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The Mailbag: Should Women Take Church Concerns to the Pastor?

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My pastor says we should come to him individually with concerns instead of talking behind his back, so I have taken a concern of mine to him. Because a pastor can’t be alone with a woman, he had his wife at the first meeting and three members of the board at the second meeting. It then becomes a me vs. them argument with them saying, “Listen to the pastor, he’s always right.” Because he is the pastor and a man, should I not bring my concerns to him, even though he said we should?

Great question. It’s important that pastors and church members communicate clearly about any concerns that arise in the life of a church. In this situation, there are several things to sort out:

1. Any church member, male or female, should talk (kindly, lovingly, and respectfully, of course) to the pastor about any concerns. Your pastor is right to encourage you to bring concerns to him and to discourage gossip and backbiting. (There are some concerns that can be handled at a lower level initially, for example, going directly to a person committing a sin {Matthew 18:15-20}, or concerns that should first be taken to an elder in keeping with any existing church policies regarding this. This is not because of a male/female thing, but to keep the pastor from being overwhelmed. Kind of like the way Jethro told Moses he should get some elders to help him judge the people in Exodus 18.)

2. Your pastor is also right and wise not to meet alone with a woman. It protects him as well as the woman.

3. If the elders are literally saying “the pastor is always right,” that’s problematic. There are some things you’ll need to think about and ask about if that’s what they’re saying. Is it possible you misunderstood what was said or that the elder(s) misspoke? Is this their standard answer to every problem raised by a church member? Does the pastor know they’re saying this, and, if so, does he approve of them saying this or has he corrected them? If he knows this is the elders’ standard answer to people and he approves of it, that is not biblical. Pastors are not infallible dictators. Pastors are to be accountable to the elders; the elders are not to be a rubber stamp for the pastor.

On the other hand, you didn’t indicate what your concern was. Perhaps they were just saying the pastor was biblically right in your particular case. Perhaps you’ve brought a concern to the pastor that was an issue of personal preference instead of a biblical issue, and the pastor is going in a direction that is biblically correct but doesn’t sit well with your preferences. In those kinds of cases, Scripture does say that we’re to submit to our leaders (Hebrews 13:17). Maybe this is what they meant.

It’s great that you want to deal with your concerns in an above board, biblical way. Be prayerful about the situation and ask God to give you wisdom and a godly heart as you seek to work through the problem.


If you have a question about: a well known Christian author/leader, a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

3 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Should Women Take Church Concerns to the Pastor?”

  1. I’m assuming this is a single woman. That wasn’t clear. For a married woman, she should take her concerns to her husband. Then he can take them to the Pastor, or they can go together. If I have issues, I let my husband know, we discuss it and if we agree that it’s serious enough to take the next step, he usually does it. Just wanted to clarify.
    Karen

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  2. We have no pastor at this time. I have recently sent an email that was forwarded to the elders regarding a conference that is being promoted where a couple of the speakers are associated with a questionable ministry. So far, none of the elders have replied, nor did they engage me in conversation in church about it. I’m beginning to conclude that the majority of elders (and perhaps pastors, too) really don’t shepherd anymore. Maybe they weren’t taught? Maybe it’s just too much to have to do.

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