The Churches of Christ speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent.

Undeniably, the main purpose of Churches of Christ is to identify and pattern itself to the first century church. The Scripture says “not everyone who says unto me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of God, but those who do the will of the Father.” How can we know the will of God in relation to women’s role in church leadership?

The question now is, is there any pattern for us in the Bible to follow or does God’s plan for scriptural leadership include a pattern that reveals God’s will for Christianity which can be followed today. Webster’s Dictionary defines pattern as a form or model proposed for imitation.

Or something designed or used as a model for making things. God provided a pattern for building the Noah’s Ark and also the tabernacle which He commanded Moses to build – Gen. 6:22; Exodus 40:16. These patterns allowed them to do God’s will; our conscience or our wisdom cannot be our guide.

The New Testament is the only guide if we want to do the will of God, as far as the church leadership is concerned – 2 Cor. 3:5-6; Heb. 9:15. One could realize we have hundreds of different denominations in our contemporary world, because everyone is going their own direction to the neglect of the will of God.

God has always given instructions for man to follow so that they may do His will. In the light of this, we need to follow diligently the New Testament pattern that God has provided for us.

Among the greatest challenges we face as a church is that of how to administer the church. There are various views and opinions about this subject. Some believe that there are no scriptural directives to that effect while others think and believe the contrary. Besides, whether women are allowed to take leadership role in the church or not is a multi-million dollar question to answer.

The Churches of Christ believe that women are not allowed to take the leadership role or exercise their authority over men, per what the Bible teaches in I Timothy 2:8-15.

Like the early church, the church today should consider effective function as more important than a label or office title. We should never expect any person to carry out an office in the church without the gifting and appointment of God. To do so simply creates a situation in which a person is placed in a position for which they are not adequately qualified or empowered.

The organization of the Lord’s Church is clearly shown in the Scriptures with each local congregation having its own government based on the Scriptures. On the contrary, the organizational structure of many churches in our contemporary world does not have any resemblance to the pattern found in the New Testament churches.

It is evidential in the Scriptures that leadership role in the church is assigned to men. In the Old Testament for instance, one could realize that in the period of the patriarchs through the mosaic age, men were given the leadership and priestly roles as far as organizational structure is concerned.

In the same manner, the New Testament clearly shows God’s design for the leadership structure was without women. It does not mean that women are inferior, but God in His wisdom made it the way it is now. (Men are to lead in the mixed assembly I Tim. 2:8)

There are two offices in the local church that comes up when we read the New Testament –Elders and Deacons: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the Overseers and Deacons.” – Philip. 1:1

The scriptural form of church leadership is so important because church government directly affects who is qualified to lead or serve the church.

Therefore, in appointing elders, we need to make sure that we understand its dynamics, qualifications, qualities, and responsibilities (I Timothy 3, Titus 1) so that we will be sure to nominate individuals who are qualified.

Take note, much as women are not part of this Scriptural leadership, does not mean every man can be appointed as a leader. Even though, the role of women in the Lord’s church is limited, they have a major and essential role to play in the ministry.

There has been more debate dealing with the position of women in Christianity and specifically their role in the operation of the local church.

The Bible teaches that there are equal opportunities for service to God for men and women. There is neither male nor female, but all are one in Christ (Galatians 3:27-28), but there is division of labour.

The work in the church given by the Lord to women is indeed a significant one. However, there are relatively few limitations in the New Testament on the work of women.

By plain implication a woman could not be an elder of the church since qualifications in 1Timothy 3:2 the Scriptures says the elder should be husband of one wife, likewise in 1Timothy 3:8,11 the scriptures indicates woman cannot be a deacon.

The Churches of Christ admittedly believe that the church cannot survive without the women. In the sense that, they were so much involved in the ministry of Christ, for instance Mary and Martha made their home at Bethany His dearest earthly refuge and resting place.

In addition, there were several women who ministered to the Lord with their substance and contributed to Christ’s comfort Luke 8:1-3; Matthew 27:55-56.

Women were prominent in the activities of the early (first century) church. Their faith and prayers helped to make Pentecost possible and also in charity and good deeds, when we consider Acts 1:14 and Acts 9:36.

Another distinguished factor about the women was when Mary the mother of John assembled the disciples in her house to pray for Peter’s deliverance in Acts 12:12. Besides, Priscilla was equally gifted with her husband as an expounder of the way of God.

And a number of them offered great help to Paul and many people – Roman 16:1-4; Acts 18:26; Philippians 4:3; Acts 16:14.

The churches of Christ absolutely believe that women are not inferior or unimportant in the redemptive plan of God. They have a major role in the church development.

However, their role in leadership of the church is clearly spelt out in the scriptures and can be identified in the early church.

The wholesome doctrine of the gospel must be preached and practically applied to woman as well as to men. Privately instructing others in what is good both by their discourse and example.

The following come to the fore in reading Titus 2:3-5

• Teaching women (small groups, large groups, conferences)

• Teaching children

• Authoring Bible-study materials (especially for women and children)

• Personal evangelism and discipleship

• Counselling (especially women and children)

• Assisting deacons in benevolence ministry

• Visitation to the sick, backsliders etc.

• In cross-cultural missions

• Children ministry director

• Ushers (they have that natural qualities)

• Serve and do good work (like Dorcas)

• Read Bible and share ideas on any biblical topic (Sunday school)

• Live a holy lifestyle

The church is not a human institution neither do we have the mandate to map out its structure with our own wisdom or preference. In essence, God has not left the church into our own hands to determine her leadership structure.

He has given us instructions on the nature and design of the church in His inspired and authoritative word.

Per what we have read, in my opinion women should not attempt to run the church, even behind

the scenes, but should find their place of service to the Lord in the areas which He has allotted to her.

I Peter 4:11. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

Written By: Alexander Maxwell Yawson (Director, Heritage Bible Institute-, +233244593577 )