Rev. Carolyn Moore, founding pastor of Mosaic United Methodist Church, Evans, Ga. and Asbury Seminary alum, joins me on the Thrive with Asbury Seminary Podcast today. In this episode, we talk about the intricacies of faith, calling and how she became secure in her identity in Christ as a woman, pastor and artist. Carolyn shares her burning question: How do women plant churches? This question led to her dissertation work and healing as she named barriers specific to women in ministry and discovered ways to overcome these obstacles to fulfill God’s call on her life.
*The views expressed in this podcast don’t necessarily reflect the views of Asbury Seminary.
Rev. Carolyn Moore, Church Planter and Lead Pastor of Mosaic United Methodist Church, Evans, Ga.
Carolyn is the founding pastor of Mosaic and has been serving this ministry since 2003. She is absolutely in love with the people of Mosaic (and she’s pretty sure they like her, too). The challenge of building an authentic missional community is the thing that gets Carolyn up every day.
Heidi Wilcox, host of the Thrive Podcast
Writer, podcaster, and social media manager, Heidi Wilcox shares stories of truth, justice, healing and hope. She is best known as the host of Spotlight, (especially her blooper reel) highlighting news, events, culturally relevant topics and stories of the ways alumni, current students and faculty are attempting something big for God. If you can’t find her, she’s probably cheering on her Kentucky Wildcats, enjoying a cup of coffee, reading or spending time with her husband, Wes.
Heidi: Hey everyone, welcome to this week’s episode of the Thrive With Asbury Seminary podcast, where every other week we bring you conversations with authors, thought leaders and people just like you to help to connect with where your passion meets the world’s deep needs.
Heidi: This week on the podcast we’re talking with Reverend Carolyn Moore, founder and lead pastor of Mosaic United Methodist Church in Georgia.
Heidi: In this episode we talk about the intricacies of faith, calling, and how she became secure in her identity in Christ as a woman, pastor, and artist. Carolyn shares her burning question, how do women plant churches? This question led her to her dissertation work and healing as she names specific barriers to women in ministry and discovered ways to overcome these obstacles to fulfill God’s call on her life. Let’s listen.
Heidi: So thank you so much Carolyn for making the time to talk this morning. I’m super excited.
Carolyn Moore: Me too.
Heidi: So I want to talk today, I was in my group with the thriving in ministry for women, and I was there when you talked, and that’s when I got the idea, “Oh, Carolyn would be great,” because I was really interested in what you had to say. So I want to talk to you about your dissertation and your work there of course, but also kind of your own calling to ministry as a woman. And then how that kind of led you into the research and kind of informed what you did.
Carolyn Moore: Okay, all right.
Heidi: So I was looking at your Voices story this morning, just looking back on it and I saw that you accepted Christ when you were 12, and then called to ministry as 13. You said it was kind of unusual at the time. So kind of what were you thinking when you were like, “I’m called to be a pastor?”
Carolyn Moore: I was raised in a family that was nominally Christian, culturally Christian but most of us didn’t go to church. I went with my mom but there was certainly nothing there that kind of took. By mistake, I ended up going to a youth group when I was 11. I didn’t realize I was too young to be there, but they let me come. And that first night, one of the counselors said something funny, and it was the first time in my little 11 year life that I realized that Christians could be funny. And that was of value for me, I think it’s still of value for me. Joy was one of the big attractions of the faith to me.
Carolyn Moore: So that was a hook, when I was 12 I came to Christ, and when I was 13 I was standing in a pulpit at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church in Augusta, Georgia, giving a youth devotional back when they had Sunday night services, and I can remember it like it was yesterday, standing there in that pulpit, reading my little 13-year-old handwriting about Jesus and hearing this voice, this audible mystical voice say, “This is where you belong.”
Carolyn Moore: And in the moment I was wondering if anybody else heard it. I asked people afterward, “Did you hear a voice?” And it was clearly only for me, and so I took it. I was just naïve enough to think if God calls you, you should do it. I had no idea women didn’t do that kind of thing.
Carolyn Moore: I’m 56, so that would have been 43 years ago and 43 years ago, in Augusta, Georgia, there were no women pastors.
Heidi: Yeah, yeah.
Carolyn Moore: My mom, I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a concern especially for my mom, maybe for my dad. I’d never talked to him, but I talked to my mother and she was always discouraging me from that, “Find something else to do.”
Carolyn Moore: So toward 12th grade, my mom set me up with an appointment with my pastor, and my pastor told me he thought I would be better suited for Christian education. And I was just naïve enough to think that my pastor was hearing from God, so I went to a college that had a Christian education major and my life just fell apart. I didn’t realize then what I know now, which is that your faith and your calling are intricately connected. I think it’s possible to step away from your call or to miss your call and still be a follower of Jesus. It isn’t as if one disqualifies you from the other, but for me certainly, my faith and my call were so intricately interwoven that when I stepped from one the other fell apart.
Carolyn Moore: What I found out was that my faith just didn’t have roots all by itself. So for 10 years I was pretty solidly, I just walked on the wild side pretending.
Heidi: How did you find your way back like to your calling and your faith and?
Carolyn Moore: Good question. So I was a heavy drinker but a friend of mine invited me to go to, they were starting a brand new bible study fellowship, BSF. She invited me to go and that first night it was like, “Wow, okay, these people know rules. They definitely get the rules thing down,” and addicts don’t have rules. We don’t like rules, we don’t like rules, we don’t like responsibility. So I just felt the boundaries in that group but I was also sort of fascinated by it.
