Women in Ministry: Current Practice & Belief of the SBC

This is part ten on the dissertation ‘Women in Ministry.’
For part nine, click here: Women in Ministry: Galatians 3:28

One of the founding principles of Southern Baptist life is the autonomy of the local church. That is, each church is financially self-sufficient and self-governing. In fact, the SBC denomination is not top down, but bottom up.

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The SBC national, state, and local organizations cannot affect the affairs of a local church, outside of removing it from its denominational rolls. Because of its autonomy, it is difficult to describe the practice of the denomination as a whole. Though autonomy is foundational, the SBC does make resolutions at a national level. The two most significant statements about gender roles and women in ministry can be found in the 2000 version of the Baptist Faith and Message, and the SBC’s position website. The Baptist Faith and Message says, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”[1] The SBC position website says:

Women participate equally with men in the priesthood of all believers. Their role is crucial, their wisdom, grace and commitment exemplary. Women are an integral part of our Southern Baptist boards, faculties, mission teams, writer pools, and professional staffs. We affirm and celebrate their Great Commission impact…While Scripture teaches that a woman’s role is not identical to that of men in every respect, and that pastoral leadership is assigned to men, it also teaches that women are equal in value to men.[2]

Generally speaking, the SBC neither ordains nor recognizes female pastors.

That said, there are some gray areas. While there is no official differentiation between senior pastors and associate pastors in SBC literature, the general practice is to view the two differently. For instance, a church might hire a divorced associate pastor but that same church might not ever hire a divorced senior pastor. The senior pastorate is the unofficial terminal position. When it comes to female pastors, the same differentiation is observed.

So what happens if an SBC church is found to have a female pastor? That depends on whether the woman is installed as a senior pastor or associate pastor. Personally, I know of several SBC churches that have female associate pastors and, so far, there has been no controversy.  In the case of female senior pastors, however, local associations will likely break fellowship. Recent cases include a co-pastorate team at Druid Hills Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia, and a female senior pastor at Flat Rock Baptist Church in North Carolina. Both of these churches were removed from Associational rolls.

In so far as Deacons are concerned, there is no mention in either the Baptist Faith and Message or the SBC position website as to whether or not a woman may hold the position of deacon. The SBC ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ sections suggests

“The Southern Baptist Convention has not addressed the issue of all the available avenues through which a woman may serve, only the biblical restrictions concerning pastoral ministry and ministry requiring ordination.”[3]

In SBC life, most deacons are ordained, therefore it goes against the SBC official stance to ordain women as deacons.

Women in Ministry: Intro
Women in Ministry: Genesis 3:16
Women in Ministry: 1 Timothy 3:1-13
Women in Ministry: 1 Timothy 2:11-15
Women in Ministry: Romans 16:1-2
Women in Ministry: Romans 16:7
Women in Ministry: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16
Women in Ministry: 1 Corinthians 14:33-35
Women in Ministry: Galatians 3:28
Women in Ministry: Current practice & belief of the SBC
Women in Ministry: Personal practice & belief
Women in Ministry: Epilogue

Footnotes:
[1] “Comparison of the Baptist Faith and Message,” sbc.net, accessed March 8th, 2014, http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfmcomparison.asp.

[2] “Position Statements,” Accessed March 3rd, 2014 http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/positionstatements.asp.

[3] “Frequently Asked Questions,” sbc.net, accessed March 8th, 2014, http://www.sbc.net/faqs.asp#9.

 

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  1. […] This is part eleven on the dissertation ‘Women in Ministry.’ For part ten, click here: Current Practice & Belief of the SBC. […]

  2. […] 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Women in Ministry: 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 Women in Ministry: Galatians 3:28 Women in Ministry: Current practice & belief of the SBC Women in Ministry: Personal practice & belief Women in Ministry: […]

  3. […] 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Women in Ministry: 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 Women in Ministry: Galatians 3:28 Women in Ministry: Current practice & belief of the SBC Women in Ministry: Personal practice & belief Women in Ministry: […]

  4. […] 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Women in Ministry: 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 Women in Ministry: Galatians 3:28 Women in Ministry: Current practice & belief of the SBC Women in Ministry: Personal practice & belief Women in Ministry: […]

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