Is ordination a requirement for a female Pastor?

Is ordination a requirement for a female Pastor?

Recently one of my blog posts has garnered some interesting comments regarding the issue of ordination. At the same time I received a request from a lady who believes that she has been called by God into ordained ministry. This post will deal with the issue of whether a female must be ordained to be a Pastor and the other comments regarding Paul and his ordination by Jesus will be moved to this post.

First of all there is the issue of whether a body of believer’s decision to reject the ordination of certain people constitutes a binding limit to a person’s gifting and calling from God. The question that I had posed earlier, is whether the leadership’s ordaining of a person actually makes them a legitimate Pastor? Also I was questioning whether the fact that one is rejected for ordination would take away a person’s calling from God to be a Pastor?

There have been times in the church where men thought that they could judge the gifts of God and that their own pronouncement was official. Because of this some of the books of the bible were not originally accepted as canonical but their rejection by some leaders did not take away the authority of these inspired books of the bible. In time the inherent authority in each inspired book of the bible was accepted. In this we see that the church did not have a right to make a book canonical. At best the church could only recognize a book as authoritative because it (the inspired book) had within it the witness to the inspiration of God. The final list of books was not chosen by a synod or council of the church. These met to ratify the books that the people of God had already chosen because of the witness of the scriptures themselves.

Now how does all of this relate to the ordination of a women Pastors? I personally believe that a true God-ordained choice of Pastor should be only to ratify and recognize what God has already chosen. Man’s ordination cannot make one a Pastor nor can the failure of some to recognize God’s gifting take away one’s gifting and calling from God.

Have you ever met a Pastor that was ordained but who did not have the fruits of the Spirit or the heart of a shepherd? Such a one is not a true Pastor gifted by Jesus himself. Jesus said that there would be hirelings who do not care for the sheep but who are there as shepherds for other reasons. These hirelings run away when the wolves come to make a meal of the sheep. The fact that they have been ordained by a church cannot truly make them a gift to the church. Only Jesus’ choice and gifting can do that.

Eph 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.


Eph 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

So what does a woman do who has been called by God to be a Pastor but the leadership of the church that she attends will not recognize a woman as qualified to be a Pastor? Some women will stay within the denomination and work within the acceptance of the people within that church. While they may not have the official “title” of Pastor, they can operate within their gifting in an unofficial way. They can shepherd the flock in home bible studies and in small group settings or in one-on-one situations.

Yet others will feel the need to be officially recognized by the church in order to do the full work of a Pastor. These may stay in the church and earnestly contend for the truth in order to change the mindset of the leadership and the church itself. Or they may find the fight for their acceptance too draining and they may leave for a church that will accept their shepherding without a fight.

On one of my other posts I received this comment from “Called and wanting healing”:

I am living in the parish in England where this is what’s preached It’s hard because I feel so called into ordained ministry. Could you post this up on your site so that it can be commented upon and critiqued. After all it has to have been interpreted differently for the Church of England to have decided to ordain women in 1994. For example, I do not understand how the vicar can say that biblical submission is to put yourself under someone’s authority – I thought it had more to do with putting their needs ahead of your own. The vicar talks of Christ and beauty of his submission but surely that was in sacrificing himself for us – atoning for us, dying for us – there’s the beauty!

If you want to post it on your site so that people can respond to it that would be great or if you could recommend someone else who would be able to offer an critique of this sermon.

Thanks so much.

I will put my comments later into the comment section of this post. I encourage others to listen to the audio and comment and encourage this dear sister too.

One comment that I will post here is that submission of one to another is commanded in the New Testament. The reason that submission is commanded is not so that one takes authority over another and the one under submission is to be the door mat of those who take the lead. Instead submission is commanded because one cannot use their God-given gift unless the body submits to accepting that gift. I operate in the gift of a teacher yet I cannot force my gift onto anyone. My authority is not to take authority over others but my authority is to give out what I have been gifted with by the authority of the word of God. 1 Peter 4:11 says:

1 Peter 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances [or oracles] of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

My gift will always be there whether I am accepted or not, but it will not be of benefit to another unless that one submits to learn from me. Submission then is needed to receive another one’s gifts. Submission does not create the gift but it allows the gift to flow into one’s own life and for one’s benefit. When a church accepts a woman Pastor, that church is accepting the gift of God and submitting to learn what God has to say through her. When a church is influenced by prejudice and refuses to submit to learn from a woman, that church may not experience God’s best. What God gives is to be received with blessing and not with a heart of rejection.


