It was once a rising trend. It’s now a model for ministry for significant numbers of churches and pastors. It simultaneously offers itself as an example of deep partnership between husbands and wives, and dismisses biblical instruction. What am I talking about? The widespread approach to pastoral ministry where a husband and a wife “co-pastor” a local church.

Among that branch of “evangelicalism” (I’m using the term loosely) typically associated with Word of Faith, prosperity “gospel,” charismatic believers, this approach to ministry appears to be dominant.

The trend grew slowly. Generally a man pastoring a church would achieve a certain status. After a few years, his wife, typically called the “first lady” of the church, would be noted for some teaching gifts and call to ministry. She would make occasional appearances in the pulpit to improve her gift, but not too many appearances to upset those discerning some problem with the practice. Over time, she’d appear more and more in the pulpit, relieving the husband while he was away and shepherding the people as a “pastor.”

It’s been a silent revolution. Not many shots have been fired at all really. It has occurred like so many other errors in that camp of contemporary Christianity–while auditoriums are filled with people, Bibles open, taking notes, and swallowing the camel.

Kenneth, then Gloria, Copeland. Creflo, then Taffy, Dollar. Randy, then Paula, White. To a lesser extent, T.D., then Serita, Jakes. These high-profile preachers have spawned a practice of ministry that now replicates itself in strip malls and megachurches around the country.

Recently, one couple, Paula and Randy White, announced before their 23,000 member church in Florida that they are seeking a divorce (HT: Sharper Iron). Paula and Randy have pastored the church since its founding. Understandably, the news of their divorce shocked and hurt a lot of the church’s members.But in recent years, Paula has well eclipsed her husband in popularity and ministry. She is a frequent conference speaker and hosts regular shows on BET and TBN. Emulating in many respects the ethos of black women preachers, and preaching “health and wealth,” Paula is something of a rock star in some circles.

The sad announcement of their divorce prompts a number of questions about the nature of gender roles in the church and marriage, and the effect of such ministry models on the local church.

1. Can such a practice be consistent with complementarian gender roles at church and home? Most everyone I know who thinks this is not only an acceptable but a good model would say “yes.” In other words, most of the folks I know in this camp and ministers who adopt this practice intend to be complementarians. They preach a great deal on the home and family, the necessity of male headship, and female submission in the home. They would argue that a woman should only have a ministry of this sort with her husband “as her covering,” exercising headship by granting approval/support; otherwise, a wife should not have such a ministry. Leaving aside for a moment the myriad of theological difficulties with the position, can it even work practically? I have my doubts. In the case of the Whites, Paula is continuing on with her ministries, establishing a home in another city, and with her husband dissolving the marriage. It would seem that at essence the model is egalitarian and models a “partnership” model of marriage that distorts biblical gender roles. And the families of the church have, whether knowingly or not, been imbibing from their “pastors” a model for family life ill-fitted to the biblical design and their joy.

2. Can such a practice be consistent with a high view of biblical authority in the church and the home? Again, most people in these camps would say “yes.” They would appeal to examples of women prophets in the Scriptures and reason that Paul’s prohibition against women in authority was cultural, time and circumstance-bound. It was a woman who brought news of Jesus resurrection to men and so women ought be able to preach, especially under the “covering” of their husbands. But that clearly contradicts Paul’s instructions in 1 Tim. 2. And the attempt to justify the practice is little more than setting aside the authority of Scripture. And not surprisingly, the church suffers great confusion.

3. Can there be any genuine biblical accountability of such couples? Given that the authority of the scriptures is set aside on so basic a matter as who God appoints to lead in the home and the church, it’s difficult to imagine that there can be any real accountability for “co-pastors” in these situations. Most of these churches are set up like corporations, not like NT churches. So, typically, husband and wife are founding board members along with a couple other trusted friends. Nothing appears to be governed in either a congregational or a connectional manner. So, there is no higher “court” than the co-pastors themselves. When trouble hits, appeal is made to “life coaches” and trusted friends as accountability partners. It’s really an unloving, unscriptural and dangerous position for the “pastors” and the church. Paula will continue with her ministry pursuits. Randy will continue as pastor of Without Walls. This is the second divorce for them both, a divorce proceeding without any biblical grounds according to the article. The model appears closed to any loving, biblical accountability that would help the couple fight for their marriage, submit to the counsel and discipline of the church, and model grace during real difficulty for the congregation.

