From Sharon O'Neill
“Pastor’s Wife!” Now there’s a phrase I’ve fought and hated for 25 years.
Name one other profession where the partner has this automatic tag line with a bucket load of expectation?
I can’t think of one other profession.
Nor can I think of one other profession where there is an expectation that the partner will give up their career, their interests, their spark to “follow,” “support” and enable a two for one deal.
There are couples who make decisions to work in the one business and where the business might lean more towards one partner’s wiring and interest.
Likewise, there are couples who facilitate or enable one another’s careers.
But in each of these instances they are decisions made between the couple for the couple’s interest.
In church world “pastor’s wife” is an expectation often placed on a woman by church culture and history.
I have fought to be a pastor in my own right for 25 years. I remember about 6 years after we church planted I applied to do my Masters and asked a very well known Christian leader if there was any way I could have my Social Work Degree and my experience as a church planter credited as part of the process. I was told, “I couldn’t ride on the coat tails of my husband. My husband had church planted not me. I was simply his helper…the pastor’s wife.”
Some may go well that was over 20 years ago things have changed.
I sat at a breakfast two years ago and every pastor at my table was acknowledged as being present and welcomed except for me. Now I don't’ think I’m such an awful person that I’m not worth acknowledging and anyway Christians are meant to be warm, welcoming and caring, so the only reason I can think for the lack of acknowledgement was a refusal to see my role and position and to simply see me as a “pastor’s wife.”
I could go on…
I know in time and tradition it was once a highly respected title.
But as I look down through the corridor of time, I’m not sure that it is the best we can do.
There are women who are pastors in their own right. Their husband may be a pastor but so are they. They are both equal, able to pastor in their own skill set and gift mix.
Then there are the job sharers. Women who, like their counterparts in business want to job share the ever broadening and demanding role of pastor.
Limited funds often mean the church can only employ one not both.
Rather than acknowledging the shared role fearing the financial implications we relegate the woman to “pastor’s wife.” She’s not really working, she doesn’t really have a role but if she doesn’t perform or live up to the unspoken expectations of her job description then we will need to call an all-night prayer meeting for revival so she learns to be a good supportive wife.” Expectations become blurred, unrealistic and often confusing for all.
Then there are women who know their role is not to job share or to be a pastor.
God has positioned them in other roles in other sacred spaces in our world.
These women have vital contributions to make to the world, to the church, to humanity in those spaces.
Unfortunately, many of these woman have felt no alternative but to give up on their own dreams and gifts, to follow their husband and to take up the role of pastor’s wife. A role they are neither equipped for or gifted in.
So what do I want to see happen across A2A?
I also want to acknowledge the women who gave up their dream, their gift, their career, their talent to serve the church and husband and who in doing so felt a bit of who they were died for the sake of everyone else. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Give appropriate titles and freedom. You don’t necessarily want an income but you want to help the church but you’re not a pastor. You might be an administrator, or an accounts, or …. Whatever it is name it up for what it is. But don’t just stick the label “Pastor’s wife” over it because we’re too lazy to come up with an appropriate name. believe me no man would settle for “Pastor’s husband.”
Release women into the market place. If women want to be in the marketplace because that is where God has called them then this is the best space for them to be in for everyone. Celebrate what they do. Acknowledge it. Don't expect them to pick up an extra bucket load of work.
It’s not us being our best. Let’s give an amazing gift to the next generation of women coming up. Let’s see who they are, what they are. Let’s acknowledge the God given call on their life.
4. We drop the never clearly defined expectations which go with the label ‘Pastor’s wife.’
Let’s define the role.
Is she a pastor in her own right who needs employing?
Is she job sharing with her husband?
Does she have a career all of her own which needs to be released and respected?
Today we meet Real Pastor Russell MacKenzie
Russell is the children’s pastor at Legana Christian Church. I love any pastor or volunteer that is willing to sow into the next generation. They are very special people.
I always used to tell people that I loved children and had 5 to prove it. Years later, from my favourite saying, I have been blessed to work with over 1000 different children, in schools as a chaplain, helping in local communities and now as a primary school teacher at Newstead Christian School and Children’s Pastor at Legana Christian Church.
Psalm 145:3-5 says, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”
Matthew 19:15 says ‘…Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”’
Matthew 28:19 to 20 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
These scriptures combine to tell me, that to take on the call of telling children about Jesus is a great and wonderful calling. Verses like these inspire me to serve God with kids. They remind me of the power of God to save all people. They tell me that regardless of who, what, how, when and the where of a person’s life, Jesus is their answer.
It is my privilege to work with kids. I love their honesty, their passion for life, their willingness to listen and their smiles. Working with kids is a mission partly carried out on your knees and requires learning from a child’s perspective and to know who they are and what is important to them. I love building relationships with kids.
Kids lives haven’t always been so complex, but today they are facing battles they don’t always understand or choose to be in, living with the consequences of the decisions of the adults in their lives. However, Kids’ Ministry is about teaching them about a God whose greatness is unsearchable, who can meet every need they have and especially their greatest need.
