Women in Leadership (Part 3): Church & Culture

This past week I drove through the bank – an activity I enjoy because of their candy selection. My friend, Becky, the Vice President-Retail Banking Manager (a leader outside of the church), saw me exchanging with the teller. Her eyes got big, and she ran to the mic at the window and said, “I’m reading your blog on women in leadership. Thank you.” I smiled, and we chatted a minute about something I had forgotten, as usual. Driving away, it dawned on me: this topic is bigger than just ‘can women be more than a small group leader or chaperone’.

Honestly, I never thought that this discussion would run outside the walls of the church. It reminded me of something that we have had several pastors say at my home church:

The church should influence culture – culture should never set a precedence within the church.

So the discussion for this week: Do we question the topic of women in leadership within the church because of scripture or because of culture?

That question isn’t going to be hard for some of you. But if you are a female living in the deep south like myself, this question may be one of those that you have been a little unsure of to ask – possibly because of the imminent push-back you could receive.

Let’s assume for now that the key to zooming in on this subject really begins with a zooming out and looking at the Church as a whole. SIDE NOTE: Please know that it’s ok to examine the Church. It’s not irreverent or disrespectful. For if we never examine it, then we will never know what we could do better or where we go wrong… because we are human – going wrong happens. 😉

Two (of the many) Purposes of the Church:

1 – The church should be relevant to culture to draw in those that don’t know God.

Some of you are NOT going to agree with that statement. Transparency moment: I didn’t agree with it for a long time. But through examining the scripture and what I truly believe as a follower of Jesus, I came to the conclusion that ‘church’ in and of itself isn’t only about me gathering with people to talk about Jesus – I should already be doing that in my every day life.

The church is for those who don’t know Him yet to come and see His people gather and worship the God of the universe – and honestly, be happy about it. Why would anyone want to worship God if we don’t even look like we enjoy it ourselves?

2 – The church is for the world to know that hope and restoration can be found – not through people gathering but through the movement of the Holy Spirit through the gathering of people.

This is why church can happen outside the walls of a designated church building. It’s why you can be anywhere in the world and have ‘church’ … because when you have a relationship with Jesus – YOU ARE THE CHURCH.

There are definitely more purposes of the church, but I wanted to mention two HUGE points for us to notice that neither of them have anything to do with being women.

No point anywhere about the purpose of the existence of the church has to do with one being male or female.

Mic Drop… and hopefully, eyes opened.

The design of the church gathering itself has order and has celebration and has the declaration of truth through worship of Jesus in Word and song – BUT the ultimate goal of the Church isn’t hierarchy and legalism through ‘rank and file’ or ‘that’s what we (the church) do’. We must view church through the lens of the Bible as the heart and plans of God are always revealed through His Word.

So what about culture?

Please notice that I didn’t give culture a nod in the examination, because frankly, my role as a follower of Jesus isn’t to redirect culture with my words. My role is to love it (John 13:35), without being influenced by it or engaging in it – which would ultimately lead to blending in with it.

So what does this suggest?

The Church must lead the culture.

Why? Because God’s heart is for His church – His people – and He calls all to be a part (2 Peter 3:9).  May we as the Church never get caught up in who can’t do what because of who they are. We are all sinners and have all fallen short (Rom 3:23). We are all saved by grace, and that grace is a gift no individual or group can earn (Ephesians 2:8-9). When we accept this gift, our call is to then go and tell the world (Mark 16:15). This is the Gospel. The call for ALL. Man or Woman.

This particular blog series is a 30,000 foot view of a discussion that can be much more in depth. There were points made above that we could dive into for the rest of the year. My heart is that we see this topic from a wide angle lens and not narrow one. In the mean time, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to comment below or on social media posts: @betbarrphillips on Instagram or Bethany Barr Phillips Music on Facebook or email: A warm thanks to all of you who have read and joined in so far!

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