This approach to ministry is bankrupt because it’s so consistently contrary to God’s blueprint. The couples approaching the ministry this way are placing themselves in spiritually precarious situations, and the churches they “pastor” are toeing a cliff as well. It’s obvious, but it bears stating: we desperately need churches reformed according to the word of God.

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32 thoughts on “Husband-Wife Co-Pastors?”

  1. higgypreacherman says:

    I believe you are correct in your assessment and am concerned for the multitudes of people who not only see these examples, but will view them as acceptable and maybe even applaudable. Great thoughts. Thanks for posting them.

  2. Even So... says:

    You are correct…I am a pastor, and my wife is not the co-pastor, she is the pastor’s wife…she is to be honored and respected, but she is not to be seen in the same way…liken this to Mary, she is not the Messiah, she is the Messiah’s mother, she is to be honored and respected, but she is not the co-redeemer, and my wife is not the co-pastor…

    (two birds falling to the ground…)

  3. Melchizedek says:

    Did you know that the Salvation Army has had hisband/wife pastor teams for over 100 years?

    It has worked out well for them. The real concern with those you mentioned is their wealth gospel.

  4. Steve says:

    I agree.

    It seems foolish even in the best of situations.

  5. LouLove says:

    Brother T:
    Thanks for speaking out loud against this horrible disregard for the authority of Scripture by these so-called husband/wife pastor teams.

    I came across this quote by Luther the other day, I think it is appropriate regarding this issue.

    “If I profess with the loudest and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefields besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point”

    Stand on it my Brother and thanks for not flinching.

  6. lewsta says:

    Melchizedek, perhaps the SA HAVE had such pastoral teams for a long time..but please don’t try and convince me it has “worked well” Everything I know of the SA tells me they have become weak and effeminate, settling for a watered down gospel and falling for much of the “modern” and “postmodern” social philosophy. Sure, they DO help pull some off the streets and into churches. But they lack the deep strength a properly scriptural based leadership model would bring. I could mention other groups who have had women in pastoral positions for many years…and every one of them demonstrate serious weaknesses and departure from the New Testament model of what the Church ought to be.

  7. Daniel says:

    Melchizedek, what you are suggesting is that we judge a thing as being good if it reflects our anticipated expectations. In this case, whatever “it has worked out well for them” amounts to, you seem to equate to “success”.

    I would suggest you read the book of Jeremiah and ask yourself if his ministry was successful or not.

    My point is that you are using pragmatism to judge whether or not a thing is good and right, rather than using God’s word to see if it is a thing prescribed by God. Nadab and Abihu tried to worship God in their own way by making an offering to God that was not prescribed by Him. God killed them both – and they had only just become priests. In slaying them, God wiped out 40% of all His priests on the earth – God takes these things seriously. We should to.

    Brother T (Can I call you that?) I was at the last DG conference, heard you there – glad I found your blog.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It is good to read all of the comments. I am a woman Pastor and it is clear that some of you would see my call as unscriptural. There was a time, when I may have agreed with you. . .until God called me. Until it was unmistakable and unavoidable that I would not only serve God in the lay ministry God allowed me to birth, not only in the preaching ministry that God called me to, and used me in, but it was clear that I was to join all of my brothers and sisters in the servant leadership of God’s church. To share my life, my resources, and my gifts with any and all persons who would be willing to receive. To study, research, prepare, and preach messages from God to God’s people that are intended to draw them closer to our Lord and Master. To represent God in the world. . .and to advance the kingdom of God right here on earth.
    I am sure I will never be able to explain it to many of you – and I won’t even attempt to — but what I can say – especially to those of you who God has called — you know like I do, that when God calls you – it doesn’t always make sense, nor is it something you have sought – nor does it matter what anybody else thinks — it is what you have to respond to.
    Let each one of you that has an ear to hear. . .hear what the Spirit is saying to all of us, God’s people.
    Our prayers are for Sis. Bynum, Bro. Weeks, Bro. and Sis. White – may God cleanse, renew, restore and use them to His Glory . . . as he is doing with all of us!

  9. FellowElder says:

    Anonymous,
    I really appreciate your passion and your evident desire to serve the Lord’s church. One thing I know most every pastor desires to see is all his people zealous for service to Christ our Lord and His people.

    It seems to me that there are perhaps two things you may be overlooking when thinking about callings. First, we understand that God’s word is the authoritative rule for our faith and our conduct. That’s true for every individual believer and every church. And that word is true and sufficient in every way. Given that, I think women who feel some sense of call must assume that the call is not/can not be contrary to the particular opportunities, roles and limits that God sets in His word. So, how should you respond to 1 Tim. 2?

