Dr. Karia Bunting describes the important role of being true to your femininity even as you seek to break the word of life. Our Sister Preachers will be blessed by this interview.
Dr. Bunting has released a book the describes God’s design in our lives, especially the women among us. Here is an interview that will help us understand the great importance of being who we are as well as preaching the gospel.
Stephanie Smith: You are a self-described expository preacher, with an evident love for the Word. How do you view your personal responsibility in “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)?
Dr. Karia Bunting: I am in love with the Word of God and enjoy communicating it! But it doesn’t matter to me whether it is communicated on a platform, in a pulpit, on the floor, in a coliseum or on the dirt road of a missionary field. The Lord has given me my first book, Daddy’s Delight: Embracing your Divine Design, which I trust Him to use to His glory. And the Lord has given me an expository Bible teaching program that airs on DirectTV 378, and Sky Angel 126. My mission is to communicate the Word of God through every means available so that people are saved and disciples are made. I simply teach the Word wherever, to whomever. That is what I am called to do.
Stephanie Smith: After 18 years of studying theology and now in the midst of working on your second doctorate, do you ever struggle while preparing a sermon to reign in your intellectual ruminations and bring them down to earth for your listeners?
Dr. Karia Bunting: That used to be a struggle before I started doing local church ministry. Love changes things. I love the women I serve, and intellectual rumination does them no good. So I have learned to cut out the things that do them no good, and articulate the Word of God which never returns void.
I was greatly influenced by an older gentleman named Pastor Cole. He was about 88 when I met him, and walked slowly and with a cane. This great man of God spent hours investing in this little servant. At the time when I met him, I was struggling with how to allow the Doctorate in Humanities to enhance my teaching of the Word. At the end of that conversation, He looked at me straight in the eye and said, “Karia, teach the Word. That is what will change people’s lives.” That put a period at the end of that problem. I don’t struggle with it anymore. I just teach the Word.
Stephanie Smith: Some preachers favor the traditional three-point sermon and some prefer narrative preaching. What model do you typically use? How do you choreograph the interchange between Scriptural truth and illustrations/ stories of application in a sermon?
Most of the time, I don’t do the three point message. This method leaves little room for nuance to come out. People relate well to stories, which is why I love the narratives of the Old Testament.
I don’t start with a plan or a structure. I start with the text by praying and then seeing what pattern emerges. Generally the text will group itself later into major points, and I write them down. Then I arrange sub-points under these, and later illustrations. To tell you the truth, sometimes the illustrations don’t get added until I am about to teach the message! As far as application is concerned, I generally do an application on the major and minor points of the passage. I say generally, because sometimes I don’t. I really follow the Spirit on the applications. I have some that I plan to do, but I try to follow Him on that. Applications are audience specific.
Stephanie Smith: You preach every week to a group of women at your church. What special needs do you see that women have in terms of a good sermon? What do they respond to best and how does this shape your preaching preparation?
Dr. Karia Bunting: Yes, I enjoy teaching the Word to the women at my church. What they need is the Word of God applied to the circumstances of life. So you need to know two things: 1) The Word of God 2)The circumstances of their life. The same goes for any audience, really. Messages in the environment in which I minister need to be encouraging. But then, most of the time I need encouragement, too. So the Lord speaks that encouragement through His Word to me, and I pass it on. What that means for the listeners is that they become encouraged through the same message that encouraged me when I was studying it! I love how the Lord works!
The major way that the audience shapes my message construction is in the area of illustrations. The illustrations to which the ladies in the group that I serve might relate may not be the same illustrations to which other audiences might relate. So, for me at least, that is where I tailor the message.
Stephanie Smith: Generally speaking, men and women have different speaking styles. How do you remain true to your femininity in your preaching while perhaps many would consider preaching a traditionally male role?
Dr. Karia Bunting: I am who I am, that’s all. I am a woman. I am always a woman. I enjoy being a woman. I don’t want to be a man. And that shows, I think. I don’t judge myself, thinking, “Karia, you are too feminine there” or vice versa. If I critique myself, it is on the quality of the message.
And as far as tradition goes, I am very traditional. When I speak to entirely female audiences, I just speak. But if the audience is gender mixed, I speak under the authority of my husband and pastor. If I have been invited by a pastor to speak to a gender – mixed audience, I also acknowledge the authority of that pastor. So I’m covered. I am in order.
Stephanie Smith: You recently published your first book, Daddy’s Delight: Embracing Your Divine Design (Moody Publishers, June 2010) in which you explore feminine design through both a practical and Scriptural lens. What challenges did you face in translating the spoken word to the written word?
Dr. Karia Bunting: For me, the spoken word and the written word are two different genres. So when I write, I try to produce good literature – or at least as good as I can get it! I’m no Hawthorne! But I am a servant of God, and what that means for me is that He has equipped me to do that for which He has called me!
Expository writing is first-person heavy. When you are writing a book, you are sharing yourself with the readers. So there is a lot of your life in the book. The reader wants to know how the message works in real life. So you have an opportunity to share your life, your heart, your concerns, your own insecurities, and your victories in a way that is beneficial to the reader.