Carolyn Moore: And very quickly as I began to study the word through BSF the word of God just jumped off the page. I would come home, and I would just be on fire. I would sit there at night at my kitchen table, and I would be on fire. My husband, he began going to the BSF men’s group because he said, “I didn’t want to get left behind.”
Heidi: That’s awesome.
Carolyn Moore: Probably about two years in, they asked me to lead a group and they told me, “But if you lead, you’re going to have to quit drinking.” I was like, “Well, I’ll pray about it,” which is Christian-ese for when hell freezes over.
Carolyn Moore: But I heard the voice of the lord again. I heard him say, “Here’s your chance. Are you choosing beer or Jesus?” And I chose Jesus, and this doesn’t happen to many people. I lead a recovery group here at Mosaic and so I know this doesn’t happen often. For whatever reason for the purposes of God, I was delivered that night. I’ve not had a drink since. I still have cravings, I know chemically that I’m addicted but I have managed through the grace of God to stay sober since then.
Heidi: That’s awesome.
Carolyn Moore: Once my mind got sober, my heart began to stir again and I really kind of went very quickly all the way into the deep end. We had a house, we had a daughter, we had a marriage, I had a good job. And I just asked God one night, “Is this all there is? Is there anything else?” And I heard that same voice again, say, “I’m just waiting for you to say yes.” I realized in that moment that from God’s perspective, all the mistakes I’ve made, I’ll the problems I’d had as an addict, all of the doubts and even the outright denial of him that I had in my years away did not matter to Jesus. He was just patiently waiting.
Heidi: I love that.
Carolyn Moore: And I said yes that night, my husband was thrilled, and we set on a course that landed us at Asbury a year and a half later.
Heidi: Yeah. So you came then for your M.Div, were both of you students?
Carolyn Moore: No. My husband was a school teacher when we accepted this calling. He was genuinely thrilled, his response that night when I heard just say yes, I was kind of in fear and trembling realizing if I didn’t say yes who knows where I would have ended up. So I said yes and when my husband walked in the room just a few minutes later and he said, he asked me what I was doing, and I said, “Well I think I just said yes to the call.” And he just fell back on the bed and laughed and said, “So when do we go?”
Heidi: I love that. That’s like such a huge gift and a confirmation.
Carolyn Moore: Oh I know. We’ve just got a pretty egalitarian relationship but he has often said, “The one thing I won’t let you do is quit.” I mean he’s been such a supporter and an encourager all the way through. So his journey of finding a teaching position in Kentucky on our way up to Asbury was a whole other miracle story in itself and an avenue of healing for him, but I was the student. We’ve been very clear on this, it took years for us to express it but we’re very clear that the call, all along, the call to pastoral ministry was my call. And that was our family mission, it wasn’t his call to lead a church, it was his call to lead in our family as I led a church.
Heidi: And that’s important.
Carolyn Moore: Yes, yes.
Heidi: Very important.
Heidi: So you came to Asbury, got your degree, then what happened next?
Carolyn Moore: While I was at Asbury, I sensed a very strong call, a deeper call, to plant a new church. I was at Asbury 23 years ago, 24 years ago this year. And so back then, we were right on the front edge of the whole church planting wave that since has become such a big part of the American culture. But I just sensed a very strong call to it and it was more just a sense of having seen a model. I saw a model of a missional community called The Church of the Savior in Washington, DC. I read a lot of books about it, very interested community, and it lit a fire in me. And I sensed the lord say that the United Methodist Church could benefit from that model.
Carolyn Moore: So while I was at Asbury I studied more, they didn’t have church planning classes at Asbury at the time, now they’ve got a whole degree, but back then [crosstalk 00:11:20]
Carolyn Moore: So I sought out a professor who let me do an independent study in church planting. I sent a letter to my church development director in the North Georgia Conference asking if I could plant a church and the response I got back was, “We’ll call you.” What I didn’t know at the time was their jury was out on women planting churches.
Carolyn Moore: They had not had any successful examples of women planting churches and I didn’t know that at the time. I just was sort of like all along this had been God’s given me, let’s just…
Carolyn Moore: So.
Heidi: Yeah, you were just all in to doing what God had called you to do.
Carolyn Moore: Exactly.
Carolyn Moore: So I ended up getting an associate pastor’s role at Athens First United Methodist Church and walked in, the first day he said, “Okay, we want you to start a congregation across the street from the church in an old theater.” And so they gave me three months to start.
Carolyn Moore: Well I made every possible mistake but the grace in those five years was that I was able to make all the mistakes you could possibly make in planting a church but with training wheels on. I had a copy machine in the big church, I had an office in the big church, I had people in the big church who were cheering me on. I can’t say they really understood what we were doing, but we were trying it and I went from zero people to 150 by the time I left.
Carolyn Moore: And I can’t say I built something healthy, it lasted about five years after me and then fell apart but it was a real grace to have that chance inside a supportive community to try it. That was prevenient grace on my life for this work.
Heidi: Absolutely. Yeah.
Carolyn Moore: Yeah.
Carolyn Moore: And then in 2003 the North Georgia Conference invited me to plant this church in Evans.
Heidi: That’s awesome, so you started doing that and it’s going well.
Carolyn Moore: Yeah.
Heidi: Okay so were you like a satellite church of another church or kind of an independent plant?
Carolyn Moore: I was what they call a parachute drop.
Heidi: Okay, okay.
