something.

(UPDATE: FBC Naples' Pastor Search Committee announced this past weekend (November 2-3, 2019) that FBC Naples is going to conduct a re-vote on Marcus Hayes as their Senior Pastor. The announcement in the services received a standing ovation - begin watching at the 1:06:00 mark. ).

Planning Ahead and Emergency Blood Transfusion

Blood Transfusion Bottle (Wikimedia)
Many leaders struggle with vision.

Planning ahead is essential for future prosperity. As a wise man once said, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18).

Non-profits are notorious for not "thinking ahead." For-profit businesses must "think ahead" because they'll go out of business if they don't. Non-profits assume people will give regardless. The problem of assuming continual donations is "today's financial supporters are tomorrow's funeral services."

Non-profits must plan ahead to captivate a new generation.

I recently read a book entitled Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood.

Author Rose George recounts how a woman saved Great Britain from devastating casualties during World War II by thinking ahead and being prepared for blood transfusions that would be needed by the people of Great Britain during Germany's attack. It's a leadership lesson on vision and planning.

The following is an excerpt from Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood.
Janet Vaughan (Wikimedia Commons)
Few women have had a bigger impact on British medical care than Dame Janet Vaughan.
Born in 1899, Vaughan fought to receive an education when educated women were frowned upon, studying medical sciences at the University of Oxford and graduating with distinction. While at Oxford, she also first encountered her lifelong passion: the research of blood.

After graduating, she received a Rockefeller Scholarship to study at Harvard. The only female student at the university during her time there, she wasn’t even permitted to study the blood of human patients – instead, she had to study pigeon blood.Even so, she managed to conduct pioneering research on vitamin B12 deficiencies in blood.
Back in England, Vaughan established herself as an expert on blood diseases. In 1934, she published The Anaemias, a groundbreaking textbook in the field of hematology – the study of blood.

But her most important medical contribution lay ahead. 
With the Spanish Civil War raging, Vaughan read about the trailblazing Catalan doctor Frederic Durán-Jordà. During the conflict, Durán-Jordà set up an astoundingly efficient system for the collection, storage and transportation of blood. In this system, nurses were permitted to collect blood before it was whisked off to the front lines, freeing up doctors’ time. The blood was then taken in converted fish vans, showing an improvisational approach toward available resources – a strategy Vaughan would later borrow.
With another world war looming, Vaughan knew Britain needed a similar system. In the Spanish Civil War, 10 percent of the casualties of bombing raids needed blood transfusions. Based on these figures, a bombed London could need 6,500 transfusions per day.

So, Vaughan set up the Emergency Blood Transfusion Service (EBTS). There would be four EBTS depots set up just outside London, taking blood from donors and delivering it to city hospitals. It would be stored in milk bottles and delivered in converted ice cream trucks, which were capable of refrigeration.

The EBTS was prepared when war began. Each depot distributed tens of thousands of bottles of blood, and during wartime, the EBTS saved countless lives. In 1946 – two years before the NHS, Britain’s National Health Service, was founded – the EBTS became the Blood Transfusion Service, serving a peacetime population. None of this would have happened if war hadn’t instilled the value of collective sacrifice in the British population, along with the idea of blood as a donation, which persists to this day. And it also wouldn’t have happened without Dame Janet Vaughan.
Hundreds of thousands of lives were saved in Great Britain during World War II because of the foresight of one woman, Dame Janet Vaughan. She serves as an illustration to us all of the importance of planning and vision.  

5 Reasons Why Women Can Pastor God's People

When it comes to women who pastor, some of my conservative evangelical friends - that is, people like me who believe that the Bible is God's inspired and infallible Word - often find themselves struggling with the thought that a woman can pastor God's people.

And many of them can't understand why I don't struggle with it.

To these friends of mine, believing a woman can pastor is akin to believing the devil is the fourth person of the sacred Trinity Tetrarchy.

"It just can't be," they say.  "It's unbiblical, impractical, immoral, and violates centuries of church tradition, not to mention modern confessions like The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message."

To my conservative evangelical friends who bristle at the mere mention of women pastoring, I offer 5 reasons why women can pastor God's people by addressing those who say they can’t pastor.

