Women in Leadership in the Vineyard, USA
This dissertation focuses on opportunities and hindrances for women seeking to advance into senior levels of leadership within the Vineyard USA movement and its churches. The research shows that core values brought into the movement through its founder, John Wimber, created an atmosphere of hope and invitation for women seeking to lead. This ethos, however, has been countered by numerous obstructive factors that also arise from the Vineyard's history and culture. Thus, while Vineyard leadership has come to support women advancing, the on-the-ground reality for those seeking to become Senior Pastors and regional and national leaders remains fraught with difficulty.
As background, an examination is made of the rise and development of the feminist movement in the United States. The influence of feminism on the church, and particularly on women becoming pastors and church leaders, is then discussed. Attention then shifts to core Vineyard values, symbols, and structures, and how these have influenced what women can and cannot do as senior level leaders.
The research is then described. The methods are primarily qualitative, using semi-structured focus group conversations to gather data. Participants are Vineyard women both in and aspiring to senior levels of leadership and the groups occur in multiple geographic areas of the country. Questions center on opportunities and hindrances for advancing as leaders. Conversations were recorded, with statements and responses categorized and quantified to identify trends and themes.
Analysis of the data shows that in the context of a profound commitment to the movement these women, none the less, experience significant hindrances to their advancement. Hindrances are classified into three broad categories: formative influences, concerns about how women would be perceived and related to as they entered senior leadership, and aspects of Vineyard thought and structure that inherently favor men. Many women, in the face of these hindrances, though foundationally drawn to the movement, feel frustration and despair about accomplishing their goals and dreams of leadership.
Recommendations are then made to facilitate change. These include: providing specific and intentional training for women to advance as Senior Pastors and as regional and national leaders; continuing the conversation with women so that their voices can be heard; and expanding the movement's imaginative ability to see women as leaders through group conversations and through placing women in prominent leadership roles at conferences and in the regional and national structure.
Mentor: Elizabeth “Betsy” Glanville
Doctor of Missiology
Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Women clergy, Women religious leaders, Glass ceiling, Sex discrimination in employment, Sex discrimination against women
Missions and World Christianity
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