Carolyn Moore: I was appointed by the North Georgia Conference to an area and they just dropped me in and said, “Best of luck, see you,” and walked away. I had 18 months of salary and that was it, and I had $25,000 in seed money and that’s what I was given by the North Georgia Conference. So.
Carolyn Moore: At the time, statistically, church plants had about a 70% failure rate and a big part of that huge failure rate is a product of that parachute drop model. I think the church planting world has learned a lot in this. I’ve been here now since 2003, so what 16 years? And I think the church planting world has learned probably the least effective way to plant unless there is such a strong move of the Holy Spirit that is just obvious to everybody. And that’s certainly not the case with this, it was just a denominational initiative. Now I wouldn’t recommend it. You learn that everything takes longer and costs more than you expect, even if you plant in a healthy way, a mother daughter church model or as a team, leadership team that’s worked together for a long time to develop a rhythm. Even when you’re doing the healthy and the most successful models, everything takes longer and costs more than you expect. You have to be ready for [crosstalk 00:15:31].
Heidi: Of course, yeah. Yeah.
Heidi: What was the planting experience like for you?
Carolyn Moore: The what experience?
Heidi: The planting experience like for you?
Carolyn Moore: So it was lonely, especially in the early years.
Carolyn Moore: It was sobering, not just in the, you know, because I’m not saying that. I’m saying it was scales fell from my eyes in terms of my denominational support, it was sobering. To find out that money follows numbers and when the numbers aren’t there, they will leave you. They will leave you. It was such hard, hard years for me but it was also a sanctifying experience.
Heidi: How so?
Carolyn Moore: God used church planting to shake loose from me, and probably I’m sure I’m still carrying the feathers of it, but to shake loose from me the unholy ambitions. I had every intention of being the next female Andy Stanley.
Heidi: Yeah, wow.
Carolyn Moore: And you know missional community, that was what lit my fire, but when I got in the church planting world all of my ambitious nerve endings just lit up and I wanted that. I wanted 1000 people, 15 getting saved every five minutes, I wanted all the stuff. I wanted all the stuff.
Heidi: Of course, yeah.
Carolyn Moore: And of course I never said that out loud, never, because I might be unspiritual, but I’m intelligent and so at least smart enough to know what you’re not supposed to say out loud. But I just knew somewhere underneath there that was what I was really after. So what my unholy ambitions were leading me toward and what my call was were two different tracks. Missional community is what God created before, or called, and mega church ministry is not what I was equipped for, gifted at or called to.
Heidi: But it’s easy to like kind of combine those but try to figure out a way to make those work you know together because they can be kind of similar and be like I’m still doing what God wants me to do.
Carolyn Moore: Yeah, you can tell yourself all kind of lies.
Carolyn Moore: And aren’t we just really good at that, you know?
Heidi: We are. I know I am.
Carolyn Moore: “I prayed last night and God told me,” and fill in the blank. And then it becomes just another unholy ambition. So over the years just the consistent failure at achieving what I wanted became a sanctification for me, a part of my sanctification. Where I had to just shake off all the unholy ambitions, I had to shake off, I had to grieve my limits. And I also had to get very, very honest about not just my internal leadership limits but what I was limited to as a female church planter and then just because of culture and human fallenness and then how to live inside of that so that I could be successful in the stream I’ve been given.
Heidi: Yeah. How did you do that? Because when you’re saying that it’s many things but I think of it being kind of you’re comfortable in your own skin now with who you are. How did you do that?
Carolyn Moore: Probably the biggest gift I was given years and years ago I had a conversation, it was just a serendipitous conversation in Atlanta with a woman named MaryKate Morse, she’s a professor at Fuller, or she was at the time. And she planted two or three churches with teams, and they’ve been successful by four square standards, and I found her online one day when I was looking one more time at how women plant churches, finding nothing out there, being so frustrated, just sure in my spirit that while my gender wasn’t everything, I am certainly limited as a leader. Nobody had written anything, nobody had vocabulary to affirm that in me. So it kind of made me crazy.
Heidi: Yeah, yeah, it would.
Carolyn Moore: I call her up one day, just out of the blue, total stranger. She happened to be in Atlanta, we met, and she said to me, “It sounds like you have a burning question and that is a great starting point for a doctor of ministry.” And I went, “My dear woman, I am never going back to school.” That might sound like it would be a good idea to you because you’re an academic, I am positive…
Carolyn Moore: This is not sending me back to school.
Carolyn Moore: So I try to answer my question every other possible frustrating dead-end way. One day I walked into an Asbury Alumni gathering at my annual conference, which I was actually helping to host, put out the cards for a brand new church planting cohort in the D.Min school. And I looked at it and I heard that same call of God.
Carolyn Moore: And this call was, “I delight in you, let’s do this together for fun.” That was the sense of that moment.
Heidi: What an invitation.
Carolyn Moore: Yeah. You don’t have to go all the way across the country, Asbury’s my tribe, and it’s the place that has formed me, has never let go of me, over 23 years of a relationship with this wonderful institution, never let go of me. And I heard these were the words, say just, “I delight in you, let’s do this together for fun.” So I called up whoever was leading it at the time and said, “All right, here’s my burning question, how do women lead past the natural barriers so they can plant churches effectively?” And if you’ll let me answer that question, that’s my question, if you’ll let me answer that question in the D.Min program, then I’ll sign up. And he was like, “Let me send you the paperwork.”
Heidi: I was going to say they were probably super excited that you had your dissertation at the beginning.
