Women in Ministry

jen ordinationAn increasingly diverse array of churches and denominations now support and practice the ordination and leadership of women. I am ordained in the Assemblies of God, where much of our history has been that of doctrine and practice that are supportive but women have struggled to realize this empowerment as some within the movement have still resisted their leadership. My wife is ordained in the United Methodist Church, where ordination of women is a bit newer in practice but has been much more successful in implementation. Today, more than 50% of those enrolled in UMC seminaries are women. These two stories represent two quite common experiences of clergy in the nation.

These pages represent my effort to advocate for those women who sense a call to the ministry of the church in denominations and cultures that are not fully supportive, whether or not their official policies are supportive. I also try to discuss some issues that are unique to women clergy, even when their denomination is fully supportive.

As a man, I am clearly at a disadvantage to speak to these issues. But my call to equip future ministers of the church as well as the “insider’s view” of being married to my wife both compel me to say what I can.

The Bible Says Women Should Lead – Part 1
The Bible Says Women Should Lead – Part 2 (1 Corinthians)
The Bible Says Women Should Lead – Part 3 (1 Timothy)
Unfit to Lead? Women, Singles, and Childless

Directory of Female Pastored Churches


4 Reasons Why Ordaining Women Is No Longer An Option
Pastor, You Have to Mentor Women, too
Evidence Of The Changing Evangelical Tide
UPDATE: 6,000 Person Megachurch Now Includes Women Pastors/Elders
An “Affirmative Action” Proposal For The Free Churches
How I Became an Advocate for Women in Ministry

Best Responses to Inapproriate Comments
Women Pastors and Male Privilege

Conservative Christian Women And The Worst Accusation
Double Standards, Women, And The Church
Double Standards, Women, And The Church – Part 2
#ReclaimingEve: Needed Healing For Hurting MinistersHelenor Davisson: First Ordained American Methodist Woman

