The Role of Women in the Ministry Part 2 by Beth Jones

The Role of Women in the Ministry, Part 2
Beth Jones

Jeff and Beth JonesBeth Jones and her husband, Jeff, are the founders and senior pastors of Valley Family Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, planted in 1991 and named by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 and 2010. They also lead Jeff and Beth Jones Ministries, an organization dedicated to helping people get the basics. Beth and Jeff have four children and they make their home in the Kalamazoo area.

Beth grew up in Lansing, Michigan, was raised as a Catholic and at the end of her freshman year in college; she came into a personal relationship with Christ through the testimony of her roommate. It was there, at age 19, she realized God’s plan for her to preach and teach the gospel through writing and speaking. She has been following that call ever since.

Beth is the author of 20 books, including the popular 7 Basics book and the Getting a Grip on the Basics series, which has been translated into over a dozen foreign languages and is being used by thousands of churches around the world. She also writes The Basics Daily Devo, a free, daily edevotional for thousands of subscribers.

The heart of Beth’s message is a passion to help people get the basics! Through down-to-earth teaching, she helps people connect-the-dots and inspires them to follow Jesus and live the successful, fruitful lie God desires for them.

Beth attended Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts and received her ministry training through Campus Crusade for Christ and Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

For more spiritual growth resources or to connect with Beth, please visit:

The following article is an excerpt from Pastor Beth’s book entitled, BREAKING THROUGH THE STAINED GLASS CEILING. To obtain your copy of this book, please visit

Read Part 1 of this teaching.

Stained Glass CeilingIf you want to start a fight in church, initiate a conversation about women preachers and within 45 minutes, you can split that church four ways! As every woman in a high profile role in the church knows, there are many different views on this subject. Those views often carry strong emotions.

Years ago, I led a man to the Lord and as I spoke with him on numerous occasions, he told me in no uncertain terms that he didn’t believe in women preachers, further, he was not interested in attending our church, reading any of the books I had written or hearing me teach or preach the Word. One day, he went so far as to tell me I was not even saved. As it turns out, this man was my dad. Of course, his words cut deeply and I had to seek God’s help to tune them out and look to my Heavenly Father and His Words to carry on in His calling. (Today, my dad is in heaven and I have the hope that he sees things differently now.)

My guess is that if you are a woman in leadership or in a teaching or preaching role in the church, you’ve had similar experiences. And, if you’re like me, while there are a few naysayers, God finds a way to trump them all with His still small voice and by prompting people to speak kind and encouraging words just when you need it. (In fact, I hope you hear the Lord’s still small voice and sense His love and affirmation for you personally as you read these pages!)

In writing this book, it is not my goal to defend, argue or convince anyone of anything. My primary goal in writing is to inspire, empower, encourage and cheer for you young girls and older women who have felt alone, rejected and misunderstood as you seek to follow God’s call on your lives. My goal for all other readers is that they simply consider looking at this topic with a fresh set of eyes.

This book is written for…

Women of All Ages: It’s written to encourage and motivate women of all ages who feel called of God to change the world—to break through the stained glass ceiling—to pioneer churches, teach the Word, write books, start ministries, lead worship or serve as leaders in churches.

Men of All Distinctions: It’s written to enlighten men who have a wife with an insatiable hunger for serving God and teaching the Word. It’s written to help the father whose daughter has a heart for the Lord and potential leadership or speaking gifts. It’s written for brothers with sisters and boyfriends with girlfriends who feel called to the ministry.

Church Leaders of All Breeds: It’s written to encourage pastors or church leaders who are unsure of, or are rethinking, the role of women in their own churches.

Many people are giving this topic considerable thought these days and thankfully, more and more Christian leaders see the value of women in the church. In this chapter, let’s lay some groundwork and then we’ll dive into the Scriptures.

Big Ministries

As we begin, it’s worth mentioning that some of the largest, most influential and effective ministries and churches around the world have placed a high value on women and their role in the church.

Despite some recent setbacks, the largest church in the world, Yoido Full Gospel Central, located in Seoul, Korea with a 2014 membership of 1,000,000 members, (1) has been built largely by women in leadership through cell groups according to Pastor David Yonggi Cho (formerly known as Paul Yonggi Cho).

