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5 Reasons Why We Need More Female Leaders in the Church

You may have noticed that there are more women than men in church. This is true for churches everywhere, all over the world. "There are no countries where Christian men are significantly more likely than Christian women to attend services weekly," according to the Pew Research Center. When I checked our church database to see the gender gap in our church, I was shocked. We are 63% female and 37% male! This lines up almost perfectly with the 2001 U.S. Congregational Life Survey (USCLS) which found that an average American congregation is roughly 61% female and 39% male.

And yet, you may have noticed a different and more extreme gender divide in churches. The pastor speaking from the stage is almost always male. The Faith Communities Today 2010 national survey of 11,000 American churches found that just 12% of all congregations have a female as their senior leader.

So women are 2/3 of the church itself but 1/10 of the leadership.

This has to change! Not just because of the math, but because of the Bible. Here are 5 biblical reasons why we need more female leaders in the church:

In Genesis 1:27, after God has already created so much, he finally decides to reflect his very own image through his creation by making human beings: "in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." The man alone did not reflect the image of God, but male and female together. Notice that there is no hint of male dominance or female subordination.

When the creation story is told from another perspective in Genesis 2, it says that the woman Eve was created as a "helper" for the man Adam. This is so often read as evidence of male superiority because it sounds like Eve is created to an assistant to her boss Adam. But whenever that word "helper" is used of a person in the Old Testament, it almost always refers to God (29 places). God is our helper but he certainly is not our subordinate!


In the creation story, when Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit, there was a punishment given to each of them. To the man, the punishment was that the ground would be cursed and would require difficult work to produce food.

Here the punishment God handed to the woman: "I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." (Gen. 3:16) Pain in childbirth and subordination to men. Those are curses given as punishment for sin, they are not biblical mandates to be preserved. So bring on the epidurals for women in child birth, and let’s stop perpetuating the curse of men ruling over women!


If God really didn’t want women to lead, why in the world would there be so many examples of amazing female leaders in the Bible? Here are a few examples:

Miriam was a leader sent by God to lead Israel alongside Moses: "I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam."(Micah 6:4)

Deborah was a powerful warrior, leader, prophetess, and judge over Israel: "Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided." (Judges 4:4-5)

Phoebe was a deacon (leader) of the church. Here is the Apostle Paul speaking about her: "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon, of the church in Cenchreae." (Rom. 16:1) The word deacon refers here to a Christian leader who serves with the overseers/elders of the church in a variety of ways. See Phil. 1:1 and 1 Tim. 3:8, 12.

Junia was an apostle, and one that Paul calls outstanding among all of the rest of the apostles. Wow! Paul writes: "Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was." (Rom. 16:7)

The list could go on and on…


Spiritual gifts are given by God to people for the building up of the church. There are multiple passages in the New Testament that list out and explain the various gifts that God gives, and all of the passages have one thing in common, they never add any restrictions on gender. Take a look at Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4.

Other passages make clear that women specifically are given spiritual gifts and should be using them. For instance, the gift of prophecy in Acts 2:18: "Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy." Or the gift of teaching when Priscilla (a woman) teaches Apollos (a very educated man) in Acts 18:26: "He (Apollos) began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately."


The Apostle Paul was a missionary through and through. He wanted to do whatever was necessary to reach the world for Christ. Here is his strategy: "To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel…" (1 Cor. 9:22-23) This means that sometimes when writing to churches about women’s roles or slavery, he felt it better to allow some of the cultural values to remain for the sake of people hearing the most important thing: the Gospel. At other times, however, he lays out the grander vision of what is going to happen when God’s kingdom come in fullness and changes everything. Galatians 3:28 is one of those places where he reveals how social roles will change in Christ: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." This is the vision we're heading toward in God’s kingdom: women and men will be equals. So why would we wait for heaven to experience this kind of equality? Let’s do it now! Let’s have women rise up into their callings and start using their giftings so that the church will look more like the Kingdom of Heaven and be more faithful to the teaching of the Bible.

Please join us for a fascinating discussion at our Women in Leadership Seminar with Abigail Gaines on October 19, 2019.
O C T O B E R  1 9   |   1 0 A M - 2 P M  |   C A F E   A U D I T O R I U M
The Seminar cost is $15 per person which includes lunch. Both men and women are welcome to attend.
Does the teaching of the Bible place limitations on women’s roles in the church or can
women actually lead and preach and even become a lead pastor of a church?  If you have
wrestled with these questions, come to this seminar where we will make the case for why
we believe that women not only can, but are called and gifted by God to do everything that
men can do in the church - including be lead pastors. Pastor Jonathan Rue will be teaching as
well as guest speaker Abigail Gaines, the Lead Pastor of the Glendora Vineyard Church.


tyler - December 3rd, 2021 at 10:57am

women are not equal to men and should not ever be. God created women to submit to men. there is nothing wrong with a woman preaching, but we were not created equal

Jahmar - January 5th, 2022 at 7:34pm

Yea that's very true but I think that's only in marriage. Whoever wrote this article has to be a feminist the way they a where talking and using "!". I can't take this article or paragraph seriously.

Susanne - February 7th, 2022 at 10:58am

I thank and praise God for this article.

Leslie nelson - August 3rd, 2023 at 8:14am

There is perhaps no more hotly debated issue in the church today than that of women serving as pastors. As a result, it is important to not see this issue as men versus women. There are women who believe women should not serve as pastors and that the Bible places restrictions on the ministry of women, and there are men who believe women can serve as pastors and that there are no restrictions on women in ministry. This is not a matter of chauvinism or discrimination. It is an issue of biblical interpretation.

