Women in Leadership and My Church

Discussion in 'Church Office' started by De Jager, Nov 5, 2018.

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  1. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    I know what you mean. There are pockets of "holdouts" in the CRC, including one particular classis in Minnesota and North Dakota which holds to male-only leadership. Every year at synod they present an overture, calling on the church to recant and change their ways. The fact is that in my particular classis, womens ordination and eldership is allowed and some serve in prominent roles. If I was an elder, and I went to a classis meeting, and women were there presenting and discussing, I feel like my mind would always be saying something like "yes but why are you even here?" It just isn't right.

    But anyways, thanks for the reply. I have to ask though, how on earth you know about my particular congregation? (you can PM me). We literally are a tiny church in the middle of nowhere.

    Another note: One thing that I am not sure anyone here has answered, is what my obligation is to these people. This is where I am unsure. For example, I know that to truly obey God I must love my neighbours and do what is best for them; considering them above myself. If I sense in my conscience a spiritual gift of discernment, of Bible teaching, etc. and I see people in the congregation that really need that, how can I be fulfilling the "law of love", if I do not serve them in that capacity and "take off" to the nearest more conservative church that by all accounts doesn't need what I can give as much as the people in Blyth do?

    Love does no harm to his neighbour.

    Please understand, I am not trying to be liberal or difficult, but this is really bothering me and I am just seeking God's will.
  2. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    My dad is a retired CRC pastor, and some years back he served that church as an interim. Nothing but good things to say about it.
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  3. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Sophomore

    Dear Brother,

    It could be that you leaving in a biblical manner could cause others (even the pastor) to reconsider and relent. Splitting hurts. I have been there. I left a church (with my family) that I had been at for 21 years (since I was 5).

    I will not labor hard trying to sway you one way or another, because I have been where you are and i know it is hard, I know it can bring you to tears to seperate from fellow saints whom you love dearly. Leaving a church is a very serious matter. You must pray, seek wise counsel, and make a plan either to stay or to begin to transition away. In my opinion, it may be time to make an exit plan, especially if there are other reformed congregations nearby. However, I could also understand you wanting to fight it out more. If you are married with Children, you also need to think about how your decision will be an example to them, which in my book tips the scale even more to making an exit plan.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  4. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    While I refrained in my prior post from suggesting when and what you should do, and will continue with that position, I will ask you of what use is discernment if you don't use it. What kind of behavior would you model if you knew what you should do, but then refused to do it out of a false sense of duty.
  5. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    By this post you are essentially implying that if I stay, I am not exercising biblical discernment and the only way I could stay would to violate my own conscience from a false excuse of duty.

    So, by not really suggesting what I should do, you are quite obviously suggesting what I should do.

    What I am struggling with is not a false sense of duty. It is a real sense of duty, and a real struggle to understand what the best course of action is. Please don't trivialize it.

    I am not in this post intending to be snarky or angry (sorry if it comes off that way), but I feel like I need to push back a little bit.


    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  6. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for your concern, Grant.

    I am not married, but am dating someone and unless something seriously goes wrong, I will be married within the next year.

    If I was concerned about my kids not hearing the right things, I would be gone.
  7. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Sophomore

    In that case and assuming you plan on yielding arrows, it may be better to become established in a congregation you feel you would want your children raised in (maybe that is this one maybe not).

    Further, if you plan to marry this lady, then she will likely have a say (even if not the final say). Where is she at on your struggle?
  8. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Sophomore

    This is something to think about. Will you want your kids brought up in a church that could end up with female elders at any time? Or who knows what else.

    I understand your difficulty. I have been in somewhat similar situations in the past, and am in one now. It is not a happy thought that you'll have to leave the church where you've grown so much.

    I had to turn my back on the church where I was saved (by God's grace, in spite of the liberalism already present) because it was sliding so far so fast. (The minister was ordained in the CRC, as a matter of fact.) I could not stay because of how bad things were getting.

    Your case is not the same. Things haven't got so bad yet. But they could go bad fast. Just think of what might happen if your otherwise solid pastor leaves.