Carolyn Moore: Nobody’s written it and so not everybody goes into a D.Min. Quite the way I did but I went with my burning question, well defined, lived out as a question for a lot of years. I was ready, I was ready. That program was life giving for me. I found more peace, I found more of my own sense of identity, my own sense of worth. What I found was there are natural barriers that women face.
Heidi: Yeah, yeah.
Carolyn Moore: There are barriers that most people don’t verbalize because they don’t know it even consciously.
Heidi: Because it’s just kind of normal like in your world.
Carolyn Moore: Right, right.
Carolyn Moore: The best part of all to me was by verbalizing them, that was enough for me. This was enough. If know them and I can enter any room non-defensively, non angrily, happy to be there and let people accept whatever part they can accept. And I can also speak into the lives of women who are ready to take on the mantle of serious spiritual leadership. Not really cut out for people who just want to do Christian recreation, you know? Let’s just sit around and talk about ourselves all day, I’m not really cut out for that. But I am cut out for women who are ready to take on the mantle of spiritual leadership. So I can say to them, “I’m not here for whiners, I’m not here for angry women, I’m here for women who are ready to take on the mantle and who are ready to do the big grown up work of figuring out what your personal barriers are so you can lead past them.” Not stating them to your congregation, not stating them to whatever people you’re leading, but working from that place.
Heidi: What barriers in your research, what did you discover? And then I want to move on and talk about kind of like discovering them as part of your healing process.
Carolyn Moore: Okay.
Carolyn Moore: Well I narrowed them to six basic barriers. The theological barrier of course we’re all aware of and that’s kind of flamed back up here in recent days.
Carolyn Moore: With Beth Moore’s conversations with the SBC, so but the theological barrier is obvious.
Carolyn Moore: 50% of the Christian world globally does not accept the role of women in spiritual leadership over a church, even if the denomination will allow you to speak from the pulpit, there are denominations still that don’t affirm the role of women as a church leader. So that means that as a church planter, when I am gathering leaders to plant a church, I have half of a pond to fish from.
Carolyn Moore: Where a man can fish from the whole pond, my pond’s half the size.
Carolyn Moore: The second one is the perception barrier and that works in two different directions. And I believe the perception of women as leaders is an effect of human fallenness. So I think this is one and two, God gave us a model of partnership that was parallel, men and women in partnership.
Carolyn Moore: As they steward the earth. Genesis three made a hierarchy out of a partnership, so somebody was left on the bottom side of that hierarchy and it’s women. And ever since, women have always felt themselves sort of jumping back, you know in any leadership situation we sort of feel ourselves jumping up there
Carolyn Moore: To get just to the starting block.
Heidi: Yeah, sorry go ahead.
Carolyn Moore: Go ahead.
Heidi: I was just going to say like you feel like you have to work twice as hard to just even be good enough, to be noticed. At least I felt that way sometimes.
Carolyn Moore: Right, right. And so you walk into a room and you hear it from women often, we’ve learned how to apologize our way into a room. I hadn’t actually noticed that, it was a man who told me that that’s what he notices when women walk into a room, the first thing out of our mouths so often is I’m sorry.
Carolyn Moore: You never hear a guy walk into a room and say he’s sorry.
Heidi: No, they don’t apologize for anything. I mean they do, but I mean like not for being somewhere.
Carolyn Moore: Right, right. It’s been ingrained into us.
Carolyn Moore: So there’s two things on as far as how others perceive us. One part of how others perceive us is an assertive woman, a woman who’s naturally gifted for leadership will often be seen as too aggressive, so not as well liked. If we take on a more passive or feminine persona as a leader we’re not as well respected. So how we’re perceived by others is an issue. And then, because leadership for many people, leadership just isn’t packaged in a woman’s body, so they struggle to make sense of it cognitively.
Carolyn Moore: And that then kind of creates this thing in us where because I do feel like I’m apologizing my way into a room, because I don’t know how people feel about me in any room I walk into, I often find myself struggling with my own self perception. Should I be here? Questioning my role as a leader, questioning whether or not did I hear from God right. So, when you’re constantly doing the self questioning it’s really hard to get past yourself.
Carolyn Moore: And simply be in a room.
Carolyn Moore: So one of the best things anybody ever told me was you know just if you’re in a room, you’re there because somebody invited you and they’ll let you know when you’re not welcome anymore. And you know we know that’s true.
Heidi: Yes we do.
Carolyn Moore: So the third barrier is resources. I said earlier that money follows numbers. I totally understand when a denomination, when an annual conference office, when a network only has so many dollars to spend on new church development. When some churches or some leaders are just exploding you want to fuel the success.
Carolyn Moore: You want to make lives matter, souls matter. 3000 souls coming to Jesus and coming to worship on Sunday is obviously holds a kind of fruit that a church with 200 people in it doesn’t have. So I totally get it, but the fact is, that does limit the amount of resources available to women because at this point, and I would say this holds true across denominational lines from my study, certainly in the United Methodist circles, that there are no churches planted by women that have grown to be, I mean the largest ones are somewhere around 500 members.
Carolyn Moore: That’s the largest.
Carolyn Moore: And so, I may be missing one but listeners if you know that one that is the exception I need you to hear me, that’s the exception not the rule.
Heidi: Right, right.
Carolyn Moore: For the most part female pastored church plants are hovering just low numbers. So that also means we don’t have the resources and the resources of training because people who are professional coaches, professional trainers are going where the people are.
Carolyn Moore: And something less than 3% of church planters are women, I’m not talking about pastors.
Carolyn Moore: Something less than 3% of planters are women.
