By / Aug 14

I was 24, working at my alma mater, when a student prayed in a group, “And God, thank you for Jenn’s example as an older woman on our campus.” I restrained a burst of laughter. Thankfully everyone’s eyes were closed. I had been in their seats less than two years before. I definitely wasn’t an older woman, and I didn’t feel like an example.

“I can’t do ministry because . . .”

In the days following that prayer, I would have students and staff come to me for advice. When this happened, I had a choice: I could keep protesting internally, correct them externally, or step into the opportunity before me and leverage it for the glory of God. In addition to age, there are other reasons we can discount ourselves and not take advantage of the ministry opportunities before us.

We can discount our ministry opportunities because of our seasons of life. Singles may think because they are single, they have to wait to start real ministry. Young moms may think, “I’ll have more time later.” Women in the church with empty nests may think, “Why would a young woman want to hang out with me?” But whoever you are, as a believer in Christ, God has gifted you and given you opportunities to serve him. Those opportunities will look different in various seasons, but don’t ignore all the opportunities before you.

We can discount ourselves because we focus on our weaknesses. When God called Moses as his spokesperson for Israel, Moses’ response was, “Surely you have the wrong person. God, maybe you haven’t noticed, but I’m not very eloquent.” Looking at his weaknesses, Moses said, “Let me out of this opportunity!” The Lord sent Moses forward in the mission, but before he did, he refocused Moses with a reminder of God’s strength, power, and presence (Exo. 4:10). As one of my seminary professors regularly reminded his students, “There is a Divine preference for human agency.” Don’t put yourself out of commission because you are weak or human; step into the opportunities, and watch God work.

Ministry is not reserved for the best, the brightest, the wisest, or for those in perfect circumstances; it is a part of our calling as disciples.

We can discount ourselves because we compare ourselves with others. I’m gifted as a teacher, but my mom is a master teacher. If I thought she was the standard, I’d never teach. As I’ve taken steps toward training and discipling women overseas I’ve often thought, “Who do I think I am? There are men and women who would be able to contribute to the church overseas and fill capacities I can’t.” But that thinking is wrong. It’s God’s idea for me to disciple, not my own (Matt. 28:18-20; Titus 2:3-5). There are things I can contribute that others can’t, because God created and called me to do them. Also, there aren’t enough workers overseas, so why not contribute where I can.

4 things I’ve learned about ministry 

As I have struggled to step into the opportunities before me, here are four things I’ve learned:

  1. Be equipped by God’s Word. Ministry is not reserved for the best, the brightest, the wisest, or for those in perfect circumstances; it is a part of our calling as disciples. Jesus told the disciples they were to make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them to observe all he had commanded (Matt. 28:16-20). God has given us his Word to guide this process. Paul, in training Timothy, a young minister, reminded him of this: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
  2. Be encouraged by God’s promises. Scripture is full of God’s assurances for those who seek to serve him. Before his ascension, Jesus promised his presence as we serve him (Matt. 28:20). God prepares us beforehand for the ministry he gives us (Eph. 2:10). God has given you everything you need for life and godliness through the knowledge of him (2 Pet 1:3). Paul told Timothy to fan the flame of the gift of God in him, because God had not given a spirit of timidity and fear (2 Tim. 1:6-7). We can similarly take heart. When I’m tempted to count myself out rather than step into a ministry opportunity, these truths help me move forward in faith, not fear.
  3. Be an example. Paul instructs Timothy to not let anyone despise him for his youth, but rather to set an example. The categories Paul lists are helpful to us wherever we find an opportunity to serve Christ. Whether we are young or old, male or female, or regardless of any other circumstance, we can seek to set an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity (1 Tim 4:12).
  4. Be engaged in the opportunities before you. Yes, 1,000 people may be better qualified than you for the task at hand, but they aren’t there; you are. God in his wisdom has given you the opportunity. Humbly step into the appropriate opportunities before you, whether you feel prepared or believe you are the perfect fit. You’ll get the opportunity to watch how God provides, works, changes you, and uses you in the process.