1. Your definition of "pastor" is not biblical. 

The moment you believe that the word "pastor" is a "noun of status" which speaks of a person "in an office of authority" over God's people, where "the pastor" (or ruling elders) exert(s) spiritual authority or control over other people, then you have defined pastor contrary to Jesus and the sacred Scriptures.
"But Jesus called His followers aside and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them. It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave." (Matt. 20:25-27)
I've written an entire book on this issue. Its called Fraudulent Authority: Pastors Who Seek To Rule Over Others.

The basic problem with churches that establish "male elders" who "rule over" their church membership is that they've established a structure contrary to the teachings of Jesus. That church has come under the misguided belief that men only are to "exercise spiritual authority" over God's church and the Christian family. In this system, nobody - especially females - can disagree with, contradict, or speak out against the male elders because they'd be arguing with "God's anointed authority."

Read Jesus again to His followers. "It shall not be this way among you." The word "pastor" should be viewed as a "verb of service" and not a "noun of status." Every Christian, male and female, is called to shepherd others to Jesus. If your church's definition of pastor is "one with spiritual authority or divine power over others" then Christian women cannot be pastors. But neither can Christian men. No Christian rules over anyone else. Pastors are to be servants of all and masters of none.

Jesus is the only authority over His people.

Some who have grown up on the King James Version of the Bible might object:
"Remember them which have rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith you follow, considering the end of their conversation." (Hebrews 13:17 KJV).
Listen to my message on Hebrews 13:17 from 2008. The English translation of the Greek for the King James Version of Hebrews 13:17 is very poor. The words "rule" and "over" are not even present in Hebrews 13:17 in the original Greek language.

How then can a church be led? Answer: By older, spiritually gifted, men and women of humble character who guide, shepherd, and lead others through gentle persuasion and encouragement.

I'll be happy to send you our organizational structure at Emmanuel Enid if you email me at wade@emmanuelenid.org. Prior to 2011 and our constitutional revision, women weren't included in leadership at Emmanuel and we made many mistakes because half the people gifted by God to lead the church  were being intentionally excluded.

Not anymore.

2. Your continuity of Old Covenant worship patterns is detrimental. 

This is a huge issue. Very few people will talk about this, but you need to understand it.

Anglicans, Presbyterians, historic Episcopalians, and a host of other denominations that style church structure after Old Testament style Yahweh worship are adamant that females can't be in leadership. They believe in the continuity of the Old Testament into New Covenant days. To them,  the church of Jesus Christ has simply replaced the people of Israel, but the manner in which God’s people do worship should be the same today as it was in Old Testament days.

However, Baptists, Methodists, Assemblies of God, and other evangelical organizations  see a discontinuity between the Old Testament and the New Testament worship structures.  These evangelicals historically have had no problem with women pastoring God's people, something I'll show you in a moment.

There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, when Baptists begin to form partnerships with their Reformed cousins (think Al Mohler and Tim Keller), then sometimes church government and leadership styles of reformed denominations begin to make their way into Baptist churches. Though Baptists have been historically congregational in church polity, in these modern days of  New Calvinism, more and more Baptist churches assemble "priests" (elders) around a "high priest" (THE pastor), who are all male. These male "pastors" or "elders"are those that "rule over God's people," just like male priests in ancient Israel.

In the Old Testament, Yahweh worship was led by male priests only. The women were excluded from going beyond the Court of Women in Temple worship. The High Priest was always a first born son from the family of Aaron. Spiritual worship was led by qualified males.

But that Old Covenant with Israel has disappeared, replaced by a New Covenant.
"By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear." (Hebrews 8:13)
When the Old Covenant began disappearing after the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus Christ, and after it "officially ended" in AD 70 at the destruction of the Jewish Templea new way of worship dawned!
"But you (both males and females) are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." (I Peter 2:9). 
"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)
I once sent a paper explaining New Covenant worship to a church that restricts church leadership to males only. The paper was disconcerting and even troubling to them. To admit that their exaltation of "Christian male authority" and their "exclusion of Christian females" from Kingdom leadership was harmful to their church was impossible for these male elders. In fact, it became necessary for them to attack the messenger (me) rather than review their ministry with humble, genuine biblical reflection.

Any church that attempts to function with solely male leadership will eventually struggle.

The Covenants have changed.

The Old Covenant agreement between God and Israel was a "come and see" religion. Come and see the Temple. Come and see the rituals. Come and see the festivals.

The New Covenant is a "go and tell" religion. Go tell sinners of the Savior who has guaranteed the Creator’s goodness to those who trust Him. Christianity is radically spiritual, internal, personal, and trans-cultural (all peoples). 