    Second, historically a call to Christian ministry had two parts: an internal, subjective sense of desire and an external call, usually from the congregation. Clearly you had some internal sense of call and desire. The piece that may have been missing, given the details you shared, is the external, congregational element. All of our giftings and callings are to be both discerned and exercised in the congregation. Therefore, the body needs to be participant to both defining what that call is in accordance with Scripture and wisdom, and overseeing the exercise of that call even as they are served by it (Acts 13; Gal. 1-2, for example). How else are congregations to be protected from rogue hirelings and well-intentioned but woefully unprepared/unqualified persons making some claim to “a call” to ministry? Only if the congregation takes its responsibility seriously here and follows the word.

    The mininstry is not a place for individualistic notions of calling and service. Each person’s gifts are given for the common good (Rom. 12). As we exercise them, as the Apostle says in another place, “let us learn not to go beyond what is written.”

    Grace and peace,
    Thabiti

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thabiti:

    To your comment, thank you for sharing your insight. And I agree wholeheartedly with you — Of course the Word is the core source of our directives from God – and the Word supports the ministry God has called many too – I believe that God has called people to ministry – even leadership in ministry — men who are divorced and are now Pastors, men who commit adultery, men who operate on the down low, etc. etc. and men and women who love God with all their hearts, and who serve God first and foremost — not your perfect people – but ones who God made and who God desires to use.

    The external component that you mentioned is present in my case (along with my “internal” sense of call) – I have been called to Pastor a church and endorsed, supported and sent out by my “home” church (incidentally pastored by a male), and supported by three other bible-believing churches – 2 pastored by males and 1 pastored by a female — although the gender really makes no difference in the kingdom!
    (No way would I engage in this call without an assurance from God and the support of those who God has called and used to produce much fruit. God has made it plain that I am where God wants me to be – you being a Pastor should know what I am talking about here).

    But even more than that — I have seen God’s hand move in the lives of God’s people through the work of the ministry. It’s interesting how the people we are called to serve really don’t care what gender we are – as long as they experience God through us — they are happy and their lives are enriched, and some have even accepted Christ as a result of it all! Somehow, the God we serve must be pleased with that!

    I believe God will use whoever, and whatever God deems necessary to accomplish His divine plan — and that, my brother, is in line with God’s rich and holy Word. There is room at the cross for all of us. . .even as church leaders ..male and female. . .slave and free. . .all people — and that’s the great news of the Gospel!
    God’s richest blessing to you and all who call you Pastor!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dear Anonymous

    There cannot be conflict between God’s Word and His Spirit in us. The Spirit never misleads us, though we may misunderstand or misinterpret Him. Moreover, God can, and does, work in and through us despite our sin. Why should God not bless and heal and convert people despite your sin? Did not Paul say that some preach out of jealousy, but even so the Word of God is preached? Paul was not approving of those who preached out of a wrong motivation, but only approving of the message of Christ’s salvation no matter how that message got to the hearers who needed it. We all sin, daily, and still God uses us, but that does not justify our sin. Likewise, God can and will use you, but that does not justify your disobedience to Him. Furthermore, if success in ministry justifies the minister, then what is your response when God blesses the ministries of those who are convinced that Elders must be male? or he seems to bless the health and wealth preachers? And don’t they also, like you, claim to be led of and by the Spirit? and to be full of the Spirit? Your answer lacks authority, because (1) it is individual to you only, since it appeals to your personal experience of the Spirit and not to a common experience, or even to our experience (i.e., those who believe in male elders or bishops), and (2) it does not appeal to the authority of God’s Word, and authority that would be common to us.
    Regards,
    J.I.

