Researchers at Gordon College and Wheaton College have discovered after surveying 1400 evangelical organizations that women have fewer leadership roles than their secular counterparts. While women in secular organizations make up 43% of their nonprofit boards and 40% of their CEOs overall, in the evangelical world only 21% of evangelical boards are female, 19% are in top paid positions, and 16% are CEOs.
A majority of evangelicals (94%), whether men or women, believe that men and women should have equal access to those leadership roles, which has left experts wondering why that isn’t reflected in the actual numbers of women leaders. Three basic questions have arisen from these numbers, namely:
- Do the women make decisions that limit their options?
- Are there attitudes in these work environments that put men at a better advantage to take these positions?
- Do evangelical women feel that their roles at home and church, as stated in the Bible, should also apply to society in general?
Several days ago, an article appeared at CharismaNews from a pastor’s wife who in her travels to different churches still found that women approached her with the concern that they as women were prohibited from preaching, teaching, and praying for people and were relegated to only serving in the church kitchen or cleaning the facilities.
Is this really what God has in mind for women? I personally can’t see how that could be for several reasons such as:
- Jesus appeared to a woman first after his resurrection (Mark 16:9) and she was the very first to spread the good news of his resurrection.
- When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2) as evidenced by their preaching/prophesying in tongues, both women and men were there (see Acts 1:14). Peter attests to this when he addressed the interested crowd by quoting Joel 2 where Joel prophesied God would use both sons and daughters, servants and handmaidens to prophesy, which includes preaching.
- Priscilla taught Apollos the way of God more perfectly alongside her husband Aquila (Acts 18:26). She was also in business together with her husband and Paul joined their business also to help pay for his ministry (Acts 18:3).
- Lydia, a businesswoman in Philippi (Acts 16:14), was the first person of that city to become part of the church. And there’s no mention of her being told to close her business after being saved.
- Euodias and Syntyche were also women at Philippi who labored with Paul in the gospel (Philippians 4:2-3).
- The deacon Philip had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9).
- Phoebe was a servant (deaconess) of the church at Rome and Paul ordered that church to assist her with whatever she needed because she supported many people in the ministry, including Paul. Apparently those who were ordered by Paul to assist her had to include men (Romans 16:1).
So having taken all of this into account, what do we do with the scripture where Paul told women to keep silence in the churches (1 Corinthians 14:34) or when he told Timothy “I suffer not a woman to teach” (1 Timothy 2:12)? Or how about when he told Titus that young women should be keepers at home (Titus 2:4-5)? I doubt if Paul meant women should not be leaders in the church. But what I do know for sure is all the examples above and that Paul gave instructions on how a woman should prophesy in 1 Corinthians 11 and it’s clear he was talking about women prophesying and praying in church (1 Corinthians 11:16).
Source: Adelle M. Banks, In Evangelical Nonprofits, Women Leaders Lag Behind Peers in General Market, ChristianHeadlines.com, October 23. 2014.