The debate over whether or not can a woman be a pastor continues to rage on. Some people say that it is against the Bible to ordain women, while others argue that there are many examples of women who have held positions of authority in the church. For example, women are encouraged to teach Sunday school, sing at church, and serve in foreign missionaries So, what does the Bible say about female pastors? And, more importantly, what does God want?

A woman preaching in a home to two men

Current Controversy, Can A Woman Be An Ordained Minister?

During a  recent “Truth Matter Conference” a panel of men pastors played a lame name association game. Beth Moore’s name was thrown around, John MacArthur replied, “Go home.” The men snickered. Pastor John MacArthur stated, “There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of discussion.” This set off a controversy.   

Here’s the thing John MacArthur shared the stage with a woman at his Strange Fire Conference, in October 2013. After, John MacArthur’s statement that a woman can’t be an ordained minister or shouldn’t be allowed to teach it’s strange he would have Joni Eareckson Tada, an amazing woman who started Joni and friends ministry for people with disabilities.

What does the Bible Say About Female Pastors?

The Bible has a lot to say about woman! But let’s find out can a woman be a pastor?

 1. Jesus is Our Example

Our Father surrounded Jesus with women, from his birth to his resurrection. Here is a partial list of Jesus’ interactions with women.

Performed the first miracle at a wedding.

Should women preach in Church

Revealed he was The Christ to the woman at the well.

Cast out seven spirits from Mary Magdalene.

Rescued a woman, others condemned.

Healed a woman with the issue of blood.

Taught Mary.

Wept with Martha.

Told the women at his grave to go TELL others about His resurrection.

All through Jesus’ life he respected and supported women.

2. The Woman’s Voice

“Your sons and daughters will prophesy” (Acts 2.17). Peter announces Joel 2.28 on Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit invaded both women and men. After Pentecost, the four daughters of Phillip all were prophesying (Acts 21:9)  Fulfilling Joel’s words, “your daughters will prophesy.”     

3. Women Teaching Men

 “When Aquila and Priscilla heard him (Apollo), they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Acts 18.26 Some versions states corrected, this is a case of two women “preaching” to a man. 

4. Paul Celebrates Women

Paul says, “I commend to our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church. Help these women, who have labored side by side with me the gospel together.”(Romans 16:1,2) Some bible versions water down deacon to the servant. But the Young Literal Translation Bible states Romans 16.1 “being a ministrant of the assembly.”

A group of men

Throughout the centuries, many woman preachers have justified the right to preach based on Galatians 3:28. Paul says “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

5. Paul Says Remain Silent  

As I poured over the scripture of what Paul said about women, this jumped out “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, she is to remain quiet.” (1 Timothy 2:12) It doesn’t say God does not permit. Then there is the ongoing debate, about the woman culture back then versus the culture of how women are treated today. For instance, two thousand years ago, every woman that prayed or prophesied had to cover her head. Otherwise, then the people considered it dishonoring. Today women do not have to cover their heads in the church due to changes in cultural norms. 

“Women should remain silent in the churches. Moreover, the authority not allowed them to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” (1 Corinthians 14:34). However, Paul continually states throughout the Gospels we are not under the law but under Grace. (Romans 6:14,7:4&7:6)  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (Galatians 5:18)  

6. The Daughters of Zelophehad Changed the Status Quo

women allowed at church

During the time of Moses, Zelophehad died in the wilderness, leaving behind five daughters and no sons. According to the law, women could not inherit any property. The daughters saw this law as unfair. Moreover, they petitioned Moses requesting property in front of the priests, elders, and the entire community.  Moses listened to the daughters, he didn’t offer his own opinion or spew out the written laws of inheritance rights. So Moses ASKED the Lord. The Lord answered, “The claim of Zelophehad is legitimate, You must give them a grant of land along with their father’s relatives. Assign them the property that would have been given to the body.” (Numbers 27:7) 

7. Ask for God’s Grace 

A preacher in Church should women preach in Church

The biblical meaning of the number five means Grace. Zelophehad, had five daughters, the woman at the well was married five times. God bestowed grace to both sets of women during the time of law. How much more grace is available for us today? “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”(John 14:13) There is no asterisk to this scripture stating —  you are excluded from this promise if you are a woman and want to preach.   