Carolyn Moore: Yeah.
Carolyn Moore: Then there’s the biological barrier and that’s one that women struggle with across the board or have to wrestle with in terms of their own call and that is what’s going to lead in my life. Is my career going to lead or is my family life and my time for pregnancy, time kind of out of the pipeline because I am either pregnant or having a child or at home on family leave or taking a season away-
Carolyn Moore: From my vocation in order to raise my child to school age.
Carolyn Moore: That happens on the young end and then on the middle age end is just what happens to us biologically and how we handle that and are we well suited temperamentally for leadership. And those aren’t even things guys can say out loud, but I’m a middle aged woman I can say it.
Heidi: Right, we can talk about those things.
Carolyn Moore: And it’s true too at 55, 60 years old we begin to think, “Do I really want to just begin here?” You know? Is this where I’m going to start, and a whole new thing, and if so what’s that going to look like in terms of my husband’s retirement, in terms of grand parenting and all those other things.
Carolyn Moore: At life. So biological barrier is there for both genders sure but I think there’s a special case you could make for women there.
Carolyn Moore: And then there’s the pastoral care barrier, this is an interesting one. Carey Nieuwhof talks about this in a blog post he gave several years when he talked about how pastoral care kills churches.
Carolyn Moore: And pastoral care is centered on the pastor, and a pastor can only effectively pastor about 150 people. When you have naturally limited the size of your church focusing all the pastoral care needs on one person. Combine that sort of human tendency with a woman’s more natural tendency toward nurturing, and now you have a pressure that you have to push through and a barrier you have to break through with your congregation in order to grow your church. Looking to the mother figure in the house to be the nurturer and the care giver for everyone and if you say, “No I’m simply not going to do that,” well now you have to deal with everybody’s ire and, “Wait, what? I thought you were going to be my mom.”
Carolyn Moore: And developing being kind of ruthless and developing a pastoral care network so everybody isn’t continuing to come to you. So because we are naturally gifted as nurturers-
Carolyn Moore: That’s a personal and corporate barrier we have to press through. So yes.
Heidi: How are naming these barriers healing for you?
Carolyn Moore: For me, it was just I could look at every single barrier and say, “Yes, yes, yes, yes.”
Carolyn Moore: All of these things are actively working beneath the surface in my ministry. In some seasons some are more important than others. Early in my life as a church planter the resources were so critical and I didn’t have that. Now, keep your money, you know? What’s really active in my life right now is just the perception, other people’s perception of women and being able to stand as I am as a strong female leader and just let the chips fall where they will. It’s a constant pressure against the pastoral care tendency that I love taking care of people and listening and being in that room with somebody who needs me. But pushing against that tendency in myself so that I can keep pushing pastoral care to the small groups. Really working the strategic plan, really working the systems knowing what I know about both my tendencies and other people’s tendencies.
Carolyn Moore: So just having a way forward, having vocabulary for it, it was so healing. And I’ll tell you the one night that meant more than any other night in my D.Min. Research, was the night I discovered the survey, some psychologist somewhere discovered that when the people around you will not affirm what you know to be true, you feel crazy.
Heidi: Well absolutely.
Carolyn Moore: I had church in my home office that night, it was like 11:30 and I just went, “Yes, yes, that’s it. I feel crazy because everybody around is saying, ‘You’re fine, you’re doing great. Nothing.’ Don’t you see? I’m working twice the hours as my male counterparts, I’m trying so hard. I know some of it is my own fault because I have leadership limitations but not all of it is my fault.”
Carolyn Moore: And I just needed somebody to affirm that.
Carolyn Moore: And the studies, no book has been written inside the church but what I found in the business world, Harvard Business School has done study, after study, after study, what I found in the educational world was so affirming for me. And that’s luck, now I know, you know, I just had to know for myself I wasn’t crazy.
Heidi: Yeah, yeah, and that’s important-
Carolyn Moore: Yeah.
Heidi: Just to have knowledge and vocabulary to be like, “Yeah, this is how it is, I haven’t been just imagining everything that’s been going on.”
Carolyn Moore: Yeah, yeah. We live in a fallen world.
Carolyn Moore: Everybody’s got their thing, guys have their thing, and they have their stuff that they need to work through but this was mine.
Carolyn Moore: To find out at the end of the day these barriers will always be here as long as we are on this side of Genesis three. And I can take that and that’s enough for me and now I can start working and in every conversation at every community I create I can begin pouring in, exposing the greatness in women, exposing human greatness in people by letting them affirm my leadership and that’s enough. Yeah.
Heidi: Yeah, yeah.
Heidi: One of the barriers you mentioned was the perception barrier and one of the ways when we had talked earlier you said to overcome that was to be secure in your identity in Christ. I mean I think it’s probably a lifelong process, but how did you start being more secure in your own identity?
Carolyn Moore: I worked with a counselor a few years ago and it’s just so simple. Of course the way God is first introduced to us relationally in the scripture, I mean he’s introduced in the very first verse of Genesis, but the first relationship we really see after Adam and Eve is the one that’s described over chapters and chapters is with Moses. He represents himself to Moses as I am, I am. It’s such a beautiful name that evokes identity. So I had this counselor say, “And if we’re made in the image of God, our task is to discover in ourselves our I am. What is my I am?” And to get at that he had me write, I mean his homework assignment was to write 2000 I am statements.
