Women in God's Mission: Accepting the Invitation to Serve and Lead, By Mary T. Lederleitner
Women in God's Mission
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: November 06, 2018
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4551
  • ISBN: 9780830845514

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Christianity Today 2020 Book of the Year Award, Missions/Global Church

Women have advanced God's mission throughout history and around the world. But women often face particular obstacles in ministry. What do we need to know about how women thrive?

Mission researcher Mary Lederleitner interviewed and surveyed ninety-five respected women in mission leadership from thirty countries to gather their insights, expertise, and best practices. She unveils how women serve in distinctive ways and identifies key traits of faithful connected leaders. When women face opposition based on their gender, they employ various strategies to carry on with resilience and hope. Real-life stories and case studies shed light on dynamics that inhibit women and also give testimony to God's grace and empowerment in the midst of challenges.

Women and men will find resources here for partnering together in effective ministry and mission. Organizations can help women flourish through advocacy, mentoring, and addressing structural issues. Wherever God has invited you to serve and lead, discover that you are not alone as you answer the call.

"This is an exceptional book and one of a kind. Men with Christian leadership responsibilities must read it. Too often men have allowed the issue of women using their leadership gifting and calling in the church and mission to polarize God's people. Sensitively into this arena, Mary Lederleitner provides helpful insights based on sound research. She brings us stories of dozens of women who serve the Lord in leadership roles around the world. These and Mary's analysis of them illustrate the contexts, complexities, challenges, and opportunities for women in leadership responsibilities. Mary's inquiry is well grounded and this gives her credibility to be read and heard. Her own leadership experiences and insights add to the impact of this book. Mary draws out insights that can be practically applied to a diversity of ministry contexts. Men need to read this book so that we may more effectively play our part in helping to ensure that Jesus' daughters are able to serve him in leadership roles. Let's remove the barriers that have stopped this from happening. We owe this to our sisters in Christ."

Kirk Franklin, executive director, Wycliffe Global Alliance

"As the history of the church continues to unfold, inspiring momentum is building in this decade with yet another corrective movement of God's Spirit among his beloved people. This book is a new and deeper look at our theology of women, our traditions, and our stewardship of women's experiences, gifts, suffering, and potential. In an increasingly complex and connected world, Mary Lederleitner's research helps us consider what's at stake in this shifting paradigm. From the stories of women in an impressive variety of cultural settings, she highlights the faithfulness of God, and the example of Jesus who draws his daughters toward himself rather than following cultural convention. He compels them to love and serve out of who they are, even as they navigate expectations that could press them to be less. This book brings crucially needed perspectives, thoughtful challenges, and productive language to contribute to the remarkable transformation of God's image bearers, male and female together, in this critical window of redemptive history!"

Wendy Wilson, executive director of Women's Development Track, mission adviser for development of women at Missio Nexus

"For years I have watched Mary use her gifts in missions, research, writing, and leadership. She lives the truth found in these pages. The gender discussion often devolves into arguing biblical positions. Women in God's Mission honors the wisdom and experience of women and men who share different understandings of women in ministry. Personal stories from all over the world build bridges that connect what God is doing to and through women. Let's continue the conversation so men and women heal and serve together for the glory of God."

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, author, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, copastor of spiritual formation, Highrock Arlington

"Drawing on key lessons from history, the rich intercultural experiences of women across the various sectors of the global evangelical community, and her own extensive work as a mission leader with Wycliffe and other ministries, Mary Lederleitner has provided us with inviting and thoughtful reflections in Women in God's Mission. Sensitive to the different perspectives in churches and denominations regarding egalitarian and complementarian perspectives, Lederleitner seeks to move beyond current polarizations by sharing the stories of respected women from about thirty countries with the goal of helping women and men think deeply about leadership and service in God's mission. Calling on her readers to find their identity in God, to focus on faithfulness in service, to understand contextual challenges, and to prioritize collaborative leadership approaches, Lederleitner hopes to see the influence of a new generation— in continuity with Deborah and Esther, Priscilla and Lydia, Amy Carmichael and Corrie ten Boom, Sojourner Truth and Rosa Parks, Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong— not only continue but expand for the generations to come. While some may wish for more extensive scriptural and theological engagement, the application questions at the conclusion of each chapter combined with the action steps in the final section of the book create abundant opportunities for readers to reflect further about these important matters. Women in God's Mission offers a significant contribution to the questions regarding service and leadership for the global church in the twenty-first century."

David S. Dockery, president, Trinity International University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Mary Lederleitner is a champion for Christ who dedicates her life to seeing his purposes fulfilled in the world. Now through Women in God's Mission she combines her own experience with that of female evangelical leaders from all over the world to inform, inspire, and empower daughters of Christ to do the same while navigating common barriers that may discourage them. Women in God's Mission is an invaluable guide for women in ministry, both at home and in the mission field."

Bob Creson, president and CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA

"Godly, influential female leaders are stepping into key ministry roles all around the world. Their voices need to be heard. Mary Lederleitner's listening and analytical skills have resulted in a highly valuable book that provides a way for all of us—men and women alike—to learn from those she calls 'God's extraordinary daughters.' Anyone who wants to partner effectively in a global context will find fresh insights here to better understand and support worthy women leaders."

