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10 Ways the Church is Pushing Women Away (and How to Win Them Back)

  • Michelle Lazurek
10 Ways the Church is Pushing Women Away (and How to Win Them Back)

As a woman, I have often found myself feeling out of place when it comes to serving within the church. I am not a children’s church or nursery worker, and Sunday school teaching positions are often taken, leaving me without a place to lead and serve. Without a place to be an active member, I find it difficult to get up and go to church. This can make me feel disjointed, not only from my local church, but also the church body as a whole.

Here are some other ways women may be dissuaded from attending (and remaining in) their church:

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1. Lack of women leadership in ministry

1. Lack of women leadership in ministry

Many denominations decline to include women in leadership positions, for fear of disobeying 1 Timothy 2:12 which says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” But what about women called into a preaching ministry, or those called to become pastors or ministers? Many denominations interpret this verse literally and hold it in high regard, so women in those churches don’t feel that they can lead. Much like in workplaces outside the church where men hold most leadership positions, women can easily feel silenced. If they feel silenced long enough, they are at risk to lose their voices completely.

Win her back! Regardless of where you stand on the issue of women in church leadership, you can encourage women in your church who have the gift of leadership by including women in leadership conversations. Seek them out for their unique perspective and insight in church decisions. Respect the voice that God gave them and listen. 

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2. Misinterpreted Scriptures

2. Misinterpreted Scriptures

1 Corinthians 1:34-35 says, “As in all the congregations of the saints, women are to be silent in churches, as the law says. If they wish to inquire about something, they are to ask their own husbands at home; for it is dishonorable for a woman to speak in the church…”

Because of this women are left without proper places to use their gifts of teaching or leadership. Often, women feel they are better utilized outside of the church rather than inside, driving them to choose to spend their time elsewhere.

Win her back! While preparing a sermon or other church-wide communication, consider how women may easily interpret your message.  

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3. Lack of areas to use their gifts

3. Lack of areas to use their gifts

God gives both men and women spiritual gifts at conversion. But if there is no place to use those gifts, women can feel like they are not needed within the church body. Both men and women need to have areas in which to use their gifts, or they’ll easily find ways to spend Sundays in other places.

Win her back! You can encourage women in your church who have a unique skill or spiritual gift to share that as ministry. God may have placed an idea in her on how your church can better serve the local community. Why not ask women how God is leading them to serve?

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4. Lack of places to serve

4. Lack of places to serve

In today’s world, women have come a long way in terms of finding their place in the workforce. But some are lagging behind when it comes to helping women find a place to serve. When the opportunities to serve are limited to hospitality or working with children, women are not gifted in those areas may feel like there is no place for them.  

Win her back! Churches need to be aware of their congregation’s gifts, then be vocal about opportunities for those gifts to be utilized. Every church has needs in addition to hospitality and children’s ministry - tell your whole congregation about those needs.  

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5. Outdated ministries

5. Outdated ministries

Women juggle many roles in life as employees, daughters, wives, and mothers. It’s a lot to balance, and women need fellowship for encouragement to make it through. Consider your church’s ministry outreach to women. Are the only events for women to connect with other women focused around tea and tablecloths? If that’s not their cup of tea (literally), how else could the church help meet their need for fellowship and community?

Win her back! Your church can consider a plethora of options for fellowship so women can connect with others easier and keep them more committed to church fellowship. Take a hard look at the women in your church. What do they need in order to fellowship well? 

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6. Lack of equality

6. Lack of equality

Although Paul commands that the church not allow women to assume authority over a man, he also equates Priscilla and Aquila’s service in Romans 16:3, calling them “co-workers in Christ.” As with anyone who wants to teach or preach, they should be subject to the authority of a church elder board and pastor. This is so they can screen and question anything that is not alignment with the Word of God. But when women are not given those opportunities to teach and preach, the rejection may communicate that their feelings and opinions don’t count. 

Win her back! If your church does not accept women preaching a Sunday sermon, those in leadership can still model Paul’s example by publicly affirming and honoring women’s service in gospel ministry. If your church would accept a woman’s sermon on Sunday morning, consider inviting a female evangelist to speak at your church. Or invite a woman in your own congregation!

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7. Sin is swept under the rug

7. Sin is swept under the rug

The “Me Too” Movement is sweeping the nation, as new stories are shared seemingly everyday about a man in power who has abused a woman. Unfortunately, we have learned that the church is not immune to this abuse and has been guilty of protecting abusers instead of the abused. The abuse is ignored and the woman who was abused is sadly mistreated, leaving women feeling unprotected and ostracized.

Win her back! Instead of remaining silent, your church can institute and communicate a zero-tolerance policy on abuse. This could look like an increase in accountability for those in leadership, on and off-stage conversations about how Jesus views women, and an overall emphasis of love and purity in the church. 

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8. Lack of connection

8. Lack of connection

Every church must meet the needs for community among its members. This can be met in many ways. However, small groups are perhaps the best way to achieve the intimacy for which people are longing. But if a church does not have a small group ministry, where can people connect?

Win her back! Small groups and other ministries dedicated to meeting members’ needs are vital if the church is going to keep its doors open and keep women coming back week after week. 

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9. Fear of condemnation

9. Fear of condemnation

Church should be the place where people feel most accepted. Even if they wear the wrong clothes, come from a different economic background, or have a different marital status than what you think they should have. The church should hold tightly to the truth of the Bible, but that doesn’t mean we need to keep out those who have fallen short. Haven’t we all? Churches with issues such as a man-made dress code or preconceived notions about single mothers uphold the lie that we must look the part in order to be accepted by Jesus.

Win her back! Jesus centered much of his ministry around people whom society frowned upon, and we should do the same. Many churches can better imitate Christ by showing kindness. We know from Romans 2:4 that it’s God’s kindness that is meant to lead us to repentance. 

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10. Lack of authenticity

10. Lack of authenticity

Jesus didn’t have as much animosity for humble sinners as he did for the Pharisees who prided themselves in their knowledge of the Law, yet did little to follow God’s heart. Jesus took issue with the hypocrites of His day, just as non-believers take issue with Christian hypocrites today. Quoting the Bible on stage, yet acting in another way can make both men and women squirm in their pews.

Win her back! If we say we are followers of Jesus, then we must genuinely walk in His Spirit. The church always has room to grow in unity and the fruit of the Spirit. Pray for this in your church, especially church leadership, so that they would not be tempted to preach one thing and live another. 

Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year and the Enduring Light Silver Medal, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Her first book with Leafwood Publishers, An Invitation to the Table, came out September 2016. She also teaches at various writers' workshops, such as the Montrose Christian Writers conference. She and her husband live in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, with their two children, Caleb and Leah. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.

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