Ethics: Female Pastors Volunteer at Complementarian Church

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What would you do Wednesday!

Your church financially supports and hosts an after school Bible club. The club is interdenominational, but has doctrinal parameters to which volunteer teachers must agree. One of those doctrines is complementarianism which states that a woman cannot hold the office of pastor.

It just so happens that two local female Methodist pastors volunteered to help with the Bible club.

The pastor found out about the female pastors and explained to the Bible club director that having female pastors goes against the club’s doctrinal agreement. The pastor further explained that if the church cannot continue supporting the Bible club if those two ladies are allowed to volunteer. The pastor holds that not only are the two ladies violating the doctrinal agreement, but they are in ongoing sin by serving as pastors in a local church. Since the ladies are in ongoing sin they are disqualified from serving.

The director disagreed and asked you to talk to the pastor since you are good friends with him. The director also expressed that if all volunteers who sinned were disqualified there would be no volunteers.

If the decisions was yours, would you allow the female pastors to volunteer?

  • Yes, they are just helping not preaching.
  • Yes, as long as they promise to never reveal they are pastors.
  • No, that would violate the doctrinal agreement.
  • No, the church may be seen as promoting unbiblical positions.
  • Or…
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The above article was posted on September 5, 2012 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 joeblackmon September 5, 2012 at 9:58 am

I’d say no, because there is a very high likelihood that they compromise other parts of scripture since they ignore the clear teaching that only men can serve as pastors.

2 rhology September 5, 2012 at 10:11 am

No, that would violate the doctrinal agreement.

Plus I can’t say I have a lot of confidence in a female Methodist pastrix’s ability to teach the Gospel to kids.

3 joeblackmon September 5, 2012 at 10:24 am

No doubt about it, the Methodist pastorette would not be able to explain the gospel that Jesus and Paul preached.

4 MarieP September 5, 2012 at 10:37 am

Since volunteer teachers agree with the doctrinal statement of the church, the teachers should show enough integrity to realize they shouldn’t be teaching at the study, and the director should have the integrity to uphold the doctrinal standards. I assume in this scenario that is what they’re doing to serve, not just serving refreshments. It would be like an Arminian wanting to come and teach at a study that mandates that all teachers believe in the perseverance of the saints.

All this while realizing that the Bible study is not “the church” but certainly there are issues of truth involved. Is the director a member of the host church? What do the director’s own elders think?

5 MarieP September 5, 2012 at 10:43 am

I would keep the issue on the doctrinal statement, not the womens’ sin. Just like it’s not all that fruitful to argue against paedobaptists joining a credobaptist church by saying the Presbys are in sin by not being immersed. Of course, I personally think there’s a stronger case for paedobaptism than for woman pastors- and paedobaptism doesn’t come hand in hand with the wacky stuff woman pastors often believe.

6 mburatov September 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm

If I understand the situation properly – the club is interdenominational, but has doctrinal parameters to which volunteer teachers must agree. One of those doctrines is complementarianism which states that a woman cannot hold the office of pastor – then the two Methodist female pastors are definitely in violation of the doctrinal parameters.

These doctrinal parameters mean that these are the things all volunteers must believe in order to work there. Another interpretation could be that the doctrinal parameters are the things to which people must adhere in practice, though not necessarily endorse in their own personal beliefs. If this interpretation is correct, then the Methodist female pastors could conceivably volunteer if they teach children but neither teach nor preach to adult Christians.

Something else to consider – under the first interpretation of the doctrinal parameters, even a male Methodist pastor would be disqualified as a volunteer, since he also believes that women can be senior pastors.

7 Michael September 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm

No, all volunteers must agree with the doctrinal agreement statement. Since they don’t, they can’t participate.

8 Clark Goble (@CDGoble) September 10, 2012 at 9:48 am

I agree with most of what has been said above. The issue isn’t whether the Complementarianism is correct doctrinally speaking or if the two women perform their duties well or not. Rather, the issue is over whether they agree or not. Since they don’t, either the doctrinal statement needs to be revised or they need to step away from the program.

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