16 January 2012

Bible Study Fellowship: "Pray for Your Pastor ... Him OR Her"

Susie Rowan, the Executive Director of Bible Study Fellowship International is seen in the video below giving a presentation to pastors. As she encourages them to consider offering their church to be a "host" church for a local BSF class, she explains to them the BSF process for dealing with any criticisms a BSF leader may hear about a local pastor.
"We train our leaders to say first, pray for your pastor. Just begin to pray for him or her, and about the situation..."

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. (1 Timothy 2:11-14)
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. (1 Timothy 3:1-3)


  1. WoW, falsehood is incoming from everywhere now.

  2. BSF was started with intentions of being an ecumenical organization. Women have always been in charge, and with that those women have been in positions of teaching authority over men.

    As a former "insider" (ie, leader) in a local class, I can tell you that there's quite a bit to be concerned about as regards the inner workings of BSF.

  3. Thanks. My wife went through three or so cycles with BSF years ago and we noticed some of that as well. She pulled out as a result. I have noticed that there are many who after 5 to 7 years with BSF loose a touch with biblical reality in terms of proper roles of men and women and other much more serious issues as well.

  4. "Losing touch with biblical reality." I think that is a perfect way of saying it.

  5. I've always thought MacDonald's HBC was a bit less than biblical when it comes to Women in church leadership roles.

    For example, see http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/10424/staffcategory/category_id/3497/Executive-Staff

    7 people are on the executive staff at HBC. All but one have the word "pastor" as part of their job title. The lone exception, a woman, is referred to as a "director" instead of a "pastor" but as "executive media director" overseeing "Walk in the Word", I imagine she perhaps might have more "pastoral" duties than some of the men with "pastor" as part of their job title.

    What do you think?

  6. rom623rom828,

    Well, of course without knowing exactly what duties are performed by the "executive media director," I can't speak to the question with certainty. The same question has crossed my mind, however, and it does seem that, like many mega churches, HBC likes to tack the title of "pastor" onto every male staff member. At the same time, one would assume that the "Executive Media Director" of Walk in the Word would have quite a bit of input as to what teaching content is aired on WITW each day, so I think it's a fair question to ask.

  7. I guess I'm having a hard time understanding what about praying for your pastor is wrong. I think for the most part this site has offered some very good insights - but this seems a bit overplayed. To my knowledge BSF is still women teaching women. I have friends involved in this and have heard it is a very good organization. As for James MacDonald comment - "I imagine" that's not based on anything substantive. This kind of tearing down seems unnecessary.

  8. Anonymous,

    Regarding the HBC comment, I made it clear that I was merely speculating.

    As for the rest of your comment, certainly praying for your pastor is not wrong! What I am pointing out here is that BSF is encouraging its members to pray for their pastor, whether that pastor is a man or a woman. Yet, according to Scripture, women are not to be in positions of authority over men in the church. A church with a female pastor is a church with no pastor.

  9. EBenz: So let's take this to its logical conclusion. In China, right now, the church leaders (as far as an underground church can have leaders) are female. Not because of feminism, but because there are no men that can lead. Are you saying that they should disband instead? Because for those, the choices are woman pastor or no church.

    Yes, in most of the world, certainly in most of America, this is not the issue; however, this is an international organization that has to deal with places where the "no qualified men" would be a very real situation.

  10. Lets just call it for what it is Biblically...it is...

    Lawlessness with a skirt and earrings and pleasant smile is still lawlessness.

    Only the enemy of souls is pleased when overt compromise is made to accomodate what is nothing less than continuing and ever evolving disbelief and disobedience to the King of Kings and His WORD.

  11. 072591,

    All I know is what the Scripture says, and Scripture is my authority, not circumstance or culture.

    My point in sharing this video is that BSF very obviously does not see a problem with female pastors. That should be cause for concern, for Scripture is clear. BSF should be training its leaders to speak to these issues with the members. Instead, BSF promotes unquestioning loyalty to one's local church - no matter if that church is in blatant disobedience by being led by a woman, and no matter if that local church is even a Roman Catholic congregation. BSF chooses to remain silent in the face of many issues, and this silence at times may ultimately compromise the authority and the truth of Scripture.

  12. 072591

    I hear you as saying that well informed and "practical" people would naturally have to come to the conclusion that scripture is to be ignored when people deem it necessary in their own minds to ignore God. God does not rationalize away His Word for "international organizations" with scarcity of men issues.

  13. Anon:

    I said nothing about naturally coming to a conclusion, so whatever voices you are hearing, they are not coming from me.

    EBenz: So would I be correct in assuming that you believe that it would be better for the underground Chinese churches to shut down than their current state of being led by women, due to no qualified men being available? Please answer the question directly, as I am addressing a specific situation and not making a general statement.

    It may seem otherwise, but I'm not trying to pick a fight. In general, I am in agreement about not having women pastors or for that matter, women deacons; this has come up in my household recently, with us turning down a church solely because they had women deacons. Wife didn't agree with me about it, but my being the leader, I had to make the hard call.

