Church Communications Conference 2024

How Women Rise in Church Leadership

Shannon Whitehead

How Women Rise in Church Leadership

Shannon Whitehead

The Church has no shortage of brilliant women. These women love Jesus and are willing to roll their sleeves up and lead in ways that bear fruit for the kingdom of God.

But some barriers can keep capable women from rising to fill leadership roles or even serve in other ways. So, what are those barriers, and what can you do to stop them from stifling women in your church?

Women rise when we break down biases.

It’s hard to notice who’s not in the room if you don’t look around. Even unconscious biases—which have to be identified and then challenged—can keep women from being viewed as qualified leaders. These biases build a wall between gifted women and the assumptions, cultural practices, and organization structures that hinder us. They throw an invisibility cloak over women who can bring valuable insight to ministry teams.

When we’re intentional about bringing women to the table, we get a fuller picture of the viewpoints, experiences, gifts, skills, and ideas within the body of Christ.

Women rise when represented.

Studies have shown that finding a mentor is a more difficult task for women, and nearly 1 in 5 women report that they’ve never had a mentor at all.

But much like the high value of discipleship in the Christian life, when it comes to leadership, having mentors and role models can make a huge difference. When women have visibility and influence, we’re able to develop others—including other women who yearn for wisdom from someone who has been in their shoes.

Women rise when we break the cycle.

According to research, diverse teams are smarter. But to reach gender diversity and reap its many benefits, we have to break the cycle of “I don’t know any.”

If you don’t know any women in leadership, ask around, and seek opportunities to learn from them. If you’ve never considered a woman for the position you have in mind, think about what a woman could bring to the table. If you’ve never invited a woman to speak at your event, ask a woman to come to share her expertise.

It’s when we break this cycle that we break the barriers holding women back from serving the Church as visible, valued hands and feet of Jesus. When we look outside of our circles and see value in lifting a diverse array of voices, that’s how women rise.

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