Book Review: “Emboldened” by @TaraBeth82

Why I picked up this book:

Emboldened book cover

Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women in Ministry” was written by Tara Beth Leach. As a fellow writer for Missio Alliance, I consider Tara Beth such a gracious leader with a heart for God, his Word, and his people.

 

Who Should Read Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women in Ministry:

 

This book will particularly encourage women who are called to leadership in the church, and the men who are making ways to support them.

 

What’s in Store for You:

 

Tara shares her personal faith journey, struggles with identity, and her call to leading (and eventually pastoring) in the church. She shares her heart break for the various ways God’s church is divided, the many women who grew up never seeing other women leading in the church, and her concern for the church’s future if we don’t recognize and celebrate the contributions of women in God’s church.

Tara Beth is currently the senior pastor of First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena (“PazNaz”) in Southern California. Even in the Nazarene church, “a denomination that has affirmed women in ministry since its inception” (pg. 7), there is surprisingly low percentages of women serving as active clergy. Her heart breaks.

 

Throughout the book, Tara Beth shares stories from scripture and church history that inform her life and ministry work. She is not debating or making an argument, she is just inviting the reader into the eschatological vision of “our story.”

 

She challenges the church to break stereotypes and the women to overcome their opposition. She does this by being honest about her own struggles and life choices. She shares her heart in this way because she believes that working to empower women is important for the present and future life of the church.

 

She enters the forbidden territory to address our fears. We should all ponder: What prevents or hinders us from empowering women in ministry?

 

My personal take-aways?

 

I really appreciate how Tara Beth has included her husband as a part of the book’s conversation. For the sake of the ministry, Jeff has modeled the humility and selfless sacrifice Jesus. Visually, he is the Joseph to her Mary. He has said, “Yes,” to follow wherever the Lord leads them because doing anything less than that would be disobedience for him, their family, and the ministry. He offers honest insight to those men who are asking, “What would it look like for me to marry a pastor? What is my role or place in all of this?” I think his contribution to the book might also provide hope and encouragement for the women who might be terrified of pursuing any leadership role for fear that it would damage the male’s ego or “run a man off.”

 

I firmly believe in Tara Beth’s conviction:

 

“When women are held back from using their gifts simply because of their gender, the people of God will continue to be hampered and not live into the fullness of the mission we have been invited into (pg. 144).” Too often God’s kingdom mission is missed, the call to make disciples of all nations is deterred, and our witness and evangelistic opportunities are dampened because we, as the people of God, are too busy fighting among ourselves. We are too concerned with who’s right and who is wrong, who’s in and who’s out.

 

I’m certainly not saying that our theology is not important. Our theology is critically important. I’m just also acknowledging that there can be very devout lovers of Jesus and the good Book that come to different conclusions theologically and practically on nonessential issues of the faith. I’m also lamenting the great divide that the whole egalitarian and complementarian debate has caused in the church. Reading this book made me reflect again on my address concerning women and leadership, which offers some recommendations for those who want to bridge these divides. We have much more work to do than fighting among ourselves.

 

Tara Beth writes, “Far too many pastors who affirm women in ministry assume that people in their pews are on the same page.” Therefore, we need intentional conversations, sermons, teaching, and steps to bring the forgotten and omitted biblical and historical contributions of women to light. I agree that “in a world that suppresses and sidelines women, that sees women as sex objects, that unfairly pays women, and that unfairly criticizes women, the church has an opportunity to be witness, to be a sign and a wonder in all of this.”

 

We are better together, people. We are better together.

 

Quotable:

“by the Spirit we are shaped into the women we were created to be—biblical women, holy women, and daughters of the resurrection.” Tara Beth Leach

 

“If women make this battle about winning this fight for the sake of winning this fight, we will lose sight of the wondrous mission that we have been invited into.” Tara Beth Leach

 

Tweetable:

“Your wife’s calling isn’t just her calling, dear husband—it’s your calling too.” Jeff Leah, husband of @TaraBeth82 #Emboldened

 

“The Holy Spirit doesn’t pick genders! An emboldened church is a gifts-based church, not a gender-based one.” @TaraBeth82 #Emboldened

 

“When women choose love, grace, and forgiveness in the face of resistance, we give the world a foretaste of the kingdom of God.” @TaraBeth82 #Emboldened

 

Next Up on this Topic:

 

“I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence” by Richard Clark Kroeger and Catherine Clark Kroeger

 

© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2018

 

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