Should Women be leading? Nancy Beach

Main Point – we need to talk about the elephant in the room – having women in ministry

3 opportunities

1. Get into it – Jump into the conversation. We need to make this (women in ministry) a front-burner issue.

2. get over it – These new realities may feel uncomfortable. We need to acknowledge the awkwardness of having a woman on your team.

3. get on with it – Where ever you end up, there are plenty of ways women can contribute, but is there room for growth? Will the women and daughters in your church have a place to lead?

My thoughts –

I have been doing kids ministry for 12 years now and I am thankful for women who are strong leaders. I have worked with many woman who are better leaders than I am and I have absolutely no problem with that at all.

I would have no problem working in a church who’s senior pastor is a woman. I just don’t have an issue with it. I was sitting next to a woman during Nancy’s talk and I asked her “do women really feel like men in the church diminish their contributions and stifle their growth as a leader by putting limits on them as to what they can and can not do.” She replied, Yes.

For that I am very sorry.

As for the general session I think the topic was a great one, I don’t think however that the delivery of the material was as helpful as it could have been. This is not a slight to Nancy Beach at all she is a gifted communicator I deeply respect her and the team at Willow. I personally felt that she may have approached a very difficult talk from personal hurts and feelings and not enough from biblical truths. When you are talking to men i think it is important that you say this is how it is, this is why the bible says it’s wrong, this is how we can work together to fix it.

I am grateful that the organizers of Orange have put this topic on the table. I pray that it fosters healthy debate and hopefully some shifts in mindsets.

If this talk was given again (and I think it should) I would change the following:

You should have a very strong Leader – I think someone like Nancy Ortberg would be great to give the talk. Guys need someone who will say this is why it is wrong this is what the bible says what are you going to do about it? (This is to in no way take away from Nancy Beach she did great, but she comes from a more creative side of things. Being a creative person I totally get what she was saying. My question is did any of the Business administrators get it. I would say sadly no.)

My wife and I have expecting a baby girl this summer. I pray that she is a dynamic leader that is only limited by the constraints of God’s tugging on her life, keeping her, guiding her and leading her.

17 comments On Should Women be leading? Nancy Beach

  • Sam – I totally agree with your assessment of Nancy’s talk. Her argument was from culture not from the Bible. I’m fairly egalitarian, but I (as a former debater) didn’t think her defense was strong enough to win over the elder/deacon/leadership boards across America.

    I was sitting with my wife. And she was crying. She was thinking of all the times she herself was put down and felt like she couldn’t serve because she was a woman. She almost left the talk more depressed than encouraged.

    A good book on the subject is: Men and Women in the Church by Sarah Summer:

    Great post… keep up the discussion!

  • Dan,

    Thanks for leaving a comment and adding to the discussion also thanks for the resource.

    It was great meeting you briefly at orange look forward to more conversations in the future.

  • One of the biggest issues I had to wrestle with in taking my current position at Glenkirk Church was the fact that the church has a woman pastor on staff.

    I came to faith in a church that didn’t struggle with the issue of women in leadership… they simply said the Bible didn’t support the idea. Period. Paragraph.

    I’m not sure the talk from Nancy Beach would have convinced me otherwise.

    I agree with Sam, many people in faith traditions that do not accept women in leadership positions are not swayed by emotional testimony and appeal. They want to hear why it’s wrong, what the Bible says and some clear steps laid out for the path moving forward.

    I did appreciate what Nancy had to say and it took a lot of courage to put herself out there like that.

    I must add this – our Adult Ministries Pastor, Betsy Straeter, has become one of my closest friends at our church. She’s an amazing Aunt to my toddler son and an encouragement to my wife. God has clearly gifted her for Pastoral Ministry and her life has been spent living out that calling.

  • Sam,
    These are great thoughts. I felt a little of what you felt regarding Nancy’s presentation. You could feel her hesitancy. At the same time, I’m proud of her for stepping significantly beyond her comfort zone to speak to that audience. Knowing the leaders sitting in that room and the sensitivity of the topic… that took some boldness.

    I believe this conversation will continue. And I believe we will hear from different speakers that will bring a different dynamic than Nancy’s. But the point remains the same… the Holy Spirit wasn’t concerned with gender when He distributed gifts. I love the gifts He’s given me and am thankful for the opportunities where He allows me to use them. If this conversation increases those opportunities… it’s not for the glory of women… but only the glory of our Creator.

    Thanks for your thoughts, Sam.

  • Thanks for posting, Sam. Missing the session by Nancy Beach was one of the biggest regrets I have about missing Orange. I have never felt belittled or like there was something in life that I couldn’t achieve because of my gender, until I came into ministry. That is a sad, sad thing.

    I love what jabberfrog wrote….”if this conversation increases those opportunities…it’s not for the glory of women…but only the glory of our Creator.”

    Thanks again for sharing. Another good book is “Why Not Women?” by Cunningham and Hamilton.

  • Amen, Gina.

    I tell my church as often as I can that there’s no Jr. Holy Spirit – the same God that lives in and through our lives is alive and well in our church’s kids. I recently added “and the Holy Spirit doesn’t age” as a way to add value to our Senior Adults ministries.