He began to see that by doing everything himself he was robbing his people of the chance to grow. From this he learned the importance of delegation and of training up the people for the work of the ministry. Cho then went on to devise his plan to minister to the people through a network of home cells and using the people to lead them. He took this plan to the deacons, but they said no. He then took the idea to the deaconesses and they accepted it. They realized that the biggest problem with this was going to be for the men to come under the authority of women leaders. Women in Korea had always taken a subordinate role and as Cho says, ‘There is no feminist movement in Korea.’ They overcame this problem by having the women wear caps to signify that they were under Cho’s authority. Using the women as leaders they started with 20 home cells. This quickly grew to 150 groups. (2)

Joyce Meyer, one of the most widely read, listened to, and well-known female Bible teachers in the world today, is being used by God to reach millions of people through TV, radio, and books.

Joyce Meyer is one of the world’s leading practical Bible teachers and a New York Times bestselling author, spreading God’s Word to millions of people each year. Suffering sexual abuse as a child, Joyce discovered the freedom to live victoriously by applying God’s Word to her life and, in turn, seeks to help others do the same. She has written over 70 books, conducts close to fifteen conferences annually, and reaches a potential audience of 3 billion people worldwide with her Enjoying Everyday Life® broadcast. Time magazine selected Joyce as one of the most influential evangelical leaders in America. (3)

Australian Darlene Zschech’s biography reads like a woman who is being mightily used of the Lord through serving in leadership, pastoral ministry and preaching via song.

Darlene Zschech is acclaimed all over the world as a singer, songwriter, worship leader and speaker, most notably for spearheading the music that comes from Hillsong Church. Although she has achieved numerous gold albums and her songs are sung in many nations of the world, her success simply stands as a testimony to her life’s passion to serve God and people with all her heart. Darlene, alongside her husband Mark, are Senior Pastors of Hope Unlimited Church on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia.

As a songwriter, Darlene is perhaps most famous for the chorus “Shout to the Lord,” a song that is sung by millions of churchgoers every week and has been covered by many other artists. “Shout to the Lord” was nominated as Album of the Year for the 1997 Dove Awards and was nominated as Song of the Year for the 1998 Dove Awards. In 2000, Darlene received a Dove Award nomination for Songwriter of the Year and received the International Award for influence in praise and worship.

Darlene is also passionate about raising and training other worship pastor, leaders, teams and writers and has written four books – “Extravagant Worship,” “The Kiss of Heaven,”  “The Art of Mentoring” and the new “Revealing Jesus” devotional. These titles combined have been translated into over 20 different languages. (4)

Henrietta Mears, simply known as “Teacher” to countless men and women, was the Director of Christian Education and the teacher of the College Department at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood from 1928-1963. She also founded Gospel Light Publications and Gospel Literature International, which have been used around the world to bring gospel publications to thousands of churches. Such notables as Dr. Billy Graham, Senator Mark Hatfield, Dr. Charles Fuller, Dale Rogers, and the late Dawson Trotman (founder of The Navigators) and the late Dr. Bill Bright (founder of Campus Crusade for Christ) were impacted by her influence as a Bible teacher, church leader and godly woman in an era where women had very few rights. (5)

Dr. Bill Bright had this to say about her influence in his life, “I have had the privilege of knowing many godly pastors and great Christian leaders, but no one has influenced my life more than Dr. Mears.” (6) Dr. Richard Halverson, Chaplain to the United States Senate said this, “In my mind, Henrietta Mears was the giant of Christian education-not only in her generation, but in this century. She was an extraordinary combination of intellect, devotion, and spirituality; an administrative genius, a motivator, an encourager and a leader. I thought of Henrietta Mears as a female Apostle Paul; in fact, I often referred to her as the ‘Epistle Paul.’ There is simply no way to exaggerate her effectiveness as a teacher, communicator and inspirer.”(7)

In modern times, I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting Jo Anne Lyon, the first woman to serve in the top leadership role of the Wesleyan denomination as the General Superintendent. She serves to guide the vision, key message, and missional priorities of the Wesleyan Church, which is transforming lives, churches, and communities with the hope and holiness of Jesus Christ.

