Women Can’t Serve As Senior Pastors Can They? (1Timothy 2: 9-15)

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There are very few teachings in the history of the Christian church that have created more problems then the false belief that God has set up the human race so that woman can not participate in church leadership. Pastor Rich breaks the myth that only men can be pastors by exploring the proper historical setting and meaning of 1 Timothy 2. In this passage we see that Paul does not believe that the criteria for leadership is based on any one person’s human merit, ethnic origin, social status or gender, but instead based on someone’s calling, character and competence. Paul’s writing in 1 Timothy 2 in not a universal prohibition against women at all times, in all places, and in all settings from preaching, leading, or being a senior pastor. What it is in fact is a prohibition against women and against men from doing anything in any place which will undermine the mission of the gospel. The situation that Paul is addressing is specific to the time and setting of Ephesus.

In 5 minutes or less, briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.


These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.

•Think about this past week and share one thing that brought you joy and one thing that was challenging…

•Thinking about Rich’s sermon, briefly share one or two things that may have surprised you or especially stood out…

•Has there ever been a time where you felt prohibited from doing something based on your gender, ethnicity or social status?


Read Gen 1:26-29 and 1 Cor 9:19-23:

Study Summary: When approaching the issue of women in leadership, Vineyard Columbus has taken the biblical position that all roles are open to women in ministry. We want to affirm the calling of both men and women into leadership as well as equal access to the gifts of the Spirit. While our church believes that all ministry roles are based upon character, competence, and calling (as opposed to gender) we want to maintain the Bible’s priority on promoting the Gospel, above all else. In this study, we want to look at the equality of men and women, and consider times when women may limit their freedom for the sake of the Gospel.

Gen 1:26-29

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Gen Chapter 1:

Leader: read the whole chapter for context. Consider what words/phrases are repeated. While a very familiar text, ask the Holy Spirit for some fresh insights into the passage. Genesis 1 is the narrative of the whole of creation.

•What truths stand out about God and his sovereignty? What truths stand out regarding the character of the whole creation and the character of man and his relation to God (Ps 8:5-8)?

•Vs. 26 Read it carefully. How does God describe himself? What does this say about the Trinity? Have you ever tried to explain the Trinity to someone – what have you said? How did they receive it?

•V. 26-27 Man in the image of God; what does this mean in practical terms? (some good attempts to answer – reveals no consensus – we are called to represent God; we are created for community just like our Trinitarian God; we were created with certain god-like attributes (rationality, freedom, holiness)). What does it plainly not mean? Read Eph 2:10 – try to connect Paul’s words to the notion of imago Dei?

•V. 26-27 – 2 times in Gen 1 the writer of Genesis writes about human beings (mankind) – what’s the significance? How does chapter 1 inform our understanding of the nature of men and women before God? What does this understanding of humankind say to us about the nature of God? Is there any difference between men and women at this point? What are the shared roles? What does this mean for the church today?

1 Cor 9:19-23

Leader: read the whole chapter for context. Consider what words/phrases are repeated. While a familiar text, ask the Holy Spirit for some fresh insights into the passage. Focus on unpacking vs. 12(b).

•What did Paul mean he was free from all people? What kind of freedom do we have as Christians? What kind of freedom don’t we have as Christians?

•How did Paul view social roles (hint: Paul was very flexible regarding social roles)? Where would Paul draw the line – or when was Paul inflexible? (hint: when the Gospel was at stake Gal 2, or regarding Christian ethics such as sexual practice 1 Cor 6).

•What was Paul’s aim regarding appropriate social roles?

•How might Paul’s flexibility, and aim of promoting the Gospel, apply to a Christian woman’s role in Pakistan? In New York City, in 2011? At a university campus, like OSU? Or Vineyard Columbus?


Below you’ll see some options for ministry time with your group. We always encourage you to reserve time in your group to pray for one another and wait on the Holy Spirit.

•Consider how the weekend’s message and the study have impacted your thinking, positively or negatively. Ask the Holy Spirit make safe the positive, and bring peace with anything negative. Ask for wisdom to make things practical for you.

•When contending for the Gospel, what might God be asking you to do? What freedoms might he be asking you to give-up?

•Give space for all women to explore their calling – perhaps all the men (if present) can pray appropriately for the women (if present). Pray for peace in the church, forgiveness for past church abuses, and freedom to live fully called lives.