This book addresses a number of life stages and issues. It brings the Word of God to bear on the challenges of being unmarried, divorced or widowed. It presents God’s solutions to the daily life situations of being a mother, a caretaker, a career woman, a business owner, or a minister. Daddy’s Delight, is about enjoying and maximizing life according to God’s design in the midst of everyday circumstances. I try to do this by presenting the application of God’s Word through the everyday circumstances of a woman, so that she will find truth sweetly nestled in heartwarming, entertaining stories to which she can relate.
KARIA BUNTING (Dallas Theological Seminary; Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary; University of Texas) is an expository Bible teacher and the founder of Focused Forward Ministries. She currently serves as an adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University and teaches a weekly Bible study at her church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. Karia and her husband, George, live in Dallas and have three children.
The question has come up on many if not most of our web seminars. The question is interesting in my own Soul Preaching ministry in that we are an eclectic mix of various denominations. While that is true, 50% of our membership are Baptists and approximately 25% are nondenominational evangelicals. Thus, a good 75% of our readers are conservative evangelicals. Certainly in the Black Church we seek to raise a “prophetic voice” against racism, but the reality of sexism does not bring the same call.
Often when the question comes up, I have ignored the question in seminars in that the question was not exactly what the seminars were about, but then in our last seminar, I referred to preachers in the generic as “he.” This is something that I attempt to never do. I quickly corrected the pronoun usage to “she or he.” To that simple correction one preaching sista thanked me for recognizing the fact that not only can women preach, but they were online right now listening to the seminar. I stated that I know that our sisters are listening. In fact a good 60% of all of our visitors to Soul Preaching and our seminars are our Sister Preachers. I then stated how I am humbled by the fact that our sisters can find a little something to help them from this poor brother who still on occasion makes the mistake of leaving gender inclusive language for our preachers.
Then, a question came in about how can I defend women preaching? To this I spoke of the reality that the Bible says that in the last days God will pour out God’s spirit on all flesh. (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17) All flesh means all male and female, if one is wondering about who this is, then the text tells us that sons and daughters will prophesy and then in case some are wondering, the text re-emphasizes it again by saying that God will pour God’s spirit on both male and female in the next verse (Acts 2:18). This spirit that is poured out is to prophesy. To prophesy is to speak truth. It is to utter forth and declare. How can one prophesy if one is not preaching? It is an accepted part of our tradition in the Black Preaching Tradition that we are in the lines of the prophets speaking truth to power and uttering truth by divine inspiration. The text is telling us that that work will be done by both male and female in the last days. And why should it not be? There have always been female prophets such as Miriam Exodus 15:20, Deborah Judges 4:4, Huldah 2Kings 22:14, Noahdia, Nehimiah 6:15, Anna Luke 2:36, Phillip the Evangelists daughters Acts 21:7-9, And Paul even acknowledges that women prophesy in 1 Corinthians 11:5. Show me a prophet who doesn’t preach. You Can’t be a prophet and not preach! In the last days we are going to see more of this. Women will proclaim the word of God…yes they will preach!
But some wish to argue that modern day preachers are in the line of the priests and not the prophets. They wish to argue that because all the priests were . But I would argue that that was not God’s original intention. Look at God’s original intention was that Israel would be a Kingdom of Priests in Exodus 19:6. But something sidetracked the agenda and God settled on the Levities. But in Revelation we have a picture of the end where this will come to past. God will have a kingdom of priest (Revelation 1:6). Is this going to be only a kingdom of men? I think not. No in the last days, God will have male and female prophets and yes priests.
In my interdenominational ministry here, I have heard the stories. I have heard the stories of women leaving denominations to find one that supports women in ministry only to be sent to the hardest back woods towns and after turning it around being moved to another back woods town while a young male is placed in the place to get the benefits. I have heard the stories of working for years and barely getting a 3 member church 2 hours out of town. Yes, I have heard the stories from our sisters who have had their womanhood questioned just for wanting to obey the call of God on their lives. I have heard you, and I pray that God will continue to make a way out of your tears. Your road that you have taken, dear sister, has opened avenues to ministry that many of us may not have seen or appreciated.
Yes, when they wouldn’t ordain you as a pastor, you went on and became an evangelist and preached on anyway. Maybe you were like Shirley Ceaser and had to preach in between songs that you sang, but you preached on anyhow. Maybe you preached with your actions like Harriett Tubman. Yes, you trailblazed the way to ministry even when you didn’t have a church. While I am not a woman, I do believe that the ministry of Soul Preaching would not have been even thought of if it hadn’t been for our sisters who have had to think out of the box and their legacy pointed me towards going online without a church and without the credentials that some think you should have. Yes, I thank you sistas for your work and witness.
Finally, I also wish to say that perhaps my proudest moment in this ministry was when a Baptist sister wrote me and said that she followed the materials that were freely given on Soul Preaching Ministries. She put together a Bible Study with the materials. The church recognized the call of God on her life and she then put together a sermon. Finally, that church ordained her to the ministry. I am glad that God is using me to help fulfill that call to prophesy in the last days.
My original question was “Should Women Preach?” The short answer is they already are, and if the Bible is true, they will keep on preaching into the kingdom of God.