Part I sets the stage with a historical overview of courageous women who have paved the way for what is happening right now. Tara Beth also shares her own conversion, her ministry calling, and some interesting stories, like the first time she stopped the car to preach to the cornfields. There are many incredible stories throughout the book, and the one about love and forgiveness for “Joe” really hit me.
Part II contains practical tips and tells how different men and women have effectively emboldened Leach. For example, some female leaders lay aside their own interests giving space and encouragement during formational years.
She sees beyond the justice aspect and goes right into the missional part. “This, then, is not merely a justice issue: it’s a mission issue.” I had to think through this, and I think she is right. Leach is not using the traditional feminist arguments based on social justice and human rights as theological arguments for egalitarianism are not the focus here. She is passionate and motivated to get the job done. I like her approach to change because she intentionally steers us in a very different direction that is countercultural. Leach's values are more in line with the Sermon on the Mount, a cruciform life of discipleship that includes love and non-violence.
Emboldened is an incredible buffet of ideas courageously rolled out to help provide women a place at the table. It is rooted in Scripture and delivered by a pastor whose heart is passionately in love with Jesus and the church. Whatever your age, status or gender, whether you are a leader, educator or lay person, Emboldened empowers us to enlarge our vision. She believes it takes all kind to change and the world. EVERYONE can join and participate in God’s mission.
Leach concludes that an emboldened church is a wonder. "..in a world that suppresses and sidelines women, that sees women as sex objects, that unfairly pays women, and that unfairly criticizes women, the church has an opportunity to be a witness, to be a sign and a wonder in all of this. We have an opportunity to be a drastic alternative - to be a light."
Tara Beth Leach is gifted, and she is a leader. And she knows how to embolden women to break stereotypes, overcome opposition, and to invite women to step into their God-given giftedness as leaders for Christ’s mission.
Another great aspect of the book is her knowledge and love for the Bible. Although she never uses the phrase, “spiritual intimacy,” almost every page of her book breathes a palpable, authentic, and intimate journey of an evangelical woman’s response to the call of God in her life to full time pastoring. All the way from a teenager to her present love, a Nazarene Church in Pasadena California, "PazNaz".
She's a trailblazer. In her words, "I have never seen a female senior pastor lead." Great point, what does that look like?
We get a peek into her first few months of being a senior pastor at PazNaz where she faced some difficult conversations about gender issues. We get an inside look into her particular struggles as she yearns to become her unique self in the presence of significant others.
Spiritual intimacy is appropriate because we see page after page her love for Christ, her love for her husband, her love for her children, her love for Christ’s church. And, yes, her current particular love for her church, PazNaz. She nurtures a desire for us to want to see Christ through all these loves.
I have no doubt that other gifted women will see themselves in these struggles because of abounding and embedded stereotypes about female leaders in ministry.
This is book that fills a huge void. I highly recommend it.