28 thoughts on “Is ordination a requirement for a female Pastor?

  1.  “Man’s ordination cannot make one a Pastor nor can the failure of some to recognize God’s gifting take away one’s gifting and calling from God.”

    Amen! We have so institutionalized everything in Christendom that we cannot recognize a basic scriptural teaching anymore. This institutionalization of ordination drives us away from the work of the Holy Spirit and looking to man for approval that comes only from God.

  2. There are 3 basic ways to organize the government of a church or denom: top down ecclesical, bottom up congregational, and by elders or elder. Whatever way is done in a specific instance, people need to conform to it, that is, any group gets to make its own rules as they understand what God wants for them, even if we might disagree with them. If you do not agree with their rules, do not seek ordination from that group.

    I cannot find ordination, per se, in the Bible; what I do find is laying on of hands. I see this as a group acknowledging God’s gift of leadership ministry in someone AND agreeing that this person will be a leader for that group.

  3. Regarding the comment from “Called and wanting healing”,

    I have listened to the audio file and there isn’t anything on that audio tape that isn’t refuted in my DVD.  However for those who don’t have the DVD, let me point out a few things that jumped out at me.

    First of all I did appreciate that this vicar says that he hasn’t pushed his views on people for the entire number of years that he has been at this church.  That is a good thing especially since there are so many who have not only pushed this view on people but who have also separated themselves from those who disagree on this secondary issue.

    One thing that I found quite odd in his explanation.  He said a woman can prophesy because of the “non authoritative” nature of NT prophesy.  He said that prophesies need to be tested but that we don’t need to test the authoritative teaching of the word of God.  This is simply not true.  We are to test all things and hold fast to what is true.  Even Paul who was the author of authoritative scripture welcomed his teaching to be tested by the word of God!  To say that authoritative bible teaching by men is not to be tested is really quite shocking! He has gone above and beyond scripture with this teaching.

    Another thing the vicar said was Deborah was only used because God had no men to lead.   There has never been a time when God didn’t have men.  When Elijah was concerned that he was the only one left that was serving God, God told him in 1 Kings 19:18 that he had 7,000 others in Israel who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

    Also when the priest Hilkiah and four other men were sent to the Huldah to find out what the word of the Lord was, Jeremiah was in the land prophesying for 5 years already when the men were sent to Huldah.  To say that Hulday or Deborah was used because there were no men that could be used by God is inaccurate and faulty.

    Also the vicar says that the ordination of women is not from the Holy Spirit.  This is comes from prejudice in the church.  Years ago many in the church didn’t believe that God could use a black person to preach and teach the scriptures to white people.  Was this because the Holy Spirit did not ordain them or was this because of the prejudice in the church?  I think that when we look at scripture from a prejudiced viewpoint that brings presuppositions to the text, we will read our own prejudice into the text.

    I very much look forward to hearing the next edition of the vicar’s message.  Anyone else have any comments on this audio file, please feel free to share it here.

  4. On the vicar’s teaching, first the positives:
    1. Yes, men and women are equal but different.
    2. Yes, he is right about the 2 risks of bad interpretation, making the Bible’s application today’s application or making a principle cultural when it is transcultural.
    3. Yes, real beauty is inward, not outward.
    4. Yes, what Paul writes in Scripture is authoritative and inspired.  However, it is very possible to misunderstand some things Paul writes, as Peter writes in the 1st century; how much more today?
    5. Yes, Adam was there with the woman and remained silent.