  12. Laymen says:

    Scripture tells me that God does not intend for women to pastor a church, plain and simple. Lets face it, the culture has crept into the church. Todays culture is not strongly influenced by Christianity as it was in times past, quite the opposite. I see that as the reason why this is such an issue in today’s church.
    A good example of this is how scriptures instructs a women to be in submission to her husband in terms of who is the leader of the home. Lets us not forget that men are to love there wives the way Christ loves the church, this to is a stumbling block in the modern church.
    Though I’m in leadership in my local church, some may think I’m out of step for holding this doctrinal position. My typical initial response is to look at another pillar of God’s, the family. Do we condemn a single parent for not having a spouse. It is clear that God intend parenting to be comprised of a man and a women within the confine of marriage, that is the blue print. Not only is it Gods’ will, but also the most efficient way to raise kids so as to quote scripture; “raise them in the way that they should go and they will not depart from it.”
    I’ve seen God bless single parent families although this doesn’t mean one should do it illegitimately. In noway should people be conceiving children out of wedlock, planned or unplanned.
    However, if that be the case, one needs to repent of their mistake and seek God’s favor in doing whats right by the child who had no choice in how he/she enters the world. What about a women who has been rapped and becomes pregnant, should she terminate the pregnancy. I know of such a case and she made the courageous decision to have the child and raise him, both are doing fine and she is a full time servant of the Lord.

    Point being their are circumstances that can place one outside of Gods’ perfect will.
    Remember how God relented on his decree to to punish Israel and Judah due to King David taking a census of the fighting men. David pleaded with God, built an altar and prayed that His will to afflict Israel and Judah not be fully applied for his error of heart. Did not Moses place himself out of line with God’s will to destroy the Jews for their detestable behavior out in the desert. God had just given Moses the Ten commandments and truly the people were clearly in violation of it; idolatry; yet God relented. Though one must take notice, there was a price, people perished.
    I don’t believe that it is God’s perfect will that women stand in the pulpit though the circumstances of the times might allow for it. If men aren’t going to step up and fulfill there role, then it is not beyond God to relent of his intention and ordain a women due to the failing of men. However this too comes at a price.
    The faith, the body of Christ sustain weakness by allowing men to get by with not fulfilling there God given responsibility. This is part of the reason why there is so much divorce in the church, the doctrine of convince. The numbers are not much different then those who are in the world, could be worse. This is in part why less men attend church, its a women thing and will only take on more of that appearance as more women are encourage to step into the pulpit. The dynamics of when a man brings his family to church versus a woman are different. From observation, it is more positive when they are led by the men and scripture has something to say about that as well. Not only the doctrine of convince, but the doctrine of compromise. When we play down a scriptural mandate, there is sure to be another one to follow. It no surprise that divorce was not such a barrier for the Whites. He conceded his role to his wife and they both were comfortable with it; why shouldn’t God use her though it comes with a price. Not to put women down, but God used a donkey to fulfill his will. None of the men of Israel would stand up against Goliath so he used a boy who wasn’t big enough to wear Saul’s’ armor. If men don’t want of fulfill there role, then why not a women, it not his perfect will, but His kingdom will go forward and I pray that men will return to there position as God intended (Scripture), women too.

  13. Sleepyhead says:

    I believe that people do not study the bible from its hebraic roots. I also believe that if there are two pastors/ copastors husband and wife team, there has to be one leader. Some one tell me is it the man or the woman. In the kingdom there is neither male or female, but somebody has to be the head leader without the other feeling as if they too should be the leader. there asbolutely can not be two leaders. someone has to make the final decesion after seeking God. Who should that be (biblicaly speaking. Ihave two friends, a husband and wife team and the wife want to be called a co-pastor so that she run things ( thats my opinion ) Her husband wants to use the term assistant pastor, I guess to distinguish the role of authority. So someone tell me what is the difference between assistant pastor and assistant pastor in a husband and wife ministry. tell me so that I can maybe help them. They don’t realize that I discern that issue between them. help me to help them indirectly from falling into a white situation, because they have just started a ministry and they both are very powerful in the spirit. Thank You. Latenight

    1. William says:

      I recently married and Pastor a ministry for 7 years now. My wife is an evangelist. We just got married last year, 4 months ago. Some may say that she is the co-pastor or assistant pastor, but as far as I am concerned and have made it very clear to her. That there is co-Pastor or assitant Pastor in this ministry. She refers to us as “one” and that is true, but when it come to the church, I am the shepherd. I beleive that the church of today has conformed to this worlds way of thinking, “since everybody is doing it, then it must be right”, so they say. There is only one leader in the home and that is the man and there is one leader in the church, and that is man. When God gave the instructions to Adam, eve wasn’t in existence yet. When God spoke to me to do this work, my wife wasn’t even around me. She says that God speaks to her as He does to me, that is true, but in different capacities. God never contradicts himself. He is a God that can’t lie, neither is a God that has to repent. In my closing I would like an answer to a question that seems to linger in my mind. “WHEN A MAN IS PASTOR, WHY IS IT STRESSED THAT HE TAKE A WIFE AND SHE BECOMES CO-PASTOR, BUT WHEN A WOMAN IS PASTOR, IT IS NEVER STRESSED THAT SHE TAKE A HUSBAND AND HE BECOMES CO-PASTOR?” Does anyone see how the enemy has infiltrated the church and the church hasn’t even recognized that it is him that started the confusion.

