Christian women, Church, Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Nine Reasons Discerning Women Are Leaving Your Church

Originally published July 24, 2015
9 disc women leave

 

Earlier this week, Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay, pubished a blog article entitled “Six Reasons Why Women May Be Leaving Your Church.” Although I am not particularly a fan of Dr. Rainer (due to his allowing materials from false teachers to be sold at LifeWay), I thought this article was a good one, and I agreed with several of the issues he raised, especially, that these issues need to be addressed by church leadership.

As a ministry wife and someone in the field of women’s ministry myself, I, too, have noticed women leaving the church. Not just women in general, but a certain subset of church-attending ladies: discerning women. While Scripture is pretty clear that we can expect women (and men) who are false converts to eventually fall away from the gathering of believers, why are godly, genuinely regenerated women who love Christ, His word, and His church, leaving their local churches?

1. Eisegetical or otherwise unbiblical preaching
Discerning women don’t want to hear pastors twist God’s word. The Bible is not about us, our problems, and making all our hopes and dreams come true. We don’t want to hear seeker-driven or Word of Faith false doctrine. We don’t need self-improvement motivational speeches or a list of life tips to follow. We want to hear a pastor rightly handle God’s word from a trustworthy translation and simply exegete the text.

2. The worship hour has become a variety show
Skits, guest stars, movie clips, dance routines, rock concerts, elaborate sets, light shows, and smoke machines. We didn’t sign on for Saturday Night Live on Sunday. This is supposed to be church. Get rid of all that junk, turn the lights on, give us solid preaching, prayer, and some theologically sound songs we can actually sing, and maybe we’ll stick around.

*3. Women in improper places of church leadership
The Bible could not be more clear that women are not to be pastors, instruct men in the Scriptures, or hold authority over men in other capacities in the church. If your church has a female pastor, worship leader, or elders, or if women are teaching and leading men in Sunday school, small groups, or from the platform in the worship service, or if women are heading up certain committees, departments, or ministries which place them in improper authority over men, you’re disobeying Scripture, and we don’t want to help you do that by attending your church.

4. Children are being entertained, not trained
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of play time or crafts for younger children, but we want our children trained in the Scriptures, not entertained for a couple of hours. We want their teachers to open God’s word and read and explain it to them at a level they can understand. We want them memorizing verses, learning to pray, and demonstrating an age-appropriate comprehension of the gospel. We want them to understand that church is joyful, yet, serious, not a Jesus-laced party at Chuck E. Cheese. We need church to bolster the Scriptural training we’re giving our kids at home.

5. Women’s “Bible” Studies
The majority (and I don’t use that term flippantly) of churches holding women’s Bible studies are using materials written by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Joyce Meyer, Lysa TerKeurst, Sarah Young, and others who teach unbiblical ideas and false doctrine. Not minor denominational differences of opinion. Not secondary and tertiary unimportant issues that can be overlooked. False doctrine. While we long to study God’s word with other women, discerning women will not sacrifice sound doctrine nor the integrity of Scripture to do so.

6. Ecumenism
Is your church partnering with other “churches” whose orthodoxy and/or orthopraxy are at odds with Scripture? “Churches” which approve of homosexuality or female pastors, or which hold to an unbiblical soteriology (grace plus works, baptismal regeneration, Mary as co-redemptrix with Christ, etc.)? Are you partnering with those who deny the biblical Christ altogether such as Muslims, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Mormons, or Buddhists? Discerning women know Scripture forbids yoking ourselves to unbelievers and we want no part of it.

7. Ageism
Look around at your pastor and staff, your lay leadership, your music team, the “face” of your church. How many of those people are over 40? Usually, discernment and spiritual maturity come through walking with the Lord over many years, yet, increasingly, by design, churches are run by twentysomething pastors, staff, and other leadership, who are often spiritually immature and/or lack the wisdom and life experience that come with age. The staff is often specifically structured this way in order to attract young people to the church. The counsel and wisdom mature, godly men and women have to offer is brushed off as old fashioned, and middle aged and older church members feel alienated and unwanted. While there are those among the twentysomething set who are godly and growing into maturity, discerning women value the wisdom and teaching of their godly elders.

8. The “troublemaker” label
Discerning women who see unbiblical things happening in their churches and stand up for what God’s word says about biblical ecclesiology and teaching are often vilified and labeled as troublemakers. We are called haters, threats to unity, complainers, gossips, negative, and a myriad of other scornful names. All this for wanting things done according to Scripture. Can you blame us for shaking the dust off our high heels and leaving?

9. Spineless or stiff-necked pastors
Discerning women have little respect for, and find themselves unable to submit to the authority of pastors who see people in their churches acting overtly sinful or propagating false teaching yet are so afraid of confrontation that they will not set things right. By the same token, we cannot continue to attend a church in which we bring scriptural evidence of false teaching or sin to the pastor and he outright denies the biblical truth we present to him. We cannot be members of churches in which pastors will not submit to Scripture or carry out biblical mandates.

 

Frequently, the discerning women you see tearfully leaving your church have been there for years. Sometimes they leave your church because it was never doctrinally sound to begin with, and God has opened their eyes to this as they grow and mature in Christ. Sometimes they leave because false doctrine and unbiblical practices have crept in and taken over a church that was once a refuge of trustworthy biblical teaching. Either way, these things should not be.

