Thanks for your interest in whether women can preach and lead in the local church. This is a difficult topic in the Bible, and we won’t all agree, but we can agree this is not a primary gospel issue. In other words, we can take a complementarian perspective (only men preach and serve as Elders) or an egalitarian perspective (men and women can do it too), and our salvation is not at stake. But that doesn’t mean this doesn’t matter.
This issue affects real men and women and our understanding of God. That’s why it’s so important we cling to scripture and really try to understand God’s word with humility and kindness towards each other. With all that in mind and heart, we would like to share some of the resources we have been processing that we believe make a biblical case for women preaching and leading in the church.
We have also included several complementarian resources at the bottom of this page for your use as we wrestle together with this issue. May God bless you as we listen, learn, and process together.
In Christ, your Elders
Andy Bradshaw, Chair
Jonathan Romig, Pastor
P.S. Here’s a link to Cornerstone’s Women in the Kingdom sermon series and our announcement of it here.
Sermons & YouTube Playlist
We’ve created a playlist of various sermons, lectures, panels, and teachings on women in ministry. A couple includes actual sermons from women, which we highly recommend if you have not yet heard a woman preach yet. Here’s a Playlist link. We’d especially like to highlight the following:
In her Acts 2 sermon, Pastor Suzy Silk of Church of the City New York shows how Jesus encourages joint leadership between men and women. She asks three questions: 1) Does God allow women to lead (both men and women)? 2) Does God allow women to teach authoritatively (both men and women)? 3) Does God want men and women leading together? She takes a great, Biblical, approach to answering those questions.
Pastor Gordon Hugenber of Park Street Church (now retired) preached a five-part series explaining his hybrid position on women in the church and leadership. He is complementarian in the home and egalitarian in the church. You can find that series here. You can also read his women in leadership paper here (or the more academic version here).
Pastor Jonathan, Monica, and Alison Gerber talked about women serving as pastors, preaching, and leading ministries. You can watch that conversation on YouTube: Can Women be Pastors? Preach Sermons? Lead Church Ministry? A Conversation with Alison Gerber
Articles & Defense Papers
One of the sermons in our playlist above is from Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Carrollton Texas. They explain why their male-only elder board is transitioning to include women elders. The pastor goes through the Bible explaining where they came to this conclusion from the text. He addresses how women in ministry is a different issue than same-sex relationships. They already had women preaching and teaching throughout the body. Pastor Pete introduces a paper with much more info. You can find that paper here.
Fuller Seminary is a reliable school that takes a Biblical approach to understanding Scripture. They’ve written an entire page on women in ministry and their understanding of what the Bible has to say. They believe God calls and equips women to preach and lead in the church.
Pastor Sam Kim of Intercultural Mission Church in North Haverhill has lent us a copy of his women in ministry paper. In this helpful paper he explains both sides and offers a bridge between the two. You can read Sam’s paper here.
A.J. Gordon founded the missions school that became known as Gordon College, part of which turned into Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He wrote an essay back in 1984 defending women preaching the gospel. You can read “The Ministry of Women” paper here or listen to Jonathan’s audio recording on YouTube.
Two Views on Women in Ministry – This is a helpful book from multiple authors that helps present the various egalitarian and complementarian perspectives from a biblical approach. It’s a good starting point if you want to understand the two sides. (Amazon)
Hearing Her Voice: A Case for Women Giving Sermons by John Dickson – In his book, Dickson argues that what we do on a Sunday morning with preaching is not the same as what Paul meant when he talked about teaching and laying down doctrine. Really interesting perspective. (Amazon)
Bourgeois Babes, Bossy Wives, and Bobby Haircuts: A Case for Gender Equality in Ministry by Michael Bird – Bird recognizes that God does call husbands to lead, but that doesn’t mean women can’t preach and lead in the church. He has a hybrid position of sorts. (Amazon)
Junia is Not Alone by Scot McKnight – In this brief but powerful book, McKnight unpack Romans 16:7, “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.” (NIV) What does it mean that Junia was outstanding among the apostles? Was she an apostle? Well liked? (Kindle)
How (Not) to Read the Bible: Making Sense of the Anti-Women, Anti-Science, Pro-Violence, Pro-Slavery and Other Crazy-Sounding Parts of Scripture by Dan Kimball – Dan Kimball gives a clear, biblical, and understandable overview of the Bible’s teachings on women in ministry (Christian Book; Amazon; Audible).
The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth by Beth Allison Barr – One of our popular misconceptions is that all of church history has agreed on male-only preaching and church leadership. Barr shows how this has often not been the case, and that women’s voices have been repeatedly silenced (Christian Book; Amazon; Audible).
Beyond the Curse: Women Called to Ministry by Aida Besancon Spencer – This 1985 classic also addresses the difficult Bible passages. Pastor Jonathan can lend a copy to any who are interested (Amazon).
Women in the Bible: An Overview of All the Crucial Passages on Women’s Roles by Mary J. Evans – This 1984 classic provides a helpful and biblical overview of all the difficult passages in the Bible addressing women and their roles. Pastor Jonathan can lend a copy to any who are interested (Amazon).
If you are looking to better understand the complementarian perspective, probably the most common book to read is Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism by Wayne Grudem and John Piper. For something a little shorter, you could read The Village Church’s The Role of Women at The Village Church.
If you prefer to watch something, you can check out Preston Sprinkle’s interview: A Complementarian Reading of Scripture: Dr. Tom Schreiner. The Gospel Coalition shares its perspective here and you can catch Mike Winger’s series here. If you’d like to hear from a sermon on complementarianism, check out Trey VanCamp’s message.