I found a really hot topic on another pastor’s wife’s blog on “Women in the church“. The different roles within the church. It has received a wide range of comments from agreement with the author to the vehement disagreement of a few. I’ve really enjoyed getting in on the debate and have been checking back for additional comments every day. So I’m going to ask you, what do you think about this topic?I’m not talking about a woman’s role verses a man’s role in society or the home but specifically about a church governmental role and according to the Bible it is the elders who are the governmental leaders in any local church. My view is that according to the Bible it is a position that should be held by men. Amy started this “hot topic” and I want to dig into it further. She wrote that in all the hundreds of areas and roles in the church and in ministry there are only 2 areas in which a woman should not lead…Let me see if I can do some background research for you and try to explain. Once you’ve fully read both what I’ve written, what Amy wrote and Scripture then please leave a comment. But first things first… The correct translation of “pastor” verses the commonly used term for “elder”. If a pastor was the highest authority in a local church then Paul the apostle would have been in error when he in Acts 20:17 called for the elders of the church. The Greek word used is “presbuteros” or the English translation “elder.” Notice he didn’t call for the pastors but for the elders. Notice also that in Titus 1:5 Paul told Titus (a young apostle) to set in presbuteros or elders in the churches on the island of Crete. In the address of Acts 20 (which was his last visit with them) to the “elders” of the Ephesian church he goes on describe their function (Acts 20:28). He says the Holy Spirit has made you “overseers”, the Greek word for overseer is “episkopos” from which we get the word “bishop”. The word bishop was never meant as a title but simply as the function of the elders in a local church. All of the elders in a local church are called to function as the oversight of every aspect of the local church. Paul tells the elders what an overseer does in verse 28, “feed the flock”. The Greek word used here is “poimaino ” and it is what the “poimain” do. The word pastor comes from this Greek word. It can also be translated as “shepherd”. He says the exact same thing in Titus, to set in or ordain elders (presbuteros) and in verse 7 he describes that these elders are episkopos or bishops/overseers. So here we have Paul establishing who the governmental head of each local church is to be. It is also established by Peter (an apostle) when in 1 Peter 5:1 he says, “To the elders (presbuteros) among you, I appeal as a fellow elder (presbuteros, in the church of Jerusalem)…”, vs. 2 “Be shepherds (poimain or pastors) of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as episkopos (overseers or bishops)…” To truly understand how Jesus established the leadership of the church you have to view the church as a family not as a corporation. God modeled the family after the heavenly family (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and the church after the earthly family. If you read cover to cover you’ll notice that He likes patterns and He likes things done in order. I haven’t said all this to confuse you but to set the stage and help you understand the New Testament pattern of church leadership, showing the reasons that God set in place for who can be a presbuteros or an elder. (Read the relating requirements to be an elder in Titus 1:6.) Also note that Pastor or Bishop are not titles but the work that they do, it is their function.


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  1. oooooo…this must be a really hot topic!! No one has commented!! I will have to think about this until tomorrow!!

  2. uuuhhhmmm… I think we should follow the biblical model of leadership. I feel that Paul was led in the Spirit to set it up as God wanted it to be and that’s the way it should remain. God is the same God of that time as of today… He doesn’t change and neither should His Word… Woman has enough responsibility as it is; why add more of what was not intended for her?

  3. Oh gosh when I read this topic I knew I wouldn’t have much to say. All I have to say is “I am Catholic” and that should explain it all! 🙂

    I was a lector for a while at our old Church. I actually had an elderly woman who was a member of our Church come up to me after Mass one Sunday and tell me that I should not be up on the altar reading the readings. That it wasn’t a woman’s place. It really got me thinking and I studied up on the Catholic faiths standpoint on women in the Church. It confuses me and to be quite honest being back in the South where Catholicism isn’t so big, I have begun to look in other directions and feel my faith out. It has been lukewarm for some time now, as though something is missing. I DO NOT like the way we Catholics do not integrate more of the Bible into our faith. I want my children to know the Bible not the name of every Saint. Ya know what I mean?

    Sorry for going off on a tangent! This just got me thinking some more on my faith which is something I have been thinking a lot about these days anyway! So I guess I don’t know what my standpoint is on a woman’s place in the Church. At this point I’m confused about my faith in general so I can’t really offer anything in this department.

  4. I like to have the covering or mantle of a man over me. If I were a woman speaker, I would do as Beth Moore does and share how my husband prayers for me by phone each time before I speak to a large group…he is her defender, her covering. Perhaps God knows women are emotional beings and need this headship to stay centered when storms come. I do.

    If I lead in church, or teach, I always defer to, quote, support, uphold and try to support staff in anything I say. I allow them to mentor me with an open and teachable spirit (as much as my stubborn self allows).

