A gracEmail subscriber asks whether I think church “boards” should include only elders and deacons, or also chairpersons and ministry leaders. Elders and deacons only, in his church, would mean an all-male board. He prefers that because he believes it “God’s will that men should run the church,” and because he thinks “men are more capable of making the decisions without getting too cluttered with our emotions.”
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I suspect that Jesus and his apostles would be far more concerned about our notions of “running” things than with the gender of those who do it (Mk. 10:42-45; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). The credentials of Christian leaders are commitment to Christ, giftedness by God, and empowerment by the Spirit of the Risen Jesus (Acts 6:2-3; Rom. 12:6-8; I Cor. 12:4-12; I Pet. 4:10-11). Those so described in Scripture certainly include women — as deacons (Rom. 16:1-2; see I Tim. 3:11), gospel workers (Rom. 16:6, 8, 12), prophets (Acts 2:16-18; 21:8-9; I Cor. 11:5), teachers (Acts 18:24-26; Rom. 16:3) and perhaps even apostles in a secondary sense (Junia, in Rom. 16:7, in the best manuscripts).
The Bible does not specifically mention church boards. Lacking any known specific divine instruction on the subject, the Jerusalem church automatically continued the Jewish practice of leadership by male “elders” (seniors). However, that first Christian community also utilized congregational meetings for making decisions and conducting business, apparently without respect to gender (Acts 6:2-6; 12:12; 15:4, 22). While many Gentile churches appointed Jewish-style elders, they felt free to adapt organizational models from their own cultures as well. For example, the very word translated “church” regularly referred to town-meetings throughout the Graeco-Roman world (as in Acts 19:30, 32, 39, 41), And although English translations usually identify Phoebe as a “helper” (Rom. 16:2), Paul actually used a term which in its masculine form referred to a chief, ruler, leader; protector, patron or guardian.
Your final comments seem to assume that decisions are best made by pure intellect, that emotions tend to “clutter” the process, and that men may be trusted to exercise the first while women are prone to lean on the latter. The scientific data I have seen suggest that women often do have intuitive perception far exceeding most males. Unlike us men, they can detect, combine and analyze multiple rational and emotional stimuli instantly, accurately and simultaneously. Rather than constituting a defect or weakness, however, that qualifies women to supplement and complete our own limited gifts and abilities (Gen. 2:18). Since we are called to love God with all our heart, soul and mind (Matt. 22:37), perhaps important decision-making best takes all of those aspects into careful account.