As a professor of theology for over twenty years, Wayne Grudem has written on a range of subjects, from Bible translation to charismatic doctrine. But a frequent topic of concern for Grudem has been evangelical feminism--the movement to embrace increased roles for women in Christian ministry. In his book Countering the Claims of Evangelical Feminism, Grudem offers specific lists of what women should and should not be allowed to do in church ministry.

The following excerpt includes those lists. Grudem includes explanatory footnotes with additional scriptural analysis for many of the items here; readers should refer to Grudem's book for these.

Probably the most frequent question I hear when I speak to Christian groups about this topic is this: “Okay, I agree with you that only men should be pastors and elders. But what about other activities in the church? Can they teach adult Sunday school classes? What about serving communion? We want to follow Scripture, but we can’t find any verses that talk about these specific things.”

I will try to answer those questions in more detail and with respect to many specific activities, partly in the hope of encouraging churches to examine their traditions to see if there are more areas of ministry they could open to women as well as men. On the other hand, I also want to explain why I think certain kinds of activities are restricted to men.

Generally the restrictions on the roles women may fill in the church fall in three areas, and almost all the questions of application pertain to at least one of these areas:

1. governing authority
2. Bible teaching
3. public recognition or visibility

Note that I have included the third area, public recognition or visibility, because it is closely related to the other two. There are some highly visible activities in the church that do not include governing or teaching authority, and people easily combine and maybe confuse these in their minds. If we keep this area distinct, it helps us think more clearly about specific applications.

What follows here are three lists of activities. One word of caution is appropriate: These lists are not rankings of value or importance to the church! Paul tells us that all the members of the body are needed and that “the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor” (1 Corinthians 12:22–23). And Jesus said, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:43). These statements remind us that when we talk about levels of governing authority, or levels of Bible reaching responsibility, or levels of public recognition, we are not talking about greatness or importance.

Then why talk about such levels at all? We must do so because Scripture tells us that some kinds of governing and teaching are inappropriate for women. In order to think clearly about what those roles are, we first must list the activities we are talking about. Then we can ask, in each case, if this was the kind of governing or teaching that Scripture intended us to understand in these passages. In short, we need to make such lists for purposes of clearer thinking on this issue.

List 1: Areas of governing authority

WHICH OFFICES OR ACTIVITIES SHOULD BE RESTRICTED TO MEN? (listed in order of greatest to least amount of authority over men)

1. President of a denomination
2. Member of the governing board of a denomination
3. Regional governing authority (such as district superintendent, bishop, or similar office)
4. Member of regional governing board
5. Senior pastor in local church (or associate pastor with many similar responsibilities to the senior pastor)
6. Member of governing board with authority over whole church (this would be the office of elder in many churches, while it would be the office of deacon or board member or church council member in others)
7. Presiding over a baptism or communion service (but see List 3 for serving communion or performing a baptism)
8. Giving spoken judgment on a prophecy given to the congregation (1 Corinthians 14:33–36)
9. Permanent leader of a fellowship group meeting in a home (both men and women members)

10. Committee chairman (or chairperson)
11. Director of Christian education

12. Sunday school superintendent
13. Missionary responsibilities (many administrative responsibilities in missionary work in other countries)
14. Moderating a Bible discussion in a home Bible study group
15. Choir director
16. Leading singing on Sunday morning
17. Deacon (in churches where this does not involve governing authority over the entire congregation)
18. Administrative assistant to senior pastor
19. Church treasurer
20. Church secretary
21. Member of advisory council to regional governing authority
22. Meeting periodically with church governing board to give counsel and advice
23. Regular conversations between elders and their wives over matters
coming before the elder board (with understanding that confidentiality is preserved)
24. Formally counseling one man
25. Formally counseling a couple together
26. Formally counseling one woman
27. Speaking in congregational business meetings
28. Voting in congregational business meetings

List 2: Areas of Bible teaching

WHICH ACTIVITIES SHOULD BE RESTRICTED TO MEN? (listed in order of greatest to least teaching influence over men in a group or congregation)

1. Teaching Bible or theology in a theological seminary
2. Teaching Bible or theology in a Christian college
3. Preaching (teaching the Bible) at a nationwide denominational
meeting or at a nationwide Christian conference
4. Preaching (teaching the Bible) at a regional meeting of churches or at a regional Christian conference
5. Preaching (teaching the Bible) regularly to the whole church on Sunday mornings
6. Occasional preaching (teaching the Bible) to the whole church on Sunday mornings
7. Occasional Bible teaching at less formal meetings of the whole church (such as Sunday evening or at a midweek service)
8. Bible teaching to an adult Sunday school class (both men and women members)
9. Bible teaching at a home Bible study (both men and women
10. Bible teaching to a college-age Sunday school class

11. Bible teaching to a high school Sunday school class
12. Writing a book on Bible doctrines
13. Writing or editing a study Bible
14. Writing a commentary on a book of the Bible
IS. Writing notes in a study Bible
16. Writing or editing other kinds of Christian books
17. Bible teaching to a women’s Sunday school class
18. Bible teaching to a women’s Bible study group during the week
19. Bible teaching to a junior high Sunday school class
20. Teaching as a Bible professor on a secular university campus
21. Evangelistic speaking to large groups of non-Christians (for example,
an evangelistic rally on a college campus)
22. Working as an evangelistic missionary in other cultures
23. Moderating a discussion in a small group Bible study (men and
women members)
24. Reading Scripture aloud on Sunday morning
25. Reading Scripture to other, less formal meetings of the church
26. Giving a personal testimony before the congregation (a story of how God has worked in one’s own or others’ lives)
27. Participating in a discussion in a home Bible study (men and women
28. Formally counseling one man
29. Formally counseling a married couple
30. Formally counseling a woman
31. Teaching children’s Sunday school class
32. Teaching Vacation Bible School
33. Singing a solo on Sunday morning (this is a form of teaching, since the lyrics often have biblical content and exhortation)
34. Singing to the congregation as a member of the choir
35. Singing hymns with the congregation (in this activity, sometimes we teach and exhort one another in some sense, see Colossians 3:16)

List 3: Areas of public visibility or recognition

WHICH ACTIVITIES SHOULD BE RESTRICTED TO MEN? (listed in order of greatest to least public visibility or recognition in a local congregation) PUBLIC RECOGNITION THAT SHOULD BE RESTRICTED TO MEN:
1. Ordination as pastor (member of the clergy) in a denomination

2. Being licensed to perform some ministerial functions within a denomination
3. Paid member of pastoral staff (such as youth worker, music director, counselor, Christian education director)
4. Paid member of administrative church staff (church secretary or treasurer, for example)
5. Performing a baptism (in churches where this is not exclusively the role of clergy or elders)
6. Helping to serve the Lord’s Supper (in churches where this is not exclusively the role of clergy or elders)
7. Giving announcements at the Sunday morning service
8. Taking the offering
9. Public reading of Scripture
10. Public prayer
11. Prophesying in public (according to 1 Corinthians 1:5 and 14:29, where this is not understood as having authority equal to Scripture or Bible reaching)
12. Singing a solo on Sunday mornings
13. Giving a personal testimony in church
14. Giving a prayer request in church
15. Being a member of a prayer team that prays for people individually after the service
16. Welcoming people at the door (a greeter)
17. Editing the church newsletter
18. Singing in the choir
19. Singing of hymns with the congregation on Sunday morning
20. Participating in the responsive reading of Scripture on Sunday morning

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