Carolyn Moore: I never got to 2000, but I got over 1000 and so you know the first 10 or 15 are your really I am a mother, I am a wife, I am a pastor, I am a church planter, those things. But then after about 50 or so, after you finish with your PR ones, the ones you expect to published, then you kind of get to know yourself. And somewhere around 200 or 300 I really started getting very serious about you know I am one who struggles with my husband’s depression and so does he, of course. One day, and a particularly bad day, I wrote I am distrustful of God. This wasn’t a deal breaker for me in any way but just writing it out loud really I began to deal with my own trust issues across the board. I am a mixed back, I am equal parts good and fallen. The day I wrote I am an artist, that was a freedom day for me.
Heidi: How so?
Carolyn Moore: I really began to understand I’m not the un-Andy Stanley pastor because I’m just not capable, I’m not that guy, I’m not the mega-church pastor because I’m an artist. I create things that are unique, and I create models. I create things people can look at, that they can say, “Okay, that’s a model of missional community, spirit filled missional Wesleyan community that I could get behind and maybe even draw some things from that.”
Carolyn Moore: And I’m also an artist in the way that I in my speaking and in my writing just seeing my writing as artistry instead of just shoving information out onto the world. That was so freeing for me.
Heidi: I bet.
Carolyn Moore: When I realized that in any room when I present in a room I’m not presenting as a woman, I’m presenting as an artist. And if I feel different in this room it’s not because people don’t appreciate my gender, it’s because I am a unique person in this room. And really everybody in the room is, but this is how I present, I present as someone with a unique viewpoint, as someone who was probably not going to do it like everybody, who was probably going to have more the model and not the explosive midstream community. I am going to present as a more prophetic voice when I kind of found those words that worked for me inside my artist thing. It just changed everything. I found so much peace, I found joy, I found a way to posture myself. And I turned around and looked at my church and all of a sudden I saw my church as one big piece of art, and it’s like, “Oh, I love this place.” I stopped seeing all the things that it is not, and started seeing all the things that it is.
Carolyn Moore: So my last couple of years here have just been so life giving.
Heidi: And that discovery fits with the title of your church, Mosaic, which was already in place.
Carolyn Moore: Oh my gosh, I am not the brightest bulb in the box so my church is called Mosaic, my blog is called Art of Holiness, and I am just now getting to understand my lifeas an artist.
Heidi: I love that, I love it though like that’s great. I loved too what you were saying earlier about you don’t want like to foster anger or like whining and angry women and I love, because it’s easy to get in that place.
Carolyn Moore: Oh yeah, put a group of women in a room together, and we can go there very quickly. It’s a comfort zone for us to present as victims or to present as angry, but that’s not God’s best.
Carolyn Moore: [crosstalk 00:43:08] just a sign to the extent, now I’m not talking about not being honest. I’m not talking about not being vulnerable that’s not [crosstalk 00:43:15].
Heidi: Of course, yeah.
Carolyn Moore: But when we find ourselves constantly externalizing the blame, it’s someone else’s fault, I’m the victim, or it’s someone else’s fault, they did me wrong and I’m angry, or it’s someone else’s fault they don’t know me. When I’m constantly externalizing the blame that’s a real sign that I’ve got healing to do.
Carolyn Moore: The world does not need you to present as someone who is desperate to be known, the world needs you to present as someone who is known by Jesus, who finds your fulfillment from the vertical identity and who now can be completely other focused. That’s what the world is desperate for.
Heidi: Absolutely. And it’s not like that we can’t talk about injustices that have been done but to move past them.
Carolyn Moore: Right, how do we talk about the inequities without being angry? One of the cool things, I don’t think I could have done this any sooner than I’ve done it because I was one of those angry victimized women in my early years as a pastor but now equipped with the kind of things that I’ve learned from my doctor in ministry, I’ve been in rooms with men and women and even rooms that were all men, where I’ve taught these barriers to ministry for women and to planting specifically. And it’s so cool to see guys go, “Oh my gosh, I’m so glad to hear you say that because I have been scared to death to say that out loud.” You know and “I never even thought of it.”
Carolyn Moore: I had a guy just last week walk up to me, it was between sessions at something totally unrelated and he said, “Everything you told me about how you dress up and looking at how other women dress and oh my gosh, I get what you’re saying now. I totally understand what I need to be coaching. As I’m coaching the women pastors. I totally get how I can coach them.” And it’s just been so freeing for me.
Heidi: Yeah. And I bet really exciting to see how your dissertation and your work is making a difference, not just in your life but in other people’s lives too.
Carolyn Moore: Right, right, one more way we can help the body of Christ.
Heidi: Yeah, yeah.
Heidi: So what resources are you offering now or like what do you want to continue to do with your dissertation?
Carolyn Moore: I desperately need to write the book.
Carolyn Moore: I hear your voice in my head right now saying, “Write the book, I told you to write the book,” because I know that what I have it can be a contribution to the body of Christ.
Heidi: You should totally write the book because I read your dissertation, I mean and it was great, but you should write the book, like it will be amazing.
Carolyn Moore: I just have to find the space and time to do that.
Carolyn Moore: So that’s one way that I’m using. I don’t really go out and seek opportunities but I want to make myself available to anybody, whether it’s a staff team, or if it’s a district meeting or a conference thing or just a workshop inside of a conference, I just think there’s a lot there for men and women, just a non-threatening place to learn the language and start thinking about how to make the most of ministry for women whether you are a woman or are coaching women in the leadership. The other thing is I want to give permission to men to mentor and coach women.
Heidi: How important.