Comments

    • Doran says

      For Churches that affirm women pastors and elders _________

      We believe that you want to honor the word of God and teach His Word in truth which is why we are contacting you. We notice that you permit women pastors and/or elders. 1 Pet. 3:15 says to give an answer to everyone for the faith that lies within you. So, we are asking you to give an answer as to why you allow women pastors and elders in light of what the Bible says:
      1 Tim. 2:12-13, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.”
      Titus 1:5-6, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.”
      1 Tim. 5:17, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.”
      1 Tim. 2:12-14 is where Paul explicitly states that he does not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man but to remain quiet (“quiet” is hesuchia, not complete silence but respectful quiet)–because Adam was created first. In 1 Tim. 3:15 we are told this is how we are to conduct ourselves in the household of God. When a woman is a pastor and/or elder, she is in a place of authority over men. Paul clearly tells us this authority in the church structure is not the place for a woman because Adam was made first. This is not a cultural issue. Remember, Eve sinned first; but sin entered the world through Adam and not Eve (Rom. 5:12) because Adam was in the position of authority. This is why husbands are the head of the wife even as Christ is head of the church (Eph. 5:23). The place of authority in the church and family is not the place of the woman.
      In Titus 1:5-6 it says that the elder must be “the husband of one wife.” The Greek is literally “man of one woman.” This same phrase is used of the Bishop in 1 Tim. 3:2 and the Deacon in 1 Tim. 3:12. Remember, Paul is speaking of church officers–not servants (diakonos) in homes (Rom. 16:1, 27). So, the pastor/elder is to be a man of one woman.
      1 Tim. 5:17 tells us that the elders are to receive honor–especially those who preach and teach. Therefore, the pastor is an elder by definition, and the elder is to be a “man of one woman.” The word “elders” here is masculine in the Greek. So, Paul is telling us how the church is to operate (1 Tim. 3:15), and that the place of ecclesiastical authority is based on male eldership because Adam was created first (1 Tim. 2:12-13). This is doctrine–not culture.
      Some say that women pastors and elders are not an essential issue, so we should not worry about it. If that is the case, then why did God tell us women are not to teach or exercise authority over men (1 Tim. 2:12-13) in the church (1 Tim. 3:15)? Why did he tell us that an elder is to be a “man of one woman” (Titus 1:5-6) if we are not to worry about it?
      What about equality and verses with women in leadership?
      Gal. 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This verse is not about women pastors and elders. It is about salvation–in Christ, not church eldership, so it doesn’t apply.
      Deborah (Judges 4, 5) was an Old Testament Judge–not a New Testament elder. Prophesying women (Acts 21:8, 9) are not elders/pastors. Priscilla (Rom. 16:3, 4), a fellow worker in Christ, is not said to be an elder/pastor. Phoebe (Rom. 16:1) is a servant (diakonos) of the church–not an elder/pastor. Note that Jesus came not to be served but to serve (diakonos) (Mark 10:45). The government is called a minister (diakonos) of God (Rom. 13:4). Junia (Rom. 16:7 (see http://www.carm.org/junia) may have been a female apostle (not one of the 12) though this is debated. Still, even if she were, apostles are not for today; and an apostle is not a pastor/elder. The Chosen Lady of 2 John 1 is an honored woman–not a pastor/elder. Basically, the standard verses cited by people to support women being pastors and elders do no such thing.
      What about a woman who is called by God to minister as pastors and elders? Essentially, this is making doctrine based on a woman’s experience. Just because a woman “says” she is called by God or feels she is doesn’t mean she is because it isn’t biblical. God’s word is the standard–not our feelings and experiences.
      Why is this important? This is important because compromise in one area often leads to compromise in other areas. Even if the biblical position is not popular or politically correct, it is biblically correct. As Christians, we must never let compromise seep into the Christian church and weaken it. If Christians refuse to submit to the teaching of God’s word in this matter, can they be trusted to rightly deliver God’s word to us in other matters?
      We hope for a response and kindly urge you to seriously consider this brief article. If you are interested in more in-depth material on this topic, please go to http://www.carm.org/women-in-ministry.
      Do you disagree? If so, then please answer two questions. 1) How can an elder/pastor who is a woman be “the husband of one wife,” lit. “a man of one woman,” (Titus 1:6)? 2) How can a woman be in a place of authority as a pastor/elder and not violate 1 Tim. 2:12-13 where Paul clearly says he does “not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man?” This is what it says, and there aren’t any qualifications to it. What do you do with it?
      Please understand that we believe women are under-appreciated and under-utilized in the Church; but we also believe that God’s word is supreme, that it is above our desires, above culture, and that we need to adhere to what God tells us and not substitute it with a feeling or even an experience. The health of God’s church is linked to its dependence on God’s word, and pastors and elders will be held responsible before God for what they teach.
      Finally, research shows that the majority of churches and denominations that affirm women pastors and elders often then adopt pro-homosexual and pro-abortion positions. We are not suggesting you are doing this; but it is important to note that when compromise occurs in one area of scripture, it is easier to compromise in another. See http://www.carm.org/denominations-women-ordination-and-other-errors for documentation on what tends to happen.
      So, where do you stand? Do you care? Are you seriously dedicated to God’s word? We hope so.

  1. Helen says

    Thank You! for your courage and tremendous effort to speak up for women who are faithful disciples of Christ together with their brothers. You said that, “As a man, I am clearly at a disadvantage to speak to these issues.” Truth to be told, women are even more disadvantaged to speak to these issues, because we will be accused as fighting against biblical truth following secular feminist ideologies for “selfish ambitions”… Since there is no way we can be spared of criticism on this issue being either a man or woman against a strong human culture of male-privilege and dominance after the Fall, may the Word and Spirit of God be our witness of a clear conscience and pure heart.

    • says

      No where in the Old or New Testiment do I find any requirements for women to serve as pastors or such major leadership in any Church. In fact, I have only found restrictions that women can not serve as Pastors or Elders. If you are preaching new revelation, it’s a false revelation.

