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The Preacher's Husband

notes from a clergy-hubby

Note: I typically post to this page about once per week. For daily entries, please visit my “The Life-charged Life” blog. 

"The Preacher" with Graham, one of our most excellent youth. Looks a little bright - may need to wear shades.....

The Future’s So Bright We’ve Gotta Wear Shades: My wife, “The Preacher”, is not a fan of statistics. “What’s the point?” she says. “Statistics are made to be broken.”

She’s right, of course, and she has perfected a lifetime of demonstrating that the variable that actually counts is always the individual in question, not the statistical trend.

Which is a really, really good thing. Because, according to a whole slew of professional, health, gender-related and actuarial statistics, by now my wife should be a divorced, depressed, dissatisfied former pastor who left the ministry after years of bumping against the glass ceiling and being stymied by the “good-ol’-boy” system. Oh, and she should also be dead.

But the numbers do interest me. So this week I took a look at some of the recent data (and “current data” is always a couple of years out of date ) for female pastors and churches in our denomination, the PC(USA).

  • There are, apparently, around 13,500 active pastors and 10,718 PC(USA) congregations. 31% of these pastors are women.
  • 1,186 of Presbyterian congregations are served by a woman who is the solo pastor, co-pastor or senior pastor/head of staff (that’s 11% of all churches).
  • Of those 10,718 congregations, approximately 900 have a membership of over 500 people (that’s 8.3% of churches).
  • Of those 900 plus “large” churches, 61 are led by a women who is the solo pastor, co-pastor, or senior pastor (that adds up to 6.6% of the large churches).
  • 28% of active female pastors are the “lead” pastor in a Presbyterian church. 1.4% of female pastors are the lead pastor in a church of over 500 members.
  • Ergo, the larger the church, the less likely it is that a woman is serving as the lead pastor.
  • One more interesting tidbit – the average congregation of over 500 in the PC(USA) reports weekly attendance at 43% of membership. Our congregation comes in at around 75%. That means our 525 member church sees more action on a Sunday morning than most 900 member churches!

Church around here is vibrant

So What! My point is that, while I wholeheartedly endorse my wife’s insistence that her job is simply to follow Jesus, to articulate a vision for our local congregation, and to resource the ministries the people at fpcBrandon are called to engage, I also believe it is critically important that the “movers & shakers” in this world understand one very important fact. The important fact is: The reason my church (fpcBrandon) breaks every statistical number-cruncher stereotype that the number-crunchers can come up with, is that our church culture is NOT anywhere close to being business-as-usual!

Rebekah says the spotlight should be on Jesus, not her ministry. She insists it’s our pastoral team (Rebekah, Tim Black and Earl Smith – plus the amazing team of elders) that makes all the difference. She says the fact that she is a female head of staff in a dynamic church is a non-issue. Fair enough… but I want to shine a spotlight on that!

I want to shine a spotlight on the fact that the gender of our senior pastor is a non-issue.

Are we having fun yet? Yes!

She can be “under the radar” all she wants, but I love the Presbyterian Church and I think there’s a lot that our denomination can learn from vibrant, discipleship-oriented congregations like ours. Here’s a sampling:

  • This church belongs to Jesus.
  • Ministry is about making disciples, not recruiting members.
  • Worship Sunday morning means a lot more when there’s mission during the week.
  • The main thrust is how we can be the presence of Christ to the world in and through the work of the church.
  • The Gospel is always transformational – politics and “issues” are not.
  • Our most important, pervasive, and consistent creed is love.
  • The way we are as a community – the quality of our koinonia – tells the truth about the Gospel we preach…

So, “take that”, statistics! When it’s all about following Jesus, then nothing else has the power to distract us from the transformational power of the Gospel! My wife may not keep count, but I can’t help but notice… We keep setting the curve around here!

Peace – DEREK

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