Rev. Jennifer WilsonI’m getting pushback from some of my readers over my film “Amazing Grace: A Church for Men” because I featured a congregation with a female minister.

Some of my readers believe that women should not preach. Others think I’d have been wiser to feature a male preacher in my film. Some think I’m endorsing female pastors.

Church for Men has never taken a position – pro or con – on female ministers.  Our goal is to get men involved in church – period.

I’ve always been very honest about the challenges female pastors face in reaching men:

  • Female-led churches are 20 percent more likely to have a gender gap.
  • Denominations that have opened their doors widest to female leadership are in the steepest decline.
  • Female ministers are overwhelmingly liberal, while most men hold more conservative views.
  • The Bible pre-supposes male leadership in the church. God could have sent his daughter, but he sent his son, who recruited 12 men to live and die with him. This example alone shows us how important male leadership is to the church.
  • It’s now possible for a boy to grow up in church and never see a man in a position of leadership, which pretty much guarantees he will not stay active in the church as a teen.

Jen Wilson (the pastor of Grace UMC) is bucking all these trends. She has more active men than women in her church. And she’s doing it in a small, rural, liturgical, 160-year-old mainline church that sings hymns accompanied by an organ. I hope this film spurs male pastors and elders to ask themselves, “If a woman in that situation can grow her church by reaching men, why can’t I?”

I really don’t want this blog post to explode into a debate about the role of women in the church. Can we all agree that God uses women for his kingdom? He used Henrietta Mears to lead more than 400 men into full-time Christian service, including Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. Billy Graham called Mears the most influential woman he ever met, after his own mother and wife.

I see a lot of Henrietta Mears in Rev. Jen Wilson. Her preaching is orthodox, grounded in the Bible. Her goal is to get the Gospel out of the church and into the community. She’s not afraid to dream big dreams. Her love for the community is infectious.

I knew my decision to feature a woman would make lots of people unhappy. Conservatives would dismiss it for theological reasons. Liberals would complain that Wilson is discriminating against her own gender. But it’s hard to deny what’s happening at Grace UMC. Rev. Jen Wilson is showing what’s possible when a traditional church focuses on men – even when its leader is not one.