She speaks with grace and wisdom and carries a strong, strategic, leadership anointing. She is passionate about what God is doing in calling women to the ministry in unprecedented numbers these days, both those in college and seminaries as well as second-career women. In her recent article, “Men and Women – An Article on Spirit-Filled Believers” she said this,

In the tour of a church in Ft. Worth, Texas, that has set the pace for planting churches and reaching the world in the most difficult places my eyes fell on a painting hanging in the hallway. I was captured by what appeared to be the backs of a crowd of people shrouded in grey. However, there was one person in red. The pastor explained: this represents a woman who pastors a church of 100,000 – yes, I did not add a zero – in North Vietnam. The artist depicted her among the crowds of people who do not know Jesus as the one who is “covered by the blood.”

I stood before that painting with eyes filled with tears. The courage of this woman to proclaim the gospel in a place of persecution! The faith of this woman to know Jesus and the power of the resurrection! The obvious attraction and hope of Jesus through her!

I then reflected on the thousands of women who are church planters in China, many between the ages of 18-24 with some 30 million followers. Again, the courage, faith and power of the Holy Spirit make this possible.

I was again drawn to the words of Joel which were preached by Peter at Pentecost:

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18 NIV).

God is calling women to the ministry in unprecedented numbers these days, both those in college and seminaries as well as second-career women. Whether they are in North Vietnam and China, or Virginia and Canada, I believe a new Pentecost is rising with them. (8)

I also want to mention Bill Hybels, the founder and pastor of the influential Willow Creek Church. I have never had the pleasure of personally meeting Bill Hybels (although he is from Kalamazoo and graduated from the high school our children attended), but he has been a champion for women in ministry since the earliest days of Willow Creek’s existence. On Twitter, he posted links to two very moving, must-read articles; one written by he and his wife, Lynne, and the other written by their daughter, Shauna. I must admit that I had a hard time reading these articles because of the lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes. They put into such eloquent words the things I and many other women have experienced in their callings to serve God in ministry and in leadership in the church. If you are a woman who feels called to the ministry and to leadership in the church, I implore you to read both of these articles. Here’s an excerpt from Bill and Lynne Hybels’ article, “Evangelicals and Gender Equality,” regarding the time they had to define their position on women in church leadership.

…the increasing visibility of Willow in secular and Christian media forced us to define and articulate our position. Questions began pouring in about why we “allowed” women in leadership. Did we have a rational defense for our position? In response, we commissioned our elders to do an intensive, eighteen-month scriptural study of the issue of women in leadership. I did not feel it was right to sideline the women whom God seemed to be using while we did this study, so we pursued a parallel track of study and continued observation of how God worked among us through the leadership efforts of both men and women.

Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian, a Wheaton College professor and Willow Creek elder, led the study. The conclusions of the study were published in 1985 in Bilezikian’s book, Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman’s Place in Church and Family. In summary, we concluded that before the Fall, men and women related to each other as co-regents, both bearing the image of God and called to join together in caring for the world he had created. Both men and women were responsible to fulfill their ministries of service for God’s glory in the manner God had gifted them and to the degree to which they had been apportioned faith. Tragically, in the Fall, this cooperative relationship between men and women was deeply wounded. We believe God’s gracious plan for redemption is that everything that was broken through sin—including the relationship between men and women—might be restored to the beauty that existed during the first days of Creation.

Many devout, intelligent Christians disagree with our conclusions. There will come a day when we will all find out the degree to which we have veered from God’s perfect wisdom, in this issue and many others. Until then, I hold this position humbly, yet firmly. I am willing to take the risk of encouraging women to do what I believe scriptures ask of them—to make themselves fully available to the full range of spiritual gifts. (9)

There is no doubt that God has richly blessed Pastor Cho, Joyce Meyer, Darlene Zschech, Henrietta Mears, Jo Anne Lyon, Bill and Lynne Hybels and their ministries—and a growing list of other ministries and churches where women have been given a high profile in leading, teaching and preaching.

