Intentionally normalizing the role of women in ministry

One of the things I have been challenged with in recent years is the question of whether or not as a pastor I help create an environment where it’s natural for girls to see themselves in ministry. I think it became a bigger question for me the first time one of my former female students became a youth pastor – it hit me then that I have a list of guys that I have seen go on to study and pursue ministry, but not girls. And if I’m honest, the couple that have probably did so in spite of my leadership, not because of it.

It wasn’t an intentional thing – the reality is that as a guy it’s more appropriate for me to have deeper relationships with male students and allow the women leaders to invest in the girls. However, there are subtle ways we send messages on roles as well, things we don’t verbalize and yet create an environment that very clearly teaches something nonetheless. Who is regularly up front? How do we hire? What message does it send to young ladies when they see the majority of pastoral staff are men, but the majority of administrative staff are women? Who do we put in charge of events? Who are the speakers and theologians that we praise and recommend?

One of my goals at my current church has been to intentionally normalize the role of women in ministry. In other words, I don’t make a big deal out of it. I don’t draw attention to it. But behind the scenes I make intentional decisions to highlight women in our student ministry so that ideally, our students graduate without it being a question – of course women can and should do ministry. What this looks like practically is that I try to recruit women teachers on a regular basis – I’m actually not happy that lately our senior high has mostly been hearing male voices on Sunday mornings. It means that if we do a student led Sunday I will always have some of the voices from up front be female students. At our fall retreat, I made the decision to have Chris and myself do the Friday and Saturday night talks specifically so that Melissa would be the Sunday morning speaker and be the one to lead communion. And I loved that no one batted an eye at it – that means it’s normal.

It’s all little things. And any time the topic does come up, I strongly push against viewpoints that limit the role of women in our churches. Maybe it doesn’t seem like I do much – but after growing up in much more conservative and role limiting churches means one of my personal challenges is pushing back on a lifetime of lessons and habits I see as incorrect now.


7 thoughts on “Intentionally normalizing the role of women in ministry

  1. Matt!!! this is ken from wichita! hey dude! GREAT stuff. Does your church have any ladies in leadership? At my last church I served under two associate clergy-women and I learned a lot. We have a lot to learn from our sisters!


  2. Our deacon board is guys only, but otherwise women serve and teach throughout the church. We also only call men pastors – our children's ministry and missions leaders are called directors since they are women, but do have an equal voice with the other pastors on the pastoral staff, and they are called part of the pastoral staff.


  3. I am glad that we are following biblical teaching in that we don't call women pastors. But I am even more happy that you are taking on the challenge of teacching girls it is normal to serve in ministry !! Keep it going ! ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. You go, big brother! ๐Ÿ™‚ I would highly recommend the book, "Why Not Women?" to anyone interested in exploring this topic.


  5. This is great. As a female minister and a Divinity School student, I have been working on doing a practicum dealing with ways to encourage our young girls who are called into ministry. I love that there are some youth pastors out there who are thinking about the issue, and even better, doing something about it. Keep up the good work, Matt.


  6. I am a Pastor, who is female and who loves youth ministry. I have been called to this place of serving students and also see myself as a role model to girls who may someday also sense a call to ministry. They will know what it looks like! I also think I'm being a role model to our boys, seeing a woman in leadership, teaching the Bible. It doesn't only happen in Children's ministry. Thank you for having a lens to see that faith-filled leaders are both men and women. I have been sensitive to this for years and I'm glad to hear others are doing the same. It makes a difference to the Kingdom to have our young people seeing what could be for them in ministry.


  7. Great post Matt!! I wish more ministries and youth workers would work to normalize women in ministry. All we need to look at is how Jesus revolutionized the role of women during his time on earth…pretty inspiring stuff!!


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