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Idolizing the Female Preacher

Cherie Friend

Last Sunday our children’s minister preached her last sermon at our church. She is moving to SoCal at the end of the month after 19 years of directing our children’s ministry here at TCC. She had never preached before I came, but I insisted that she do so. (Initially she was intimidated and perturbed that I would add this to her responsibilities. Now she enjoys it)

My philosophy has always been that I want all the staff in the pulpit on occasion. Unfortunately people think that only what they see in the pulpit is important and what is never seen or heard from “the pulpit” is second-class or relatively unimportant. I want our people to know that our staff are all biblically literate teachers who just happen to work in different areas of emphasis. At first I asked that they preach on a subject related to their area of ministry, but after they have preached several times, that restriction became a little old.

My point in writing this was not really to talk about getting all of my staff–even the women–in the pulpit on occasion, but the interesting reaction of other women to it. The older women in the church seem delighted by Cherie preaching and always offer encouragement to her for the content of her message. The younger women don’t even seem to think of it as anything extraordinary…”of course, if Cal has all the staff preach occasionally, he will have the women staff preach as well.”

What is interesting is the reaction of those early boomer women who came of age in the sixties. Most of them have left our church because we have not given in to their gender/political agendas. (We insist on an all-male eldership and all staff who preach are doing so under the authority of our elder board). Several who never come, showed up for Cherie’s last Sunday. One even came down to the front with her camera and took a picture of Cherie preaching. (“Oh, come on…”) Cherie expressed great exasperation at their “idolizing” reaction.

Maybe I am misinterpreting their reaction, but for those in our church, the message given by the Lord is paramount and the messenger, while important, is secondary. For most of our church body, a women staff member occasionally preaching is a non-issue. But for those whose myopic vision is so focused on one issue that they will only come when a woman preaches, the messenger is paramount and the message is (at best) secondary.

BTW: it was a fine sermon. You can hear it here.

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