Ellen Livingood, president and director of Catalyst Services

"There are so many books on leadership, but this is unique. Dr. Mary Lederleitner has done a tremendous service to the body of Christ globally through the careful research contained in this book. She has taken a contested issue and, through her irenic and incisive style, allowed us to hear the voices of women servant leaders from around the world. I imagine that there will be many 'ah ha' moments for women readers encouraged to know they are not alone. For men, it is not always comfortable reading, but it is insightful, rich, and potentially rewarding if we are willing to listen. I finished the book more convinced than ever that leadership is plural and that we need each other, men and women, if we are to draw on all the gifts God has given for the building up of his body and the extension of his kingdom."

Paul Bendor-Samuel, executive director, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies

"A book titled Women in God's Mission might lead you to believe that it's written primarily to encourage women to fully utilize all their gifts in the global mission of God. If that were the only target, Mary's extensive worldwide research of women in leadership would have succeeded 100 percent. But there's so much more! If any man or woman cares about influencing the next generation, their church, their organization, or their sons and daughters to see God's purposes achieved in the world, then read this book. If you believe as I do that the whole church (in which more than 50 percent are women) is called to take the whole gospel to the whole world, then we need to hear and respond to the message of this book."

Paul Borthwick, author, Western Christians in Global Mission, senior consultant, Development Associates International

"Mary Lederleitner's compelling research relates the inspiring stories of admired female leaders in global mission from more than thirty countries, and through a breadth of perspectives highlights their remarkable responses to God's invitation to influence and serve. This highly readable book provides new insights into the Christ-centered approach of these women and arouses great respect for women leaders who encounter a unique set of expectations and pressures. With grace-filled words, a warm tone, and vulnerability, this book challenges the reader to reexamine how best to steward the gifts God gives his daughters and wisely empower them to follow Christ's call to their full potential. It is a treasure that will encourage female leaders and those who care about them in courageous pursuit of God-honoring collaborative ministry marked with excellence and resulting in significant contributions to God's mission around the globe."

Jennifer Collins, associate professor of missions, Taylor University

"In this book, Mary Lederleitner has brought together the voices and experiences of dozens of women from an array of cultural backgrounds and ministry contexts. This collection of insights provides not only encouragement and inspiration for other women God has called into leadership for the sake of his kingdom but also offers an important lens for the church—comprised of both women and men—as we seek to grow in our understanding and practice of godly leadership. Women in God's Mission illustrates some of the unique experiences women face in their roles as leaders. However, it is much more than a book about women in ministry. Whether as a woman in leadership, a man colaboring with women in leadership, or simply out of concern for how God prepares and uses his people, both men and women can benefit greatly from the lessons drawn out of those experiences as we each seek to live out our calling as leaders in God's redemptive work."

Evan Hunter, vice president, ScholarLeaders International

"We found this book to be compelling and carefully researched. Mary Lederleitner graciously describes the ways God's purposes in the world are furthered in significant ways when women answer his call to serve and lead. Today's churches and mission agencies must be committed to the full flourishing of both men and women to fulfill the glorious vision of God's kingdom pictured in Revelation 7:9, as all give praise and glory to the Lamb, who gave his life to make us co-heirs with Christ."

Jim Plueddemann, author of Leading Across Cultures, and Carol Plueddemann, coauthor of Pilgrims in Progress

"Reading Women in God's Mission is like being invited into a conversation with a group of godly women in different roles from all over the world about the joys, struggles, and lessons learned while seeking to be faithful to God's call. I found it informative, challenging, balanced, inspiring, and hopeful.”

Steve Moore, president, nexleader, author of The Top 10 Leadership Conversations in the Bible

"Mary's book highlights the fact that around the globe women face a wide variety of challenges as a result of their gender, yet many find contextually appropriate ways to serve that are helpful to God's mission purposes. Mary Lederleitner's book will inspire and encourage readers with the stories of dozens of women from around thirty nations that are interwoven with diverse contexts demonstrating the value women add to the work of Christ in richly contextual terms. This book is a timely reminder of the incalculable value of women accepting God's invitation to serve his mission. This book is a helpful tool for women who seek to serve God in different contexts and is sensitive to a diverse spectrum of cultural, contextual, and theological environments."

Ed Stetzer, Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism

"Mary Lederleitner's book is refreshing, inspiring, informative and encouraging, especially to the young women aspiring to be Christian workers, teachers, pastors, missionaries, or to other areas of Christian leadership. This book should be essential reading for anyone considering entering the Christian ministry whether within one's residence or overseas."

Woodrow E. Walton, CBE International, Spring 2019

Read an Excerpt



Part 1: Appreciating Their Stories
1. God’s Amazing Daughters
2. Navigating Power When Serving
3. Being Authentic When Leading

Part 2: The Faithful Connected Leader
4. A Distinctive Foundation
5. Connected in Different Ways
6. Persevering with Wisdom
7. Prioritizing Impact and Excellence

Part 3: Realities of Gender Discrimination
8. Caring About Challenges
9. Strategies That Accommodate Others
10. When Accommodation Hinders Faithfulness

Part 4: What Women Need to Do Their Best Work
11. If Married, Husbands Who Act Like Jesus
12. A Healthier Metaphor in the Workplace
13. Men Courageously Opening Opportunities
14. Cultivating Encouragement and Growth
15. Addressing Remaining Issues

Conclusion: What Might This Mean for the Future?
Appendix: Research Details and Methodology


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Mary T. Lederleitner

Mary T. Lederleitner is founder and executive director of Missional Intelligence. She has a PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and an MA in intercultural studies from Wheaton College, and teaches as an adjunct professor at both institutions.

She is a veteran mission leader and researcher who has served for two decades with the Wycliffe Global Alliance in a variety of international leadership roles. She serves on the OM Global Board and as a board member for Catalyst Services. She is also the author of Cross-Cultural Partnerships.