In just a few weeks I will be participating in the Academy of Preachers’ National Festival of Young Preachers. Recently I was looking at the Festival of Preachers’ Facebook page and noticed that almost every picture has “iPreach” somewhere on it. First I thought how clever that logo was…but the more I read “iPreach,” it began turning into “I Preach?? Me? Are they sure about that?” How did I get here? Somewhere in the last six months I went from never preaching before to participating in festivals for young preachers and taking any preaching opportunity I could find. Never before had I thought that when I saw something that said “iPreach,” it would refer to me, but here I am preparing my fourth sermon ever!
I never thought preaching would be on my radar, mainly because I had never seen a woman preaching before. In a world that doesn’t limit girls anymore to the Easy-Bake-Oven or the Barbie Doll and provides more opportunities for girls to pursue their dream career, why is it that I had never seen a woman preach? Women are often encouraged to be missionaries and come back home to speak on a Sunday night, or if they don’t want to be missionaries, they can teach Sunday school or volunteer during VBS. Now, of course, every church isn’t like this, and even those that are have some amazing women that do amazing work for the Lord – but could the modern-day church also be losing something that was so important to the foundation of the early church?
We can argue all we want about what the Bible says or doesn’t say about women preaching, but I like to look to Jesus’s ministry to see what he modeled instead. The theme for the 2017 Festival of Young Preachers is Jesus: Rabbi. Radical. Redeemer. Risen Lord, and I would argue that the way Jesus included woman in His ministry was extremely radical. Not only are stories of Jesus’s interaction with different women included in all four Gospels, but Luke 8:2-3 even names three women and mentions “many others” who helped provide for Him and the disciples. If it were not for the Samaritan woman in John telling her town about Jesus and the living water he had to share, most of those people would never have believed in Jesus. Women had an important role in the early church as well, performing baptisms for other women and often serving as leaders of some of the earliest house churches. Jesus wasn’t afraid to shake things up and be a little radical. He understood women had important gifts to share too.
Christianity has raised questions from the beginning, because it is not just a religion, but an ever-changing, life-altering relationship with our Lord and Savior – a Savior who not only understands what it means to be human, but who also equally included women in his miracles and his ministry. Maybe my fourth time preaching won’t raise too many questions, but if it does, I’ve never been afraid to be a little radical too.