  14. basstalk5 says:

    We’re afraid to “RUFFLE FEATHERS” in the church when that was one of Christ’s duties as Lord of all. He said that he wasn’t bringing “PEACE” but a “Sword”. If we say what the word says, then it doesn’t matter what was established or what has to change, the “BIBLE” is still the “AUTHORITY” in heaven and in earth! When truth is revealed and pastors refuse to abide by it, then they aren’t truly pastors, called of God, they are men who has set themselves up as pastors and are not either commited or submitted to God at all!

  15. Anonymous says:

    To All,
    A call from God is an individual thing. God calls us to do His will for Kingdom agenda. The bible says in Gal 3:28- there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, their is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ.
    The Lord has used both males and females throughout the whole bible to further the kingdom. Since the church began God used husbands and wives, Aquila and Pricilla were a husband and wife team and the Lord used them mightly to build the kingdom. If God will use a donkey, a rock, and a rooster surely He can and will use a woman.
    The Father, Son and Holy Spirt work together in perfect haromony and unity, He said in Mark 10:7-8- For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. The bond of marriage is the only thing God said would be one just like the God head 1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. No other relationships has he ordained to be one. Husbands and wives can work well togeter in unity and harmony when lead by the Spirit in kingdom building.
    Just because some who are held in high esteem fail does not mean that all fail to serve God and honor Him with their lives. We pray for those who have failed and we strive to do the will of God. The true question is do they have Jesus in the right place? Is He their focus or are their desires and wants their focus. We have so much to fight in this world, homosexuality on almost every sitcom, the immorality we are faced with on our jobs and in our schools, demonic attacks in almost every area of our lives but we spend so much time and effort fighting against one another over stuff that really does not matter. We need to pick our battles wisely and not waste important time on trivial things. Yes, this is trivial because God can, always have and will use anyone and anything to accomplish His purposes on earth.

    I pray for peace and unity in the body of Christ……..

  16. Anonymous says:

    Genesis 29:9
    Rachel came with her father’s sheep; for she kept them.

    RACHEL WAS A SHEPHERD WHEN ISSAC FOUND HER CARING FOR HER FATHER LABAN’S SHEEP. WHERE IS THE LOVE? THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GREEK OR JEW, BLACK OR WHITE, MALE OR FEMALE. THE SAME GOD IS RULER OVER ALL. WHO GOD CALLS, HE ALSO PERFECTS THEM. WHETHER HE CALLS A MAN OR A WOMAN OR BOTH TO THE SAME OFFICE AT THE SAME TIME. IT IS GOD WHO GIVES US ASSIGNMENTS NOT MAN. STOP HATING AND START LOVING. LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SIN. LOVE IS THE LAST THING WE ARE COMMANDED TO DO. I BELIEVE WHEN MAN IS ABLE TO ONE DAY SEE CLEARLY AND HEAR CLEARLY THAT WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE, THEN WE CAN BE UNIFIED AS ONE. CAN THE EYE TELL THE HAND, I HAVE NO NEED OF YOU. INFALLIBLY NO. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NOT IN WORD, BUT IN POWER. GOD IS THE JUDGE AND IF GOD BE FOR A HUSBAND AND WIFE PASTORAL TEAM, HOW CAN A MAN STAND AGAINST THEM. IT IS TIME FOR GOD’S CHILDREN TO GROW UP AND BECOME SONS OF GOD. THE WHOLE WORLD IS WAITING FOR THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD. IF THE WORLD READS THESE COMMENTS, THEY DO NOT CAUSE UNITY OF THE FAITH, BUT DIVISION. THE WORLD IS WATCHING THE CHURCH. WHY WOULD THE UNSAVED WANT TO BE APART OF A CONFUSED WHOLE. THE WORLD IS ALREADY CONFUSED AND IN UTTER DARKNESS. WHY LET YOUR UN-CRUSIFIED THOUGHTS CAUSE MORE CONFUSION. YOUR RELIGIOUS THINKING PLACES A LIMIT ON WHAT OUR HEAVENLY FATHER HAS PURPOSED TO DO FOR HIS CHOSEN GENERATION. YOU ARE A BLIND LEADER IF YOU THINK THAT GOD IS LIMITED TO MAN’S WISDOM. AND YOU WILL FALL IN A DITCH. STOP TRYING TO CARRY MORE BELIEVERS WITH YOU. IRON SHARPENS IRON. GOD IS AN UNLIMITED GOD. I COMMAND EVERY THOUGHT THAT DOES NOT LINE UP WITH THE REVELATION KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, TO BE CAST DOWN, IN JESUS NAME. ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 18:18 I BIND ALL FOOLISH THINKING NOW. I LOOSEN GODLY THOUGHTS AND RIGHTEOUSNESS INTO THE ATMOSPHERE, IN JESUS NAME. I COMMAND YOU SATAN TO CEASE AND DESIST WITH YOU SPIRIT OF DIVISION, CONFUSION, AND STRIFE IN THE NAME OF JESUS. FOR IT IS WRITTEN, EVERY KNEE MUST BOW AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL CONFESS, THAT JESUS IS LORD. I BIND ALL SATANIC INVOLVEMENTS ON THIS WEB SITE AND I LOOSEN KINGDOM OF GOD ORDER INTO THIS WEB CHANNEL, SO THAT THE BODY OF CHRIST CAN MATURE AND THE MAN OF GOD CAN BE WHOLE, IN JESUS NAME. NOW IF YOU ARE OFFENDED WITH MY COMMENTS, THEN LEARN THAT CHRIST IS A HEALER AND BE HEALED, IN JESUS NAME, AMEN!