    On the negatives:
    1. The Bible does not say the husband is head of the family, it says the parents are.  It does say the husband/man is head of the wife/woman and the question is what does this mean?
    2. No eternal subordination in the Godhead, rather there is an economic submission while the Word was incarnate.  The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness and Jesus later sent the Spirit.
    3. Jesus had female diciples, not just males.  See Luke 8.
    4. A prophecy today may not be a mixture of true and false, it might be all false or all true.  It does need to be tested, as well as any teaching needs to be.
    5. 1 Tim 2:13-14 (“For Adam…”) could be a direct refutation of the false teaching at Ephesus and not a justification for 1 Tim 2:11-12.  He does not seem to even see this is possible.
    6. He fudges the meaning of 1 Tim 2:15 and does not know Cheryl’s insight about who might be her and they.
    7. The biggest concern of course is that he does not see how he is choosing to interpret 1 Tim 2:12 in a way that restricts women, but this is his choice, there are other intepretative choices that do not restrict women.  For example, if Paul is referring to a specific woman, which is possible, then the restriction is only for her and the application would be for those who did the things she did, not all women.  It is also possible to see the restriction as a present thing, as in “I do not now permit (a) woman…’ as 1 Tim 2:11-12 are tightly coupled and the woman is to be taught correct doctrine.

    He does seem to be trying to follow Scripture, but apparently has not seen much of the other side of this issue.  So see if he is willing to read anything from the other side.

  5. One other point, Adam has more responsibility not becasue he is male, but because he was formed before the woman and was taught more by God, specifically that he was to till and guard the garden.  One does not need to guard something that has no threats, so he should have been on the lookout for something to guard the garden against.  He failed this task, as the vicar points out and this is the first sin (of omission) in the garden.

  6. Reading Ken Bailey’s new book, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, on p. 192-193 he gives 4 reasons how we can KNOW Jesus had female disciples.
    1. Acts 9:36, the Greek is mathetria which is the feminine form of disciple used to describe Tabitha.
    2. Mat 12:48-50 gestures to his disciples and mentions females
    3. Luk 8:1-3, the women were providers.
    4. Luk 10:38 where Mary sits are Jesus’ feet, this is an idiom for being a disciple, compare with Acts 22:3.Â
    So the vicar is simply totally wrong on this aspect.

  7. I believe that the Vicar was trying to be gracious (as much as his traditional belief would allow)  but instead sounded condescending at times.  Much that is said of women is said quite matter-of-factly.  Many teachers are aware that female abuse was a staple of Pauls day (as history records) but few dare to to ask hard questions or even pronounce that such abuse was wrong.

    If I remember correctly the Vicar quotes Wayne Grudem.  I can’t remember exactly the quote but he stated something to the effect of New Testament prophecy being a mixture of truth with error.  Therefore, he makes prophecy (the one spiritual gift that you see women excercising often in scripture)  to be non-authoritive (scripture only).   Wayne Grudem believes that NT prophecy does not count, but where does it say in the Bible that it has been done away with and has little or no value for today?

    I think the undermining and elimination of prophecy  is a strategic move, and is one way that patriarchalist have found that could possibly (if they twist enough) totally silence and exclude women permanantly.  Of course, the elimiation of prophecy from the churches does not affect men to the same degree.  They will still continue to maintain all the authority and oversight (as the expulsion of prophecy from the church does not challenge the male hierarchy).


  8. Prayer and prophecy is a shorthand form for believers speaking to God and God speaking to believers.  What Grudem fears is women speaking authoritatively in a public church setting and teaching men, as he thinks this is forbidden.  So prophecy gets reduced.  The cost is too much, methinks.

  9. Don and Terri,

    Good thoughts on that audio. I also made some other notes on the audio regarding male and female equality. The vicar says that for people to say that men and women are equal is to say that men and women are the same. This is not true at all. This leads to CBMW now saying that egalitarian marriages are “same sex” marriage. This is poisoning the well. Egalitarians do not believe that men and women are exactly the same. That is why we are complementary. Yet to be complementary we need to work together. If only men teach, then there are no women who can complement the men at teaching. The fact that men and women both teach, shows the opportunity for a complementary view coming from the women teachers. I really feel sorry for men who do not allow themselves to be taught by women. Women get the advantage of having true complementary teaching given to them since they are privileged to have both men and women teachers. Male hierarchists allow only men to teach them so they do not experience true complementary teaching.

