73: Bethany Allen | Pastor of Spiritual Formation & Leadership Development
Bethany Allen is the Pastor of Spiritual Formation & Leadership Development at Bridgetown Church in downtown Portland.
She has a deep passion to see women defined by who they were created to be: image- bearers of God.
Compelled by her affection for the scriptures and her desire to be an effective learner in order to be an effective teacher, Bethany works hard counseling women, developing curriculum, and planning alongside Bridgetown’s pastoral team.
A southern belle by birth, Bethany moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2007. She earned a Master of Arts in Specialized Ministry with a focus in Pastoral Care to Women from Western Seminary in 2011.
Bethany and I chat about spiritual formation, consistently showing up to meet with God, how she handles questions about being a woman who teaches God’s Word, and what led her to seminary.
3:38 Share a little of your faith journey with us. How did you come to know Jesus?
“I think there’s a lot of merit to just that slow, good work of Jesus in our lives.”
5:28 What led to you to seminary?
“I feel like my seminary experience had so much to do with God healing me, as opposed to just learning.”
“I remember God… saying, Bethany, you can build a kingdom, you have enough charisma….You can build your kingdom and you can have influence and it would be good, it will produce goodness, but if you make that your ambition as a woman in ministry, it will be limited. If you instead yield to the reality that I am one who orchestrates my people and brings fullness of the imago dei, it means you’ll have to die a lot more deaths and it will have to be your ambition is really the advancement of the kingdom of God at all costs. Which means you’ll have to bow the knee in certain places, you’ll have to go lower in certain places, you’ll have to withstand things that you don’t necessarily want to withstand, but it will mean the expansion of my kingdom on my terms.”
Ephesians 4 pastoral gifting
14:49 What is it like to serve alongside a group of men who do look at you and value you as someone who can teach the Word of God?
“I think it really helps that I grew up in a context where my dad has always championed me. My dad’s one of the most humble people in the kingdom of God. I remember him always saying, I would sweep the floors of the kingdom, if I could just be a part of it.”
“I have prayed every day for friendship and favor with these men largely because I desire that more than I desire a place on the pulpit.”
“I would say to anyone who asked me because it’s true, he [John Mark Comer] is just as good if not better than you think. He’s just as godly and humble and he’s perfect? No, absolutely not. Am I? No…Those men I serve with are some of the most humble men I’ve ever known. They are both my covering and I’m not afraid to say that that’s not triggering language for me. They are my advocates and they are my friends.”
18:58 How do you handle the question about women preaching in the church?
“I don’t need women to be pastors. What I do need is for women to rightfully have their place in the kingdom of God and be honored and not just honored, but seen as an equal vitality and really expression to the imago dei in the church.”
“If you land John Piper complementarian I do have some questions, but if you got there, because you’ve really done great exegesis and you’ve actually been in the trenches with people and worked out that you actually don’t fundamentally believe that women can partner with you, and it’s better for the sake of the gospel, and for the sake of the church, fine. But if you’re coming at me with one dimension of, well, one time I heard John Piper, say this in a sermon and that’s all I’ve listened to, I’m like, get out of here. Because even women in the strong egalitarian camp, I’m like, super, it’s easy for you to sit behind your computer and write a blog about it. But I know very few of you who are actually in the trenches, partnering with men in ministry, and until you’ve done the partnership work, until you’ve actually put it into practice, I have a lot of questions about your theology and the integrity of it.”
24:46 How would you verbally describe spiritual formation to a common person?
“I think that we get intimidated by the word spiritual formation or spiritual disciplines or practices. I think that language is really simply broken down into what we all learned at Bible camp… Read your Bible, pray, sometimes you fast, sometimes you don’t do the fast. There’s just these different practices that form and inform who you are.”
“I think there’s just these disciplines to actually inform and hopefully, purify and sanctify and integrate you into becoming who you were actually meant to be. They inform, but they also strip away things that are not who you really are and not who God’s made you to be. So I think it’s a lot less intimidating than it sounds.”
26:36 So do you feel like there are like steps to spiritual formation?
“It’s just really about creating rhythms, creating a space, just like if you started dating someone. It’s about creating a space to engage with God. And that can be through the mechanism of reading scripture. It can be through the mechanism of prayer. It can be through the practice of quiet listening and waiting on God’s presence. It can be a lot of different ways. I think a lot of times we go what’s the first thing we should do or shouldn’t do or kind of looking for a formula, but I think so often, it’s really just about (and this is the hardest step to take) showing up. Really being “disciplined” enough to set aside time to show up.”
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero
“Often spiritual formation is the slow work of God…It often feels a lot like regression, largely because of what God is doing in the deeper places.”
“This is the mercy of God that he’s bringing me back here to deepen the good work, because he’s after something more. [T]hat’s what I love about spiritual formation. It’s this work of God that is actually deeply good…. It’s a well that never, never dries up. There’s always more…and that can be intimidating and at the same time, it’s a gift.”
30:42 If I came to you as a follower of Christ, yet expressing a struggle to connect with God, how would you direct, encourage, and challenge me?
- Show up
- Switch it up
- Seek help
“There is something to me about moving my body, my mind and my spirit and putting them into the presence of God and just saying I showed up for 50 days…I gave you 30, set a timer, 30 minutes. I sat and I said, God, come to your best. Come do your good work.”
“We have a tool belt of these spiritual disciplines that we access in different seasons, and we need them and will need them in different moments in time.”
37:08 The terms you use at Bridgetown: practicing the way of Jesus and I am an apprentice of Jesus have impacted my personal walk with Jesus. I don’t have a specific question here, but share with our listeners a bit about how we practice the way of Jesus?
“Our goals are to be with Jesus, to become like Him, and to do what He did in the world.”
41:52 For your great grandchildren listening to this years from now: is there any wisdom you’d want share with them?