    Right now, for lack of options, I'm at quite a liberal church (just try to find a Korean Protestant denomination that doesn't ordain women) and I am considering leaving the country over it! My main concern? My son. If it was just me, I'd have less of a problem.
  9. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Have you considered the fact that the women in the higher courts are currently ruling over you? By remaining in that church you are committing the care of your soul (and your family's, if you have one) to those whom Christ has excluded from that office. Your consistory submits to their judgment, and locks arms with them in looking after you.
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  10. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Then I was too terse and did not communicate well. I have no idea what your discernment will show, or when it will show you the path you should take. But from your post, you seemed to be suggesting that even if you knew you should move, you would consider staying out of a sense of duty to your present congregation. And that, I suggest, would be wrong.

    Based on history, the trajectory will continue to be downward. So at some point to remain faithful, you will likely have to jump from the runaway train.
  11. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    As a priority you have a duty to your immediate family by blood. You in reality have no duty toward your church family, because you are not an officer in your church. This may sound harsh and I wish you will consider the duties spelled out in scripture which I base my post on.
  12. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Sophomore


    This is simply not true. In "Reality" our Church Family (believers) have a stronger bond than biological family members (remember the words of Christ...who is my mother?). Maybe I am misunderstanding you. When you join a Church you typically take membership vows as well, which speaks to a duty. Church members indeed have a strong duty to one another and this is proofed all over scripture. Maybe you just need to clarify.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  13. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Within the official local body only the church officers have the duty to do "church" duties. Of course we all have a duty to one another as Christians and this goes beyond the walls on Sunday morning and beyond denominations.
  14. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    We were in a PCA church before we moved here years ago that had deaconesses. While I personally don't believe in that, the women were merciful helpful servant hearted ladies. It was more like a recognition of the Romans 12 gift of helps and gift of mercy when you were recognized as a deaconess.

    On the other hand, I was once in a Calvinist Baptist church with women deaconesses ( and turned down the request to be one of them) who had the attitude that the elders had no say over what went on in women's meetings, and some of them were pretty bossy types. So the question you do want to ask is what is going on with your deaconesses.

    Women elders I would leave over, no question. Seeing as the PCA often has deaconesses and claims Calvin had them (don't know if that is true), if the position is one of helpful service and otherwise it is a good church, I would stay.

    edit- I read more of the thread. If the entire denomination is sliding downhill then you might want to be open to other options. Its really tough depending where you are and what is around. Watching the PCA I would not want to go back to it, although many PCAs are fine churches. You don't have to rush to decide, and pray for God to move.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  15. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    If you guy are good friends, then I would suggest a study challenge between the two of you. Sproul always thought the best way for people to be able to see the strengths and weaknesses in their theology is to make the best convincing argument for the other side. He could do a study for your side and you could do a study for his side. Once done you could get together for the debt session and then find the holes in each other’s statements. I’m sure you could bring him around to the truth.
  16. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Sophomore


    Where are you getting this information? I mean this politely, which is hard to convey with type. I also wanted to provide you some direct resources in case you had not read them before and were interested.

    Have you read the PCA committee report on women being ordained as Deacons? http://www.pcahistory.org/pca/2017_WIM_report.pdf

    Have you read the PCA BCO on Deacons?
    PCA BCO 9.3 :
    9-3. To the office of deacon, which is spiritual in nature, shall be chosen men of spiritual character, honest repute, exemplary lives, brotherly spirit, warm sympathies, and sound judgment.

    Further are you aware of the history of the formation of the PCA ?
    If you are not aware of this, perhaps that would help inform you comments on the PCA a little more.

    Sure I have heard of congregations trying to wriggle around with terminology regarding what is written on paper, but you using the word "often" leaves me wondering where your info is coming from? I cannot speak for all churches in the denomination, but I do know that Officially the PCA does NOT ORDAIN women to the office of Elder OR Deacon. Any PCA church that does so, would be out of accord with the PCA Constitution to say the least.:detective:
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  17. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    This is something you said that I thought of when Earl replied (posts 41 and 43). The care and feeding of sheep in the church is the duty of those ordained to do so. You have many obligations to those in your local church, but keeping distinct the divide between lay-person and officer might help you in your decision.
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  18. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    I would like to offer a counterpoint to highlight how your decision will be an example to your children.