    Another thing that I noticed about the audio tape was that he took a limited male view of 1 Timothy 2:9 where he equates “modest” dress with sexuality. Yet the context equates modest with not openly opulent with gold, pearls and elaborate hair styles. Although women should not dress sexually seductive, in context Paul is talking about showing off one wealth as if our importance comes from the style of clothing, the quality of jewelry or elaborate and expensive hair dos. Our importance comes rather from our character that is gentle and respectful rather than from our dress. Paul is not talking about women seducing men in this passage. This is why it is good to have women who can have a complementary view of scripture to show men who only see “sex” as a reason for dressing modestly that Paul’s emphasis is on elaborate style vs character.

    The vicar also makes a comment that some things that Paul says appear to be contradictory for example Paul’s circumcising of Timothy when Paul said that men shouldn’t get circumcised. What he missed was that Paul made allowances for the prejudice of men in order to reach them even through their prejudice. He had Timothy circumcised so that the prejudiced Jews would not have a reason to hold back from hearing the gospel preached. Yet when they got saved, Paul would turn around and work on their prejudice so that they would not hinder and stumble others. I think this should help us realize that we can try hard to “work around” people’s prejudice so that we can reach them where they are. Once they have been changed, they will be more open to lay aside their prejudice and accept those whom they had previously rejected as their equals.

  10. Thank you so much Cheryl, once again. I have created a blog – it’s early days and I’m still learning how to write one but I am pointing readers to your site and I have incorporated a link to your you tube samples. You will be able to help other women in the same way that you have helped me. If you hit my site you might just be my first guest. It is

  11. Hi Called and wanting healing,

    What an exciting start for you in the UK! I encourage people to visit and post on “Called’s” blog. I will try to do so myself later when I can carve out some time.

    Blessings and thanks so much for joining this community here in North America!

  12. <<Therefore, he makes prophecy (the one spiritual gift that you see women excercising often in scripture)  to be non-authoritive (scripture only).>>

    What is his definition of the word “prophecy”?  Seems they have been trying to change the meaning of that word for the last 40 years. 

    Wonder how one has ‘non authoritative prophecy’ and ‘authoritative prophecy’? What is the difference? 

  13. Public prophecy is to be assessed, it might be Godly, might be fleshly, or even demonic. 

    I incorporate all public statements as potentially being prophecy, such as reading the Bible (some translations have errors in them), giving a sermon, singing a hymn (some hymns have some errors in them), tongues with interpretation and prophetic speaking.

  14. With regard to the Vicar’s sermon:
    Cheryl, you make a good point regarding women’s fashion habits and sexuality.  I find it salient that the Vicar’s pronouncement is almost Islamic.  When one reads the Qur’an and what it says about women and the Hijab (head-scarf), the parallels to patriarchal New Testament interpretation are striking.
    Called and Wanting Healing:
    Welcome to our community here at Cheryl’s.  It is our hope that healing can be found by all who come here!

  15. Thanks Greg!

    I could never understand why these men can see “sex” when the text explains what the immodest styles are – expensive dresses, gold and costly jewelry and extravagant hair styles.  That is, until I started to read the Talmud and saw that they blamed the woman if she was walking in front of the man and her ankle became uncovered.  To some men anything is a sexual enticement even a fully covered woman in a shapeless robe and a head covering but with a bare ankle!  Then I understood.  What was written by Paul to encourage women to show their character as their beauty instead of their expensive adornment has been twisted into a modern day advise against short skirts and tight sweaters.  While that advise is wise, it isn’t what Paul was saying.  This is taking our modern culture and transforming it into biblical times.  This just isn’t possible and we need to look more carefully at the words and the context to understand it properly.

  16. The evaluation of  prophetic tongues as authentic is to be reserved for those in authority ( patriarchalist belief).  The laity and women in particular have NO RIGHT OR AUTHORITY to make evaluations.  Heck, the strategy of these men are bent on disallowing prophecy from women period so as to prejudge ANY WOMAN speaking as being unbiblical.
    These leaders are trying to  predispose  congregations to believe that women cannot have the gift of prophesy therefore any woman who has the audacity to prophecy publicly and audibly will be subdued.  The refusal of the gift of prophecy has everything to do with the flesh/gender that the gift is wrapped in. 