In working with kids my vision is to help kids “Discover and Follow Our Great God: Jesus.” This means I need a little bit of an idea what this looks like and model this journey myself. Discovering more of Jesus every day is such a wonderful and inspiring part of life. Getting into God’s Word and seeing the truths in it never seen before is amazing. That’s why in my ministry to kids in church, or school, the Bible is central. It is from here all other material and teaching is based. Above all kids need to know about Jesus and the Bible reveals Him. We present this in a fun way, rather than seeking to have fun and add bits of the Bible to it. We need a Kids Ministry that champions the God of the Bible!
One of the greatest dangers for all Christian leaders is to assume that children in Christian homes, Church or Christian schools know who Jesus is and what the Bible tells us about Him. I pray that God equips leaders everywhere to love the Bible and use it to help children discover who God is and allow this knowledge to transform them and the children in their care. I pray that God equips me to lead my team to do this effectively and that the kids entrusted to us will discover Jesus, who loves them unconditionally.
Keep smiling and may God bless you,
Legana Christian Church
Today we introduce to you Pastor Steve Pidd.
Steve pastors with his wife Evelyne (Em), and three children Kass, Daniel and John.
They pastor the Covenant Family Church
Why did you became a pastor
I have a passion to see people receive all that Jesus paid for and be equipped to minister it on.
What’s your highlight in ministry?
I honestly struggle to find a highlight, every time I see God heal or free somebody it is such a buzz…. if that is not too spiritual sounding!
What are your hobbies, favourite food and favourite film.
I really like playing tennis or table tennis but haven’t had time the last few years. Maybe later this year?
I have a real weakness for a good pizza but probably only indulge 2 or 3 times a year as I am trying to avoid being too FULL gospel, if you know what I mean.
The original Matrix film is hard to go past with its picture of a takeover of the Earth, its people going mindlessly through life in a program that is not reality, John the Baptist figure, Judas and savior who goes through a journey of faith growth into realising who he is and what is really possible. Throw in a prophet, a resurrection etc. etc. it’s hard to go past!
What are you currently reading
At the moment I am Snacking. Re reading a number of books. Probably right now God’s Generals tops the list.
What is your vision or hope or dream for 2016
In 2016 we are relaunching our School of Healing and Freedom under the new banner of 418 Centre. This comes from Luke 4:18 where Jesus announced that the Spirit of the Lord was on Him and what the outworking of that anointing would be. Clearly the Holy Spirit is now on the church to meet the needs of mankind in the same way. We are hoping to see 418 Centre’s pop up in churches all over the place. We have the privilege of training Pastors and leaders overseas this year and we hope this results in ‘seeding’ these places with more ministry tools to bring the good news. The 418 Centre website should be running by the middle of April.
I love it when those who are far from Christ get raised into a new life with him. Taylor is one pastor that was far from Christ who is now living a radical life for Jesus.
Real Pastor Taylor Forward
Hi, I’m Taylor Forward and my family has only just begun I have been married for almost 4 years to the amazing Danielle Forward, and hopefully in the next few years our Forward family will grow.
I pastor the rock community church (the one in Tas) with my mother in law Louisa De Bruyn
Why did I become a Pastor?
I ask my self the same question quite often hahahaha.
There are a few big contributing factors to why I decided that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The main one (super corny) is that I truly feel like it is a calling on my life + I just LOVE seeing young people make good life decisions weather that be to follow Jesus for the 1st time or to continue to follow him.
I have had A LOT of amazing moments in ministry but its really hard to top the moments when the Holy Spirit shows up and lives get changed in a physical, mental and spiritual way. Camps and special events are a good one for this!!! We have a youth camp coming up in the next few weeks and I’m believing of this one to be the biggest highlight to date!!
Favourite spot, hobby, movies or food?
By far my biggest hobby is drifting! (If you don't know what it is google it, but its a form of motorsport.) If I'm not doing something to do with church or youth the chances are I am doing something to do with drifting, whether it be working on the car or racing the car!
– I like all kinds of movies and all kinds of food.
What are you reading at the moment?
I am currently reading a few books (I just need to finish some haha). I’m reading a book on Paul from Beth Moore. Paul is by far my favourite bible character (apart from Jesus obviously), and Counter Culture by David Platt and the Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Kris Vallotton
Taylor , What is your vision or hope or dream for 2016
To stick at it!!! I just want to continue to facilitate an environment where leaders can be bought up and new believers can grow, where people that are far from Jesus can meet him for the 1st time!
I have a crazy dream to see 1000 young people per week coming through one of our 3 youth ministries, and as I type that it still seams like a some what stupid dream but one thing I have learnt with God is that I can never set the bar too high for him!!
Tim pastors at the Tailrace Community Church in Launceston, Tasmania with his wife Sharon.
Let’s meet Real Pastor Tim O’Neill:
I’ve just celebrated my 28th year of marriage with my wife Sharon. It was Sharon, a former missionary kid, that resulted in me coming to faith 30 years ago. Sharon is not only my wife, best friend and inseparable soul mate, but my invaluable ministry partner.