Some of the best worship you can have is with family or a small group of believers around a camp fire at a lake, or at home around the dinner table, or at a backyard barbecue. 

Believers are the church. God dwells in us. Where we are, there He is. We don't behave one way 'at church' and another way everywhere else. We ARE the church.

Further, since the life of God is in the individual who trusts Christ, there is no hierarchical authority in the church.

 Every believer is a pastor (priest) who shepherds others to Jesus. 

3. Your limitation of spiritual gifts according to sexual genitalia is harmful.

This one will be short. Christ's bestows the gifts of teaching, prophesying, exhortation, shepherding, and other spiritual gifts on His people regardless of gender.
"So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,to equip the saints for works of ministry, to build up the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11).
Gender is never mentioned in the Bible when it comes to spiritual gifts. Never.

When an institutional church overrules the Spirit of God, it will find itself absent the Spirit unless corrected.

This article is one of many that explains that the gifts of the Spirit are granted regardless of gender.

The overwhelming testimony of the New Testament is that gifted, humble men and women of character, preferably older in years (e.g. "elder") will shepherd, guide, and pastor God's people.

Christian men who exclude Christian women from fulfilling the call of God according to the Spirit's gifts are infatuated with their own alleged "authority" and are in danger of losing the unction and anointing of the Holy Spirit in their own ministries.

4. Your narrow view of Christian "ministry" is baneful.

Ordination. "The action of ordaining or conferring holy orders on someone."

Ugh.

We don't ordain anybody at Emmanuel Enid.

The state of Oklahoma requires a "ministerial license" to officiate marriage ceremonies,  to recognize vocational ministers working at a state recognized 501-C3 non-profit, and to grant ministerial tax credits for those working in non-profit vocational ministry.

We will license men and women as vocational employees of our non-profit because the state requires it, but we don't ordain anybody.

Every state government in the United States of America considers "licensing" pastors and "ordaining" pastors" as the same thing. Most churches don't consider them the same thing. Emmanuel Enid does.  We only "license" because the state requires it.

Denominations that "ordain ministers" typically make a non-biblical separation between "clergy" and "laymen."

Only the "ordained," according to these churches, can fulfill the "ordinances of the church" (baptism and the Lord's Supper). It's amazing how traditions in institutional churches carry on through "ordination" ceremonies. It's almost like a cult.

Before I was "ordained" as a Southern Baptist pastor in 1982, I was told that I would be examined by other "ordained" men. During my "prep" for this ordination, some men who though they were being helpful told me that one of the questions that would be asked was:
"What are the ordinances of the church?"
I was told how to answer: "Say baptism and the Lord's Supper." Dutifully, I answered such, and was promptly "ordained" by the Southern Baptist Convention.

It was only years later that I learned baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of Jesus, not the church. The word "ordinance" means "law." Jesus gave us both ordinances, not the church:
Jesus came to them and said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). 
"The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,and when he had given thanks, he broke it and he said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (I Corinthians 11:23-29). 
Every believer in Jesus Christ, whether male or female, is called a minister in the New Testament. We are a royal priesthood.

Therefore, gifted women can "go and make disciples," and can "baptize," and can "serve the bread and the wine," and can lead people to remember Jesus.

That's because Jesus told all of His followers, not just males, to "go and make disciples."

But the church that emphasizes "ordination" will tell people to "come." And when they come, they will only see "males" ordained by the church to "rule over" other people and "do the ordinances."

I recently wrote a post about serving as a trustee for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

When I served as an IMB trustee, I got into a heated dispute with trustee leadership (all males).

It seems that we had Christian women missionaries in the Far East who were leading men and women to faith in Jesus Christ and the new Christian converts were ready to be baptized. It was made known to the IMB trustees that there was nobody to baptize the recent Chinese converts.

Not knowing any better, I raised my hand and asked a question of my fellow trustees:
"Why don't the Christian women missionaries who taught these people about Jesus and led them to faith in the Savior baptize them so as to fulfill the command of Jesus in the Great Commission."
Crickets.

Without responding to my question, the chairman of the subgroup determined we would pay $3,000 to fly a male Baptist pastor to a foreign country to baptize the men and women that had been led to faith in Jesus Christ by our female missionaries on the field.