Whether you feel ready or qualified, if there’s an opportunity to minister, take it. It won’t serve the people looking up to you to protest, “I’m not an older woman!” There’s plenty of work to be done and too few to do it (Matt. 9:36-38). Don’t sideline yourself. Instead, invest in the Kingdom and the growth of others.

By / May 14

Better Together captures our desire to partner together as men and women in the church and beyond to advance the kingdom with mutual support and care. Better Together will address a wide range of topics from sexual abuse, leadership, women and work, women’s ministry, and more. Today’s podcast features Melissa Kruger. Kruger serves as Women’s Ministry Coordinator at Uptown Church in Charlotte, N.C.  Today she helps us think through topics related to training women and women’s ministry in the local church. 

By / Mar 15

In the minds of my secular friends, historic Christianity is not a pro-women movement. Last Friday, as International Women’s Day took the social media stage, there was something of a spirit of resistance: let’s throw off the shackles of misogynist religion and create a secular world where women can thrive.    

I understand how they’ve got that impression. As in every other ethical area, we Christians have not lived up to the standards of our Savior. But if we dig beneath the surface, we’ll find a different story. Indeed, we find that Christianity is the most effective pro-women movement in all of history. Here are nine reasons why:

  1. The early church was comprised mostly of women

Due to selective infanticide and maternal death in childbirth, the Greco-Roman world was disproportionately male. But the early Christian movement was majority-female, and by some estimates, nearly two-thirds female. In the early days Christianity was ridiculed for its appeal to women. The second-century Greek philosopher Celsus snarked that Christians, “want and are able to convince only the foolish, dishonorable and stupid, only slaves, women, and little children,” while the third-century Christian apologist Minucius Felix records critics saying Christianity attracted, “the dregs of the populace and credulous women with the inability natural to their sex.” In line with the stereotypes, when the early second-century Roman governor Pliny the Younger wanted to find out more about Christianity, he interrogated, “two female slaves who were called deaconesses.” From the first, Christianity attracted women.

  1. Early Christianity benefited women

In a world that typically held women down, Jesus lifted them up—and Christianity benefited them in tangible ways. Roman families often gave their prepubescent daughters away in marriage, but Christian women could marry later. Christianity also condemned many male prerogatives that left women marginalized, abandoned, abused, or dead, such as divorce, incest, adultery, rape, polygamy, and female infanticide. Indeed, the radical expectation that men should be faithful, loving, and sacrificial to their wives was a key social innovation of the Christian movement.  

When Christians finally gained political power, laws started to come into place to protect women and their children from abuse. For instance, the first Christian emperor of Rome outlawed infanticide in 315 and provided a nascent form of welfare in 321 so that poor women would not have to sell their children. In 428, the Eastern emperor issued a decree condemning “pimps, fathers, and slaveowners” who forced women into exploitative sex, and offering protection to “slaves and daughters and others who have hired themselves out on account of their poverty.” To be sure, progress toward equality was slow. But it was Christianity that fueled that progress with the idea—not at all self-evident in the ancient world—that women were equal in value to men.

  1. The global church today is comprised mostly of women

What about today? If Christianity began as a majority-female movement, the church today is similarly skewed. Across the globe, women are generally more religious than men, but the gender gap is most pronounced for Christianity. Indeed, women of color are the most likely to identify as Christian and to engage in Christian practice, such as church attendance and prayer. Yale law professor and black public intellectual Stephen Carter has observed “a difficulty endemic to today’s secular left: an all-too-frequent weird refusal to acknowledge the demographics of Christianity.”

  1. The church in America is comprised mostly of women

  In line with global norms, the church in America is also disproportionately female, and disproportionately women of color. The racial gap is even larger than the gender gap, but the gender gap persists across racial difference. African American men are significantly less likely to practice Christianity than African American women, but significantly more likely than white women. Likewise, Latina/o Americans are more likely to be Christians than whites, while Latina women are more religious than Latino men. Black Christians are also strongly skewed toward evangelical beliefs and practices.  

