Women in Ministry | CBE International

You are here

Women in Ministry

The dearth of female authors in contemporary theological and biblical studies has been the subject of recent discussion and lament. There is of course a long tradition of male dominance in these fields. However, despite their marginalization, many women have contributed in remarkable ways to our understanding of Christian Scripture and tradition. Sadly, many of these women were largely ignored in their own time, and forgotten in ours. But Women’s History Month is a perfect time to dig into the archives and resurrect the voices of these long-forgotten women. Here are three of my personal favorites. All three are Methodist women who lived in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. All three speak powerfully across time and space, and I think all three deserve a place in o... Read more
Some Christians believe that female church leaders would be accepted if they “distinguished” themselves. They think that women who are meant to lead ought to be strong enough to subvert the norm without the support and affirmation of other Christians. Generally, this declaration is followed by a list of outstanding female church leaders who succeeded despite gender discrimination in the church.  But this expectation of female excellence is unjust. If we hold female leaders to higher standards than male leaders, we discriminate against worthy women leaders and fail to address the gender-bias that preserves the “good old boys club” in the church. Women should be recognized and accepted as called and qualified to lead to the same degree as men, but they aren... Read more
I wasn’t a stranger to the twist-in-the-gut unpleasantness of sitting in church and hearing something shocking from the pulpit. After all, Jesus said some very uncomfortable things in his time on earth. Naturally, the people up front proclaiming his truth are sure to ruffle some feathers. However, when the pastor referred to women’s place in the church as merely a “secondary issue,” a deep shudder hit. What sent heat to my face and tension to my fists wasn’t this singular comment by the preaching pastor. Instead, my reaction was rooted in an overwhelming protective instinct, triggered by the sight of five ponytailed girls sitting three rows in front of me. They nervously exchanged whispers and one shrugged her shoulders in response. These weren’t j... Read more
Dear Egalitarian Man With A Platform, I value your commitment to women’s full participation in the body of Christ. But your egalitarian values seem hollow when you stand on a platform full of men. They seem hollow when there are no women (or maybe a token woman) speaking beside you. It’s great that you talk about women’s representation in church. I’m so glad you think it’s important. And yet, you never ask how many women will be speaking before accepting a speaking invitation.  The thing is, Egalitarian Man With A Platform, talk is cheap. You can write or speak about a theology of gender equality, but how often do you offer up your space on the platform to a woman? How often do you use platform opportunities to include and partner with women? How... Read more
It all began because I wanted to stir things up a little bit. The idea wouldn't have even occurred to me twenty or even ten years earlier. I had probably just finished Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge. Or maybe Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. Of course, looking back now, I realize that I read and discussed both of these books with Amy. Every year, our church hands out ballots to nominate deacons and elders and every year, I write down the names of a few women, including my friend Amy. Nothing ever came of it. Nothing that I could see anyway.   How often do we doubt that God is at work because we don't see immediate results?   God began to do a work in our governing body. It started with closed door meetings. The deacons and elders of our church... Read more
What do we need to know about the Ephesians in order to better understand Paul's meaning in 1 Timothy 2:11? First, we need to know that the letter was written to address the influence of false teachers (vs. 1:3-4) and second, we must understand the cultural background of the Ephesians. A major trade route city on the coast of Asia Minor, Ephesus was home to several house churches drawn from Jewish synagogues. Members included Hellenistic Jewish Christians, Greek proselytes, and converted pagans from surrounding cults.[1] The worship of Artemis was a serious challenge to the new church. Acts 19:23-41 even gives a description of riots against the Ephesian church. Women in the Church: a Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry by Stanley Grenz provides a vivid picture of Artem... Read more
This one is for the daughters whose parents taught them, above all else, to submit to their husbands. For the wives whose husbands call them equals, but who are excluded from the decision-making table. For the women who work hard and raise up godly men, only to be placed beneath them in the body of Christ. For the women with advanced degrees whom God has called to pastor and lead deemed “unqualified” for the pastoral office. This one is for you, my friends. You are enough. You are worthy. You are a great warrior for the kingdom of God. I often read comments on the internet claiming that females are not qualified to be pastors or co-lead in a marriage. Some say that women should not hold any authoritative positions over men, either in the church, workplace, or home. Some... Read more
In my early twenties, I helped plant a church. At that point in my life, I'd never heard of biblical equality. All I knew was that men could lead men, women, and children, and women could lead women and children, but never men. I don't recall anyone explicitly explaining those distinctions; it was just how things were. People stuck to their roles, and it didn't occur to me to question that until I nearly fell off my folding chair one Sunday trying to repress inappropriate laughter.  That morning, the senior pastor made an announcement: "I'm pleased that someone is stepping up to the plate to lead us in worship."  The announcement came after weeks of singing without a worship leader with the accompaniment of a woman seated at a keyboard in the... Read more
In my post last month, I shared my confusion over my calling. I recalled wondering why, if the Lord had called me to preach like my father, did the Bible prohibit me from doing so? Well, part of the reason for my confusion was that I received very mixed signals at home regarding the roles of men and women. My mother was strong and smart. As is typical of a pastor’s wife in a small church community, she worked just as hard as my father. In our home, she shouldered equally heavy responsibilities—cooking our meals, keeping the parsonage clean and tidy for visitors, imposing discipline on me and my sisters, and paying the bills. We considered her the backbone of our family. The only thing she couldn’t do was lead. I was left with a troubling question—if she was so ca... Read more
Katia Cook
[Editor's note: As we near the end of our content series on youth and egaliatarianism, we'll be presenting the stories of two women at the intersection of two seemingly unrelated topics: egalitarianism and autism. Katia, who lives with autism, and her mother, Jeanette, will share interesting insights into these two topics through their own stories and their analysis of how egalitarians can work towards equality in realms that include people with high-functioning autism. We hope you enjoy the seres.] It was at a homeschool group pizza party when I was almost 12 that I faced the cold reality: I was different. The other girls in our group fit together. I was the misfit. So was my family. Unlike the other homeschool families in our area, Dad was not as involved as the other fathers,... Read more