My courteous but firm opposition to the IMB's unbiblical patriarchal policies led to a protracted battle between the world's largest missionary sending organization and its trustee from Oklahoma.

I still marvel, fifteen years later, IMB trustee leadership had the ludicrous, absurd, and unbiblical notion to fly an "ordained male minister" to the Far East to baptize Christian converts who came to faith in Jesus Christ under the discipleship of Christian women. 

Males and females are to minister in the name of Jesus, fulfilling His command to make disciples. 

Tens of millions of people are coming to faith in Jesus around the world, led to Jesus by gifted, humble men and women of character who are fulfilling the ordinance of Jesus Christ, whether recognized by the institutional church or not.

Christian ministry is about following the commands of Christ. Our view of ministry needs to be more biblical than institutional.

As an aside, the moment institutional churches advocate women, homosexuals, and others being ordained to "rule over" Christian people through "an office of authority" received by "ordination" of the church, you'll hear the same objections from me that I'm now giving about the ordination of men.


5. Your understanding of historic church confessions is partial.

Oh, sure, the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message states:
"While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture." (Article VI The Church)
Confessions are not inspired. They are often rife with errors. Some of the local association Southern Baptist confessions of the 1850's advocated slavery as biblical.

The problem of the 2000 BFM is not the exclusion of women from "the office of pastor."

No. It's "the office of pastor" which is unbiblical. The word "office," like "office of the President" or "office of the pastor" is nowhere used in the New Testament.

Reading this paper, called The Bible and Authority in the Church, might help you understand how church tradition has supplanted New Testament teaching.

Christian leadership is based on giftedness and not gender; character, not control; humility, not hubris; selfless service, not self seeking; and personal piety, not powerful positions.

Baptists from days of old understood these concepts.

The earliest recorded comment on the role of Baptist women was by John Smyth, founder of the first identifiable Baptist church of modern history. In his 1609 work Parallels, Censures, Observations, Smyth wrote:
“...the Church hath powre to Elect, approve & ordeyne her owne Elders, also: to elect, approve, & ordeine her owne Deacons both men & woemen."
Baptist women did preach in England in the early days of the 17th century. Most English churchmen found the practice as distasteful as believer's baptism.

Nevertheless Baptists had women preaching. 

The Anabaptist Waterland Confession of 1580 is the first “Baptist” Confession to refer to the setting aside gifted people for ministry.
In times of need the congregation shall prepare itself before God with fasting and prayer, calling upon Him for help--for He alone can send the right servants into His harvest--that our heavenly Father may prepare the right servants among the congregations to the glory of His name; servants who will proclaim His holy Word truthfully, and in true Christian love, according to His pleasure, to hungry souls, [as well as] administering the sacraments and the ban.
This document does not take gender into consideration when assigning roles.

For their views on the ministry, the English Baptists went directly to the Bible for their authority. 

Those women who preached and those men who allowed it thought they found adequate scriptural teaching and precedent.

More recently, I challenged Al Mohler at the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention to answer a question I had about a woman the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention sent in the 1860s to teach and minister to African-American male pastors who were being held on an island in the Mississippi River.

Dr. Al Mohler might tell you that he wasn't "stumped" by my question,  but it sure seemed to me that he couldn't answer it. Read the back-and-forth for yourself and see how Southern Baptists have not always believed that a woman can’t lead others spiritually. It makes the present exclusion of women by some SBC leaders (not all) seem so silly.

The next time I hear a person state he or she doesn't believe in "women pastors" and cites the 2000 BFM, I might feel compelled to ask, "Do you even understand the purpose of a confession?"

A confession is not a creed. 


A denial of women pastoring God's people based on a Baptist Confession is akin to advocating racial slavery because a Baptist confession once said slavery was biblical.

What people ought to be doing is searching the Scriptures.

And the Scriptures advocate both men and women pastoring people to Jesus. 

Long ago, I called out the problem of "sexual abuse" in the Southern Baptist Convention. Nobody listened then (2007), but people are sure listening now.

I'm calling out my conservative evangelical friends for their exclusion of women from Christian leadership, for their energetic attempts to stifle gifted Christian women from fulfilling the commandments of Christ to "go and make disciples," and for their unbiblical approach to Christian ministry.

Conservative evangelicals must stop: 

1. Debilitating females with God-given gifts,
2. Denigrating females in their Spirit-led ministries,
3. Downplaying females as New Covenant priests.

If not, the Spirit may well depart.