The New York Times has an interesting feature on “Women at the Pulpit.” The accompanying video is titled “Female Pastors on the Rise” (see above). Among other things, the article describes why female pastors are on the rise in the Brooklyn area:
Contributing to the growing numbers of women becoming pastors are real estate and denominations. Churches formed in nontraditional spaces, like storefronts, offer aspiring pastors more opportunities to preach. And in Holiness and Pentecostal churches, ordination and authority often come directly from the Spirit, said the Rev. Dr. Dale T. Irvin, president of the New York Theological Seminary.
Two brief words about what this means: First, many women who were not welcomed to preach at more traditional churches found out they could rent storefronts and start their own. Second, the Pentecostal tradition is an independent church movement. That means that one needs no denominational credentials to be a pastor. Believing themselves to be set apart directly by the Holy Spirit, they take the office upon themselves.
This procedure is problematic—and not merely because these happen to be women. To be sure, the Bible speaks clearly to the issue of women in the pastorate (e.g., 1 Timothy 2:12). But the Bible does not allow any person—men included—to take the pastoral office upon themselves.
The pastoral office is reserved for those who are gifted for the ministry and who meet a defined set of character qualifications (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). The men who meet these qualifications are not self-appointed. The church is to recognize and set these men apart for the ministry (1 Tim. 4:14). The issue is not whether one recognizes his own giftedness and qualification. The issue is whether the people of God recognize it as well.
Beware of any pastor who is self-appointed. Their ministry springs from an unbiblical premise.