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Episode 77 - 9 Nov 2020

How We Think About Women in Leadership

On this episode of the Church Leadership Podcast, Caitlin Van Wagoner (Senior Director of Communications) joins Adam and John in the studio to discuss women in church leadership and why the church should be an incredible place for women to utilize their gifts. For show notes and more visit

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Episode Summary

In this episode of the Church Leadership Podcast, Caitlin Van Wagoner (Senior Director of Communications) joins Adam and John in the studio to how they think about women in leadership on a church staff. They cover the practicalities, nuances, and high-level philosophies to operate from. For a more theological deep dive into the roles of men and women in church leadership, check out this message from David Leventhal and this one-page PDF on the role of women in the church. Both given a phenomenal overview of some of the foundational theology that informs how we think about women leading in the church.

Three Grey Areas to Consider for Women in Church Leadership

1. Where Is The Ceiling?

Your church should be an environment where women on your staff can excitedly tell their female friends, "You would love working here!" If you are a women looking for how you can be involved with leadership at your church, avoid pre-determining or assuming where ceilings exist. Instead, humbly ask questions and clarify the boundaries. Don't limit yourself or say other people's "no" for them.

If you are a man already in leadership at your church, then it is your responsibility to advocate for women on your team and make sure you are not showing favoritism. For any role or opportunity on your staff not exclusively limited by Scripture to men (i.e. Elder, Pastor/Shepherd), women should be given the same footing as men for consideration and inclusion. Don't let any ceiling exist by accident or assumption.

For women hoping to lead at their church, don't just wait for someone else to advocate for you. Own your own development. Find the specific things you are interested in growing in, and then start a conversation about how your leaders can champion and support you.

2. Being Assertive

Recognize that there may be some insecurities for women in church leadership. Often when women try to be assertive, they are met with criticism or rebuke. Nevertheless, that is why it is important to have a bent neck and a stiff spine. Or, in other words, be humble and be courageous. Offer criticism and input with humility and boldness. Take risks, push through the insecurity, and make your voice heard. Understand that if it doesn't go well, you can learn from your mistakes and ask for feedback.

Remember that regardless if you are a woman or man in leadership, trust in leadership will be earned. You may need to work to improve the helpfulness of your input and feedback as you work to be assertive. Also, it is a truly a shame that too often women are called "bossy" or "overbearing" for simply seeking to lead effectively. When in doubt, clarity can counteract insecurity. In instances of potential conflict, seek clarity, ask questions, and understand that there may be a difference in perception between men and women.

3. Navigating Boundaries

It would be unwise to not recognize that the intersections of personal, vocational, and spiritual life can make working for a church complicated. When it comes to communication, it can be incredibly helpful to set up intentional boundaries with those of the opposite sex and make it a point to become friends with the spouses of your married co-workers. Rules and boundaries help to prevent indiscretion. Remember that your staff are composed of brothers and sisters in Christ. If anywhere boundaries should work well, it should be the church.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes of the Church Leadership Podcast, email us at

Hosted By
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John McGee

Sr. Director of Watermark Resources

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Adam Tarnow

Cohost of Church Leadership Podcast