One hundred plus e-mails, many facebook group posts, and several conversations later, I am becoming a person to avoid. Baptist pastors see me coming and run. That’s apparently the life of an organization leader. On the plus side, at last check Missouri had more churches participating in Martha Stearns Marshall Month of Preaching than any other state.
I’ve had several ask why having such a month is important — especially for churches who are already very supportive of women. My own experience is certainly the most meaningful for me. Last year’s MSM Month was my first preaching opportunity. Preparing and delivering a sermon completely changed my view of ministry.
I attend a church that is VERY supportive of women ministers. I’d heard several women preach there (and deliver WONDERFUL sermons!) but was absolutely certain that I would not want to be a preaching sort of pastor.
Standing in the pulpit changed that. Experiencing the work of the Spirit going beyond my words and ability, watching people make connections to the text I delievered caused me to reexamine. Taking time for sermon prep didn’t get in the way of practical ministry — preaching was a very REAL part of practical ministry. And while I’d certainly heard plenty of sermons that helped form me and considered a number of preachers wonderful pastors, I hadn’t ever considered how the two could work together in my own ministry.
Martha Stearns Marshall Month is important to all. It gives women a chance to explore their own giftedness. It gives congregations a change to hear how God can speak through a variety of voices. It allows male pastors an opportunity to share in the ministry of their female colleagues.
Martha Stearns Marshall is a way to declare publicly that a church believes in the priesthood of ALL believers. It allows all of God’s people to dream differently, to find new possibility. Hmmm… sounds like good news to me.