Women make up more than half the church, but in many congregations, the leadership is entirely–if not almost entirely–male. Men and women have different needs and perspectives. How do we make sure that we are cultivating female spiritual growth?
Dr. Anessa Westbrook has done original research for her major project and dissertation at Fuller Theological Seminary about young women. Specifically, what factors help young women to grow spiritually and to find opportunities to use their gifts in the church?
An Interview with Dr. Anessa Westbrook
The above video clip is posted on YouTube. You can also listen to the conversation as an audio podcast. Here are some significant points that we discuss in our conversation:
- Differences between what helps men and women grow into leaders
- The frequent lack of attention given in churches of Christ to developing young women
- Surprising statistics about what young adult men and women say helps them to grow spiritually in church settings
- Opportunities where churches should invest resources that do benefit both genders
- The dearly needed efforts for women to provide role models and mentors for each other
About Dr. Anessa Westbrook
Dr. Anessa D. Westbrook is an Assistant Professor of Bible and Ministry at Harding University where she has worked to raise the academic level of women’s classes as well as to develop programs specific to women’s development. She teaches both textual courses and courses related to women’s ministries. She also serves as on the Lectureship committee and is the program coordinator for WINGS.
Anessa and her husband Tim have been married for 25 years. They have three children: Alina (who just finished her sophomore year at Harding University), Anna (who just graduated from Harding Academy, and will attend HU), and Theo (finishing up his sophomore year at Harding Academy).
They were missionaries to Hungary for 8 years, with part of the last year serving as missionaries-in-residence at Harding University. They have lived in Searcy since 2003.
Her education credentials include:
- Doctor of Ministry, Fuller Theological Seminary
Dissertation: The Perceived Need for Spiritual Development among Female Church of Christ Students at Harding University
- Master of Divinity, Harding School of Theology
- Certificate in Women’s Ministry, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
- Master of Arts, Church Growth, Harding School of Theology
- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Harding University
Here are resources recommended by Dr. Westbrook, along with some links relative to our conversation.
- Mosaic by the Siburt Institute at ACU is a collection of articles by various bloggers. Anessa writes 6 times a year for them, focusing on women specifically. Click here to see articles she has contributed, and check in regularly for updates.
- A summary of Anessa’s dissertation at Discernment, an academic journal at Abilene Christian University. Recommended especially if you’d like to see further details on her findings and recommendations.
- Kent, Carol. Becoming a Woman of Influence. NavPress, 2014. Anessa mentions this as a book that her students have found especially helpful.
- Barton, Sara Gaston. A Woman Called: Piecing Together the Ministry Puzzle. Abilene, TX: Leafwood Publications, 2012.
- Becker, Carol E. Leading Women. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996.
- Belenky, Mary Field, Blythe McVicker Clinch, Nancy Rule Goldberger, and Jill Mattuck Tarule.Women’s Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind. New York: Basic Books, 1997.
- Miller, Jean Baker. Toward a New Psychology of Women. Boston: Beacon Press, 1976.
- Sedmak, Clemens. Doing Local Theology: A Guide for Artisans of a New Humanity. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
- Slee, Nicola. Women’s Faith Development: Patterns and Processes. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2004.
- Vanhoozer, Kevin J., Charles A. Anderson, and Michael J. Sleasman, Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.