50 leaders of the evangelical generation: #47 Beth Moore. Ceiling breaker

 [I am working on a project that may become a book on the most influential evangelicals leaders of our generation, since 1976, and the impact they’ve had on the church and their times. I will introduce them briefly on this blog from time to time. Who should be on this list?]

#47  Beth Moore. Ceiling breaker  b.1957

Beth Moore is a Bible teacher whose books, study guides and conferences have had an enormous impact on millions of Christian women. Oh yes; men, too—but keep that to yourself. There are enough evangelical churches that believe that women cannot teach men about spiritual things that successful female Christian leaders often mask the truth about the number of men who benefit from their teaching.

Moore is perhaps the best-selling female author among evangelicals in the last generation and a symbol of women who over the last decade have begun to break into the upper echelons of evangelical influence. At the center of the strongest resistance to an egalitarian role for women in the church, the Southern Baptist Convention, Beth Moore is among the most successful and perhaps the best-selling Baptist author, and a financial boon to the denomination’s B&H Publishing Group. For the longest time, when you walked into a Lifeway (SBC) Christian Bookstore it appeared there were only two authors at work:  Beth Moore and Henry Blackaby. 

Moore committed her life to vocational Christian ministry at the age of 18, but years later, when she was volunteering as a Sunday School teacher, she realized that she needed to learn more about the Bible. She went to a biblical doctrine class that gave her a deep yearning to know the Bible, and she began sharing her expanding knowledge through a weekly Bible study class. By the mid-1990s that class had grown to 2,000 women and she was speaking at churches throughout South Texas. It was then that B&H began publishing her Bible studies, leading to a national speaking ministry.

Moore founded Living Proof Ministries in 1994 with the purpose of teaching women about God’s Word. Moore writes books based on the regular Bible studies that she conducts at the Living Proof Live conferences and at her local church, First Baptist Church, Houston, Texas. Her books include Breaking Free, Believing God, The Patriarchs. and When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. Living Proof Live conferences are conducted in every state and have been attended by more than a million women. Moore began a radio ministry called Living Proof with Beth Moore in 2004, and she has a Bible study segment on the television program “Life Today with James and Betty Robison.”

The evangelical consideration of gender roles often puts men in the forefront and one result is that any listing of evangelical leaders is predominantly male. Despite this, there is no doubt that women are the primary strength of the modern church. This is not because of the positions they hold but because they are teaching the children in the churches and at home, they dominate in sheer numbers, they are more faithful in participation (including modern missions), they are frequently the real life examples and teachers of spiritual things to their spouses, and they are the most effective hounds of heaven. At times, superior teachers such as Moore, Anne Graham Lotz, Kay Arthur, Joni Eareckson Tada, Joyce Meyer and others have risen to the top as speakers and authors within a male-dominated subculture, and although they are restricted by conservative convictions on gender roles, we all find ways to listen in.

 Criticized for teaching men, Moore responded:

 “The ministry to which God has called me is geared to women. My conference and weekly Bible studies are entirely focused upon women. The only exception to an entirely female audience is my Sunday School class. Men continue to come and sit in the back. We never sought them but did not know how to deal with them. Would Christ have thrown them out? I just didn’t know. I handed the problem over to my pastor and under his authority; he said to allow anyone to come who chooses. I have wrestled with this and the Lord finally said to me, ‘I tell you what, Beth, you worry about what I tell you to say, and I’ll worry about who listens.’ My ministry is to women. That’s where my heart is. I make no bones about it. But what if men come and sit down? Do we stop and throw them out? I really don’t know. I just placed myself under the authority of my husband, my pastor, and my God.”

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About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group (www.valcort.com). Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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