By Tara Beth Leach (IVP Books)
Some books are best explained by what they aren’t. Emboldened is not for those trying to decide if women should serve in ministry alongside men. Instead, Tara Beth Leach sets out a vision of the church led by those God has gifted, called and anointed. She shares her own story while offering statistics, examples, quotes and principles for individuals and churches ready to move beyond affirming to empowering women.
The senior pastor of First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena or “PazNaz” divides the volume into emboldened women and an emboldened church. Chapters on women include conquering imposter syndrome, breaking stereotypes and overcoming opposition. Leach addresses issues ranging from women’s ministries, to clothing, to whether pastors can be good mothers.
The section on the church focuses on mission, imagination and co-laboring. The Southern California pastor laments churches where half the members sit on the sidelines. She points out that girls rarely see women in leadership roles, so they can’t visualize possibilities and thus underestimate themselves. The senior pastor tells about a well-known minister who sought to embolden women yet dropped the ball by not consistently making them visible or teaching about women like Deborah. He admits his fumble and says unfortunately the church lags behind corporations, the military and universities. Thus, many women find better ministry alternatives in the world than in the church.
Yet in her well-documented, thoughtfully written and very personal book, Leach paints a hopeful picture of what can be. Emboldened is a must-read for every woman called to ministry and every church committed to a kingdom vision without spectators. After all, a person needing CPR doesn’t care if the life-saving breath comes from a man or a woman, nor should the lost.
Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president
Baptist General Convention of Texas