When we think of a church-going, Bible-believing, daily-praying, Jesus-loving Christian in the U.S., we should think of a black woman. Conversely, atheism in America is significantly overrepresented by white men: 68 percent of atheists are men and 78 percent are Caucasian (compared to 66 percent for the general public). Professor Carter cautions secular liberals, “When you mock Christians, you’re not mocking who you think you are. [Y]ou’re mostly mocking women [and] you’re mocking black women in particular.”

  1. Christianity promotes education for women

Christians invented the university and Christianity has been a tremendous force for education globally. A primary reason is because the centrality of the Bible has pushed Christians toward literacy. It should therefore not be a surprise that Christianity is positively correlated with educational attainment of women. If you sort the world by religion, Jews (who represent 0.2 percent of the world’s population) are the most educated with an average of 13.4 years of formal schooling for both men and women. Christians (the largest global belief system claiming 31 percent of the world’s population) are the second most educated group, with the second smallest gap between genders: an average of 9.4 years for men and 9.1 for women. The religiously unaffiliated (16 percent of the world’s population) come in next, with lower averages and a larger gender gap—an average of 9.2 years for men and 8.3 years for women—though those averages are rising and that gap is closing for younger generations. Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims have substantially fewer years of education on average, and substantially larger gender gaps.

  1. Christian sexual ethics benefit women today

The sexual revolution of the 1960s promised women more sexual freedom and therefore more happiness. But reported happiness for women in America has actually decreased, and changing cultural expectations around sex are likely part of the reason. A variety of studies have found a correlation between women having multiple sexual partners and decreased happiness and mental health. For example, one study found that “the prevalence of sadness, suicide ideation, suicide plans and suicide attempts increased with the number of sexual partners across all racial/ethnic groups.” Another found, “a strong association between number of sex partners and later substance disorder, especially for women.”

This is no disparagement of sex itself, or of women as sexual beings. Faithful marriage is correlated with more sexual frequency and greater sexual enjoyment, and a 2004 academic study found that the “happiness-maximizing number of sexual partners in the previous year” is one. Moreover, while cohabiting before marriage is typically seen as a wise investment in future marital bliss, it is actually associated with increased risk for divorce and marital distress. This lines up with New Testament sexual ethics that call both men and women to keep sex within marriage, but also to enjoy sex in that space—with as much concern for the wife’s sexual needs as the husbands (see 1 Cor.7:3-5).

  1. Christianity opposes gendercide

In the East, abortion has resulted in massive gendercide. In China, due to selective abortion and female infanticide, an estimated 34 million women are missing from the population, while for the same reason, men outnumber women in India by approximately 25 million. China and India have the largest populations of any country and historically among the lowest proportions of Christians. That situation is changing rapidly, though, and China is expected to have more Christians than America by 2030, thanks in large part to the missionary activities of Chinese Christian women.

  1. Church-going men are less likely to be violent

Eliminating domestic violence is a top priority for advocates of equality for women. The fact that many women are not safe in their own homes is a tragedy and a disgrace. But far from Christianity enabling men to abuse their wives (as is sometimes claimed) Christian teaching on marriage should make Christian men the least likely to commit the sin of violence against women.

And while any level of spousal abuse is unacceptable for Christians, multiple studies have found correlation between regular church attendance and significantly lower levels of domestic violence. For instance, a 2001 study found levels of domestic violence were almost twice as high for men who did not attend church versus those who attended once a week or more.

  1. Feminism began as a Christian movement

The ministry of Jesus radically changed the status of women. He consistently lifted women up—from reaching out to women who were social outcasts, to protecting women from sexual objectification, to encouraging women to learn alongside his male disciples, to holding them up as moral examples. As in every other area, the church’s history has often failed to live up to Jesus’s standards. But there is a real sense in which equality for women was a Christian project from the first.

In more recent history, so-called “first-wave feminism” in the early 1920s, which gained American women the right to vote and inherit land, was due in large part to Christian activism. While some elements of “second-wave feminism” are at odds with Christian ethics (most notably with regard to abortion) the drive to ensure that women are treated as having equal value, empower women to pursue their various vocations in the world, and protecting women from denigration and exploitation, is at heart a Christian project.

