Women in Leadership: Congregational Ministry


Spring 2018

In the last few decades women have been increasingly gaining access to ministry positions as denominations and other organisations have been opening the doors to greater roles for women. Yet women in leadership positions, whether in congregational ministry or other settings, often feel bereft of understanding and support. Although they may be officially granted ‘status,’ they are still encountering hidden landmines. And males, in co-leadership roles with females, may not always understand the dynamics at play either. What does it mean to lead in ministry as a female image of God? And what do we need to know in order to do this well?

This course, led by someone who was one of the first women ordained in her denomination, will introduce students to some of the myriad of ways in which gender may impact Christian ministry: from one’s self-identity as male or female, to constructing theological categories, to methods of biblical interpretation, to discerning different styles of leadership, to clarifying pastoral care issues, to greater sensitizations towards the joys and challenges of working together in an “oversexed society.” Along the way students will learn not only from biblical studies and theology, but also from other pertinent fields. Class guides will be Christians who have ‘gone before us’ into this land of gender studies and have reported back in thoughtful Christian engagement with their material. They will model for participants not only what to see, but how to think and respond.
This course welcomes not only current female and male students, but also those who are grappling with these issues in ministry situations and desire to audit the class.


  • To reflect critically on the intersection of biblical studies, theology, and culture in relation to gender studies.
  • To consider the ways in which church theology and practice has been and is shaped by accepted cultural views regarding normative male and female roles.
  • To be adept at recognizing concepts and the appropriate use of terminology related to gender issues in culture and in Christian contexts: (complementarian, egalitarian, patriarchy, feminism, biblical feminism, radical feminism, headship, androcentric, sex vs. gender, hegemony, privilege, male honour system, evolutionary psychology, gender stereotypes, public vs. private spheres, etc.)


  • To gain insight into one’s own self as a gendered person created in the image of God and uniquely gifted to do God’s will.
  • To reflect on one’s own context and upbringing in terms of its impact on one’s gendered self-perception.
  • To deepen one’s understanding of leadership and authority as a female or male in the church.
  • To become more confident as a ministry leader.


  • To respond reflectively, insightfully and critically in writing and speaking to a broad variety of issues pertaining to gender in ministry.
  • To demonstrate competence in the ability to notice, exegete and critique gender presumptions and presuppositions in the thinking and behavior of one’s self and others in both the cultural context and the church.