Jump to Questions

This topic is adapted from the Real Truth Real Quick YouTube channel.

Can women be pastors or lead in a local church? Many Christians disagree in answering these questions. Some believe women have valuable leadership roles but cannot function as pastors or elders. Others believe women should never function in any leadership capacity. Others believe some combination of these ideas. All turn to the Bible as the source of their convictions.

[Related: What Is Submission?]

Video Highlights:

  • The role of women in ministry is to employ their gifts from God as servants to others, consistent with God’s Word. The role of men in ministry is no different!
  • When talking about the specific roles open to women in ministry, we are not talking about value, talent, or ability. We are talking about the roles God has assigned to us in His created order, consistent with the Bible. We don’t train boys to be mothers and girls to be fathers. In the same way, we should not teach women to be men or men to be women.
  • One ministry role open to women is to mentor other women. This is seen in Titus 2:3-5.
  • Differing roles or functions do not imply value judgments about the sexes. Just because women are not permitted to be pastors and elders does not mean God loves men more than women. The NT teaches that in Christ, we are all equal in God’s eyes (Galatians 3:28). That does not mean we are all equally capable, equally equipped, or equally called to do the same sorts of things in life or in the church. Some of us are “eyes” in the body of Christ while others of us are “hands,” “feet,” or other “parts” performing different functions (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
  • Godly men lead the way Christ led: servant leadership. According to Todd, women who are led this way by men don’t have a hard time following.
  • Jesus is not inferior to God the Father just because He operates in submission to his father. In the same way, women are not inferior to men in church or family leadership just because they are in submission to their leaders or husbands (1 Corinthians 11:3).
  • When Paul writes that women should “listen quietly,” he is not saying they are never to speak in the church. The whole church is called to prayer earlier in the same chapter (1 Timothy 2:1). In 1 Corinthians 11:5, Paul presumes that women have roles prophesying and praying publicly. The issue Paul is combating in 1 Corinthians is lack of order and propriety in worship. He is likewise cautioning against lack of order and propriety when he writes that women should listen quietly in 1 Timothy. Church gatherings are not to fall into disruption and disorder. One way this is accomplished is for women to listen quietly while men lead with humility and servant hearts.

Men and women cannot inherit roles they were not created to fulfill. Men can never be mothers. Women can never be fathers. Women have valuable roles in the church worshiping, prophesying, praying, teaching, and mentoring other women, serving as deaconesses, and many other roles. One role women are not to fulfill in the church is that of pastor or elder. This is not because women are incapable of being leaders, teachers, or excellent students of the Bible. It is because God has called men, not women, to lead local churches as pastors and elders.

[Related: Is it Okay for Me to Be the Spiritual Leader if My Husband Isn’t?]

[Related: Should Women Work Outside the Home?]

Written content for this topic by Daniel Martin.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Read Titus 2:3-5. According to this verse, what role should women play in the church?
  4. Read Galatians 3:28. How does this verse fit in to this topic?
  5. Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. What does this passage say about how we should view the variety of gifts in the church?
  6. Describe “servant male leadership.” Do you think women would have a problem being led by these kinds of men? Explain.
  7. “It is a sign of godless male leadership that women cannot remain quiet.” Explain this statement. Do you agree?
  8. What are the challenges of having a close, one-on-one mentoring or teaching relationship with someone of the opposite sex? Would you enter into such a relationship? Why or why not?
  9. Read 1 Timothy 2:12. How would you (or your church) interpret this verse?
  10. How do you view this topic? Can you support your view from the Bible?
  11. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.