  17. Stanley says:

    God says, “Behold I do a new thing.” and so He is. God has always had a plan that unfortunatley, we don’t live long enough to see completed. We are merely pieces to the puzzle. I think that it would be noteworthy if we would look at the change that God brought and the uncertainty that it brought, when He sent Jesus to introduce salvation by faith in Christ.

    Those sold to Judaism for the most part, namely the Sadducees and Pharisees, knew that the law was ordained by God, but rejected Jesus as the Christ, who was indeed sent by God. By the same token I think that we should understand that if God brought that drastic of a change to His people then, why can’t He still by His Spirit, whom is still very much alive and in charge, usher in change again? God can and God is. I am a man, and I am an ordained Elder and I know that God can and does call women to preach and to Pastor. In Christ there is neither male nor female, which is concerning his business and his ministers. I think that what should be addressed in all honesty is not whether or not a woman can pastor, but whether or not that particular wife was ordained by God to stand in the position of copastor. If God didn’t call them, by His Spirit and confirm it by credible clergy, then she shouldn’t be there, but merely assit her husband on a personal basis. However if our God has called her to stand in that position, we don’t have the right to deem it as wrong. God ordained the law, and ordered a people to live by it, but then when the time came He ordained salvation to be by grace and faith in His Son Jesus. Everyone that refused to except the change was left behind.

    We as male ministers must be careful that we don’t allow pride to overide discernment. Because the scriptures have been closed doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit is no longer speaking and moving. In a marriage the man is indeed the head of the woman and is to be subject to her husband, however if God chooses to use a woman to lead his people He always has and still is. I am non bios in this matter. Everyone, both male and female need to make sure that we know that God called us to whatever work we profess to be called to, and God will confirm that it is of Him.

