Another outstanding piece from Lauren Winner at Leadership Journal's Out of Ur blog.
She says that some women who were not allowed to pastor themselves, married pastors and thus found some fulfillment by engaging in the limited amount of pastoral work expected of a pastor's wife.
I have also seen extremely competent pastorally gifted women who have found their way into roles as "administrative assistant" or church secretary. In another setting, these competent gifted women may have considered seminary and become outstanding pastors themselves. Interestingly, according to 2005-2006 report by the Association of Theological Schools, there are almost as many "Black" women pursuing their Masters of Divinity degree these days as men (2,366 Men and 2,330 Women). However, for "White", the numbers are still quite far apart: 16,268 Men and 6,791 Women.
Other pastorally gifted women have gone into "Christian Education," chaplaincy, or counseling as the acceptable approximations for church ministry. And others struggle wondering what to do with their pastoral gifting when they haven't met the right man and what to do with their time when they are struggling with infertility. (See the journeys of Carolyn Custis James and Gretchen Gaebelein Hull as told in their books).
Sadly for many of our young women growing up in evangelical churches, becoming the pastor's wife still seems like their best shot at being involved in church ministry. The number one nonfiction book on the Christian Bestsellers List for September 2006 is Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. As a professor at Taylor University, an evangelical Christian college, I can tell you that young Christian women are reading it in droves. Unfortunately as Agnieszka Tennant points out in her Christianity Today article "What (Not All) Women Want: The finicky femininity of Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge", the Eldredge's advocate a "tame idea of beauty" - one exemplified by "Pioneer women [who] brought china teacups into the wilderness." There are other ways of being beautiful. I know because I have a pastor's wife who has her MDiv just like me. I'm thrilled to be a pastor's husband.
Lauren Winner is great. My wife Amy uses her book Real Sex in the Personal Foundations for Ministry course. Lauren came to Taylor this spring to speak as well. She is married to a friend of ours from Regent College.
See my post about Captivating here.