  14. EB lays out stark statements and scripture. The contrast is clear; women cannot be pastors, yet an influential group, known for "ecumenicism" includes women in language clearly aimed at a situation involving...pastors.
    It is disingenuous to make the suggestion that praying for pastors should not be done, since that never was stated in the video, or the blog. As a matter of fact, if one was praying for a woman, by Biblical standards she would not and could not be a pastor to begin with, so one would be praying for a woman, but certainly not a pastor. We don't get to define our terms when it comes to biblical issues.
    Regarding the China church scenario, that is way outside the boundaries of the tightly drawn post, into conjecture. Yes, there are many men in prison in China, and no doubt many more women then men left. Because the church's pastor is in prison does not follow that there is no pastor. Do women lead in those cases? perhaps, and perhaps with the full knowledge that they are not "over" men, and what the scriptural prohibitions are. In any case, conjecture of this type leads no where, from no where.
    The "him or her" and the "pastor/pastrix" word twisting reminds me of when it was "Homosexual", then "Gay", then "Gay & Lesbian" then "Gay & Lesbian , Bisexual", then "Gay & Lesbian & Bi-sexual & transgendered", then...well, you get the picture.
    Liberalism has proven time and time again that over the course of events when we do not adhere strictly to clear scripture and furthermore not call each other out as Paul did Peter, the same will happen in the church. It will reach a point where "pastor/pastrix" and all the journalistic language folks such as EB use will by necessity use the terms just to be understood. By that time all the Jesus "followers" (another example) will be on to the next fad or issue.

  15. I too have been struggling with this issue. (well, not the pastor part-I definitely believe that women should not be pastors) but I have always been taught that the context of these verses were because the women in the church, which Paul is referring to were creating problems, being disruptive, etc and therefore he says to them to not speak/teach, etc. Currently I play and sing as one of the "worship leaders" at my church. And when I say worship leader, my role is to lead the congregation to sing the songs. My husband actually leads/speaks to our team when we meet because I feel there I am not "allowed" because there are men on the team and he does pastor over our team members. The part I am struggling with is in between songs, I might read scripture or speak about something I was learning that week that I felt burdened to say. I do not speak every week. I am very cautious about speaking and will not speak, just to "fill the spot"-many many weeks go by without me speaking and our worship pastor speaks. But there are times in my quiet time that I read a verse and it weighs so heavy, and I feel like this is something the congregation needs to hear. And I will share it. I have thought so many times, because of these verses about women being quiet, am I doing wrong here? When I ask others, my pastors, and leaders, the people, I always get the response, No-You have a gift, you have a way of sharing that God uses to go straight to the heart, you have an anointing, etc. and I cannot deny the strong urging in me to help give our congregation understanding of worship (and it goes beyond just singing some songs) I cannot explain everything in just a few words, but I so desperately want to do only what brings God glory. What do I do with all the "coincidental" things, verses, and sharing my heart that God has used? Am I deceived? Is this OK because I don't have "authority" over men-I just want to be obedient. I do NOT want to be deceived.

  16. Well, I think of Sunday school class. We've had men and women in there. We all come together and pray not just men. We also share even women when a question was asked about what we were studying or if we had a question. I don't think that was usurping a man or what the text means. I've never had any conviction or guilt from that. Even some of the Sunday S. teachers are women is that wrong?

    In Acts when the Church was born, they met together and devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. I'm certain there were women there

    when it comes to the offices of a Church such as a deacon a Pastor or elder, I believe those positions are only for men. God's word is clear.

    When we all sing together in Church service and women are singing, I don't think it's wrong. If a woman comes to speak at the pulpit as an invited guest at a Church, I don't think it's wrong because she's not usurping a man. Take a person like say, Kaye Arthur comes to your church to speak or Joni Erickson Tada or whoever. They are speaking of something in general and not preaching

    I think what is wrong is if the women is invited to render the word of God. That's solely the man's position as ordained by God to the congregation.

    My question would be was Paul specifically addressing married women to learn in quietness and submissiveness?

    If I'm wrong then please correct me thanks

  17. mwhenry,
    Thank you - I echo many of your thoughts, and you articulated them far better than I would have!

    See mwhenry's response. Do you really think, if a church is truly a part of the true Church, that God would allow them to flounder without a shepherd? He is not up in Heaven wringing His hands, upset that He forgot to plop a pastor in the middle of an underground church. God will provide.

    I believe the Scripture speaks to women holding positions of authority over men in the church, especially as regards the teaching of Scripture. I cannot speak to your situation simply because I am not privy to any personal knowledge of it aside from what you have shared. From that limited information, it sounds as though you are quite cognizant of the fact that your husband should be the one leading your team, etc. Of course, if it is something that you are feeling convicted about, then take it to the Lord in prayer, search the Scriptures, and continue to seek Godly counsel.

    I agree with you that a woman should not be "invited to render the Word of God." I think that is the key point. In the example of a Sunday school class, my personal conviction is that I would be uncomfortable with a woman leading/teaching a Sunday School class unless it was only a class of women. Again, this is my personal conviction.

    I do see Paul addressing all women of the congregation, and he offers his reasoning in 1 Timothy 2:13-14, "For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."

    But women have a very important role in the church as well! Paul describes some of this in Titus 2. And we know that Timothy was taught the truth of God's Word by his mother and grandmother, and so women are instrumental in training up our children as well.

    But, coming back to the point of this post, it is absolutely in direct contradiction to Scripture to have a woman holding the office of pastor within a church. And for BSF to encourage its people to remain in such a church, rather than speaking the truth of the Word of God, is quite unfortunate.

  18. The issue is decided and founded here: "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was fully deceived, fell into transgression." ~ 1 Timothy 2:14 NET This is not some claim to supremacy of males but to a historic fact how disastrous deception in Eden has been played out. Paul found this fact as qualifying for all the other women for all the time. That is not to say that Adam was not guilty for he was yet also for that very reason men have assigned roles as they do.

  19. EBenz-"In the example of a Sunday school class, my personal conviction is that I would be uncomfortable with a woman leading/teaching a Sunday School class unless it was only a class of women. Again, this is my personal conviction".

    I absolutely agree. In my mind when I wrote that I was thinking of kids not adults.

    Thanks for pointing that out so I could clarify myself

  20. Thank you for this information. I know its a popular women's study group but I have found when there is an inter-denominational group, not attached to a local church for accountability, there tends to be compromise, and here it is.




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