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Published Date: May 11, 2016

Featured Articles

Featured Articles

5 Ways To Promote Inclusion of Women In Church Leadership

For a little over five years, I served as a lead pastor. I loved being a head pastor, but circumstances beyond my control placed me on the other side of the pulpit these past few years. My search for a lead pastorate as a woman remains daunting.

As a former lead pastor and now candidate pastor on the other side of the pulpit, I’d like to offer these strategies that churches can implement toward the full inclusion of women in leadership. These strategies are meant to help churches create space for women in church leadership roles with the ultimate goal of ensuring equal opportunity for all female leaders.

1. Provide Role Models1

Male pastors may find this to be a challenging task. I recommend finding trusted female lead pastors or women in various church leadership roles. Share their stories with your congregation. Highlight them on your Facebook page, in a sermon, or through a video clip. Even better, open your pulpit to a female guest preacher. It is important for both male and female pastors to be intentional about normalizing women in leadership. Congregations need to see that women pastors are normal and not anomalies.

2. Instruct Congregations

Leaders have a responsibility to intentionally teach their congregations that it is biblically and theologically sound for women to lead churches as pastors. Additionally, do not assume, as a woman in a lead role, that everyone in your congregation affirms women in leadership. There are those who will overlook their opposition to female pastors because of their relationship/friendship with you or their commitment to “their church.” It is essential that all congregation members learn how to navigate and interpret controversial Scripture passages concerning women pastors. They need to hear solid instruction and stand on strong theological foundations.2

3. Correct False Assumptions

If people voice concerns about having women in the pulpit or in a leadership role, gently confront their misgivings. Lovingly correct them so they can grow and be all the Holy Spirit desires them to be. We must stand against ignorance with the truth of the Word.3

4. Coach and Mentor Female Leaders

Men—don’t be afraid to include women when you coach male lead pastors. Invite a female lead into a ministerial peer-coaching group of all male pastors. Broaden the territory of female pastors and make their presence normal. Don’t be afraid to coach the opposite gender, but remain accountable in that mentoring relationship. Employ the same rules you would employ when counseling men.

5. Implement Change Incrementally4

Change can often be jarring and disorienting. Try proposing small but meaningful changes to study materials or curriculum. Implement changes to policies regarding women over time, and incrementally add women to your pastoral team. Founding partner and owner of Leadership Development Resources, Dr. Mel Ming, encourages this type of change: “If you want to change culture if you can help them experience change in a non-threatening way, they are more likely to embrace it than if you polarize it. Allow them to taste the new without even knowing they are.”5

Read “5 More Ways to Promote the Inclusion of Women in Church Leadership” here.


1. Edgar H. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership (The Jossey-Bass Business & Management Series) 4th edition, (San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass), 2010, 246.
2. Deborah Gill and Barbara Cavaness-Parks, God’s Women Then and Now, 3rd edition. (Springfield, MO: Grace and Truth, 2015), Kindle. This book is an excellent resource for biblical-theological foundations on the subject of women in ministry.
3. Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzer, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, New York: McGraw Hill, 2012. This is a good, practical resource to help learn conflict management skills and know how to approach important conversations.
4. Schein, 275.
5. Mel Ming, “Organizational Leadership” (Lecture, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, MO, March 21, 2012).