    I’ll now be working in some form of “the Holy Spirit wasn’t concerned with gender when He distributed gifts” into that talk.


  • Anthony,

    That is very mature of you to deal with a presupposition and grow to have a close relationship with your Adult Ministries Pastor. I value the input of women in my life I think they have a God given perspective that I needs and the church as a whole needs.

  • Gina,

    Thanks for your friendship and for your voice in kids ministry. You are an amazing leader I appreciate your insight, clarity of thought and passion for families. I know God has amazing things in store for you.

  • Donna,

    I am so very sorry that you have felt such opposition to leadership gift due to your gender. Do not give up. God has called you we need more women to bravely join the conversation so we can get rid of the stained glass ceilings where they exist. Keep doing the amazing work of speaking into a generation of small leaders.

    One thing that helps me when I struggle with things is to realize that the approval, and accolades of man pale in comparison to hearing the applause of heaven for a job well done.

  • Wish I could’ve been at Orange to hear this talk. I have been incredibly fortuntate to have worked with great team players (men and women)in ministry and have intentionally searched out these kind of people. The fact of the matter is that women are already leading. Women don’t need a title or recognition to lead but they do deserve these things – just like men. One of the biggest mistakes churches and pastors can make is to underestimate the leadership of women (I have learned this from experience!).

    That being said, I am getting preparing to enter the mission field and live in a culture where women are devalued. My prayer is this: to share with women that our value, abilities and callings come from God and not in the recognition we do or do not recieve.

  • I know this comment is overly simplified for the complexities of the issue. BUT, I’ve always believed that when you seek to following closely to your Heavenly Father and to be who He made you to be, then He will take care of the rest. Great, humble, Christ centered leadership is impossible to be ignored…and that’s the kind of leader God uses. For me it’s not really about being a WOMAN. It’s about being the best LEADER that I can be. A verse that God made very personal to me as a young leader is…”Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” I don’t always practice the “humble” part as well as i should, but I believe the truth of what this verse says. I would rather be lifted up by HIM than anyone else. Male or Female!

  • I think that when we approach this, or any other matter of Biblical interpretation we need to check our presuppositions at the door as much as possible and look deep within ourselves to see what is driving us to feel the way we do.
    Are you complementarian because you are afraid of allowing a women in power? Even if you were, I doubt you would admit it.
    Are you egalitarian because of an issue of pride? Again, I think most would have a problem seeing that.

    My fear is that this is not a conversation. What is happening as I read these replies is people are rallying around a cry of women in pastoral roles that (rightly or wrongly) they feel is right, then, under the guise of “having a conversation” are ready to pounce on any complementarian that happens by.
    I fear that some that have responded have been so hurt by abusive leadership that they are unwilling to attempt to understand (understanding does not imply agreement with) what the other side believes.

  • Jenni,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Orange was great. I pray God uses you in a powerful way on the mission field.


    Thanks for adding to the conversation the importance of being who God has called you to be. That is so important.


    I don’t think there is a lack of dissent because of fear of what others think. I personal welcome opposing viewpoint because it helps us think through issues not respond emotionally.

    My take on why most people agree on this post is that most of my readers are kids pastors. In children’s ministry you either are a woman or work very closely with many other women. That is just the way it is. If I had a broader audience of Senior Pastors, Administrators, Teaching Pastors and elders I think you would see the other side more.

    Feel free to say what you think.

    Thanks for not lurking and putting your thoughts out there.

  • No problem Sam, and I did feel free to say all that I was thinking about. As a Children’s Pastor myself, I fully (well, almost fully) understand the ins-and-outs of the debate and how silly and hurtful it can get.

    It wasn’t that I felt that only one side was being presented here but more over that the responses seemed to have a tone of, gee, I hope someone comes along that has the wrong view so we can have a conversation to show them how they are wrong.

    In a recent post on Storytelling (, @mattguevara, referenced a Bethel Seminary article by Jason Li in which he talks about 2 approaches to a conflict: the intent to protect or the intent to learn.

    If our intent is truly to dialog (and Sam, I have never doubted yours) then we must approach both egalitarian and complementarian views with an intent to understand what they are saying and why they understand the way they do. If we seek this understanding as fuel to be able to back our own beliefs, then we have fallen prey to the intent to protect (our own view) and have turned off a chance to learn.

    So in the end, it’s not a failure of the other side to be presented, but to many people that seemed to have an “intent to protect” approach to the subject.

  • I grew in a culture where women were not allowed any place of leadership in church. Thank God I’ve since had the pleasure in being in churches where women are powerfully used in leadership.
    Check out the book “The Woman Question” by Kenneth E. Hagin. It’s very good and is based on scripture.

  • Way to stir the pot Mr. Luce!

  • Jesse,

    Great, thank for adding and clarifying. I think you are 100% right. The question is how do we get past our presuppositions.


    Thanks for taking the time to stop by. I will have to check that book out.


    I am not the one who stirs but merely the stick (literally and figuratively) used to do the stirring.

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