One of my missionary colleagues writes...
Could it be that, in the biblical sense, that a woman could be a pastor in the city/region church just as there were women prophetesses and a female apostle in the city/region church, but that women...not be elders in the house churches?I confess these thoughts have gone through my mind as well: women functioning as Ephesians 4 apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers in the city/region church, and only men as "elders" of local assemblies.
In most of the churches we relate to we don't refer to leadership (whether men or women) as pastors. We don't use titles. All of us are hermanos(as) brothers/sisters. We teach that ALL believers are servants and ministers of the Gospel. Both men and women alike are charged with fulfilling the Great Commission. That package includes: going, making disciples, baptizing, and teaching.
Peter's own words in 2Pet2: "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood...that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light..." You=all of us.
Our part is to "make disciples." His to "build his church." When half of the work force are women, it only makes sense that a good percentage have shepherding gifts, as well as all the other lists of spiritual gifts mentioned in Paul's writings.
So, is shepherding/pastoring a spiritual gift (function) or a church office?
Because of what we have seen and experienced over the years, I personally lean towards shepherding as a spiritual gift (function) given for building up the body of Christ. I have seen plenty of evidence that the Spirit indeed gives this gift to certain sisters, just as He gives this gift to certain brothers.
What I have a hard time finding in the pages of the NT is where shepherding/pastoring is referred to as a church office. I don't see church offices in the New Testament. But do see much attention given to serving one another and to spiritual gifts for the building up of the Body of Christ.
That some sisters are given the gift to shepherd other believers seems perfectly normal--except, of course, when you make shepherding an OFFICE, and we know from the Baptist Faith and Message that women pastors is a no-no! But, then again, I don't see in the NT where pastor/shepherd is ever referred to as an office.
In Paul's two lists of ministries the Holy Spirit has given to the church for her edification--1 Cor.12:28 and Eph.4:11--only in the later do we find pastors being mentioned, and in neither are these referred to as offices. (If you see something different, please share book, chapter, verses. And if you use 1 Tim.3:1 where 'office' is used in some English translations, please point out to me how the term 'office' is arrived at from the Greek.)
Would it then be correct to say only men will be "elders" of local assemblies, but any believer (male or female) who possesses shepherding gifts, be encouraged to use their spiritually imparted gift to build up the church? In such a scenario, male elders (plural) would share the shepherding and care of the local church with all those who possess the gift and aspire to shepherd/oversee/pastor.
So, to recap, women cannot be pastors--in the sense of title or office. Why? Because offices and church titles are not to be found in the NT. But it also seems Biblical to say any sister who is spiritually gifted in shepherding ought to exercise their gift. Agree? Disagree?
Still open for input and instruction from anyone out there caring to share your thoughts on the matter. What's your take on this matter? Please share your understanding of these matters with us so that we might be corrected if we are wrong, and affirmed if we are headed in the right direction.