    By the advice of a renowned Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel, if it be not of God it will come to naught, but if it be of God who can stop it.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I used to struggled with this issue for many years…but one night I was awaken by the Holy Spirit and I heard plainly the Holy Spirit say "I know you've heard that I don't use women but I have called you". The Holy Spirit did not say that it is written that I don't you use women, but I know you heard. And yes, I heard and was taught that LIE. Another occassion I was awaken by the Holy Spirit and I heard "I've put my word in your mouth and out of your mouth you will speak my word boldly. Jeremiah was told the same thing by God. The Holy Spirit spoke to me in my car one evening and said to me "study to show thyself approved, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Brother Timothy was told the same words by Brother Paul. On two ccasions the Holy Spirit said to me "the spirit of the Lord is upon you to bind up the broken hearted, set the captive free; to bring liberty to those who are bound and it is written according to Isaiah 61 1-3. I was a young woman in Christ and my first encounter with hearing the voice of God and searching the scripture was when the Holy Spirit spoke and said "How beautiful are the feet". I was young enough and full of the holy spirit to know to go find it in the scriptures according to Romans 10v15 & Isaih 52v7. and as time went on I have had it said over my life by male and female what God has called me to do. A close girlfriend invited me and my husband to a revival at her church one evening and before I could get inside the church a women that I had never seen before said to me "you are a preacher aren't you and I said "No" my husband is a preacher and she said "and you are too". I walked on. Never seen or knew this woman at all. I share all this to say, before the foundation of world God called me to represent his Kingdom and I must say i am convinced by the voice of Holy Spirit that I am called to preach the Gospel message of Jesus Christ to a dying world. I am being prepared right now as I speak. I don't know how to do anything unless Christ shows me. I trust Christ for my very life and Christ is responsible for my life not me. Christ has given me his heartbeat and desire towards his precious mankind and that is that no man be lost but saved according to 2 Peter 3v9 & 1 Timothy 2v3. And yes, some will reject his salvation plan. I am not professing to be anyone great however; I will and have told God yes after years of struggling. Well, I am here to tell you that the struggle is OVER. And God will add and increase and perfect that concering me as I continue to trust him and share the Gospel message to whoever/wherever he sends me. Yes, for the Gospel and the name of Jesus Christ we will be persecuted in this life.

  19. Elroy360 says:

    Husband & Wife Co-pastor churches,&
    only the family members are in the
    leadership of the ministry tells me
    that it is only a family business. Keep the money in the family tells me that they don't trust nobody in
    their pulpit. I can't pay my money
    to a church or follow the pastors of a church if they don't trust me
    to be able to preach in their pulpit. That is a false ministry.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I've been concerned about I Timothy 2 for some time for the reason of part of this discussion. The original thought, co-pastors, I still see no scriptural basis for and believe it is not what God would have. I don't see any scriptural evidences of co-pastors in either the old or new testaments. I simply do not agree with co-pastorships. The Host spelled it out clearly why it's not correct. As for women in ministry. Upon reading and praying for answers about I Timothy 2 the answer I got was this… the apostle was talking to the men of the church. He was telling the men what THEY should be doing, because they were not.I see it more as an instruction to step up and take the lead as was originally stated and intended, not so much as a call to keep the women in subjugation. In practical terms I've seen and been greatly affected by the Word brought forth by women ministers. There was a time that the only minister I was in contact with was a woman. She brought nothing but the inspired Word of God each and every time I saw her or heard her. This told me she was anointed to preach. I could not reconcile her obvious anointing with the words of the apostle until I fasted an prayed and got the revelation that it was a call to the men to step up, not hold the women back. The fact is Gods Word will be preached and if MEN won't do it, someone else will. Gods Work will be done. It doesn't make sense that God would tie Himself down, hold Himself hostage to the whims of men. That's what's happened in recent times. The men, by and large, have fallen away and the women have stepped into the gap. Similarly as to what the apostle was advocating we need the same push today. We need not to say to the women who have stepped up they must step back, but tell the men to come back to where God has ordained us to be from the beginning. Truly said, if the men come back to their rightful positions, maybe the women will fall back to theirs.

  21. P.Ray says:

    My Pastor died a year ago,and his wife was Co-Pastor.I've never seen that in God's Word.Now she has taken over and thats all I better say.

  22. JD says:

    I do pray that we as ministers of the Good New of Salvation stop fighting against each other and fight the real war. The war against sin, the war against the enemy’s plan for christians and sinners alike. Time is short, we all have a mandate from God according to Matt 28:19-20 Go ye therefore (He is talking to all who follow christ)and teach all nation…..
    The bible says in Gal 3:28- there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, their is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ. He uses who He please at any time.
    Any thing short of that is rebellion to the great commission of God.
    For those both male and female, bond and free who have answered the call of God and is allowing Him to use you I give God the Glory for you.

  23. johannes says:

    Hi there,

    There’s this thing happening in my church and i don’t know if it is acceptable to God.In my church for as long as you do not tithe, our bishop encourages that we (congregation)should not attend that person’s funeral, wedding or whatever event related to that person who is not tithing.

    Is this right?

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      No, Johannes, this is not right. It’s sinful (James 2).
      T

  24. Terence says:

    I don’t think that it’s about men stepping up. I know of examples were the men were qualified and ready to be Pastor but the Bishop of the movement assigned a woman from his congregation to be the Pastor at the church which had two ordained ministers willing to take the role. So I’m not really speaking to the validity of women as pastors, just responding to the idea that men are not willing.

