Women in Ministry?

Yesterday Pastor John MacArthur made headlines for some very poorly chosen words about Beth Moore and her ministry.  I had a number of different people send me an article about his comments wanting to know what I thought about his comments and the topic of women in leadership positions in the church.  

First, MacArthur’s and his colleagues’ comments directed toward Beth Moore were degrading, divisive and very uncharitable. From my observation, Moore is someone who genuinely loves Christ, his Church and strives to handle the word of God correctly.  I will answer the question about women in ministry by posting an email I sent to a couple asking a similar question before they decided to make our congregation their church home years ago.

Hello John and Jane,

I am really glad you visited us last week.  I hope to see you again and please introduce yourself.  I would enjoy meeting you. 

To answer your question:

Our congregation and movement encourages and equips women to lead and teach.  This means we are considered egalitarians as opposed to complementarians.  Complementarians generally teach church leadership is reserved for men.  In some Church of God congregations, women are pastors and we have women elders in our congregation.  We empower women to lead in our effort to spread the gospel. Our primary expectation for anyone in a leadership role is to use it exult Christ and benefit others (Eph 5:1-2, 25).  I understand many believe women should not have primary leadership positions in the church or be pastors but there is scriptural precedent. 

Miriam was recognized as a prophet called by God and Deborah was called to lead Israel in the OT (Ex. 15:20-21; Micah 6:4; Jdgs. 4-5).  In addition, women had leadership roles in the early church.  Anna prophesied of Jesus (Lk 2:36-38), Mary Magdalene was the first to announce the resurrection (Jn 20:11-18), and Paul affirmed women who were in leadership positions (Rom. 16:1-16; 1 Cor. 3:5; 11:5; 16:19; 2 Cor. 3:6; Phil 4:7).  We teach that all who have been baptized and gifted by the Spirit should not be excluded from leadership or the pastorate if they are called and gifted (Acts 2:17; Gal 3:28).  For us, this means, that as long as someone is in good standing and being led by the Spirit, male or female, they may lead. Yes, and of course, I have wrestled with the implications of Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2 and 3, Titus 1 and 1 Corinthians 11. We can discuss those passages more if you’d like.   

I am not exactly sure where you stand on this issue but as a general rule I don’t believe (as some do) that complementarians are closed-minded.  This is an issue I discussed with my friends in my interdenominational seminary who disagreed with me but we all were charitable toward each other as we worked this out.  From my experience, most pastors, teachers and Christians are sincerely doing their best to live out what they believe the Bible teaches as we seek to apply our faith in both polity and practice.  That being said, as shown above, I believe complementarians are in error.  From Scripture and experience I have come to believe and teach that women can and should lead when called by God. 

I welcome people in our church who hold either view as long as they are willing to accept to what we teach and show respect all who are in leadership roles.  For me, this is secondary issue.  Nevertheless, it is an issue that a church should establish a stance on and be clear about.  I hope you understand my position, what our church teaches and I hope to meet you.  

Finally, books have been written on this subject and I am trying not to write one.  If you have any questions or want to come speak to me about this please let me know.  Thank you for your question and God bless! 

Pastor Josh

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