By Victor Ochieng
In almost all sectors, there has been some pronounced talk about women. From Hollywood’s #MeToo movement to the church’s #ChurchToo, there is a clear call for the voices of women to be heard. Women are excited about the development and many, if not all, echo Oprah Winfrey’s famous line “A new day is on the horizon.”
Like everything else in our society, not everyone agrees, specifically when it comes to women and church leadership. We remember recently when Pastor John Piper came out to strongly dismiss the idea of allowing women to teach or preach in church. Instead of proponents of women preachers keeping quiet, they came out to encourage women, with a good number stating just how much some women preachers have positively impacted their lives.
At some point, it didn’t even matter to these people what the Bible says, but more about how different women church leaders have helped them become stronger spiritually and theologically. In the comments section of Pastor Piper’s post, women’s names trickled in with demonstrable reasons why such personalities were right to have assumed strong leadership roles in the church.
No doubt, women belong in leadership.
In an article authored by Kat Armas and published in Relevant Magazine, she shares five reasons why the church needs women teachers, leaders, and preachers.
1. Women Were Foundational in Spreading the Message of Jesus
Not only was the woman who was with Jesus at the well the very first evangelist of Jesus in Samaria, but women who visited the tomb also became the very first ones to break the news of the resurrection of Jesus. Reading through Romans 16, we see that Apostle Paul made mention of some leading women in the ministry.
2. Women are Gifted in the Ministry
Reading through the New Testament, we don’t see anywhere where the gifts of the Holy Spirit are gender specific. Prophet Joel wrote: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy … Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” We are living in that time and women’s contribution, as granted by the Holy Spirit, cannot be stifled.
3. Women are Also Bearers of God’s Image
In human creation, both men and women were accorded the same responsibility to bear the image of God. By bearing the image of God, we understand that God’s fullness and personhood are expressed in their spirituality and not masculinity. We are all, regardless of gender, being reflections of God in our lives.
4. Women Need Women Confidants
We understand that at the end of the day, women and men are different and that all of us have different needs. When it comes to leadership, we need diversity as well. There is the importance of having someone who can speak with a full understanding of a woman’s needs, and this should be someone who’s like them. No one can do that better than a woman leader. Discipleship is stronger where there is diversity, which also encourages sharing of ideas.
5. Empowering Women Means Empowering an Entire Community
Women are among the most oppressed demographic globally. In some countries, women are sold out like goods in the market, with some treated like s*x pets. However, when we look at statistics from such organizations as UN Women and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) we see that when women are empowered, they become very vital contributors to a community’s development. For example, a UN Women research found out that educating girls and women accounts for around 50% of the economic growth realized in OECD countries over the past 50 years.
If these are true on a global scale, wouldn’t the same be true in the church? We have seen churches led by women succeed and produce equally strong and theologically equipped leaders, yet this is happening in a society that’s biased against women. What then would it be like if we embraced women leadership in the church?