    My wife's family has run through the alphabet soup of confessional Reformed denominations, leaving for various reasons that I will not specifically divulge here. Some may have been legitimate, others were certainly not. All involved concern for the "purity" of the church's doctrine. RCA, PCA, CRC, OPC, NRC, ARP, RPCNA, you name it they've been in it. None of them were good enough. What do you think my in-law's children learned from their parents in this regard? It certainly wasn't positive to say the least.

    I think my wife started having flashbacks at first in our marriage when I voiced to her some issues I had with the church we were a part of. She was legitimately terrified that she would be reliving her past and start jumping ship at the slightest sign of trouble.

    I am thankful that Izaak is showing concern for the church he is a part of. Yes, your conscience matters, but more than that your conscience should be shaped by the Word of God. Often we jump the gun and cause even more issue to the situation. When the OPC formed out of the PCUSA, do you think the latter's slide into degeneracy increased in speed and momentum? What about after the PCA split? What about after the EPC split from UPCUSA? What about after the ECO split? How fast was the CRC sliding before the URC split and after the URC split? What about when the PR split? What about when the BPC split from the OPC one year after the OPC split from the mother denomination?

    Does that mean splitting denominations and leaving a bad congregation is a bad thing? I am not saying that at all. But every split has a price that must be paid. So what will be the price you pay?

    You move from your current church. You've done it before, so naturally if the need arose to leave, perhaps the thought might not be as difficult to sustain as the first time. What will happen when your conscience is pricked yet again at your new church family? Will you move again? And after the second move, will you consider a third? Fourth?

    My wife had to seriously consider leaving a church she was in (the CRC) as they were awfully close to calling a woman as pastor. Yes, people in her own church were praying that people would not leave over it! And if it happened, she would have left. I would have, too.

    I've left a church before. Perhaps you shouldn't use me as an example as I stayed far longer than I should have. My reason for leaving a church was the complete lack of the gospel (it was the point in my life that I realized I could never go back from Confessional Reformed theology.) It finally dawned on me that I needed to leave when I woke up on Sunday morning and thought for the first and only time in my entire life as a Christian, "I don't want to go to church today." I ended up consulting with two pastors I respected, traveling hundreds of miles to seek their counsel. They assured me that I had tried everything I could do to remain and that I was free to find a new church body. Again, not saying to follow my example, but I know that leaving was hard.

    What will I teach my daughter when I leave a church? Yes, I will teach her that doctrinal purity matters. Yes, I will teach her that there are essentials of the faith that cannot be compromised. And yes, I will teach her that it can be appropriate to cease submitting to a church body that is in such grave error as to cause us to sin. I pray that I can teach her these things.

    But will I teach her that only my family's theology is perfectly correct? Will I teach her that the bonds of the church family are easily broken at the drop of a hat? Will I teach her that the church body is expendable? Will I teach her to have no patience for a church member or leader to come to repentance, far less patience than God has for His wayward children? Will I teach her that submission only means when I agree with it? Will I teach her to not make strong friendships because we might disappear again? Will I teach her that as we do to the bride of Christ so it is also acceptable to our own marriages?

    Indeed what will I teach my child? And what do I have to learn about submission even to those who do evil towards me?

    Some passages from 1 Peter come to mind.

    "Be subject to every human institution, whether it be to the Emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and the praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a coverup for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor."

    "Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility towards one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time, He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you."

    What do you think, Izaak? What do you feel about your own desire to submit to someone who may seem less wise or learned as you, especially of matters of importance? Is that coloring your decision to leave or stay?
  19. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Sophomore

    To be clear, I am not advocating Church hopping on the whim. Further we must teach our children about the fine line that occurs at times between purity & unity.

    Each husband will ultimately have to make this decision for his family. If the church calls a female pastor, then I would have to break unity (easier said then done) because that distorts headship, which is a big part of the gospel. Headship began in Genesis and is set forth from cover to cover in the Word of God.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  20. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    Agreed. Just wanted to give some voice to some other consequences of leaving a church body.
  21. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior


    If my use of the word "often" is exaggerated, I apologize.

    However, I was in a New Life Pa church ( close to WTS) with lots of deaconesses and the same was true for other PCA churches in that region. I will add that we were in a fabulous small group where everybody had graduated from WTS or was taking classes at WTS or CCEF and read books and theology, and every week was fantastic discussions that I have never seen the like of anywhere in real life. The PB is like that, but no other midweek I ever knew. The pastor was (is) a godly great guy who I thank God we were able to sit under. We moved to another state for hub's job, and mostly missed two things- my Mom being closer, and that church.

