Hello everyone. My name is Pam
I live in Maine.
I joined this forum after listening to Dr. Zacharias’ podcasts, radio broadcasts, watching videos and attending the Why Jesus conference a couple of years ago. I have enjoyed and learned from all of them. I am not certain that I can contribute or help anyone else in their relationship with the Lord, but am grateful for a place where I can continue to learn and grow in mine. I have a question about church policy concerning the role of women in church leadership. I grew up in a Baptist family and currently attend a Baptist church. I have been taught that women should not serve in roles of leadership or authority, such as Deacon. My church recently appointed a woman as a deaconess and that troubles me greatly. I raised the issue privately with the Pastor, but he did not seem to think it was as concerning as I find it. Our Deacons serve communion on designated Sundays and I am uncomfortable receiving it from a woman. I’m asking for guidance on whether my concern has foundation, and whether I should decline communion when it is being served by this lady. I do like her very much and do not want to hurt her in any way; however, I do not believe she should be serving in this capacity. I’m not sure if I posted this in the correct category, but I thank you for any guidance offered.
Hello everyone. My name is Pam
Hi, Pamela! We’re glad that you have joined us here on Connect and that you are bringing such an honest question. Before trying to construct a reply with my own thoughts, I’m curious to hear a little more of your own, if you don’t mind. You mentioned that you are uncomfortable with receiving communion from a woman - would you mind going into a bit more detail about your discomfort? Are there certain reasons why they should not be serving in this capacity that you can pinpoint? What would it mean for you (or any other Christian) to receive communion from a woman? Just trying to understand your experience…
Thank you for joining us, and I may be biased, but I think you’ve come to a very good place in joining us here on Connect.
For several weeks this year, we did a study on church polity at the church I attend. The study was led by the lead pastor and was quite informative and eye opening for me. This was a point - female deacons, that led to some really intense discussions. I’m glad that we had it! Like @KMac I’m interested in understanding why it bothers you to be served communion by a female. I’m also interested in what you understand about biblical church leadership positions; what authority do you believe that the deacon has; and what do you understand about the role of deacon within the local church, @Pam
Hello Kathleen. Thank you for responding and helping me to sort through this issue. Receiving communion from a woman is not really the area of concern. I’m sorry if that was unclear in my post. Women serve in many ministries in our church. However, I have been taught and always believed that the New Testament (in 1 Timothy and other passages) restricts the office of Deacon to men; therefore, having a female serving in that position, and acting in that capacity by serving communion, is disallowed. I can find nothing in Scripture that can securely contradict this, so I find myself quietly disagreeing with the determination of my church leadership to place her in this office (thereby being in a position of leadership over men in the church). She is a dear, sweet, Godly woman and I would not want her to take my fear personally, so I have said nothing to anyone but our pastor, who tried to justify the appointment, but Scripturally could not satisfy my worry. My major concern is for my church and its keeping in alignment with the way God set up the church and His intentions for its management.
My hope in using this forum was to find someone who could help, with something definitive (not just opinion) from Scripture, one way or the other, that would either confirm or disprove my belief.
@Pam thank you for giving more detail about your concern. I think that it would help to understand what a deacon is. The way that the word diakonos is used in the NT isn’t to describe an office, but to describe someone who is a ‘servant’ within the local church. The role of pastor/elder is related to a particular office of leadership, but in the early church, deacon wasn’t an office but someone who served. Romans 16:1-2 speaks of Phoebe as a servant, the Greek being diakonos where the word deacon is derived from.
Phoebe was a woman. She served her local congregation, and I’m sure that there were many other women who served in local congregations in the early church. In this way, they would have been delegated tasks from church leaders (pastors/elders) to help meet the needs of the local body. In that way, deacons functioned as … something like assistants in a manner of speaking. It would be fair to say that because of this, there was no gender requirement in regards to this ‘level’ of service to the local body. However, in regards to pastors/elders we do see a specification.
Somehow or another over time, the role of deacon became associated with a church office when, from my understanding of scripture and based on all the fantastic things I learned from the study group on church polity (which we dissected scripture and had very intense discussions several times, especially regarding the role of women in the local church), the function of deacon isn’t an office per se.
When we did this study, it was like the world getting flipped around for some of us. I think the saving grace for me was that I’m still relatively new to Christ, so I didn’t have the long history of believing a certain way about what the local church should look like. At my previous church, the pastor had taken the initiative to give women more input and positions in the church and so we saw the creation of a women’s elder advisory board to serve as a type of reference council for the elders. It was complicated to me, and I was on the verge of leaving at that point so I didn’t really investigate. However, the church I attend now is more traditional and has a very long history as a local Baptist church. The current pastor is on a mission to really have the church embody the spirit of the early church. That means for all of us, as the congregation, that we have to release some things that missed the mark or was completely incorrect. It’s a challenge, and we’re challenged in different ways as individuals. But, many are embracing the challenge of it all, myself included!
I hope this contribution helps in some way.