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Encourage More Women to Lead

Regardless of theology, we need to empower more women to use their gifts in the local church.

I’m not here to convince people to change their theological stance on the role of women in pastoral ministry. What I would like to ask everyone to consider, however, is:

How can I maximize the gifts and talents of women given the particular theological context of my church?

To encourage more women to lead (whether in the hospitality ministry, the women’s ministry, or the pastoral ministry), we must learn to look first at the gifts, talents, and experiences that they bring to the table. Then, and only then, should we consider how she could best utilize her gifts, talents, and experiences in the theological context and culture of our church. When we look first at gender, we risk pigeonholing people based on gender stereotypes and missing the incredible potential God has given them.

In some theological frameworks, there are roles that only men can fill. In this case, it’s important to be consistent and live out your theological convictions. It is just as important, however, not to exclude women from serving in particular roles simply because it breaks a stereotype. If, for example, a church believes the role of elder is specifically for men, but there’s no theological prohibition to women serving on the finance committee, it’s appropriate to look for a female member of the church with financial expertise to bring onto the team. Another church might believe the role of preaching on Sunday morning should be reserved for men, but could still invite a woman gifted at public speaking to give announcements or read Scripture. Be consistent with your theological convictions and flexible with cultural stereotypes.

Ephesians 4:11–12 calls the pastors, prophets, teachers, apostles, and evangelists of the church to equip the people of God for works of service, and 1 Peter 5:1–2 urges elders to shepherd and serve the flock under their care. If you currently serve in any role of leadership in your church, you are responsible to care for, develop, and equip the people of God under your care. This includes helping them identify their gifts and talents and looking for ways they can serve in their areas of giftedness. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to call out the strengths God has given her and help her find a place to grow and develop those strengths.

When God gives a woman in your ministry the gift of leadership—something we see throughout the Bible and the history of the church—how will you help her steward her gift well in your church? Today, women are leading Fortune 500 companies and serving at high levels of government. They are professors, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and engineers. When the female CEO of a successful business becomes a member of your church, what opportunities will she have to use her leadership gifts to advance the gospel?

June30, 2016 at 8:00 AM

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