Leaving a Legacy

Perhaps you can think of other legacy-leaving women preachers, teachers and leaders. Aimee Semple Mcpherson was a woman ahead of her time, as an evangelist and founder of the Foursquare Denomination in the early 1900’s. (10) Maria B. Woodworth-Etter was an evangelist well-known in the Assemblies of God circles for her dynamic preaching and life of faith. (11) Kathryn Kuhlman was greatly used of God. She was known for her dramatic preaching and healing ministry which began in the late 1940’s and later for her radio and television ministry. When asked, “What do you regard as the ultimate goal of your ministry?” She replied: “My purpose is the salvation of souls. Divine healing is secondary to the transformation of a life.” (12)

In modern times, Bishop T.D. Jakes has been championing the role of women through his conferences and bestselling book, “Woman Thou Art Loosed.” (13) Pastor Bobbie Houston, married to Pastor Brian Houston from Hillsong Church in Australia, has been leading and empowering an army of tens of thousands of women through her annual Colour Conferences. (14)

Nancy Beach is a pioneer among women leaders in the church and serves as the executive vice president of programming and production for the Willow Creek Association, a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church and is the author of Gifted to Lead: The Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church. Nancy has been blazing a trail for many years. She is still hopeful regarding the role of women in the church and she had this to say about her role as a woman in leadership in her honest article titled, “Women in Leadership—Disappointed, but Not Despairing.” (15)

Almost 30 years ago when I started serving on staff as a church leader, my role on the Management Team was somewhat pioneering, at least for our church. As the first female on that team, and later, the first female Teaching Pastor, I sought to do the work of ministry as best I could, hoping that my gender would actually not be a big deal or a barrier. I am deeply grateful for the opportunities I had, for the adventure of learning in the trenches of leadership, for the men and women who opened up a place for me at the table and made room for my voice…

For decades, God has used noted Christian leaders and Bible teachers like these powerhouses: Kay Arthur, Gloria Copeland, Anne Graham Lotz, Marilyn Hickey, Lynette Hagin, Jill Briscoe, Anne Gimenez, Sheila Walsh, Stormie Omartian, and Jeanne Mayo and in their respective spheres of influence to teach the Word of God to thousands of women (and men) in churches, Bible Schools and auditoriums around the world.

These days, there are many more women taking their place in the global church. Women leaders like, Lisa Bevere, speaker and author of Girls with Swords; Pricilla Shirer, author of God is Able, Beth Moore, author of Breaking Free; Victoria Osteen, author of Love Your Life; and Lisa Osteen Comes, author of You Are Made for More are raising the bar for women.

Then, there’s Christine Caine and Nancy Alcorn—women on the front lines! Chris Caine is a preacher, advocate and author of Undaunted, who champions the church everywhere she goes and who also founded the A21 Campaign, an anti-human trafficking organization that fights slavery around the globe. Nancy Alcorn has been blazing a trail as a leader in the church since 1983 when she founded Mercy Ministries, dedicated to serving young women between the ages of 13-28. Nancy and her team help young women who face a combination of life-controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, depression and unplanned pregnancy. Mercy also serves young women who have been physically and sexually abused, including victims of sex trafficking. Using proven methods, a holistic approach and professional counselors in a structured residential environment, Mercy has helped thousands of young women be restored to wholeness. (16)

And…the list goes on. (I hesitate to name names because there are so many women who deserve to be recognized and mentioned and I don’t want  anyone to feel overlooked. God knows who you are!) Just add the names of thousands upon thousands of other incredible, off-the-charts women who serve as church leaders, pastors, pastors wives, Bible teachers, pioneers, missionaries, prayer warriors, authors, worship leaders, innovators and influencers to the list—and it’s easy to see that God is up to something!

The point is—it’s exciting and refreshing to see God’s hand of favor and blessing on a variety of established and up-and-coming Christian women leaders who are being used globally, nationally, regionally and in their local churches.

And, you are one of them!

This Is Your Time!

I hope you are being encouraged by these stories, ladies! The Lord is on your side. If God is for you, who can be against you? As you live to please the Lord and walk in humility and obedience to Him, He will fulfill His will in your lives.

I especially want to cheer for you young women—those in your teens, 20s, and 30s. If you sense God’s hand on your life for the ministry of preaching the gospel, pioneering Christian endeavors, leadership in the church and/or teaching the Word, be encouraged. You are living in some of the best days ever for being a woman in ministry! Stay strong in your relationship with the Lord and walk in humility and wisdom. Seek counsel from godly men and women in your life, so you can experience all God has called you to be and do in Him!

