As the American church struggles to find its way, it may be downplaying one its strongest assets. Women.
Churches are “leaving a lot of leadership capacity on the table,” according to Kadi Cole, leadership expert and author of Developing Female Leaders: Navigate the Minefields and Release the Potential of Women in Your Church. Though females comprise 61 percent of the typical congregation, they’re underutilized, especially in important staff and volunteer positions.
The issue goes far beyond theological perspectives on women in leadership, Cole contends. Regardless of a church’s theology, practical church culture regarding women often does not match a church’s presumed beliefs.
When it comes to treatment of women, Cole said the church world is behind the business world. Businesses tend to get sued faster than churches, she said. But, increasingly, churches may be at risk for discriminating against women with regard to pay, titles, promotions and training.
Though the typical male hierarchy may, knowingly or unknowingly, create a “stained glass ceiling” for women, Cole said women often hold themselves back from contributing more powerfully in a church. She calls this the “sticky floor.” Many women disadvantage themselves with perfectionism and other insecurities. Cole explains this phenomenon more in this week’s Holy Soup podcast.
Some say the church is already too feminized, and its styles of worship and decor are repelling men. Church membership is dropping a bit faster among men, according to Gallup. But Cole would say that’s not because of too many women in leadership. She said women occupy fewer than 30 percent of the leadership positions, paid and volunteer, in the average church. She advocates that a 30 percent threshold would be a good initial minimum goal for most churches.
Hear my conversation with Kadi Cole on the Holy Soup podcast here:
Kadi Cole is among the women-in-ministry experts appearing at Group’s upcoming Future of the Church summit. You’re invited! See more details on attending here. The changing role of women in the church is a major trend to watch in the next few years.
This is just another aspect of church life to show that it has abandoned New Testament living and church life. There is only one issue and that is what does the bible teach about leadership?
To quote one sample, an Elder, who were the leaders in the New Testament church had to be the the husband of one wife. How can a woman be the husband of one wife?
And another is he must manage his household well. How can a woman who is never the leader of the household in New Testament times manage it well?
There are dozen other comments that make it quite clear that the Elders were men and they were responsible for the life of the church.
At the same time as women have begun to take control of the church, the incident of the Jezebel spirit has increased. As I have had to deal with this spirit, it has always been in women.
Until we get back to unpaid Elders in leadership, the church will never fulfill its mission.
Did you even listen to the podcast, Roger? There was no suggestion that women should become Elders or Deacons. There are places where women can take leadership roles that don’t offend NT norms. Cole says as much in her interview–it has to work within what the leadership feels fits within their interpretation of scripture. And what are women to do when the men fail? When the leadership fails? Because they do. Sit and twiddle our thumbs and hope a man comes along and pulls us back together? What’s the point of a woman learning scripture if she can’t apply it when necessary. No, women have a voice in the church. We have a contribution. And not one of rebellion that’s looking to put men down. We want to build our men up. We want to build our children up. We want our daughters to be so secure in the love of Christ that the rejection of a boy or young man doesn’t demolish her and that it draws the right man to her. We want our sons to be so empowered with the confidence of Christ that he doesn’t need the approval of his peers to feel worthy. Women can contribute to that at every level.
Quite frankly, Roger, your dismissal of women demonstrates an unwillingness to honor God’s own creation. I get that Paul said “Wives submit to your husbands . . . ” Eph 5:22 and that “all Scripture is God-breathed” 2 Tim 3:16. However, Pauls first statement does not carry more weight than later on in that chapter of Ephesians when he also says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . .,” v.25 Paul’s words do not take precedence over Christ’s words or His example. We know this because at the Transfiguration in Mark 9, Peter wanted to set up shelters for Christ, Moses, and Elijah–two of the Jews’ most famous prophets who said many things that Peter probably modeled his life on. God said, though, “THIS is My Son . . . Listen to HIM!” (Emphasis mine.) Women were important to Christ and we know these several ways, mainly by how He treated women in every interaction He had with them:
Woman who touched the hem of His garment Mark 5:25ff
The woman taken in adultery John 7:53–8:11
The woman at the well John 4
Mary and Martha
The women who anoint Him
. . . . a host more
He may have challenged one or two, but ultimately parted with them with dignity, peace, and love. Women mattered to Jesus.
Perhaps the most telling way we know the utmost significance women held in the mind and heart of Christ is by the manner in which He chose to arrive on this earth: in childbirth through a woman. Who was the first person He chose to appear to upon His resurrection? A woman.
I would argue that until you get back to modeling Christ, the church will never fulfill its mission.
First off it is not paul speaking his own agenda the bible says holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the HOLY SPIRIT. And when king saul because God’s prophet was not there took it upon himself to do what was not his appointment from God and thus usurped authority he was removed from his kingship and commited suicide.
I have heard all your arguments tme and again Lisa so I am not ignorant of the rationale behind women in leadership. My wife is a leader and in most cases, she is involved in leading the prayer ministry of a church and teaches on the subject. She has no desire whatsoever to be the leader of a church.
“There was no suggestion that women should become Elders or Deacons.” As for this comment in my country this is the issue that is being fought over. It has been going on for 40 years now and through the agitation of some women in the church, they are now beign promoted to bishop.
One forced anti biblbical stance leads to another as now, some churches are sanctioning same sex marriage. The two churches involved have the most number of female ministers. When you appoint a female minister you are diluting the authority of the church and when you do that you are giving the world the right to ignore God because we do.
I have yet to be in any church where women are not leading something as is right. But they are not to be THE leaders (Elders). As of now you will not find any pentecostal church in my country that is not led by a husband and wife and the wife has as much authority as the husband.
That is wrong, especially when you have wise older men being told by a 30 something woman what to do.
P.S Having been in leadership more than once, one of my favourite occupations was to do the dishes.