      • says

        As Cheryel stated so well…

        “Most of our English translations were taken from the Greek and Latin. Once the Hebrew and Aramaic were translated into the Greek and Latin, the original languages were disregarded. But in the last several decades there has been a renewed interest. In reexamining the Hebrew we find a trove of rich and fascinating knowledge that was missed before. An important fact that should prompt a reexamining of our teaching regarding women is the Hebrew word translated help in Genesis for Eve, the word ezar. Ezar appears 21 times in the Bible. It applies only to God or appeals to God for divine help. And two of those references God applies to Eve. Ezar is also a Hebrew military term applied to a warrior who risks his safety to rescue a fellow soldier. So we can deduce that Eve was created by God to be rescuing warrior wielding divine help. God’s idea for women was far from today’s vision of a damsel in distress. However, at Eve’s first opportunity to rescue Adam from the wiles of the serpent, she fails her mission. So part of her punishment is that she loses her equal standing with Adam and is placed under him. So for millennia afterwards women were demoted to second place because of what Eve did or failed to do. But what a patriarchal Christianity has failed to see is that CHRIST CAME TO REMOVE THE CURSE OF THE FALL. AND THAT APPLIES TO EVE’S DAUGHTERS AS WELL. A careful examination of Jesus’ treatment of women was a radical departure from societal norms of His time. The woman at the well and Mary of Magdala were both sent by Jesus with His good news which qualifies them as apostles. It was not uncommon for the first century churches to be led by women. The injunctions against women were introduced in the second century by the radically misogynistic Greeks. Paul never forbade their preaching and teaching…”

        • Rex Eberle says

          Yes, it says in Christ, there is neither male nor female nor Jew or Greek etc. bible says to submit one to another. says the wife is to manage her household, that’s authority. says when a man leaves his father and mother he needs to “cleave” to his wife.

      • Cheryel Lemley-McRoy says

        “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” Acts 2: 17

        Peter is quoting the Old Testament prophet, Joel.
        “And afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”
        Joel 2: 28

        Greek and Hebrew are very different languages, and don’t translate easily. Peter’s speech was recorded in Greek, but he was quoting Joel, who first spoke in Hebrew. So to be accurate we need to go back to the Hebrew.
        The word prophesy in Greek means to foretell the future, and has its origin in occult practices.
        Prophesy in Hebrew means to proclaim, call or deliver a message. The word has its origin in the messengers who delivered proclamations from the king or governors. The navi, messengers, prophets or emissaries, were to be treated as if they were the king themselves.
        And so when we study this prophecy in Hebrew we see that our daughters are , by the power of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming and delivering a message when they preach as pastors.
        And I wouldn’t say that woman can’t pastor. Go to any country and you will find women and girls tending the sheep and goats.

  2. says

    Why not include New Mexico or Flint Michigan ?
    Namely First Christian Church of Las Cruces New Mexico’s Reverend Linda Mervine
    FCC is a United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ affiliated Church,
    Or
    Woodside Church of Flint Michigan with Rev. Dr. Deborah Conrad
    Woodside is a United Church of Christ and American Baptist affiliated Church

    I am sure there are many more women in ministry than you have listed.

    Jack LeSage
    Board Member of FCC in Las Cruces

    • says

      Thanks Jack! Of course there are LOTS more. If you will notice, the list is inviting people to share more churches just as you have. Thanks for the additions!