Let’s reclaim International Women’s Day for Christianity, the greatest international pro-women movement in all of history.

By / Dec 18

There will be many topics that will be remembered in 2018 but perhaps none greater than the #Metoo and #churchtoo movements. Sexual abuse, assault, and allegations of inappropriate behavior swept through our culture and our churches.

The ERLC made it a priority to address these topics and much more with various initiatives, but it was Russell Moore’s announcement at the 2018 SBC annual meeting of our first Women’s Summit that put feet to our efforts. At the convention, Moore announced that the ERLC would be gathering women from across the SBC and the evangelical world "to think through ways to enhance our ministries and invest in our churches.” And we did just that several months later.

As a pre-meeting to our 2018 National Conference, the ERLC gathered more than 25 women from across evangelicalism to discuss a wide range of topics from sexual abuse, leadership, women and work, women’s ministry, and more. The meeting was led by Phillip Bethancourt, Trillia Newbell, Elizabeth Graham, Lindsay Nicolet, and Jennifer Kintner. Throughout the two-day gathering, women broke into small groups to discuss topics and develop ideas for training, implementing change, and growing awareness. Many of these initiatives will be announced at a later date.

The ERLC also invited male leaders to hear from the women and answer questions about their sphere of influence, which included topics like the future of complementarianism and the best methods for equipping pastors to care for women in their midst. The men were eager to hear and partner with the ERLC on next steps.

Since the gathering, the women have developed a community to continue the conversation. The ERLC will launch a special podcast series called “Better Together”  that will feature many of the women who attended the Women’s Summit. The goal of the podcast series is to inform and equip listeners on matters most important to women in the areas of church, home, and work. The ERLC is also working on a book focused primarily on culture called Women on Culture, which should release at the 2019 National Conference. The women will also be invited to trainings hosted by the ERLC. But this exciting momentum is just the beginning.

We are grateful that the 2018 Women’s Summit launched what we hope to be a series of efforts for the church concerning women. With the leadership of Russell Moore and Phillip Bethancourt, we were able to move in the right direction and look forward to what the Lord will do in 2019.

By / Jun 5

We live in a world where issues arise in the news and culture daily. Behind every issue, however, is a person—a person made in the image of God. This intermittent ERLC Podcast series, “How to Handle,” will tackle tough issues for today with the hopes of equipping the church on how to handle the topic, care for those struggling with sin and temptation, and care for those who have been hurt. 

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By / Jan 19

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Jan. 19, 2017—The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention announced members of its 2017 Leadership Council today.

This year’s Leadership Council, comprised of 73 Southern Baptist pastors, ministry leaders and church members across the U.S. This annual group of leaders receives targeted investment from the ERLC to equip them to help their churches apply the gospel to everyday life.  

The ERLC Leadership Council launched in 2014 and has included a wide-ranging group of SBC leaders from diverse backgrounds and ministry settings.

ERLC President Russell Moore, commented on the announcement of the 2017 Leadership Council.

“Churches around the country are on the front lines of engaging some of the most difficult cultural and societal questions imaginable, ones that our parents and grandparents often never had to consider,” Moore said. “With our Leadership Council, I'm thrilled to be able to partner with a new group of leaders from around the country who are eager to address these issues with a gospel focus both in the life of their churches and in the public square.”

Members of the 2017 Leadership Council include: Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas; Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas; H.B. Charles, pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Fla.; Byron Day, senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Laurel, Md.; James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga.; Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C..; Willy Rice, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla.; Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla.; Kevin Smith, executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware; and Jen Wilkin, author and Bible teacher from Dallas, Texas.

Merritt said he is a part of the ERLC Leadership Council because he’s "deeply interested in the political and social issues which have spiritual ramifications for the church and culture today.”

Wilkin, one of the first female Council members said, “I'm looking forward to learning from the other members and gaining exposure to new ideas.”