Carolyn Moore: And that’s part of one of the strategies around the barriers is to find the coach that works for you, don’t look for gender, look for affinity. Having a feeling in yourself that you can conduct yourself professionally no matter what the relationship.
Carolyn Moore: No matter who that coach is. So I want to give men and women that freedom. And I think I just want to continue being on the receiving end of all those one to one conversations with women who say, “You know I’ve really struggled, and I need someone I can talk to.” And to be able to say to them, “I hear your struggle, I totally hear it, now what are you going to do about it?”
Carolyn Moore: Because God has a call in your life and part of that call is after you’ve done everything you can do, stand, you know?
Carolyn Moore: Paul said, “After you’ve done all you can do you need to stand and you need to be,” and Paul also says, “Grow up in every way.”
Heidi: Yes, yes.
Carolyn Moore: He was right, yeah.
Heidi: I think that’s all my questions for the podcast, unless there’s anything else that we haven’t touched on that’s burning on your heart.
Carolyn Moore: Nope, that’s good.
Carolyn Moore: I want to say one other thing, as I have experienced more freedom in ministry it’s been amazing actually to watch the ripple effect. My church has experienced more freedom in ministry, my church has experienced more freedom from me, they see me now just I am much less controlling, I am much less emotional, moody, maybe that’s the better way to say it. I’m just less moody. I have experienced more joy in this season of my life than in any other season and consequently we have seen the spirit move at Mosaic in ways we’ve not seen until now. It’s been really amazing to watch.
Carolyn Moore: So now I kind of moved on past you know me and my question about women ministry and the big question for me now is how do Wesleyans embrace supernatural ministry?
Heidi: Oh yeah.
Carolyn Moore: [crosstalk 00:49:28] who we are, we’ll spend the rest of our lives telling everybody who we are. Now that we know who we are we spend the rest of our lives figuring out how to expose the kingdom of God.
Heidi: Yeah. That is fascinating.
Heidi: So how do we do that?
Carolyn Moore: First know who you are in Christ because when you know who you are you experience so much more freedom to explore all the beauty and the joy and the art and the creative spirit that is the kingdom of God. And you can let people be who they are inside your community, and they can present in all the ways people present themselves without some need to control it. And that has been so freeing for us and now you because you’re not focused on yourself anymore, now you can lay hands on other people and help them to get set free and that’s been my thing with folks at Mosaic. I say, “Just as Wesleyans, let’s just start practicing what we know to be true. Luke nine tells us cast out demons, cure diseases, proclaim diseases and heal the sick.” So let’s just start laying out hands on people and casting out demons and calling out the sickness and calling the holy spirit to cure people. And if it never happens, at least, at the very least we can stand in front of Jesus and say we’ve been faithful.
Carolyn Moore: What we’re noticing is that as we just give ourselves permission to do that, God is creating real miracles in our midst, and it’s been so fun to watch. And we’re not trying to create the culture of some other tribe, we’re just trying to be true to what it means to be a Wesleyan, which is classical Christianity and the heart of classic Christianity is Jesus’ commission on those first followers in Luke nine. Take power, take the empower and the authority given to you, that’s it, that’s it for a woman.
Carolyn Moore: Take the authority given to you to go out there and cast out demons, cure disease, proclaim the kingdom and heal the sick.
Heidi: That’s amazing.
Heidi: There was one thing I did want to ask you. We were talking earlier about hearing the voice of God, like in pivotal moments for you. Are there ways that we can hear the voice of God and know that we’re hearing the voice of God?
Carolyn Moore: That’s a great question, and I think the answer for me, because God is mystery and every time I think I have him figured out, he doesn’t change, I just realize how stupid I am. But the answer for me has been space and time. I do not give space and time to listening, I won’t begin to recognize how he speaks to me. And how he speaks to me will be different than how he speaks to you. I tend to have these very mystical moments where the sentence is clear, simple and concise and it comes to me almost like clouds parting in my brain. Bob Tuttle says, “When what you hear is smarter than what you could have said yourself, you know it’s God.” And there are moments where I’ve heard, “This is where you belong, just say yes, I want to delight in you. Let’s do this together for fun. Wake the people sitting in the pews. Create conversations and communities that expose the kingdom.” Those are lines God has given me over the years that I can say I know that was God inspired, if not God breathed, God spoken, you know?
Carolyn Moore: And so he knows he can get me in one sentence, he probably invented Twitter because of me because I lose focus after about 144 characters. But if he can get me with one sentence, and he can get me with enough space and clarity to hear, I will receive it.
Carolyn Moore: He also speaks to me in dreams, and the dreams that I know are from are usually symbolic in nature, and they’re very vivid, and they stay with me. And if they stay with me past a morning, after I’ve dreamed it, I know that’s probably God trying to speak to me and maybe he speaks to me in dreams because I just don’t give him enough space and time during the day. But I’m learning at this stage in my life that space and time, it’s the meeting I have with God before the meeting when I get clarity about the purpose of the meeting. It’s the meeting I have with God before worship when I get clarity about the purpose of worship. It’s the meeting I have with God before I actually enter the process of decision making when I get clarity about the question I really want to ask or really want. I think what I can say at this point in my life is I’m very aware that God will speak when I give him space and time. Yeah.
Carolyn Moore: And that for me is different than sabbath, sitting around drumming my fingers is not good for me. I’m just antsy and miserable. For me the discernment and the voice of God comes in the midst of very interactive wrestling, or very interactive, intentional conversation.
