I watched a webinar this week from ONU with Rev. Tara Beth Leach and her mentor Dr. Scot McKnight. I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting either of them personally but have read some of their writings and listened to several of Tara Beth’s sermons. They are both obviously very smart, yet humble Jesus-followers who care about pastoring and teaching well for the sake of furthering God’s Kingdom.

Tara Beth wrote the book Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women in Ministry; and more recently Radiant Church: Restoring the Credibility of our Witness. She referred to herself as a pastor who writes, and noted she never set out to be an author. But what she said next is sticking with me. Tara Beth said that she felt led to write her books because she “loves the church and believes we can do better.” She didn’t say it as if she was scolding or shaming anyone, but rather as if she earnestly believed it and longed for it to happen.

In Emboldened she teaches that “we can do better” when the church empowers women to use their God-given gifts and lead, pastor, teach etc. She argues that when those in the church hold women back, the church is not reaching our full potential.

Radiant Church envisions a people who ask God to show us where we have created or contributed to toxic ways or systemic wrongs so that we may confess and repent. Only by being humble enough to do this can we become the kind of welcoming communities that God intended for us to be. We can become communities that truly love our neighbors, and demonstrate as Jesus did that everyone – every race, color, creed – is our neighbor.

Sometimes it’s difficult to believe this world can become a better place. “Doing better” at being the people God calls us to be can feel like a long and challenging journey. But we must take up this work. And we must do so with hope.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5

~ Pastor Cindy