Growing up in the Bible belt of Arkansas, it was instilled in me to believe that a “woman preacher” was synonymous with basically not believing the Bible. That was not always explicitly taught but could be inferred from the way some speak about the issue.
For most of my life, it was a non-issue because it didn’t impact me personally. When I went to seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1999 (before I’d ever met Ines) I was introduced to new theological positions that supported the full inclusion of women in Kingdom work. I was still on the fence, though I remember thinking that egalitarians (those who support women at all levels of leadership in the church) had some pretty solid interpretations of Scripture. I even wrote a note in my Systematic Theology book written by Wayne Grudem (a vocal advocate of complementarianism – against women preaching/teaching men) while I was in his class that challenged his arguments (see the image above). I had no idea what roads were ahead of me. I still didn’t have skin in the game besides a few conversations with fellow seminary students who held different views than I had been exposed to growing up.
In 2003 I came on staff at the Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas and met Ines. We got married 1.5 years later. Her teaching gift was evident back then, but even she wasn’t sure of all the implications. This is a topic that both of us have grappled with for the last decade or so, and it started with uncertainty, followed by a lot of studying, and then drawing our own conclusions based on the full counsel of Scripture.
If you follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you will see many posts about women in ministry in my timelines not because I’m trying to push an agenda, but because I have strong theological convictions on the topic with real-world consequences for the Kingdom of God. If you disagree with my convictions and beliefs, that’s ok. We can still be friends.
Since this is a frequent topic of discussion for us I find myself sharing the same email over and over with links to three helpful sermons.
The first two sermons are from a church in Massachusetts called Grace Chapel, and they provide as succinct and accessible teaching on the topic as I’ve ever heard. The third sermon is from Bent Tree Bible Church in Texas and provides in depth exegesis of Scripture on the topic of women in ministry and leadership.
Grace Chapel – Women in Leadership – Part 1
The first of Senior Pastor Bryan Wilkerson’s two messages presenting the Biblical context for women serving as elders at Grace Chapel. This first message attempts to equally present the opposing viewpoints held by complementarians and egalitarians.
Grace Chapel – Women, Leadership and the Church – Part 2
The second of Senior Pastor Bryan Wilkerson’s two messages presenting the Biblical context for women serving as elders at Grace Chapel. This second message presents Pastor Bryan’s personal journey from being complementarian to egalitarian.
Bent Tree Bible Fellowship – The Future of Leadership at Bent Tree
This sermon begins with several personal statements from elders at Bent Tree followed by an in-depth exploration of the redemptive trajectory of women throughout Scripture. In addition to this Sunday sermon, they published a statement on The Future of Leadership at Bent Tree (PDF).
If you want to learn more about how Ines and I have arrived at our egalitarian positions, we welcome respectful dialogue any time!