Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces a fabulous minister. This week we are delighted to introduce Kimberly Credit.

Kimberly, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
I knew that I was called to the pastorate immediately after being born again. There was only one problem: I was not sure if I believed that women were called to be preachers and pastors. The church I was attending at the time did not appear to believe in women preachers even though there were several female evangelists on the ministerial staff at the time. Within the first year of my new life in Christ, I began to feel an overwhelming responsibility to live a righteous life and to be an astute student of Scripture. I felt set apart and always concerned with how my example could have an effect on someone else’s discipleship. Those around me discerned a call to ministry on life as well and asked me to teach and speak. However, coupled with my uncertainty about women preachers was my insecurity about speaking in front of others. Therefore, I ran from the call into ministry.

I had been a Christian for approximately two years when I felt a strong sense of call to disciple others, which led me to start my own website, www.romans10.net. For three years, I wrote sermons, although I called them articles. I used those sermons to evangelize people from other religions all around the nation. People were being saved through my website, and as a result, many came to my church to meet my pastor and to worship. I was doing the work of a preacher and providing pastoral care, but I refused to officially submit to God’s call to ministry–all because I was uncertain whether God called women to be preachers and pastors. Once I left the church I was attending, the weight of this struggle lifted immediately, and I finally submitted to God’s call.

I never felt as relieved as the moment when I told God yes! Yes, I would preach the gospel, and yes, I would pastor when it was time.

God directed me to enroll in seminary and led me to my next church, a church where women were affirmed in ministry. There, my pastor, who I affectionately call my “father in ministry,” trained me in ministry and gave me space to develop my preaching. Because of his relationship with God, he was able to discern my call into pastoral ministry, and just nine months after being licensed to preach, I was preparing to be ordained as an associate pastor. Over the next three years, between two churches, I served as the minister of Christian education and discipleship. I trained other ministers, teachers, deacons, trustees, and ministry leaders. I started receiving preaching requests almost immediately after becoming licensed and frequently traveled out of state to preach.

In the beginning of 2015, God confirmed a promise that He had given me two years prior–showing me that I would be pastoring before the year ended. God had already told me that this would happen at the appointed time, but I desired and really believed that I was going to start my own church. So, I was surprised when several churches called and asked me to apply to be their senior pastor. One day, I went to a beautiful suburban church to preach, and as I was sitting in the pulpit, God told me that He had called me to be the church’s pastor. I was sure of it. I drove back to the church the next day and prayed around the church, just as God had instructed. I knew that this church was nowhere near ready to interview for a pastor, so I just sat back and waited. Not long after, I was told that they were considering an interim pastor in the process and that I was one of their choices. I did not want to be their interim pastor because that meant that I would not be eligible to apply as permanent pastor when it was time. But, God reminded me that He had already called me to their pastor no matter what was being said.

On April 11, 2015, I was presented with two other candidates for a vote to become the interim pastor. On April 26, I began ministry there and signed a contract stating that I could not apply as the permanent pastor, but I knew what God said. Although I served as the interim pastor for almost nine months, initially, the consensus was that the church did not want a senior pastor who was female, under the age of forty, or unmarried. Although all of these stipulations applied to me, the Mount Zion Baptist Church of Boonton Township, New Jersey, elected me as their pastor on December 19, 2015, with 95% of the church’s vote. It has been almost two years now since I began serving as their senior pastor. They heard from God, took a chance on a young female preacher, and every day, they show me how proud they are that they heard and followed God over some man-made rules. I serve proudly and wholeheartedly one of the greatest congregations in the world.

In addition, I designed and serve as the Doctor of Ministry cohort director for the transformational preaching program and as an adjunct professor of homiletics at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Last but not least, aside from traveling to train and teach preachers and leaders abroad, I serve as the founder and director of The Preaching Lab, a monthly clinic that allows preachers to work on their craft and delivery of sermons. Currently, there are two locations in the state of New Jersey.

What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
Nothing is comparable to seeing people lives be transformed through salvation. No matter what God allows me to do, nothing excites me more than leading someone to the Lord. The second closest joy would be baptizing. I am in awe each time that God has allowed me to serve in either capacity.

What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
Honestly? My biggest challenge has been other women who felt that I was not polished enough or that because I was not like them, I would not go far in ministry. Many told me how to dress and act. I admit I never listened, and God has blessed me in my own skin. I like being authentic, and people respond better to my authentic ministry. Thankfully, as I am maturing in ministry, I have met so many great women and have recaptured the joy of sister fellowship. I’ve never had too many problems with men, which I recognize is not the normative experience for other women in ministry.

Another challenge would be local peers who, in an attempt to downplay my gifts and the opportunities that God has afforded me, have lied about me. But the most challenging thing has been jealousy that turns into betrayal from those who have been close to me. I am already an introvert, and all of these challenges have forced me to retreat even further. However, I know that I must remember that challenges are a part of the territory of anyone who is serious about doing the work of the Lord.

What advice would you give to a teenage girl who is discerning a call to ministry?

1. Find a pastor who truly affirms women in ministry at every level. Look for signs of oppressive ministry, and if suspected, trust that God will lead you to a pastor who will not hinder the call on your life.
2. Do not be afraid to go somewhere that is different or out of your comfort zone. If God is calling you, God has a work for you and a venue as well. God would NEVER call you to be stagnant. Let the call drive you.
3. Walk in integrity. Men in ministry get away with a lot more than women ever will. Men still dominate the ministry, and if you are promiscuous, you will never be respected nor taken seriously. Most importantly, the only way to walk in the full authority of your anointing is to walk as best you can in holiness.
4. Know that God will make room for your gifts, and you never have to compromise, beg anyone, or suffer abuse in any way to serve in your calling.
5. Study, study, study. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Know the Word of God so that when you are given the opportunity, you will be prepared and be responsible with it.
6. Find a female mentor in the area of ministry where you are discerning a call. Pray about it, and you will know it is a right fit because it will be mutual.
7. Discern what you need and align yourself with it even if it looks different than you expected. My two mentors are both white male theologians in their seventies and eighties. Both have decades of pastoral and professorial experience. They are quite different than me, but they have what I needed to mentor me in the areas to which I am now a professor: Homiletics and Christian Apologetics.
8. Do not trade in your femininity to sound, act, or preach like a man. God will use you in your own individual style in a powerful way if you remain authentic.
9. Put God first, and keep going until you get the “yes” you want!