on “women in ministry”

I know this conversation is old, but Mark in his comments on the ESV opened up the opportunity for me to bring something up I thought I like to help us all get out on the discussion table and that what exactly meant by the term “women in ministry”?

In short, it means women as “lead” pastors or “senior” pastors, etc.

Why?  Because you don’t really hear anyone making a fuss about a women as a “children’s” pastor.  Few if any complain about a woman being an associate of some sort, be it over the seniors or women’s ministry.  Few if any complain about sunday school teachers, bible study leaders, other ministry staff such as with a campus ministry, church camp leaders, missionaries (who teach the Bible, provide spiritual leadership, plant churches, etc) and so on, all which are forms of ministry – right?  Right.

But when it comes to a women as the lead pastor?  Whoa now, that violating the Bible, women can’t be elders; or the role of casting the vision of the church only belongs to the man (as if the casting vision should be done by one person and only men), women shall not exercise authority over man, wives are supposed to be submissive, women are to be quiet and learn in submission, ask their hubbies at home, etc.

So, to sum it up, when it comes to talking about women in ministry what is really meant is women as pastors, or more specifically, lead pastors/elders.

Are we clear on that?   Okoie dokie now, let’s all continue on with the conversation, shall we?


16 responses to “on “women in ministry”

  1. I have yet to figure out where I stand on this whole issue. Fortunately all of my church experiences have involved male leadership, and so I haven’t had to think about it too much. It would be hard for me to attend a church with a female senior pastor, though I’m not sure it would be for theological reasons. Like I said though, I’m still up in the air on the whole thing.

  2. I have women ministers on my staff. I have women on my board. If I weren’t the senior pastor, I’d have one there, too. 🙂

    It has been an irritation for me over the years to be a part of a denomination that has celebrated women in ministry but won’t elect a woman to a district office or a national position. In our last General Council we had to create a position just for a woman on the national board to get a woman on the national board. I’m glad we did it, but I’m irritated we couldn’t do it outright.

  3. Apprentice2Jesus, Don’t forget the under represented “under-40” crowd that was also placed on the general presbytery 😉 . I actually believe Scripture supports the notion of an only male lead pastor (though I’m still back and forth on the deacon/board issue…having at times worked a church towards electing a woman to the board and at others upholding an only male leadership on the board…oh, well…how’s that for decisive). I personally encourage women and men to enter the ministry and follow the calling of the Lord. I work well and respect those women that are friends and lead pastors, but I cannot affirm that for my own congregation (since they’d have to get rid of me to get a woman pastor :-). I’ve had women on my staff as well as men and don’t really care either way…just as long as they love the Lord, love the people and serve well.

  4. I’ve encountered a local congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America where a woman cannot teach a Sunday School class including men unless she’s teaching as part of a team with her husband. I know some other congregations where women are not allowed to teach in adult settings at all and would not be permitted to be part of the pastoral staff.

    So while the question for me is more like you state it–when I say “women in ministry” I mean women in any position of pastoral ministry and I include senior or lead pastor, but the situation gets more complicated than that some places.

    • Henry, thanks for commenting. I would guess those settings are on the more conservative side of things if they take it that far.

      I guess I am just trying to bring some clarity to the term and typically (with some exceptions) the term refers to women as elders and pastors.

      Dan, I agree with you and realize there is little to no real unity on this matter within the Assemblies of God – there are more than plenty of AG pastors who have been so evangelicalized they can’t support women as pastors.

      Rick, I am moving away from the notion that any one person should have sole responsibility for the leadership of any given congregation and am more open to the idea of the plurality of leadership as being closer to the biblical model – no one person should be bearing the responsibility to shape and cast the vision of a particular congregation – and that it needs to be aligned with whatever God’s vision for the church is. I realize this isn’t always possible for smaller churches, but where possible and if at all possible, the pastor needs to allow for and flat out encourage plurality of leadership. It helps us all bear one another’s burdens and avoid ministry burnout.

      As I see it, ministry is something all people can do, men, women, children, old, young, abled or disabled, rich or poor, educated or uneducated – it is something that is enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit – who does not discriminate like we do.

      • It is intriguing to me that the A/G has largely practiced only men for lead pastors even though MANY of the churches (at least those planted on the northern plains) were started by early women evangelists (who weren’t even allowed to hold credentials for about the first 3-5 decades after the formation of the A/G and even then it was rare and excluded ordination). IOW, we’ll allow them to do the work, but not have the title or officially recognized authority.

  5. Having grown up in the A/G, and tagged along with my dad for two years of itineration to many A/G churches, I only recall one issue that centered around pastoral qualifications. The joke was that if you divorced a wife, you couldn’t be an A/G pastor, but if you had murdered her then it was still a possibility to become one.

    Having thought about it for a while, I don’t recall ever meeting a female A/G pastor in all of the churches I have been to.

  6. The joke was that if you divorced a wife, you couldn’t be an A/G pastor, but if you had murdered her then it was still a possibility to become one.


  7. Pingback: Taking a second look « Jack Of All Trades

  8. The whole submissive issue is clouded in Ephesians with the stupid headings… Scripture actually calls for mutual submissiveness… I have no problems with a female pastor who is called by God.

    Why would Paul call a female an Apostle, recognise female prophets, release female evangelists, and recognise female deacons, without doing the same with female pastors?

  9. P.S… in relation to the paper on divorce there are a couple of huge holes and misunderstandings or out right lies in it.

    It claims that women were not allowed to divorce under the Hebrew law.. this is not true. Exodus gives a slave woman the right to divorce her husband if he didn’t provide her with shelter, provision and intimacy.

    In the days of Jesus, women were allowed to divorce their husbands, but it had to be the man who gave it to the wife… if the husband refused.. the wife could take the matter to the priests who would have the man flogged until he voluntarily divorced his wife.

    With this scenario in the back ground, you can see deeper into what Jesus is saying to the religious leaders about them wanting to divorce their wives for any reason…Basically the men want to get in first, making excuses why they treated their wives the way the did and divorce them first making them in the wrong….

    At no point did Jesus ever speak into this area of divorce. The AOG in NSW Australia has now affirmed that divorce is ok if it stems from the area of abuse of any kind… whether the victim be male or female…and in these cases it will not hinder their ordination.

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