Should Women Be Pastors?


If you want to start a fight in the Christian community, bring up Calvinism vs. Armenism… how long a worship service should be…

Or whether women should be pastors.

It’s that last topic that August’s Author of the Month, Shirley Goodman, has chosen to tackle in Riding in Cars With Men. And she’s the perfect candidate to do so.

For starters, she is both a woman and a pastor. So she has up-close-and-personal amazing and frustrating experiences alike in this field.

But that’s not really why I’m recommending her so highly in this regard.

I don’t know about you, but I normally can’t stand this debate due to bad attitudes all around. Over the years, I’ve gotten annoyed by men and women alike on both sides of the should-women-be-pastors aisle.

More often than not, there’s just too much emotion and too little allowance for any other opinion.

Shirley Goodman, however, handles the topic with grace and respect that I can’t help but admire. I am exceptionally proud to have been her editor – and so pleased to present her work to Innovative Editing readers now.

In fact, I’m so excited to show her off that I’m going to skip my normal spiel about being the next Author of the Month. If you’re interested, click right here and let me know about it!

Otherwise, let’s get to our August’s spotlight already.

August’s Author of the Month: Shirley Goodman

Featured Title: Riding in Cars With Men

Genre: Christian Commentary

Age Appropriate: 16+

Bio: Shirley Goodman is an ordained elder who left a successful career in business to follow God’s call into full-time ministry. She served in pastoral ministry in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area for over 25 years.

She loves people and especially enjoys helping others discover ideas and truths from God’s Word that can be applied to their everyday lives.

Jeannette: First things first: Let’s talk about your book. What’s it about? How would you describe it?

Shirley: Every clergy person has his or her own story, and this is simply a part of mine. I reflect on my experiences and offer insights and ideas about what my journey has been like as a woman in a male-dominated vocation. It’s about the working relationships between male and female clergy, as well as the connection with God’s people in the church and my role as a pastor.

But to relate all of that, I also get to tell the story of how my life was transformed by the love of Christ, explaining how God placed a call to ministry on my life and delving into what it was like to respond as one of many who have felt this pull.

Jeannette: I love the description. And having been blessed enough to have been your editor, I completely agree with it. But, for those who haven’t read it yet, let’s get this next question over and done with right away…

Can readers expect a lot of male-bashing in this book?

Shirley: Heavens no! There is no male-bashing allowed around me! So many wonderful men have been and still are a part of my journey as a minister. Mutual respect is key to good working relationships, and we are all colleagues trying to do our best to work together for the kingdom.

Jeannette: Wonderful! I’m glad we got that established. Now let’s go back to your description about being called.

Pastors often talk about the moment they knew they were supposed to preach or teach. So let’s hear it: What was your story?

Shirley: It was very unexpected – and amazing! My life was completely turned around. But it’s also too detailed a story to recount here, so you’ll just have to read the book.

Jeannette: Fair enough. As I recall, it took up at least a chapter to tell. And you’re right that it was amazing – too amazing to try to summarize and risk losing so much in the process.

So how about this question instead: Was there a particular moment or instance that inspired you to write Riding in Cars With Men? Or this was something that built up over time?

Shirley: When I left my last pastorate, I had time to look back on the span of my life as a pastor. I thought it would be helpful to describe some gender-based experiences that are common to many clergywomen.

The conversation about how men and women can work together effectively for the kingdom is one that’s often ignored or discounted. I know there are many different viewpoints on the subject. But we have to talk about it more, even if we still agree to disagree.

Jeannette: You may have already answered this with that response, but I’m going to ask it anyway. What’s the main point or main question you want readers to walk away with after reading your work?

Shirley: I’d like people to know that, while there are many similarities in the experiences of male and female pastors, there are also numerous differences faced by women that are not always immediately obvious to either male clergy or laity. I hope to create awareness about those aspects and to stimulate conversation, especially at churches with mixed gender staffs.

I also hope that younger women going into the ministry will be better equipped to know they’re not alone in some of the things they experience. Being a pastor is a beautiful privilege, and I want them to hear that God’s calling will hold us steady in all kinds of difficult situations.

Jeannette: Let’s talk about those difficult situations for a second. What is the toughest thing you’ve found about being a pastor, whether it’s something female-oriented or otherwise?

Shirley: For me, it’s been the emotional stress of carrying this 24/7 role for so many years. I have a deep love for God’s people and a desire to see them experience a full, rich life in Christ.

I believe the only way that will happen in the church is if we make it a priority to offer the training and resources that will properly equip people to develop in their relationship with God.

I often found it taxing to find a healthy balance between focusing on that priority while also attending to all the administrative tasks that need to be done in order to keep the systems of the church running smoothly.

Jeannette: I would imagine that is difficult. Then again, I would imagine there’s a lot that’s difficult about being a pastor in general.

As for being a female pastor specifically, one of the things you brought up that I found the most fascinating was what one should wear at a wedding. I just never would have thought about that before you said it.

What would you say was the aspect that took you most aback about joining the clergy?

Shirley: Definitely the culture shock of facing very different rules for the working relationship between the genders. I came from a business background and never dreamed this was “a thing” I’d have to face as a pastor.

It was also difficult when the opposition to my being a lead pastor in a church came from other women… I didn’t anticipate that either!

Jeannette: That last one actually doesn’t surprise me one bit. But that’s a whole different conversation for a whole different time.

Right now, we need to establish where readers can find you online.

Shirley: You can go to my website, www.shirleygoodman.com. I’ll be starting a discipleship-oriented podcast later this year, so be sure to look for the announcement and details there!

Jeannette: Wonderful! I highly recommend this book to even the biggest skeptic or critic of female pastors. It’s got a great tone and presentation that's more refreshing than I can say.

Guys and gals? You definitely want to read this one.

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