"There is not another organization, like the ERLC, that helps evangelical Christians think through the pressing issues with a genuinely Christian framework,” said Pressley. “To be a small part of such a great organization is a rare privilege."

Members of the Council will serve an annual term and will be equipped by the ERLC throughout the year through conference calls and events, while providing input to the ERLC and occasional content for

To learn more about the ERLC Leadership Council visit

The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 15.2 million members in over 46,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.

To request an interview with Russell Moore
contact Elizabeth Bristow at 202-547-0209
or by email at [email protected]
Visit our website at
Follow us on Twitter at @ERLC

By / May 12

Navigating what ministries to begin and which to forgo can be a daunting task for church leaders. The topic of whether or not to pursue a women’s ministry in the local church is often on the top of the list.

For Daniel Montgomery, lead pastor of Sojourn Church in Lousiville, Ky., the answer was clear: He would provide a women’s ministry but wouldn’t lead it. This model has worked well for their local congregation, and I’ve asked the co-leader of their women’s ministry, Amanda Edmondson, and Montgomery to give us a peek into why their ministry has been fruitful.

Did you establish a women's ministry as you established the church or was it developed after? If so, why? If not, what provoked you to begin a women's ministry?

Daniel Montgomery: I think women’s ministry, like men’s ministry, has been semi-provisional at time, addressing specific concerns and issues. We now have a more formal women’s ministry in order to:

  1. To embed a theological vision for life in ministry for women.
  2. For the purpose of creating and maintaining sisterhood among the women in our church.
  3. To empower women to do ministry in the church.

We want to intentionally meet women who want deeper theological reflection where they are. It won’t just happen. Women’s ministry also allows us to directly address the challenges of cultivating friendships across generations—whether someone is mentoring or being poured into. In addition, if you look at any renewal movement in history, women were at the helm. We want to empower and free women to do that kind of ministry.

Daniel, why did you feel it was important to have a woman lead the ministry?

Montgomery: The fact that we even ask this question shows how oppressive our churches can be toward women. There are several reasons to have a woman lead:

  1. Women need to lead women (Titus 2) with conviction and creativity.
  2. It’s hard for me to imagine raising up women in leadership without women leading women.

I believe reform and renewal will only take place in the church when women can fearlessly lead as women—with all their feminine beauty and power that God has specifically designed for them to use in various roles throughout the church.

What is your role in the women’s ministry?

Montgomery: I am there as an advocate and advisor for women’s ministry.

Amanda, what were your first thoughts when you were approached about leading this ministry?

Amanda Edmondson: I have a strong passion for women to know the Lord and to teach them how to know the Lord and make him known. Before I was on staff at Sojourn Community Church, I was leading a Bible study with another woman that took place in our houses. So when I was approached about Sojourn, I was excited for the opportunity but unsure of what it would look like for a multi-site church. I was also excited to be co-leading with a wiser, like-minded woman in our church.

What do you do day-to-day?

Edmondson: I have two roles at Sojourn. The majority of my time goes to being Daniel’s executive assistant. About 30 percent (some weeks more or less) go to women’s ministry. No day is ever the same in ministry. From July to April, a lot of focus and energy goes into our Women’s Leadership School, aside from that I am meeting with and discipling women, working with ministry leaders on raising up women and coaching women from other churches on how to lead or start a women’s ministry.

What are the goals of the women's ministry?

Edmondson: To equip women to know the Lord and lead with strength, using their gifts and talents in order to serve in the church, reach the world and make disciples.

Some would say that women's ministry is detrimental to the church because it could become separated from the mission of the church. How have you established boundaries or a general framework for protecting your ministry from straying away from the mission of the church?

Edmondson: Women’s ministry shouldn’t be a separate entity of the church but rather a ministry that supports the church as a whole. With the majority of seats in churches today being filled by women, there needs to be an opportunity for women to learn from women (Titus 2). I have two suggestions for boundaries:

  1. Use your women’s ministry as a place where women can get equipped. It should be a place where women are learning to lead—specifically—as women, then being released to serve the church along side everyone. The church’s vision isn’t lost when the ministry isn’t siloed.
  2. Make sure men are involved. In our church, Elders and church leadership take an interest in women’s ministry and care what we are taught. They teach on it from the pulpit and partner with us to equip women to lead.

