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Published Date: December 12, 2009

Published Date: December 12, 2009

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Cover of "Created to Thrive".

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Sticking Point

We have a situation where recently, at the church where one of our sons and his family attend, the senior minister felt called to resign and accept a teaching position at a Theological college. Some years previously this same Baptist Church had agreed to inviting persons to become a part of the Pastoral team on the basis of giftedness, regardless of gender. This openness led them to appoint a male senior Pastor and a female Associate. The team worked very successfully with each bringing their unique contribution to the ministry and the church flourished in every area of its life. So much so that in time the Associate title was dropped in favor of both being recognized as Pastors.

The resignation of the Team leader placed the Board of Elders (which includes a woman) in an unforeseen dilemma because the female Pastor strongly feels the call of God to step up into the vacated position of Team leader. The ministry Team had discussed and prayed over this possible outcome and could readily affirm this could well be  what God has in mind for the church’s future. What needed to happen next was that the Board of Elders should be convinced of this possibility too and make a recommendation to the church membership in order to ratify such a decision.

Interestingly, initially, two members of the Elder Board could not see, from the Scriptures, that a woman could/should be placed in the position of Team leader. The sticking point for them was the issue of headship. One of the men felt really exercised, after a restless night, to have another, Spirit prompted look at Galatians 3:28 in the early hours of the morning. As a consequence he felt God was encouraging him to concede that gender should not be a reason for any person to be disqualified from holding a senior leadership responsibility within the church. When the Elders conferred again he shared his experience and declared his modified position.

Meanwhile, the other dissenting Elder felt, after much prayer and an expression of willingness to change his view if God so instructed him, to hold firm because he remained unconvinced even after reviewing the various arguments. He then offered to resign rather than be in disagreement with the other Elders. While this was admirable it was unacceptable because, up to this point, everything had been accomplished at Elder Board level by total unanimity. So he agreed to stay on and support the recommendation that the rest of the Board were wanting to put before the church membership.

It needs to be said in all of this that the female Pastor had exceeded all expectations in terms of ministry giftedness and performance and no one doubted her ability, under God, to lead the ministry Team and the Church into the future. As mentioned earlier, the sticking point for this one Elder, was the matter of headship even though, in every other way he conceded that she was, without doubt,  gifted and capable. It’s as if his heart said one thing and his head another.

For him the contentious passage is 1 Corinthians 11:3 where it states categorically, as expressed in the NLT (New Living Translation), “… A man is responsible to Christ, a woman is responsible to her husband, and Christ is responsible to God.” No amount of persuasive argument could help this Elder to see that this verse could be interpreted any differently than what it literally appears to say. For the present time he cannot get around his personal conviction that for some reason God has invested in men the responsibility to lead.

Which leads to the question for you our bloggers. In what ways have you been convinced from Scripture, or has God shown you, that male “headship”, or leadership, both in the Church and the home, is not what He had in mind at all?