Over the past year as I was considering what future ministry might look like I spent some time looking at job adverts for church and Christian organisation roles. Alongside traditional pastorates were a whole variety of specialised roles. This included children’s and families workers.
One thing I have noticed a few times is that when such a role is advertised that either explicitly or implicitly the suggestion is there in the job description that such roles will include responsibility for pastoral and discipleship care of young women. I want to highlight a few concerns here.
- It implies that women’s work is low down the priority and value list. This is something to be tagged on to children’s work. Indeed, when seeing one advert, my wife asked “do they see women as equivalent to children?”
- I suspect the expectation is that it will be women who apply to the role and are appointed. Note then then implication that children’s and families work in the church is “women’s work.” This leaves questions about how we value women and how we value children’s/families work.
I’m not too fussed about how you structure your church staff team. There’s a case for having generalised and specialised leaders. I am also not to worried about how you choose to go about discipleship of the whole church family across age and gender. However, if you think there is a need to staff areas of discipleship and pastoral care then do it properly, take it seriously.
I also suspect that -and perhaps rightly- the churches concerned aren’t sure if in their context they can justify such roles being full time. There’s nothing wrong with appointing someone to a part time post. What I would say is that you probably should advertise two part time posts with the option for them to be held by one person.
If you think that a church in your context would benefit from appointing someone full or part time to provide discipleship specifically for a demographic of women in the church then that’s a reasonable thing to do but go for it wholeheartedly, fully resource, value and prioritise the role.