We have three wonderful children Jono (25), Michael (24) and Rachael (20) with Erica a precious daughter in law, married to Jono.
Our church is called Tailrace Community. Until recently it was known as New Directions Community Church.
The church is named after the geographical location where we are located (the Tailrace) and the building that we own and have met in for nine years (The Tailrace Centre). We built the Tailrace Centre as a way with connecting with people from the community who wouldn’t normally go to church.
It’s a church that Sharon and I (along with a few others) started in Launceston Tasmania 22 years ago. We had a burden to establish a church that would reach out to people who didn’t have the incredible and eternal blessing of knowing Jesus in a way that made them part of God’s family.
This was brought home to us in the year that we started the church when we knew seven people who took their own lives. We so much wanted them to find the peace and the transformational faith that we had and that I not long before had discovered. This faith had changed my life, and given me hope and purpose and we desperately wanted others to be assisted in going on their own faith journey.
I never intended to become a pastor. I was an ambitious, young Chartered Accountant who was embarking on a successful business career. But God did two things that I didn’t expect.
The first was to call Sharon and I to pioneer a church to reach the unchurched, which we did in April 1994. I was going to be the business person who helped fund it and help with leadership. And so we set Sunday April 17 1994 as the date for the church to be started. We started looking for the pastor God surely had for us, but the the trouble was that we didn’t find one! And so I, along with Sharon, ended up being “it”!
The second thing that God did was to change my heart. A few years before starting the church I had walked away from the opportunity of being a partner in an accounting firm. Then some years later (after we had started the church) I felt the very clear, very precise and very compelling call of God to devote myself fully to the work of the ministry.
I loved my work in the business world.
It stimulated me, it taught me much and it was very good to us, but I had been listening for the call of God, placing my future in His hands even if it meant something other than pursuing further business success. By the time I heard that call, my heart was already there.
What’s your highlight in ministry?
That’s a simple one. It’s seeing someone come to faith, seeing their eternities and their lives being transformed, and seeing them walk into the fullness of the call God has for them. It doesn’t get any better than that! That’s the focal point of everything that I do.
God doesn’t call us to build organisations or ministries, but to see His Kingdom expanded by every person who identifies themselves as being a Christian growing in the way that they follow Jesus, and then seeking to reach others and help them grow as disciples. That’s got to be the WHY behind why we lead and serve churches and ministries.
My focus is not to build the church I lead; it’s to nurture, build, equip and mobilise the people who I meet and who become the church.
I love seeing how a number of people we have discipled have gone on to start churches that then repeat the process. I also love seeing how people of influence, whether politicians, business people or leaders in other realms have gone on to bring a godly influence to their spheres of influence. I want to do all that I can to cheer them on and to help them however I can.
What are your hobbies, favourite food and favourite film?
My favourite hobby is fly fishing. I’m an introvert who loves getting away and surrounding myself with the beauty that nature provides. For me there is nothing better than being on a river somewhere, surrounded by beauty, having time to contemplate and at the same time being focused on finding trout and tricking them into taking my fly.
I also love the beach and am blessed to have a holiday place on the coast where we can retreat to and where I can take long walks with Sharon.
My favourite food would have to be steak that I cooked over a BBQ, but there are also many other foods I enjoy.
As to my favourite film, I’m not sure about that. I generally prefer to read novels than watch a film. I really enjoy historical novels.
What are you currently reading?
I’ve recently finished 2 magnificent books that are both inspiring and equipping. They paint a picture of what church can be like; not what the current forms of church in developed countries look like.
I’m also privileged to have been involved in the leadership of a movement for 14 years (similar to those described in the books), where we have seen approx. 20,000 churches planted mainly amongst 172 previously unreached people groups. Going there is like going back to the book of Acts, and brings me to ask “why can’t this happen in Australia”, and to realise that it can!
What is your vision or hope or dream for 2016?
2016 is a year of transition for me. It’s an exciting time as later in the year I’ll formally take on the leadership of A2A as President.
It’s a time for building on the great foundation that has already been established in A2A by Phillip Mutzelburg the founding leader of A2A, by Trevor Chandler who saw CLCI birthed, by the National Leadership Team and by the leaders of the churches in the movement.
The mission of A2A is to raise enduring leaders to build prevailing churches. That’s my focus. Why? Because our country needs this to happen!
There is a mission field on our doorsteps that is waiting for the love of Christ, His wisdom, His forgiveness and His leadership to be released so that people can be brought into His family, experiencing His grace and transformational power.
The starting point is looking for young people (and not so young!) with the potential for ministry and leadership on their lives; to envision them, to equip them and to stimulate them to seek God not as to whether but what He is calling them to be and do. And then to assist them to walk in His call.
2016 is a year that we will be building fresh foundations upon the foundations already so carefully laid. We will do this, with the hope and desire of seeing leaders raised who will see new churches pioneered as well as existing churches revitalised, so that we become a movement of healthy churches that reflect the church in Acts 2.
The end result that we wish to see is that multitudes throughout our country and beyond will come to discover Jesus and become authentic followers of Him.