    We were for a brief time in a NY Metro PCA and I don't want to go into it at all here. The pastor was (is!) a fine and godly man. However, if you don't know that Tim Keller is the 800 lb gorilla in the room (quoting a PCA pastor from that presbytery) then all you need to know is that he had deaconesses and is hugely influential locally and nationally. I knew one of his deaconesses and could tell you stories about what went on Redeemer that Keller probably didn't even know about, but never mind, God will sort it out in the next life.

    They did NOT ordain them. They faithfully obeyed the BCO and the deaconesses are not ordained. They are commissioned.

    LOL. Dont flame me, I don't agree. Let's not even go there, OK?!

    However, I stand by my conclusion to the OP. It is possible to be in a truly excellent church with great people and a great pastor, with deaconesses. Some PCAs are into Federal Vision, and a PCA gal wrote "Jesus Calling". I talked to the PCA librarian for the entire denomination who wanted to scrap Beth Moore loaning library DVDs but the higher ups would not let her. Beth Moore is a huge PCA library money maker.

    Then there was the Revoice conference. PCA. Lovely.

    Dude, you are in the PCA, you love your church and are obviously trying to be doctrinally faithful. But please show a little tolerance for those of us who are a bit more cynical about the PCA with good reason. And be aware that the doctrinal slides out there may be in your own denomination. Pray for revival and Reformation.
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  22. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    Wow, I did not know that. From the bio:

    Sarah is biblically conservative in her faith and reformed in her doctrine. She earned a master’s degree in biblical studies and counseling from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. She is a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), where her husband, Stephen, is an ordained minister. Stephen and Sarah continue to be missionaries with Mission to the World, the PCA mission board.​
  23. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am okay with being understating of being critical of the PCA. What I am not OK with is people spewing fragments of details that come across as being ill-informed. For example:

    You continue to point out random things about the PCA, some of which would be true even in your own denomination to put it lightly.

    And again for clarity Revoice was not Officially organized by the PCA, rather it was hosted at a PCA Church and some of the speakers were from Covenant Seminary if I am not mistaken. You likely know this, but that cannot be assumed from your wording.

    I’m really not taking an issue with some of the negative things you were pointing out rather the lackluster way in which you were doing it. If we are going to point out negative’s with any denomination we need to do it with reference especially if it’s a denomination that we know many on PB are faithful members of.
    Really?....we should avoid going down this road.

    I will avoid pointing out the various theological shortcomings and books written by those from the "non-denominational" denomination.

    And again, this could be said of any denomination, so why single out the PCA. The is not perfect and Yes we have had some failures, but we have also have had successes, and more testing is sure to come.

    P.S. I am assuming you have not read the PCA BCO. The phrase you are using "Commissioning Deaconesses" is not in the BCO. So I am sorry to here that there are congregations doing such, but I am not sure how they justify that without potentially giving false witness.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
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  24. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior


    My references to the PCA are because you jumped on my sentence about deaconesses in the PCA. I actually said in that post what a great PCA church we thought it was and that we missed it.

    I certainly agree with you that there are grave problems all over churches in America. If I sound "lackluster" I can only say you don't know me, or the way my husband and I pray, and the great grief and concerns we have had to interceed about over the years.

    With respect for my lovely sister Jeri up above and many other women who want to be doctrinally faithful, my primary interactions for years have been with women, and I've seen a lot of carnage in their minds and lives, and I am speaking of Calvinist churches ( PCA and Baptist). A lot of women are a mess on a lot of subjects. I think "comp" doctrine is vitally important in marriage and church, but going back to the OP, it is possible for deaconesses to be helpful humble servants who are submissive to the elders and their husbands and a great blessing to the church, even if they are wrong on this. The OP has to make his own decision but this one thing I don't think is a deal breaker, although from comments about his broader denomination it could be, I don't know.
  25. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    Yeah. 15 million copies sold of the divine revelation messages she got straight from Jesus. I know women who adore her crap. If you want to get concerned for women and the PCA, start here.
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