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Women and Men in the Church: A RENEW.org Guide to 10 Key Resources

Many church leadership teams are exploring what the Bible teaches about men and women in the church. And it’s a good time to do so. For many, it feels that a more traditional way of doing church leadership isn’t working: many women feel silenced and underappreciated in male-dominated churches which don’t consider their giftedness or seek their voice. While these issues are worth our churches’ attention, many churches feel assailed by a hostile culture—and so it’s easier to dig in than do any exploring and possibly get swept into a progressive slide. This is because we are living in a time where our secular culture has persuaded many that any version of traditional manhood is toxic. Anything that could be construed as patriarchy must be denounced as a great evil. Intersectional feminism has become the lens through which many people view justice and truth (click here for an expanded look at these trends).

How can a disciple of Jesus, who is committed to Scripture, respond when biblical teachings are no longer compatible with cultural trends? Or when they discover that biblical teachings don’t fit with a church’s own cultural tradition?

Our RENEW.org team recently completed a lengthy season where we addressed at an in-depth level all the major questions about what the Word of God teaches about men and women in church leadership. In the process we have created resources—some short, some in-depth—to help elders and church leaders explore what the Bible teaches. This post is a summary guide to resources for those, especially elders and ministerial leaders, who care about how a disciple of Jesus should respond to these questions and issues. Some of the resources listed below are resources we created at RENEW.org; others are additional resources we have found helpful and recommend to you as well.

1. The RENEW.org One-Paragraph Summary (from our faith statement).

Our position is referred to as moderate or soft complementarianism. This paragraph is taken from our RENEW.org faith statement:

We believe that both men and women were created by God to equally reflect, in gendered ways, the nature and character of God in the world. In marriage, husbands and wives are to submit to one another, yet there are gender specific expressions: husbands model themselves in relationship with their wives after Jesus’s sacrificial love for the church and wives model themselves in relationship with their husbands after the church’s willingness to follow Jesus. In the church, men and women serve as partners in the use of their gifts in ministry, while seeking to uphold New Testament norms which teach that the lead teacher/preacher role in the gathered church and the elder/overseer role are for qualified men. The vision of the Bible is an equal partnership of men and women in creation, in marriage, in salvation, in the gifts of the Spirit, and in the ministries of the church but exercised in ways that honor gender as described in the Bible.

2. A Short Church Position Paper Explaining Soft Complementarianism (source: Mariner’s Church in Southern California)

Eric Geiger and the leaders at Mariners Church created a short position paper that expresses a view aligned with RENEW.org’s faith statement. We commend it as a short, 4-page statement for church members and the public.

“Women in Leadership: The Approach of Mariners Church”

3. A Long Article Summary of the Soft Complementarian Position (RENEW.org Position)

This article (over 9,000 words) lays out, in one blog, the seven principles drawn from Scripture that we believe are a helpful guide for those seeking to understand the issues from Scripture involved this study.

“On Gender and the Bible: A Summary”

4. What Does It Mean to Be a Man?

Many opinion leaders believe that how we define a godly or Christ-like man could be the most crucial issue in this discussion, because of its cultural influence for good or ill. Jason Whitlock, who is a host of a daily show on Blaze.TV asked me to define a Christ-like man for a gathering of men that he hosted. You can read what I shared in the link below.

“What Does it Mean to Be a Man?”

5. An Article on Whether Scripture Supports Women Elders

An increasing number of church elderships are being led to believe that Scripture can be read to support appointing women as elders. The following article examines this approach by looking at 1 Timothy 3.

“Can Women Serve as Elders in the Church? 5 Questions to Ask about 1 Timothy 3”

6. An 80-Page Conversational Study Guide for Church Leaders.

Many church leadership teams are re-studying these questions. Our RENEW.org team recently created a short study guide for church leaders that guides them through the five key conversations that will be most helpful as they discuss and think through the relevant issues.

Renée Webb Sproles and Bobby Harrington, Five Conversations on Men and Women for Church Leaders: A Companion to Male and Female: A Biblical Look at Gender

7. Six 30-Minute Videos Summarizing the Key Issues on YouTube.com.

Renee Sproles and I have written extensively on the key issues of men and women in church leadership, and we recently put together these 30-minute video presentations to articulate what we’ve learned. They are available on YouTube.

“Male and Female: A Biblical Look at Gender” (videos)

8. An In-Depth Book Summarizing the Key Issues: Male and Female: A Biblical Look at Gender.

Renée Sproles, RENEW.org’s Director of Cultural Engagement, has spearheaded a multi-author, in-depth exploration of the biblical issues and teachings that we must follow when it comes to how the church handles gender (topics include church leadership, cultural trends, gender roles in marriage, and the transgender movement). I (Bobby) believe that this book is an essential read for elders and church leaders who are exploring this topic.

Renée Webb Sproles, Male & Female: A Biblical Look at Gender

9. Is Biblical Manhood Toxic? Here’s a Definitive Book on the Factual Evidence.

Worldview and culture expert Nancy Pearcey takes us on a tour of the research, showing us that authentically committed Christian men (those pursuing Christ-centered headship) test out as the most loving and engaged husbands and fathers. They have the lowest rates of divorce and domestic violence of any group in America. Pearcey demonstrates through factual research that following biblical teachings on gender is the best way for our families and society.

Nancy Pearcey, The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes

10. Five Other Key Resources Promoting Soft or Moderate Complementarianism (non-RENEW.org)

I hope that these 10 resources and the links will be helpful to you and your leadership team. At RENEW.org Network, we believe that this discussion is very important for the health of families and the local church.

Yet, it can be a difficult discussion calling for grace and courage.

We pray for God’s guidance for you and for all of us as we seek to obey all the teachings of Jesus (Matt. 28:18-20).

Get Renew.org Weekly Emails

Want fresh teachings and disciple making content? Sign up to receive a weekly newsletters highlighting our resources and new content to help equip you in your disciple making journey. We’ll also send you emails with other equipping resources from time to time.

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