  25. Copastor says:

    I am Co-Pastor, alongside my husband, who is Senior Pastor. It is biblically sound as long as the wife submits to her husband. I am not against women who choose to be just a Pastor’s wife. Technicallty speaking, I am a pastor’s wife (a wife of a pastor) and my husband is a pastor’s husband (a husband of a pastor)- to each their own. We work together to accomplish more together than we would apart.

  26. Victor Jerry says:

    Paul in the Bible makes it clear that women should keep quite in the church for it was not permitted for them to talk according to Moses’ Law. The Bible did not say it was time, culture or situation bound. The Scriptures was unambiquously written, let’s not try to bring in philosophy to our benefit and justification. People should also try to differentiate between their love or desire for ministering and the call to ministering. Most make this mistake. May God help us.

  27. Kelly Melvin says:

    My husband and I Co-Pastor a church. We are both trained, ordained, and both hold a Master of Divinity degree. We have gifts that complement each other and we did not start the church we are in. We were hired with a thorough interview process and are accountable to those in leadership in our church, and to our denomination. To say that Co-Pastoring is unbiblical, is to ignore the Co-Ministry of Priscilla and Aquila, whom Paul refers to in Acts 16:3 as his co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. You have not left much room to argue with you, as you have made it known that you do not believe other biblical references to women in ministry are invalid in your mind. I told God when I was called into ministry that I was a woman and couldn’t do it, and He has made sure that the only openings coming my way are for ministry. I even tried once to find other jobs thinking that I could relax and just be the Pastor’s wife, and not once did I get called even for an interview, even though I had the right qualifications. God calls whomever he wants to, and if he could make Balaam’s donkey speak for Him surely he could call a woman to pastor with her husband and speak for Him in that case too. To get a feeling for what it is like to know God has called you into ministry, but have to continually defend that with other people, perhaps it might be a good exercise for you to come up with a list defending why men should be ordained and the fact that God does in fact call men into ministry.

  28. TamaraF says:

    The passages in 1 Tim. 2. and elsewhere should be understood as “wife” and “husband,” not generic “woman” and “man.” Paul uses the same words for woman (gune/gunaike) as he does in Eph. 5, “Wives submit to your husbands…”

    The explicit mention of subjection in 2:11 confirms that wives are primarily in view, for I can think of no biblical passage that speaks of women being subject to men in general. Therefore, “I do not permit a wife to teach or to usurp authority over her husband.” Thus a wife co-pastoring under her husband’s authority is permissible.

  29. Hi Pastor:

    While in the beauty shop last night I heard that a new church formed from a church split of perhaps the oldest African American church here is headed by co-pastors, a husband and wife. My spirit was grieved. The churches had refused peacemaking assistance from me and Peacemaker Ministries prior to the split and now it appears that the original church is in legal trouble and the new church is heading down a dangerous road.

    I have always felt that anything with two heads is abnormal. Most importantly, I have never been able to find anything in the scriptures that supports the co-pastor calling. I am clearly in support of female ministers, being one, but not convinced regarding female pastors. The jury is still out and I consistently seek God’s guidance regarding that. It concerns me because, while I am not called to pastor, I am asked to assist pastors in establishing peacemaking in their churches and to provide legal assistance. Female pastors are not excluded. In responding to the question of my cosmotologists, is the copastor model biblical,all I could say was, you need to pray and see what God says. In researching the matter this morning, your article was the first one that came up. God is so good. Thank you so much for your obedience. I will share it with her and pray that God will give me an opportunity to share it with the new pastor and his wife. They are young and inexperienced and really want to do the right thing. Hopefully, they will seek your counsel.

    Be Blessed,
    Dianne Mason,
    (You know me as a Peacemaker Adjunct Instructor)

  30. L. Nance says:

    Hello, all, just because a husband and a wife co-pastor a church does not mean that there are two heads. My husband and I pastor a church together but I am fully aware that he is the “Pastor” or senior Pastor. He had established the ministry before I came and I respect him fully. We have a beautiful and successful Holy spirit filled ministry and I humbly submit to my husband as his wife and he as my Pastor. We have that understanding. Further, we are both parents and agree and discuss what’s best for our children but he has the last say. Be blessed and let’s tackle and defeat satan, not each other. In his service, Co-Pastor (woman)

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Thabiti Anyabwile


Thabiti Anyabwile is assistant pastor for church planting at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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