I did not set out to hire a female youth pastor. There was no dialogue within the church or during strategy meetings that led me to seek a female as our youth pastor. We needed a well-qualified, experienced candidate to be our youth pastor. In the case of Crossroads Church, the best fit for our church happened to be a woman.
My reading of this situation is located in the providence of God. It is God who calls and equips. It is God who sees our need [as a church]; it is God who settles and unsettles ministers. There were plenty of people who could have fit our needs and role, but finding a qualified, available, and willing individual is a tall order. Limiting the pool by ordination or call-bias based on gender—something that our Manual rejects (500-502)—makes very little sense.
While we now have the first female youth pastor in the history of Crossroads, this is not the first time I have hired a female youth pastor. In a previous church, I had a female youth pastor who did exceptional work.
There are equal challenges with a youth pastor of either gender. With a female youth pastor, we needed strong lay leadership from men so that there were proper protocols in place to protect students. When you have a male youth pastor, you do the same thing, simply with strong female leaders.Tim Brooks
I noticed in my previous experience that the male students did not prefer a male youth pastor. They preferred to have fun and have a good youth group experience. They experienced that through their male and female youth pastors alike. Boys and young men are used to female authority in their life: most elementary school teachers are female. The most common American living situation involves at least a mother at home. And it is my suspicion that having young males learn to submit to female leadership, as well as having young females experience representation in leadership positions, will help both develop to be strong Christian leaders themselves.
When I was a teenager, I attended my church’s NYI, grades 6-12. I had one year where we had a male youth pastor or leader. Every other year was a female lead. In fact, one of those leaders would become my mother-in-law. It never occurred to me, when I was a teen, that there would be some that would think this was inappropriate. Rather, I saw adults who cared, who put in time, who loved Jesus, and loved us.
It is obvious that Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2 have dominated the pushback against women in pastoral roles. We have to grapple with the fact that those words are in our Scripture. But, so too are verses like Acts 2:17-18, where women are clearly included by Peter’s read of Pentecost and by the prophet Joel as recipients of the gift of the spirit for prophesying. To sit under prophecy is a posture of submission in itself. If women are able to prophesy—to speak, to clarify, to nudge, to confront—we must take that as seriously as we do Paul in 1 Timothy.
I urge my fellow pastors to hire the best youth pastor they can find. Do not hang labels or stereotypes on them.Tim Brooks
If you are afraid your church members may push back because they have never seen or experienced it before, well, that’s why we must lead. Women are ready, called, trained and able. Let’s match the intensity of their preparation by preparing to support their call by entrusting them with the authority of the pastoral office.