Thursday, April 21, 2016

Women and Leadership in the Church

I have recently been thinking a lot about women, leadership and the church. Growing up in the church I have known that there are some churches and denominations that do not condone women as preachers, pastors, deacons, elders or ministry leaders (apart from women's and children's). I hadn't really thought much about it, probably because I have not really desired to be in those particular positions. But I know there are women who do desire to preach and teach and believe that God has gifted them in this way. Why should they be prevented from serving and glorifying God in these ways simply because they are women?

I know that one of the arguments is that scriptures in the Bible prohibit women from teaching and preaching. I wonder if the scriptures are being quoted without considering the culture, context or audience for which it was written. I wonder what Jesus would think or say about these things. I wonder about the stories in the Bible where women led, prophesied, taught, ministered, hosted churches and used their gifts and resources for God's kingdom. It doesn't appear that they were kicked out of church or criticized for overstepping their ministry roles.

I have struggled with wanting to be defensive, aggressive or combative on this subject. I have struggled with saying anything about my thoughts because I haven't thoroughly researched it myself. Regardless of my level of knowledge, my spirit feels that disqualifying women from leadership because of their gender is not right. Women are just as resourceful, intelligent, wise, discerning, equipped and loved by God as men. The requirements/standards of leadership should be the same for both.

I realize in Biblical times (and still now in parts of the world) women were considered the property of men. They had no standing, power or influence in the community. Women throughout the ages have fought to obtain rights equal to men. Women are still fighting for them. Yes, there are differences between men and women but I don't think any of them prohibit or hinder leadership ability.

I have been reading Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey as my introduction to this subject. I have learned quite a bit by her walk through her own study of this topic. Her book resonates with what I have been feeling.

I have appreciated that Sarah acknowledges that women in church leadership is a sensitive and hotly debated issue in which not everyone is called to verbally contribute. She reminds us that we can minister and use our gifts in every area of our life even if official ministry titles and positions are not approved by the church. God can use us where we are. Some women will feel led to challenge the church's stance with discussions and questions while others will choose to follow God's leading and serve/lead in the areas he determines, challenging the status quo by their lives. Just because women may not be allowed to preach in some congregations, it does not mean they cannot still be influential in their communities.

I still am not sure what my role is in this subject. Right now I have a lot of questions but not a lot of definitive answers. I will continue to seek the wisdom of those who have more experience, study and insight into women leadership and the church. I do think the church misses out when it excludes women from being influential and using their gifts to serve the church and community.

What are your thoughts on this issue? I welcome respectful and thoughtful comments.


  1. That is a fantastic book. You are certainly qualified to have an opinion, and bravo for beginning to research and think about it. I am a female pastor, and for years I kept quiet about it and followed the "live and let live" philosophy. Of course, I still respect and love those who disagree. Bu I'm no longer quiet, because I believe the issue to be too important for the church and the Kingdom, not just me. Keep reading!

    1. Jill, Thanks for the encouragement. Do you have any additional resources you would recommend on this topic?

  2. I have heard so much about Sarah's book, Jesus Feminist, and am really wanting to read it. There are so many opinions on the subject. I am so proud of you doing some of your own research on this very important subject. Go you. :)

    1. I checked it out from the library but I am considering getting my own hard copy for future reference. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about women and leadership in the church. It has a huge "additional resources/reading" section in the back for further study.