    Prophecy is for edification, exhortation and comfort for the church.  Pentecost was considered by most to be womens ‘Emancipation Day’, and the avaliablity and access of the spirit was made avaliable to both men and women as the text states.  When we see the devaluation of the work of the Holy Ghost in mens lives we also see the silencing of the sisters.  When the Holy Ghost is rejected/grieved men begin to lead themselves as the spirit is no longer welcome.  Authority structures is no substitute for the leading of the spirit, or you end up with what we are seeing today………….no healing, no miracles, no words of wisdom etc. = no spirit.

  17. Hi Cheryl
    Here are two more podcasts from the Conservative Evangelical vicar who has preached on the role of women.

    I am looking forward to the second part of the lecture on the trinity because I feel as though it will be where they try to argue that subordinationism in the trinity justifies the subordination of women. They’re are on very dodgy ground here, theologically.

    The lecture on ‘right’ conduct didn’t worry me too much but I think it was a clever way for this vicar to explain to his congregation why he doesn’t recognise the power of his Bishop Alistair Redfern of Derbyshire. The Lambeth Conference will debate the question of women in the episcopate in July 08 and if things don’t go our conservative friend’s way then following this lecture he might be more able to secure the ‘flying bishop’ (if he can find one!) he will require – ie a bishop who similarly won’t recognise other women bishops.

    Enjoying your site

    Yours in Christ

  18. Hi hrht,

    Thanks for the audio files.  I will listen to them shortly.  I am also interested to hear what he has to say about the Trinity especially since I have just finished refuting Bruce Ware’s view of the eternal subordination of the Son.

  19. Cheryl,

    I realize you have a lot going on, so you can choose if we continue to discuss Paul and not Matthias as one of the 12.

  20. Don,

    I would like to continue to discuss the Paul/Matthias issue. I just have my mind going in so many different directions right now that I want to respond to your reasons with clarity. Your well thought-out proposals deserve a well thought-out answer. I pretty well know how to answer you, but I do want to meditate on your points more especially because I respect you a lot and don’t think we have to rush this discussion. It isn’t a discussion that should get me the “honor” of being banned from my own blog, eh? I have really appreciated your ability to passionately fight for your opinion and even your caution to me. I do not believe that you need to worry about my fight for recognition of the apostle Paul as a detriment to someone’s belief in women in ministry, but I respect you for sharing that. My plan was to get back to this discussion later on today. I really love this back and forth discussion as it is truly a push to dig into the scriptures and should result in a two-way result of iron sharpening iron.

    **Note the comments about whether Paul is the twelfth apostle or not have all been moved to the comments under

  21. Might be best on its own thread, it makes it easier to follow that specific topic.

  22. I think it’s a good idea to separate these “threads” now – hey – I’m learning the jargon. I’m pointing people to my reviews of the vicar’s sermon on the role of women and it takes quite a bit of brain power to follow the other discussion too. I’m linking to this page from

    It would be lovely if someone from this site introduced themselves to the British people on my site. Hoping to hear greetings from you across the pond.

    Every blessing hrht or called or me – I will disclose who I am quite soon if I feel I can muster up enough support on my site to feel the confidence to do so. 

  23. “Called”

    I am separating the threads so that it will be easier to follow.  I look forward to finding out who you really are 🙂

  24. Just an update
    Hi it’s Rachel at revisingreform blog. I’m looking at this page today as I write up my first assignment for theological college. I have to write 3000 words on What are the key theological issues which divide those who would argue for the ordination of women as Bishops, from those who argue against it?

    It is proving very difficult because I could write 3000 on 1 Tim alone. Anyway, just marveling at it all – that this summer struggle that I contacted you over has now propelled me to theological college – and it’s fascinating. I am being taught by the principle Christina Baxter of St John’s Nottingham and she has done much to further the cause of women priests and bishops and was on the General Synod in July which finally decided that women can be consecrated to the Episcopate in the Anglican Church UK. I feel very blessed.

    love Rachel at re vis.e re form

    God certainly does work for the good in everything.

  25. Rachel,

    Thanks for the update!  God is indeed good and his way is perfect.  Keep following hard after God and he will not fail to lead you in the way that he desires.

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