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Do We Need a Space to Serve?

This week, I spoke to a woman who has been given a large degree of influence in an evangelical megachurch. Lately, this influence is increasing. Terry spends most of her time in hands-on direction of eight of the most visible, crucial ministry teams in the congregation. And you guessed it. She's so good at what she does, her "superiors" can give her the toughest jobs and she'll accomplish the tasks. In spades. And if anything's going awry, she's the one who is asked to step in to fix it.

In addition to the hands-on work she does with the eight teams, Terry has also been spending a great deal of time lately in high-level visioning sessions with the head pastors of the church. Evidently, there is some serious "re-think" going on regarding the church's identity and how to do God's work in 2007, given the massive cultural shifts since the church's inception in the 1980s.

Terry says she is pinching herself (positively) quite a bit these days, asking the question, "How in the world did I get here?" and "How can I make the most of this opportunity to make an impact for God's kingdom?" Some of you may think, "What does she eat for breakfast? I'm lucky if my senior pastor answers an e-mail, let alone, invites me to a significant planning meeting." Others of you may feel lucky just to get a direct e-mail. You're still wondering if your boss knows your name. Yet, here is this wonder woman. The male staff trusts her insight and instincts. They include her in their inner circle. And they don't just tolerate what she has to say. They give her the floor.

Well, they may give her the floor. But brace yourself. They won't give wonder woman an office. Yes, it's true. For as much ministry effectiveness, influence, and collegial "respect" Terry supposedly has among the staff, she has no space of her own. In this multi-million-dollar mega-plex of a ministry, this "right-hand-girl" has no place to hold her meetings. No place to plan her day, much less, the next eight weeks of ministry strategy. No place for a file drawer, a computer, a phone. You ask, incredulous, "What? Are there not offices to be had? Yes. Several. But they're being held open for ministry positions not-yet-filled. A worship leader for that new service. A tech person over the audio ministry.

Maybe offices are overrated. Terry is trying to understand her situation and she's been working hard to make the best of it. Besides, since she doesn't have an office, she tends to be a whole lot more connected to both staff and church community. She has to get her work done in coffee shops, restaurants, basements, and hallways. And Terry likes the fact that she's experiencing the very pulse of the church community as a result. She's not trying to take it through that stethoscope otherwise referred to as an executive office.

I listened to her as she put the best spin on it possible. But as she talked, I had a whole lot of tumult going on in my gut. So I'm just going to put this out there to all of you talented ministry women. No doubt, this woman is amazing. And, like many of you and many women in ministry before you, she has learned to do the most astonishing things in less-than-perfect circumstances. Is it an issue that she doesn't have an office? My mom always said that if it feels bad, it probably is. I've got to tell you, I've got a bad feeling about this.

Your comments, gifted women.

January19, 2007 at 9:58 AM

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