  3. Cheryel Lemley-McRoy says

    Thank you Dr. Gibbs for your support of women’s ministry. As a UMC Lay Speaker I have had to explain to some why women should preach. I usually say something of this. Most of our English translations were taken from the Greek and Latin. Once the Hebrew and Aramaic were translated into the Greek and Latin, the original languages were disregarded. But in the last several decades there has been a renewed interest. In reexamining the Hebrew we find a trove of rich and fascinating knowledge that was missed before. An important fact that should prompt a reexamining of our teaching regarding women is the Hebrew word translated help in Genesis for Eve, the word ezar. Ezar appears 21 times in the Bible. It applies only to God or appeals to God for divine help. And two of those references God applies to Eve. Ezar is also a Hebrew military term applied to a warrior who risks his safety to rescue a fellow soldier. So we can deduce that Eve was created by God to be rescuing warrior wielding divine help. God’s idea for women was far from today’s vision of a damsel in distress. However, at Eve’s first opportunity to rescue Adam from the wiles of the serpent, she fails her mission. So part of her punishment is that she loses her equal standing with Adam and is placed under him. So for millennia afterwards women were demoted to second place because of what Eve did or failed to do. But what a patriarchal Christianity has failed to see is that Christ came to remove the Curse of the Fall. And that applies to Eve’s daughters as well. A careful examination of Jesus’ treatment of women was a radical departure from societal norms of His time. The woman at the well and Mary of Magdala were both sent by Jesus with His good news which qualifies them as apostles. It was not uncommon for the first century churches to be led by women. The injunctions against women were introduced in the second century by the radically misogynistic Greeks. Paul never forbade their preaching and teaching. And finally, biblical Hebrew reveals that the Holy Spirit is the feminine representation of the Godhead. A prominent Hebrew professor has postulated that that may be the reason more women than men are more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and is concerned that the Church over the millennia are guilty of stifling the voice of the Spirit by denying women a voice.

  4. says

    I currently reside in Escondido, California and I am a student at California State University in San Marcos. In 2019 I will receive my Bachelors in Writing and Literature and plan to attend seminary for my Master’s of Divinity to become a pastor.
    Unfortunately, as I read through the website I came upon this information (see below). If I apply for the program they will deny my entry and give me a second rate education because I am a woman. I have long felt that men are undermining the church and it has become an exploitation to gain wealth and prestige rather than what I see God was teaching. Therefore, I am called to make a change for women to enter, starting with myself.
    What legal rights do I have and how can I apply to the college and be admitted into the program that I choose?
    IS THE M.DIV. PROGRAM OPEN TO MEN AND WOMEN?
    The purpose of our Master of Divinity program is to educate and form men for official, ordained ministries of instruction and leadership in the church as pastors, evangelists, and teachers. Because the seminary board and faculty believes the criteria set down in Scripture limits the candidacy for official teaching and leadership ministry in the church to qualified men, we admit only men to our Master of Divinity program.
    However, because God bestows on women as well as men gifts and calling to serve in non-ordained ministries, WSC’s Master of Arts programs admit both women and men.

    Thank you,

    Jennifer Folsom

    • says

      Hi Jennifer,
      I praise God that he has called you and you are pursuing. I’m afraid you have no rights to be admitted to that program. The federal government generally allows discrimination based on theological grounds as long as they use the theological argument consistently…for example, never allowing any woman into the program. I think I would suggest finding another program. There are LOTS of MDiv programs that are supportive of your call and I’d be glad to point you in the direction of some.
      Jeremiah

  5. Sarah says

    So glad to connect with your group. I’m preparing for my third Camino and a person of faith wrestling with lots of questions. Thanks for supporting us in our journey. Buen camino!

  6. Andrew Mataka says

    “A woman is a true representation of the church. If you want to see the true nature of a church, then see a woman. Whatever you can define her, is also a true definition of the church in which you and I are part of. There is no woman without a man, and man is incomplete without a woman. That is why when both woman and man ate the forbidden fruit, it meant to God that man has sinned. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Man plus Woman is equal to MAN. When a Believing Woman cries to God in prayer, the LORD will never be silent. A believing woman quickly breaks the heart of God when she prays. When she prays, God answers.You have been praying for something else and till now your prayers haven’t been answered; consider the way you treat a believing woman, must be the reason to your un answered prayers.”

    Please Google; amazon.com; and enjoy the rest of the book titled: WHEN A BELIEVING WOMAN PRAYS…

    Help me please promote the book as we want to buy food for the vulnerable women and children within the Body of Christ for both Malawi and Mozambique. Due to a number of cyclones that hit Malawi and Mozambique hard, our fellow saints never harvested and are going to bed without a meal. Together, we can save lives of women and children. With only 8 USD, one can contribute towards saving a life of a fellow believer. We will be reporting back to you with photos.

    Hope to hearing back from you.

    Grace and Peace.

    Andrew Mataka

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