Heidi: I was going to ask you what your meetings with God look like, because when I think of meetings with God I think of like, and it may be, like this drawn out time and for me because I’m trying to implement it in my own life and like meeting with God. And I’m like, “Well, I don’t want to get up at 4:00 in the morning, I will not be awake to meet with God for an hour or two hours at this time of day. It’s just not going to happen.”
Heidi: So what are these meetings? And I realize they’re different for every person but what are they?
Carolyn Moore: So for me it is about an hour every morning. I get up and go to the gym first, and then I come home, and then I eat and then I meet with God, now I’m awake enough.
Carolyn Moore: But it’s about an hour every morning for me, and I notice that it takes about 20 minutes for my brain to calm down enough to hear, and I take notebook, my Bible, and I set a time on my phone and then turn it over because I am so easily distracted. I think the world is, that’s not a me thing, that’s an us thing. The scripture is what grounds me. And so I read about four chapters every day and if I will just give myself to that, he will show up. And that’s kind of the daily working out my salvation.
Carolyn Moore: But in terms of speaking over specific events, or moments, or decisions, or new direction, or a new season, it really is for me it’s just taking a walk in the middle of the day. I don’t do well sitting still, but I do really well if I’ll move my body and then my brain to God. So a lot of times what I do is I’ll just go to the park, and I’ll take a walk or sometimes I can just write.
Carolyn Moore: One of my practices is I’ll write across the top of the page the question that I have, and I write it in blue, I pick up my red pen and everything I hear I write in red. I don’t worry about whether it’s God or just me or wishful thinking, I just write everything I hear. And I can go back in a day or two and I can see which parts, with a little bit of time and distance, I can see which parts are God or likely God [crosstalk 00:57:35] like I always hear from him. But I can see which parts, “That’s probably a word right here. And this part, that’s probably [inaudible 00:57:45].”
Heidi: Yeah, yeah.
Heidi: Well, thank you. Thank you for like talking to me today and just sharing. So, as we wrap it up we have three questions that we ask everybody on our podcast. And so it’s called the Thrive Podcast, so the first question kind of relates to that. What is one practice, spiritual or otherwise, that is helping you thrive right now?
Carolyn Moore: Right now the spiritual practice today is fasting. I’m fasting together with my community, everybody takes a day and there’s about 80 of us working that today. And this community fasting is a different thing for me, it’s usually been a very solitary practice. But it’s been really cool to fast together with the community. I have my day, everybody has got theirs, some of us are on the same day, and we kind of talk to each other if we know we’re all fasting on the same day. But I’ve been more intentional because the accountability of community and it’s been a great, great practice for me. I found myself letting go of so many things that I thought belonged to me only because I know 80 other people are praying with me.
Heidi: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Carolyn Moore: The community fasting, very cool. Yeah.
Heidi: Okay, cool.
Heidi: What are you reading right now?
Carolyn Moore: I just finished, I’ve got so many good books right now.
Heidi: That’s a good problem to have.
Carolyn Moore: 90, sorry, Nine Lies About Work, was a great read for me.
Carolyn Moore: A book about just work, and the kind of practices built, and the underlying concept is after 20 years of research this kind of group of people found that teams are the bottom line. And so these Nine Lies About Work are all related to how teams work together. It’s been a really good book for me. I really appreciated that book.
Carolyn Moore: A War of Loves is by David Bennett, a celibate gay Christian, exceptionally well written, bright, brilliant guy. Just a great book.
Carolyn Moore: Those are two I just finished, and I have to look at my list to see what else is on it.
Carolyn Moore: Oh Spiritual Friendship by Wesley, I saw the Wesley Hill podcast on Spiritual Friendship [crosstalk 01:00:08] the book I’ve just got, and I can’t think of the name of it, but a really great book as well. Spiritual friendship is another one that we as a community have talked about a lot. Truly enter into deep, intimate, friendships and community is a way of, we have a lot of single people in my church, and it’s a way of feeding, caring for, loving on, providing meaningful relationships to single adults [crosstalk 01:00:34] with friendship in mind, yeah.
Heidi: What is one thing that’s still on your bucket list?
Carolyn Moore: It’s crazy that I have been a lot of places in the world, and I have not yet been to London.
Heidi: Oh yes.
Carolyn Moore:I think I’m ready to go to London, see the new room, I really want to see the new room, see that window firsthand.
Carolyn Moore: I’d really like to go to Scotland. I’d really like to go to Ireland. So that whole part of the world is yet to be explored and that’s something I’d really like to do, yeah.
Heidi: Absolutely, well I hope you get to do that soon.
Carolyn Moore: Thank you, thank you.
Heidi: So, well thank you again, excuse me, thank you again Carolyn. I really enjoyed talking to you, I get to talk to you every once in a while, and I always enjoy the opportunity to spend time with you, so.
Carolyn Moore: Likewise.
Heidi: Thank you.
Heidi: Hey y’all, thank you so much for joining me for today’s conversation with Reverend Carolyn Moore. Just so enjoyed this conversation with Carolyn, and so grateful for her time and her ministry and for her sharing of her story to encourage me, and I hope you.
Heidi: In our next podcast episode Donna Covington, Vice President of Formation at Asbury Seminary joins me for a conversation. We talk about the formation journey students begin during their time at Asbury Seminary, but also Donna’s personal story of formation, healing and hope.
Heidi: New podcast episodes release every other week and you won’t want to miss out. Subscribe in iTunes or your favorite podcast player. And of course you can follow us in all the places, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at Asbury Seminary. Thank you all so much for listening, have a great day y’all and go do something that helps you thrive.