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Women Pastors: Poll Finds Major Denominational Differences on Issue

Protestant pastors in the us have major differences on the problem of ladies in pastoral roles, a fresh Lifeway Research survey that indicates the divide is basically along denominational lines says.

The poll, released Tuesday, discovered that 55 percent of Protestant pastors say a female is actually a senior pastor at their church.

However the findings vary dramatically based on the denomination. Although 94 percent of Methodist pastors and 78 percent of Pentecostal pastors say a female is actually a senior pastor at their church, only 14 percent of Baptist pastors answered this way. Three-quarters of Presbyterian/Reformed pastors (77 percent) answered in the affirmative, while Lutheran pastors (47 percent) and non-denominational pastors (43 percent) were less inclined to say a female is actually a senior pastor.

Someone without context may think differences of opinion on where women can serve in church are simply just fickle or archaic perspectives. But they are not questions of opinion just as much as biblical interpretation, said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. This question has been debated for years and years with biblical scholars in various denominations arriving at different conclusions in what Scripture means.

Although 76 percent of mainline pastors said a female is actually a senior pastor at their church, only 44 percent of evangelical pastors did. The problem of women serving as deacons found slightly more agreement, with 79 percent of mainstream pastors and 56 percent of evangelical pastors agreeing.

The reason why some pastors create a distinction between women leading as pastors or deacons as well as teaching men in comparison to other leadership roles is due to how they interpret the Bible, McConnell said. In the Apostle Pauls letters, he gives instructions to churches regarding these specific roles. But Protestant churches disagree on his intent.

The poll involved interviews with 1,000 Protestant pastors.

As the Apostle Paul mentions differences in a few specific church roles, any difference in the standing of people in the church ends there, McConnell said. When discussing an individuals relationship with God, he teaches, There is absolutely no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; because you are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3: 28, CSB).

Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Steve Nagy/Design Pics


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press,Christianity Today, The Christian Post, theLeaf-Chronicle,the Toronto Star andthe Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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