Women In Ministry Q&A
This set of Questions and Answers was prepared in May 2019 to provide clarity and summarize Peninsula Bible Church’s approach to women in ministry.
What is PBC’s practice regarding women in ministry and leadership?
Peninsula Bible Church affirms the equality and spiritual giftedness of men and women. Both men and women preach in the main service and serve as pastors, as deacons and in other leadership roles within the church. Only men serve as elders.
How did PBC arrive at this practice?
The New Testament contains several passages that specifically address the role of women in church leadership and ministry. Others address gender dynamics in marriage. Some passages can be interpreted to limit the roles available to women. Others can be interpreted to include women.
The original founders of the church established the church’s structure in an attempt to faithfully interpret these and other passages. Over time our practice has grown to include greater ministry opportunities for women.
Among the relevant passages are Genesis 1-3; Matthew 28:7-8; John 20:17-18; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 1 Corinthians 14:26, 33-40; Galatians 3:28; 1 Timothy 2:8-15, 3:1-13; and Titus 1:5-9.
Where does PBC’s current leadership stand in regard to this practice?
The PBC elders are in unanimous agreement regarding our practice of women preaching and serving as pastors and deacons. There is a diversity of opinion among elders, as well as pastors, deacons and other leaders, as to whether the Scriptures restrict the office of elder to men.
How is the preaching calendar determined at PBC?
The elders determine the preaching assignments. PBC strongly values hearing multiple voices from the pulpit. There are usually two or three primary teaching pastors. Other pastors, elders, and guest speakers are interspersed in the calendar as well. Because primary teaching pastors exercise significant leadership over the church as a whole, those pastors are generally elders or prospective elders.
What process did the elders go through in 2016-2017?
From the fall of 2016 through the summer of 2017, the elders engaged in a discernment process on the topic of gender and leadership. The guiding principle was to listen to God’s Word, to each other, and to the Spirit. In order to discern God’s leading, they proceeded by:
- Studying the Scriptures, both testaments, individually and during elders’ meetings.
- Opening the process by including men, women, pastors, deacons and members of the congregation.
- Praying collectively and individually.
- Soliciting written feedback from some women on their experiences as part of our community.
What was the outcome of that process?
To seek the mind of the Lord, PBC elders seek unanimity. In order to make a change, elders must be in unanimous agreement. Because unanimity was not reached in this case, no changes to the leadership model were made. However, the process did lead to a renewed commitment to our ultimate unity as a church being founded on Christ. Our points of agreement were far more numerous than our points of disagreement.
In addition, we agreed that we can operate in unity on our deeper issues—the Lord’s presence within each of us, our shared submission to Him, our obedience to the Scriptures, and our love for PBC—even amidst disagreement on this issue. PBC’s doctrinal statement, which all pastors and elders affirm each year, can be found here: https://www.pbc.org/what-we-believe/.
Has anything changed as a result of that process?
The elders recognized that including participants with a greater diversity of opinion and perspective would benefit our deliberations and strengthen our decisions. In response, a small group of men and women were asked to commit to joining the elders’ closed sessions for the 2018-2019 session. Besides making contributions from their vantage points, they also benefit by observing firsthand how the elders lead, serve and use Scriptures to make decisions.
What if my personal conviction differs from PBC’s practice?
The body and leadership at PBC don’t agree on every theological issue. We believe it is possible to worship, serve, and learn together based on the unity we share in Christ. Even people holding strong opposing viewpoints on this topic can participate together in a community founded on Christ.
Encountering other views can even sharpen our understanding of each other, foster humility, and increase our dependence on the Lord. We hope that PBC is a community where people of different convictions can love each other amidst diversity.
Could PBC’s practice change?
The elders at PBC are open to examining our position on this issue in the future and will continue to search the Scriptures. Change is a possibility, but not a guarantee. We can’t predict how God will continue to lead us as a church.
What if I want to talk to someone about this?
The elders are always available to talk through questions and issues with members of the body. Feel free to reach out to them directly at https://www.pbc.org/leadership/