The Word of God proclaims, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1 Timothy 2:11–12). In the church, God assigns different roles to men and women. This is a result of the way mankind was created and the way in which sin entered the world (1 Timothy 2:13–14). God, through the apostle Paul, restricts women from serving in roles of teaching and/or having spiritual authority over men. This precludes women from serving as pastors over men, since pastoring definitely includes preaching, teaching publicly, and exercising spiritual authority.

There are many objections to this view of women in pastoral ministry. A common one is that Paul restricts women from teaching because in the first century, women were typically uneducated. However, 1 Timothy 2:11–14 nowhere mentions educational status. If education were a qualification for ministry, then the majority of Jesus’ disciples would not have been qualified. A second common objection is that Paul only restricted the women of Ephesus from teaching men (1 Timothy was written to Timothy, the pastor of the church in Ephesus). Ephesus was known for its temple to Artemis, and women were the authorities in that branch of paganism—therefore, the theory goes, Paul was only reacting against the female-led customs of the Ephesian idolaters, and the church needed to be different. However, the book of 1 Timothy nowhere mentions Artemis, nor does Paul mention the standard practice of Artemis worshipers as a reason for the restrictions in 1 Timothy 2:11–12.

A third objection is that Paul is only referring to husbands and wives, not men and women in general. The Greek words for “woman” and “man” in 1 Timothy 2 could refer to husbands and wives; however, the basic meaning of the words is broader than that. Further, the same Greek words are used in verses 8–10. Are only husbands to lift up holy hands in prayer without anger and disputing (verse 8)? Are only wives to dress modestly, have good deeds, and worship God (verses 9–10)? Of course not. Verses 8–10 clearly refer to all men and women, not just husbands and wives. There is nothing in the context that would indicate a narrowing to husbands and wives in verses 11–14.

Yet another objection to this interpretation of women in pastoral ministry references women in positions of leadership in the Bible, specifically Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah in the Old Testament. It is true that these women were chosen by God for special service to Him and that they stand as models of faith, courage, and, yes, leadership. However, the authority of women in the Old Testament is not relevant to the issue of pastors in the church. The New Testament Epistles present a new paradigm for God’s people—the church, the body of Christ—and that paradigm involves an authority structure unique to the church, not for the nation of Israel or any other Old Testament entity.

Similar arguments are made using Priscilla and Phoebe in the New Testament. In Acts 18, Priscilla and Aquila are presented as faithful ministers for Christ. In verse 18, Priscilla’s name is mentioned first, suggesting to some that she was more prominent in ministry than her husband. (The detail of whose name comes first is probably inconsequential, because in verses 2 and 26 the order is reversed from that of verse 18.) Did Priscilla and her husband teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to Apollos? Yes, in their home they “explained to him the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18:26). Does the Bible ever say that Priscilla pastored a church or taught publicly or became the spiritual leader of a congregation of saints? No. As far as we know, Priscilla was not involved in ministry activity in contradiction to 1 Timothy 2:11–14.

In Romans 16:1, Phoebe is called a “deacon” (or “servant”) in the church and is highly commended by Paul. But, as with Priscilla, there is nothing in Scripture to indicate that Phoebe was a pastor or a teacher of men in the church. “Able to teach” is given as a qualification for elders, but not for deacons (1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:6–9).

The structure of 1 Timothy 2:11–14 makes the reason why women cannot be pastors perfectly clear. Verse 13 begins with “for,” giving the “cause” of Paul’s statement in verses 11–12. Why should women not teach or have authority over men? Because “Adam was created first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived” (verses 13–14). God created Adam first and then created Eve to be a “helper” for Adam. The order of creation has universal application in the family (Ephesians 5:22–33) and in the church.

The fact that Eve was deceived is also given as a reason for women not serving as pastors or having spiritual authority over men (1 Timothy 2:14). This does not mean that women are gullible or that they are all more easily deceived than men. If all women are more easily deceived, why would they be allowed to teach children (who are easily deceived) and other women (who are supposedly more easily deceived)? The text simply says that women are not to teach men or have spiritual authority over men because Eve was deceived. God has chosen to give men the primary teaching authority in the church.

Many women excel in gifts of hospitality, mercy, teaching, evangelism, and helping/serving. Much of the ministry of the local church depends on women. Women in the church are not restricted from public praying or prophesying (1 Corinthians 11:5), only from having spiritual teaching authority over men. The Bible nowhere restricts women from exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). Women, just as much as men, are called to minister to others, to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23), and to proclaim the gospel to the lost (Matthew 28:18–20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15).

God has ordained that only men are to serve in positions of spiritual teaching authority in the church. This does not imply men are better teachers or that women are inferior or less intelligent. It is simply the way God designed the church to function. Men are to set the example in spiritual leadership—in their lives and through their words. Women are also to set an example in their lives, but in a different way (1 Peter 3:1-6). Women are encouraged to teach other women (Titus 2:3–5). The Bible also does not restrict women from teaching children. The only activity women are restricted from is teaching or having spiritual authority over men. This bars women from serving as pastors to men. This does not make women less important, by any means; rather, it gives them a ministry focus more in agreement with God’s design.

Art - October 16th, 2023 at 8:30pm

I think it would be great to have more women preachers. Then there will be even fewer men in churches. Go check out churches pastored by women. The great thing about church, we get to decide where we go. In fact, start a denomination with all female leaders. That would great. People will go where they want. Just dont complain when it doesn't go well.



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