    I then try to “multiply” their efforts. I try to expand on their life energy. The larger churches grow, the less effective it is to think that 3-4 male staff ministers will keep up with the human load. Neither can a body of deacons…especially if they are all male deacons. There are many sensitive subjects and situations that female counsel is needed on.

    This relieves and protects them as well.

    I think we can look at this two ways: In terms of “official church government where decisions are made” and “shepherding” responsibilities. You are right to distinguish between the two.

    Actually, if I am correct, there were female leaders in church times. They hosted church meetings in their homes, were prophetesses, and key leaders.

    They just deferred to the male leadership around them.

    I think there is a place for female shepherding, and for female leadership. But, I also love the way God seemed to line up the order of authority. I am expected to be the balance for my husband, to ask him hard questions, to present another side to things, and often he leaves decisions to me. But I find great rest that the ultimate responsibility for leading falls to him. My job is to support and honor him and help make sure we are on track. If it could or should have been done better..that’s okay…we learn and try again next time. Both of us.

    I’ve rambled on enough. I just know there’s always been peace where there aren’t so many chiefs that there are no indians to follow….for lack of a better cliche.

    Thanks for a great discussion. I look forward to more insights as people think out loud here.


  5. hey I commented on Amy’s post too. This is definitely a tough one, one that people feel vastly different about. I think at the end of the day though does it matter? is that too passive? I don’t know? I think more importantly than if a woman or man is in a leadership role I would question first…. is it who the Father has called to that position? that to me would be the first question I asked, over male or female. Then I would ask, Father, am I to be here under this person’s authority? I think this is lacking in our mind sets way over whether the church as women elders or pastors…. in the end we are all His children serving One God shining His Love to others so that the world might know Him. Eph 4:11-16

    that’s my 2 cents anyways….fun topic though!! I loves a good debate.

  6. Another point to make here is that I believe that God wants all of the 5 fold Ephesians 4 giftings to be represented in each body but not all of these positions are a part of church government (as in the final decision makers/the ones held accountable before the Throne at the end of time).

    While pastors and elders (which according to the NT are the same) are legitamately the highest church governmental leaders, the office of prophet, teacher, evangelist and apostle are not. With the exception of the apostle — women can and should function in these giftings.

    I am not saying that a woman cannot preach, teach or prophesy – in fact quite the opposite is true according to Scripture.

    Junias was highly regarded by the apostles as a preacher of the Gospel, Pheobe was a deacon (which in the greek means servant or helper) and Pricilla worked in team with her husband. These are just a few of the strong women of the Bible days, but none of these roles were of a disciplinarian nature – or the lead, “the buck stops here” type role.

    There is God’s perfect will and then there’s His permissable will. What His #1 desire is from what He will allow. I am striving to walk in the first rather than the later…

  7. ok so then why would it say in Eph 4:11-12 “some” and it not be generic specific and has apostle listed there too? if we as women are some…then why not apostle’s?

  8. The original word and meaning for Pastor is so different from what we see today. It is misunderstood and misused too frequently as is the title of Bishop. A whole church full of people who call themselves “Pastor so-n-so” is not biblical. There is 1 head “the” pastor, the rest are workers, helpers, teachers, preachers, all helping the “lead” guy out, the priesthood of all believers, working together to advance the Kingdom of God. The head is also not a dictator or independent but one who leads with a servant heart like Christ is the head of the church and had a team around Him and loved/served the body so much that He died for us!

    “Pastor” is not a title but that’s what you hear in a lot of churches today, people identified by their title. Pastor means shepherd and it is what is done… shepherding – the word is a verb. Take away the title and some loose their value, I’ve seen it all too often.

    Back to apostle, which means “messanger or sent one” in the original greek and it is a function that is desperetly needed in churches today but rarely understood. If you look through the New Testament and look at the lives of the ones called apostles, Paul, Peter to name a couple, they were father figures to the local church. Men who strengthened the local church and helped equip the saints and elders of that church for the ministry.

    It is true, too many people are going into “ministry” as a job and are not truly called and this is a shame. I’ve heard teens in other church youth groups say, “I think I’ll go to Bible college and be a youth pastor” when asked why they have said, “’cause it seems like a cool job and I don’t know what to do right now.” Wrong attitude or view of how we should be “doing church”.

    You do have to be careful of some translations of the Bible. More are more “genderless” Bibles are becoming mainstream and the preferred read in some churches. That’s where having a working knowledge of the original Greek and Hebrew come in handy… that’s my hubby’s area (he has a degree in it).

  9. hey I told J all about this “hot topic” and you know he agrees with you totally! and he said BUT I think there should be at least 1 woman as elder, so I had to ask why? he says well who would bring the cookies to the meetings??? hahaha funny man!!!

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