women sitting together

Finding My Place in The Church

May 8, 2021

I’ll never forget my experience going through Stadia’s Church Planting Assessment Center.

Our first child was a few months old and staying with her grandparents, so this was the most sleep I had gotten in months. (If you’ve gone through Assessment, you understand why this is a hilarious statement.)

At that point in my life, I had been part of a church staff and worked on various nonprofit communication teams, so I was sure my role for our church would be very behind-the-scenes. My plan was for no official position and assisting with marketing.

In our final meeting of the assessment, our assessor looked directly at me and gave me feedback I will never forget. In a very serious, no-nonsense tone he said, “Why are you limiting yourself? Your part needs to be much bigger than what you’re doing. You need to use your voice.”

I very specifically remember saying nothing in response. That was the first time anyone had ever said something like that to me. I had absolutely no idea how to use my voice, but in my gut I could feel that he was right.

Afterward, I looked to women around me to see how they were using their voices. I found some pretty powerful women, but rather than finding my place, I found myself floundering in a comparison game no one could win. Every position I tried to mimic was just one more failed attempt that left me frustrated and wondering what on earth I had to offer.

Eventually, I came to the realization that the issue was not my lack of talent or inability to find my place in our ministry. Rather, the issue was that there were not enough women represented at every level of the Church. I had unknowingly placed a ceiling on my abilities based on the roles I’ve seen women fulfill within the Church.

Last month, my heart was bursting with joy as I attended the Bloom Retreat and saw the discussion spaces Stadia made available for women:

  • Lead Planters
  • Co-Planters
  • Lead Planter Spouses
  • Kids Ministry Leaders
  • Church Plant Staffs
  • Mothers
  • Youth Ministry Leaders
  • Mujeres en liderazgo de la iglesia
  • Women Leaders of Color
  • Year 1-2 Planters
  • Women in the Marketplace
  • Digital Churches
  • Stadia Staff


The speaker for the retreat was even a female Co-Lead Planter. Hearing Pastor Bianca Juarez-Oltoff share her wisdom and experience at the Bloom Retreat was the healing balm I had no idea I needed. Seeing her confidently call herself a Co-Planter and Pastor was so empowering.

When my husband put me on our preaching rotation, I didn’t know any female preachers. When my husband called me a co-planter, I didn’t know any female co-planters. He may have placed me in those positions, but I didn’t believe they were for me. I felt so isolated all those years ago because I didn’t see any women in those roles.

Last month, I saw an entire conference of women being celebrated, equipped, and encouraged in every position of church planting. I believed in my own God-given talents because I saw another woman being celebrated for the same talents. During the Bloom Retreat, I saw Stadia elevate and celebrate the women in their church plants.

As Pastor Bianca said at the retreat, “The convictions of this season will determine your next season.”

I’m entering this next season knowing and celebrating who God has made me. I have found my place within the Church and can confidently walk in that position because I know there’s other women here, too.

Rachel Hunka is a speaker and writer, contributing content for Propel Women, Stadia Church Planting, and Bloom: Women in Church Planting. In her hometown of Canton, Ohio, she helped launch the ONE Center for Leadership, co-planted 3rd Street Community Church, and is the founder and director of the Absurd Conference. Rachel is a proud girl mom and is passionate about Kingdom diversity and reconciliation.

Rachel Hunka