I also want to encourage you ladies in your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s (and even 80s) as you think about the second-half of your life. Maybe you’re approaching retirement from your career, or perhaps your kids are grown and you’re wondering what your empty nest years are supposed to look like. It’s not too late for you! At this season of your life, you have history with God, wisdom, and life experience that will greatly help others. The younger generation needs you to be out front leading and serving as “spiritual mothers” who will encourage, nurture, teach, train and model godly Christianity, leadership in prayer and being sold-out to God.

Historical Crossroads

Did you know that this is the first time in history when five of the largest generations ever are alive and in their prime? Just think about the strategic power in that. What could God do if the women from young Generation Z (born after 2001), the energetic Millennials (born between 1981-2001), the smart GenXers (born between1965-1980), the experienced Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964) and the wise women from the Greatest Generation (born between 1922-1945) were released to join forces with one another—and the men in their lives—to proclaim the gospel and build churches? Don’t shrink back girls. The church needs you! The world needs you!

Ladies, this is your time. You don’t have to throw gutter balls any longer. On the other hand, you don’t need to become a masculine “she-man” to do what God has called you to do. It’s not your job to promote yourself, be domineering, or “wear the pants.” You don’t need to defend yourself, whine or pout. You don’t have to be overbearing, hyper-spiritual, controlling or manipulative in your desire to serve the Lord in ministry. Just continue to seek after God, walk in love, live by His Word, stay full of the spirit, remain humble and be bold in doing what He’s called you to do—the fruit of your life and ministry will speak for itself.

It’s a new era and there are more opportunities across denominational lines for women to serve the Lord with their God-given gifts and callings.

It’s time! It was prophesied of you many, many years ago. “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18, NIV, emphasis mine).

God’s Word Is the Bottom Line

As women who sense God’s call on our lives to lead, teach, or preach, we are ultimately accountable to God and His Word—not our personal experiences or the opinions of others. So, what does God say in His Word about this subject? Does the Bible command women to be silent and unable to lead in the church?

Rightly divide the Word.

We are exhorted to “rightly” divide the Word of truth, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV, emphasis mine). If we are not diligent in our study of the Word, we may inadvertently “wrongly” divide the Word and make it say something it did not intend to say. It’s a great comfort to know that as we study God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will reveal His wisdom to us.

Read Part 1 of this teaching.

This article is an excerpt from Pastor Beth’s book entitled, BREAKING THROUGH THE STAINED GLASS CEILING. To obtain your copy of this book, please visit

(1) Bob Rodgers, “Setting the Record Straight on David Yonggi Cho,” CharismaNews, February 25, 2014,

(2) Breakfast with David Yonggi Cho and Rick Warren, interciew,, 2001.

(3) “Who Is Joyce Meyer?” taken from Joyce Meyer Ministries website, accessed May 19, 2014,

(4) “Biography,” taken from, accessed May 19, 2014,

(5) “Henrietta Mears,” taken from the Wheaton College Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals, accessed May 19, 2014,

(6) Bill Bright, “Three Women: What a Difference They Made in My Life,” Kindling (blog), February 24, 2012.

(7) Happy James, “The Amazon of Literature and Publishing – Henrietta Mears,” Soteria (blog), September 23, 2013,

(8) Jo Anne Lyon, “Both Men and Women – An article on ‘Spirit-filled Believers’,” The Wesleyan, September 30, 2013,

(9) Lynne and Bill Hybels, “Evangelicals and Gender Equality,” lynnehybels (blog), November 18, 2013,

(10) “Aimee Semple McPherson,” taken from, accessed May 19, 2014,

(11) Wayne E. Warner, “Maria Woodworth-Etter: A Powerful Voice in the Pentecostal Vangaurd,” Enrichment,

(12) “Purpose,” taken from The Kathryn Kuhlman Foundation website, accessed May 19, 2014,

(13) Taken from T.D. Jakes website, accessed June 30, 2014,

(14) Taken from Hillsong website, accessed June 30, 2014,

(15) Nancy Beach, “Women in Church Leadership-Disappointed But Not Despairing,” Slingshot (blog), February 20, 2013,

(16) Taken from Mercy Ministries website, accessed July 7, 2014,