Sunday, August 21, 2011

Michele Bachmann for Pastor

Michele Bachmann preaching, picture by Brendan HoffmanMichele Bachmann for President!? How about Michele Bachmann for Pastor? I don’t see her as a strong candidate for President of the United States, but after hearing Michele Bachmann preach at a church in Iowa, I’m convinced she would be a great candidate for becoming a pastor. It’s true she won the Ames Straw Poll last week in Iowa, but why did she win it? Wasn’t it because of Bachmann’s compelling Christian testimony and her faith-inspired conservative values? If so, isn’t this poll really telling us that Bachmann would be a great pastor more so than telling us she would be a good president? I really think she could be a great pastor. She would have to drop the political rhetoric and stick to her more compelling message about her faith, her experience as a Christian, and what she’s learned from the Bible. If she could do that, I could see her being a serious candidate for becoming a pastor. Bachmann’s passion would be far better applied on this church track rather than on this bid to become President.

Michele Bachmann is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Minnesota, the first Republican woman to represent that state in Congress. In Washington DC, Bachmann founded and chairs the Tea Party Caucus within Congress. Now, with little to no political accomplishments, she’s a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. And she seems to be very focused on winning the Iowa Caucuses which is the first step toward that goal. The Ames straw poll victory certainly helps her.

In the midst of this campaigning in Iowa, on Sunday, July 24, Michele Bachmann spoke at a conservative Christian church that bans women from leadership and preaching. New Life Community Church Pastor Brian Hagerman explained, “We generally would not have a woman to come to specifically teach because we feel God calls men as pastors to be the primary teachers of their churches.” Yet they did invite Michele Bachmann to this church in Marion, Iowa to “share her testimony”—to speak as one believer to fellow believers about what God had done and is doing in her life. They just did not want her teaching the Bible or speaking too heavily about politics.

Doesn’t this beg the question as to whether Pastor Hagerman and the members of his church would actually vote for Michele Bachmann to become president? If you do not believe that women should be leaders or preachers in the church, would you be able to support a woman taking on the highest leadership role in the country? Often the belief that woman cannot lead in the church is accompanied by other conservative values like the belief that the man is “the head of household”—Presidents Bush Obama Bush Clinton Carterthe key decision maker and the preference to see women staying at home rather than being in the workforce. I’ve certainly been in conservative churches that do not believe women should run for political office. In fairness, though, when asked the question, Pastor Hagerman said, “Outside of specifically leading a church or pastoring a church, I personally don’t read in scripture that God says a man can have this job and a woman have this job.” That seems a bit conflicted to me to believe that a woman cannot lead a church of 200 people  but could lead one of the most powerful nations in the world.

Today, there are a growing number of churches which recognize that Jesus fully included women in his teaching ministry and appointed a few of these female disciples to be the very first witnesses of his resurrection. To believe that only men should be leaders in the church like they do in Marion, Iowa is to disregard a lot of evidence for women in leadership in the New Testament church. The Apostle Paul, for example, when writing to the Romans, sends greetings to 27 people who helped to lead the church in Rome and 10 of them are women, more than one-third of the church’s leadership. He clearly identifies some of their titles and positions in the church such as Junia the “outstanding” apostle, Priscilla his “co-worker,” and Mary, Tryphena and Tryphosa who “worked very hard” for the church. Not only that, this letter to the Romans which some regard as Paul’s greatest theological work was delivered to Rome by Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae. It is more than likely that she would’ve presented it to the church in Rome, having been commended to the church by Paul, thus preaching the words written by the apostle. Given this reality of women in leadership in the New Testament era church, there is no reason why women should not be serving as teachers, preachers and pastors in our churches today.

Bachmann prays, pic by Brendan HoffmanMichele Bachmann is a strong candidate to become a pastor. Though New Life Community Church in Iowa said that Bachmann was not to teach from the Bible, in her speech that day, she preached a sermon, easily the best preaching I’ve heard this year. It was great. She was interesting and engaging as she shared how she grew up in the church yet somehow missed the gospel, but later did become a Christian and decided to live as a Christian making a difference in this world just as God was calling her to do. And, then, she riveted everyone’s attention as she opened the Bible and began to preach. “This is a wonderful story in 1 Samuel 14 that I want to share with you.... [King] Saul was so disheartened that he didn’t know what to do. But his son Jonathan did not give up hope. He had a heart that would not be defeated. He had a heart that said we can do this.” Bachmann continued, narrating through this incredible biblical story of courage and faith. Then, with Billy Graham-like passion, she made that Scripture come alive to every person listening, as she preached, “Oftentimes challenges that come into our life, whether they are small or whether they are large like Jonathan was facing—those challenges are often brilliantly disguised by our God as an opportunity for him to show his greatness. That he is powerful to save. And so I say to you this morning... never look at a challenge and think that you go it alone. Never think that we serve a God who is not mighty to save. He prevails.... Don’t think for a moment that he is not more powerful yet to save.” Amen!

I’ve had the opportunity to hear several new preachers fresh out of seminary preach this year as well as a few seasoned pastors. None of them had even a quarter of the passion and power with which Michele Bachmann delivered that message. Look, I don’t understand her political views or how the Republicans could even consider her to be a good candidate for the presidency when she actually advocated for defaulting on the U.S. debt, but I do know that Michele Bachmann can preach. She’s a passionate Christian who sincerely wants to live for God. When you look at what is best about Michele Bachmann’s campaign presentations in Iowa—her biblical preaching, her faith and her Christian values, let’s be serious, she is a great candidate for becoming a pastor. I, for one, would vote for her to be pastor of a church, but not President of the United States.


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