What does a healthy women's ministry look like?

Montgomery: It’s not pulling women out of and away from participating in the church as a whole, but equipping women and training them in godliness to serve the church.

How might a church determine when it's time to evaluate a ministry’s effectiveness?

Montgomery: For us, it goes back to our vision and asking questions like: Is it supporting the overall vision? Are they reaching people? Building them up? Making disciples?

How might you encourage a church to start a women's ministry?

Edmondson: Most churches we speak to have a group structure where both men and women are gathering together throughout the week to discuss sermons. As most churches have moved away from having individualized ministries for both men and women, they are discovering there’s still a need for men and women to gather separately. I always encourage pastors and leaders to listen to the men and women of their churches. What are they hungry for? What do they need to learn about the Lord in this season? Is there a need for the men and women to meet separately?

As we mentioned earlier, we see a great value and need for women to be under the teaching of women in order to learn what it looks like to lead as a woman. If we want a woman to lead as a woman, then women need to see women leading biblically in the church and in the community where they live and work.  

Depending on the size of the church, start with what you have the capacity to do. Provide a space for women to be empowered and taught by women, to gather and fellowship together, and to be free to go deep and grow together. This is going to look different for each church, depending on their need and availability.

Montgomery: Like Amanda said, start with what you have. We are a church that does a lot from art and mercy, so we are always looking for opportunities for women to lead in worship, arts, mercy, and children. If a woman has a gift of teaching, ask how you can we nurture that woman? For example, we noticed that one of our ministries was male-dominated and neglecting the equipping of women to lead, so we’ve taken measures to address it, though it’s not without it’s challenges.

Another suggestion would be to take time to figure out how you can cultivate the ministry, mission and leadership of women in your church, instead of just adding a women’s ministry. We don’t want to merely create a massive silo of women’s events; we want to reach women with the gospel, build them up as the church, and release them in the world to make disciples.

What are some of the things your Women’s Ministry does throughout the year?

Edmonson: Women’s Leadership School: This is a seven-month leadership program that trains women to serve and lead within the context of the local church, the places we live, and work. We believe that the local church has a responsibility to train and equip women to lead with strength wherever the Lord has placed them.

The training is divided into two semesters and covers a variety of topics, such as God’s glory, Bible study, theology, discipleship, leadership, biblical womanhood, and evangelism. Each woman who participates in the Women’s Leadership School is receiving discipleship from their group leader and is using what they’ve learned to disciple another woman within Sojourn.

One-Day Conferences: Women gather from all four of our campuses to worship and learn together.

Women’s Gift Exchange: This event is held at each campus during the Advent season and is an opportunity for women to connect with one another and exchange gifts while participating in a time of worship and teaching.

How do you encourage participation in the women’s ministry?

Edmondson: Most times, it’s from a one-on-one conversation with a woman during the week or on a Sunday. We communicate from the stage/pulpit on Sundays about Women’s Ministry and events and through our Community Groups that meet throughout the week. It’s not hard to encourage women to participate when they are hungry to learn and desire to gather with other woman. As we communicate and share, we are always communicating the bigger vision of why we provide these opportunities for women.

How has Daniel supported the ministry and encouraged your gifts?

Edmondson: Within my first month at Sojourn, he told me to lead out of freedom and not fear. He has to frequently remind me of this, but it has greatly affected the way I lead. Being given the freedom to lead, using my talents and gifts, takes a huge weight off of me. I know I don’t have to fit within a cookie-cutter mold, but I am free to do ministry the way the Lord has uniquely gifted me. He has also been a great advocate and advisor for women—he listens and gives counsel to help us all move forward.  


If you’d like to read more about women’s ministry, you might want to check out these books: Women’s Ministry in the Local Church by J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt and the forthcoming book from The Gospel Coalition by multiple contributors, Word-Filled Women’s Ministry.