Maybe it’s not that discerning women are leaving the church**, but that the church is leaving them.


*If you disagree with this point and are considering writing a comment arguing that women SHOULD be pastors and have other unbiblical positions of leadership, please save yourself some time, because I will not be printing it. As it says in my “welcome” tab (top of this page), I do not print false doctrine without refuting it, and at the moment, I do not have the time. If you are truly interested in what the Bible ACTUALLY says about the proper role of women in the church, click here and explore the Scriptures that address this topic.

**While it may be necessary to leave a church that is not operating biblically, Hebrews 10:24-25 makes it clear that meeting together for worship and the teaching of God’s word is not optional for Christians. Please see my follow up article, Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly for more on this topic.

12 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday ~ Nine Reasons Discerning Women Are Leaving Your Church”

  1. Excellent article and I could not agree more. I have been a born-again- believer for 57 years and the last 17 years have been spiritually chaotic. I have been shocked at the lack of discernment in the body of believers in local churches just in the basics of our faith. I’ve had to leave two churches in the last 10 years because of false teachings and a carnal pastor. It breaks my heart that many of our shepherds have let the wolves in or they have become the wolf. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit not giving up on me when I began to think I had a critical spirit. I understand why discerning believers are leaving churches.

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  2. I followed the link to the other blog. It is a short article, right? I couldn’t find anything longer. Interesting that he addresses this to women only. Other than point 6, does he write whether there are husbands in the picture? It’s a very light article on facts and focuses more things like child care than on whether the Gospel is being shared. As far as your article that goes into more detail, you and I have had discussions on things like women leading committees, etc., and from what I recall, we agreed that there are times when women may be the only ones available or qualified with gifts (like administrative) to do these jobs.

    Sometimes there may not be better church home choices to leave a church. At that point, would you say that some of your points have higher priority than others, and could be ranked accordingly? For instance, we know that if the Gospel is not preached, then that’s a deal breaker. You have it listed first. Also, partnering with other religions is a deal breaker, too. Children’s programs being entertaining is not a deal breaker, even if we have to put up with some shallowness here, If the children are hearing the Gospel in the sermon and at home, we can deal with it and perhaps gently make better recommendations.

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  3. Hello Michelle,
    Great article! I have a quick question for you.
    Our pastors wife is the worship leader in our church. Does 1 Timothy 2:12 apply here? Not only does she lead but often stops and speaks words of encouragement or personal testimony to the congregation. Your opinion please and thank you!

    Patricia

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    1. Hi Patricia-

      I think tomorrow’s Mailbag article will help you out on the latter part of your question. I will probably write another Mailbag article in the future dealing with female worship leaders, but the short answer is I believe the position of minister of music should be a pastoral position, so, no, I do not agree with women serving in that capacity. I also do not agree with biblically unqualified men (1 Timothy 3/Titus 1) serving in that capacity. Singing in the choir, on the praise team, singing solos, duets, etc., playing instruments, fine. But leading the congregational worship or serving on staff as a minister of music, no.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally agree with you….except on the part about kids needing trained..not entertained. Although…technically…I *do* agree with that…I don’t believe it is the job of the church to train up my children through Sunday School etc. It’s my job as a parent. I believe children should be in worship with their parents. It’s not the job of a teacher at church to train children. Everyone should be training their own children. So that point is one I don’t even think should be in there. But I do think the rest of the post was on point!!! :o) Always enjoy your blog and your posts!!!

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    1. Hi Katy- Thanks so much! It sounds like maybe you’re coming from a Family Integrated Church perspective, and that’s great. I agree with a lot of FIC views. It’s just not a perspective that most of the rest of evangelicalism happens to share. I usually write to the “rule” rather than the “exception”, and most churches do have children’s Sunday School and other classes.

      I agree with you that it is the parents’ primary responsibility to train up their children (Thus the sentence at the end of that paragraph: We need church to bolster the Scriptural training we’re giving our kids at home.), and I think children should be with their parents in the worship service, too (The Sunday School and other classes for children I’m talking about are in addition to the worship service, not instead of it.)

      But just to throw this out there as food for thought, you’ve said it’s the responsibility of parents to train their children, not a teacher at church. But when your children are in the worship service with you, aren’t they being trained by a teacher at church (your pastor) and not you? And of course they should be being trained by your pastor, I’m just making the point that if they attend the service with you, they’re already being trained by somebody other than you.

      Thanks again for your kind words. Great to have you aboard! :0)

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  5. I owe you a huge apology and I’ve been looking for your blog for days now so that I could express my regrets at earlier comments I have made on your blog.
    I have spent the last year in the Orthodox Christian Church learning about the early/original church and about the original roles of women and men in ministry. I just want to say, ‘sorry’ for arguing with you on your blog and for any & all unpleasantness that may have offended you and/or your readers. Please forgive me.

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    1. Oh Melissa, how kind of you to come back and apologize. You are certainly forgiven. To be perfectly honest, I get so many argumentative comments, I don’t recall the specifics of yours, but I don’t hold anything against people who make comments like that. Blessings to you as you continue to grow in Christ and the Word :0)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, I agree with everything you said! Thank you for explaining very eloquently what’s been happening in my church and why I can’t compromise (and why I don’t attend anymore).

    Liked by 1 person

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