For an update on how this church is handling women’s leadership today, see: 6,000 Person Megachurch Now Includes Women Elders/Pastors
Grace Community Church, an evangelical church of 6,000 worshipers just north of Indianapolis, reversed their position and came out in favor of women’s leadership at all levels this weekend in their public worship services.
Update: The Christian Post interviewed me for a follow-up to this post. They included some of the audio to my interview at the bottom.
This is no liberal accommodationism. This is a conservative church that is focused on the teaching of the Bible. They have a staff of about 50…with men in all their traditional roles (pastors, elders, and adult ministries leaders) and women in all their roles (women’s ministry, children, and secretaries). But with a thorough study of Scripture and full of prayer, these men knew that Scripture demanded that women not be prohibited from leadership at all levels.
This weekend’s sermon was essentially an exposition of the relevant passages from the Bible. They cover the same passages in roughly the same manner that I do here and here (and will do in the third post in that series). The good news in this situation is that their teaching pastor, Tim Ayers, was obviously reading the plethora of biblical scholarship that is available on this issue. The ground that he covered was MASSIVE in this sermon. Each one of those sentences encompasses a significant amount of research. He did the work. I say this is good news because every other Bible-believing pastor can do the same thing if they are only willing to do the work that he has done.
This is a decision filled with courage and fortitude. They will likely lose key people of influence in a conservative church like this one (I hope I am very wrong about this one!). But I also believe that in the end they will see growth and multiplication because of the change. Not only will some seek out the church because of their affirmation of women’s leadership, but they will now be employing the full body of Christ for the Gospel ministry. And they have just injected enormous life into the women leaders that have been serving there faithfully, loving their church but wishing this position would change.
This is a great victory for those of us that believe that women’s leadership in the church is long overdue. I believe that this is just one piece in a much larger movement to change the majority opinion among evangelicals on this issue. Pew Research now indicates that 75% of evangelical leaders believe that women should serve as pastors. This is changing, but it will not be easy for churches like Grace that make a change.
We can pray for their pastors, Dave Rodriguez, Chris Shore, and Tim Ayers, and their elders. I can imagine that there will be many opportunities to shrink back from this call as people challenge them. I also know it will be hard to make decisions to prioritize female leaders as they work to enact the commitments that they have made. I will be praying and I hope you will too.
I also hope that you will send them some encouraging tweets (click their names above) and do so for the church as well. I know from my experience of writing on these topics that this is a powerful and emotional moment for many women. Tell these men what it means to you that they have had courage to stand for truth.
Click here to see all that I’ve written on women in ministry.
Related Post: 4 Reasons Why Ordaining Women Is No Longer An Option