Christine Caine—an evangelist out of Hillsong Church and international activist against trafficking—talks with resolute conviction, humor, and an Australian accent.
She's become one of the best-known Christian women speakers around the globe. Caine has preached at megachurches in the U.S. (including Rick Warren's Saddleback Church and Steve Furtick's Elevation Church). She's spoken at the major conferences: Catalyst, Women of Faith, Passion, and yes, The Nines.
One of three women on a lineup of over 100 speakers this year, Caine focused her message on Isaiah 43:19, "Behold I do a new thing … ." She reminded Christian leaders to not let today's trends distract from God's new works in their lives.
Following the event, Her.meneutics editor Kate Shellnutt asked Caine by email about women's representation in Christian leadership, and she again pointed to God's work among us, encouraging women to trust that God will make a way for them.
On your podcast earlier this year, you talked about how your gender felt like a non-issue for much of your ministry, especially at Hillsong. What's your reaction to the discussion over women's representation at conferences like The Nines?
I always welcome lively discussion amongst leaders as long as it is directed towards advancing the kingdom and done with a spirit of love, humility and hope.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve leaders at conferences like The Nines, and I think the very fact that some one like me is included as a speaker in leadership conferences all over the world suggests that the church is very willing to hear from women as well as men … .
The discussion over women's representation over conferences like The Nines is a valid one, and I think as more women step out and accomplish things empowered by the Holy Spirit then they will have something to contribute to helping leaders grow.
I think you actually have to build something that is producing fruit whatever gender you are if you want to help others do the same. Your gender should not be what determines whether you speak at a conference, your gifts and fruit should be. I truly believe that if God has called you to do something, then God makes a way for you to do it.
How much do you pay attention to diversity and representation when you speak at these large conferences and churches in the U.S.?
I am very mindful of diversity and representation anywhere I speak. I come from such an inclusive leadership environment (race, gender, ethnicity, age, tradition, denomination) that at times I am a little stunned that it does not always appear to be that way everywhere else.
We have some work to do, but I think the medium is the message, and the fact that I am there lets women, minorities, and young people know that they can get there if there is where God wants them to be.
It also helps to break down barriers and create pipelines for others to follow. I am grateful that there are people who are drawing attention to the need for diversity. If we are to truly represent the Body of Christ to the Body of Christ and the world then we need to be inclusive and not exclusive. So many have so much to offer, and people learn some things from one person that they would never hear from another.
In some settings, you've had the privilege of being one of the first or only women to speak, leading some to see you as a pioneering female preacher and teacher. What's your message for the women who feel called to lead in ministry, as you have?
I have had the honour of being the first woman in most of the leadership or church settings I have spoken in. I never set out to do that; I just wholeheartedly and faithfully followed God to the best of my ability.
I study diligently, I love to learn and my goal is simply to serve. I am stunned that God would even use me. I think if young women have an attitude of servanthood, love, grace and develop strength and courage, they too will see God open many doors … . If you feel called to lead and preach my advice is to start where you are, serving in your church. If you are faithful with what God has put in your hands then he will give you what he has placed in your heart.
Don't try and push doors open, trust God to open the doors for you. Ultimately it all comes back to trusting God. I personally have a huge commitment to holding open as many doors for young women as I can. I want to pull them up to where God wants them to be. I believe in the purpose God has placed in both men and women.
Lastly, you mentioned wanting to keep your responses hope-filled and life-giving. What would you say to Christians who are upset and angry by women's underrepresentation in American evangelicalism? What should we be doing going forward?
Why did I know you were going to ask me that? I have not really been a part of American evangelicalism, and I must admit that looking at it from the outside is interesting … . I may sound simplistic in my response, but I honestly believe that if you do what God has called you to do and have a spirit of love, grace, and humility, God will take you places where no man ever could … .I just started by helping people and preaching the gospel to those outside the four walls of the church; in fact, I still do that. I was never looking for position or title within the establishment because most of the people I am trying to reach are not in it. If your true priority is people and not a position then there is always a place for you.
David was busy tending the sheep and then suddenly he was anointed as king. If you get busy being about the Father's business he will come and find you when he is ready to promote you. If God anointed you then he will appoint you. We all have the privilege of being co-laborers with Christ. If we are prepared to work in anonymity and obscurity there is always plenty of work to be done. The Pharisees had Jesus in their midst and did not even recognise that the Son of God was amongst them. All of the arguing in the world is not going to open some people's eyes. Nevertheless Jesus of Nazareth went about doing good.
Sometimes I think we need to stop arguing and just simply get out and do some good on this earth. The eternity of multitudes hangs in the balance. They are waiting. Let's go and give some Good News to a world full of bad news. Let's take a living Jesus to a dying world. The Spirit of God lives within all of us who are Born Again and out of us will flow rivers of living water if we let them. Let's not clog the rivers up with dead end arguments, and let's simply get about the Father's business.