8 The Gamaliel Test

The apostles were arrested for teaching in Jesus Christ’s name and brought to the Sanhedrin Court. Gamaliel, a leading Rabbi said “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God you will not be able to overthrow them. Moreover, you may even find yourselves fighting against God!” (Acts 38). Let’s apply the Gamaliel test to woman pastors.

Increasing Number of Clergywomen

According to the data complied with the State of the Clergywomen, in 1960 women in the clergy estimated at 2.3%, this number continued to rise for over fifty-eight years. Moreover, in 2018 the American Communities survey census reported 20.7% of women in the clergy.

This number excludes itinerant women preachers, women who preach outside of the church walls. Therefore, based on these percentages women as pastors pass the Gamaliel test. Not an easy feat, since many denominations refuse to ordain women as pastors. Moreover, forbid women to preach in Church. 

“Some of the most fearless people I know, preaching, teaching, leading powerful change impacting millions around the world, for Christ are women.” Wendi Moen Co-Senior Pastor at RiverRock Christian Fellowship.

9 John Wesley Supported Women Preachers

women allowed at church

Susanna Wesley would read the bible in her yard, drawing hundreds of people from the village. “John Wesley initially taught that scripture forbade women to preach publicly. Further study of the scriptures and his own experiences of the power of women’s messages – including his own mother’s – changed his mind.

Therefore, he explained that just as Paul made exceptions to his own assertion that women were to remain silent, the work God was doing among his Methodist people was an example of the kind of “extraordinary” circumstance that allowed such a departure from orthodoxy.

Thus, “women such as Ann Gilbert, Elizabeth Tonkin Collett, Elizabeth Dickenson, Sarah Mallett Boyce, Margaret Davidson, Mary Harrison, and Mary Woodhouse Holder joined Sarah Crosby and Mary Basanquet Fletcher as ‘speakers of the Word.’”

What do you call a female pastor?

A pastor is an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. In most cases, a pastor is appointed to serve a specific church or group of churches. The word “pastor” comes from the Latin word for “shepherd.” A female pastor is sometimes called a woman pastor or a lady pastor. In some cases, she may also be referred to by her first name.

While the title of “pastor” is typically reserved for men, there are a growing number of women who are serving as pastors in the United States and around the world. These women are bringing their unique perspectives and experiences to the role of pastor, and they are making a significant impact on the Church.

Can A Woman Be A Lead Pastor?

The question of whether a woman can be a lead pastor has been debated for many years. Some feel that only men should be in leadership positions within the church, and some believe that women are just as capable as men when it comes to pastoral leadership. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to ordain women as lead pastors lies with each church and its leaders. 

While some churches maintain strict gender roles, others are more open to the idea of a woman lead pastor. After all, women have always played an important role in religion, serving as prophets, disciples, and teachers. 

While it is true that there has been a historical bias against women in leadership positions, this is slowly changing. More and more churches are realizing that women are just as capable of leading a congregation as men. Women bring a unique perspective to ministry, and they are often able to connect with people in a way that men cannot. We will likely see even more women serving as lead pastors. This is a positive trend, as it allows churches to benefit from the diverse gifts and talents of both men and women.

Final Thought Can A Woman Be A Female Pastor?

Every woman pastor from yesterday and today, all have the same story, they said they were called by God to preach. At first, some deny their calling, because of Pauline doctrine, “women shouldn’t speak in church.” But being led by the Spirit they obeyed God and found ways to preach. Many denominations still refuse to ordain women as pastors.

Women allowed at church

Some scriptures support women preachers. On the other hand, some scriptures discourage women. Regardless, women pastors are here to stay. If you’re a woman and God has laid it on your heart to preach your message, don’t let anything stop you! People need to hear your message. 

The Prayer for can a woman be a pastor

Father in Jesus’ name, we pray for all women pastors. We thank you for their obedience to your calling on their lives. We ask that you continue to anoint them and use them mightily for your Kingdom work. Thank You for opening doors for these woman pastors and for divine alignments and assignments helping them launch into their ministries.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15.

Campbell-Reed, Eileen. “State of Clergywomen in the U.S.: A Statistical Update: Eileen Campbell-Reed.”  25 Oct. 2019,

Solomon, Cindy J. “From Pulpits to Polls: How Female Preacher Birthed the Woman’s Right Movement,” Undergraduate Research Journal at UCCS Volume 2.1 (Spring 2009): page 101.

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