The Mailbag: Leaving an Unbiblical Ministry Position


How do I gracefully step down from a parachurch ministry where I, as a female, have been preaching to men and teaching Bible Studies to men? I know this is unbiblical, so my mind is saying, “GET OUT!” But, emotionally, I feel guilty for leaving and that I would be letting down the participants and my friend, who’s a co-leader.

Do you know anyone who has had to part ministry ways with a friend, and/or a woman who stepped down from preaching and teaching men, who would be willing to connect with me or just pray for me?

I’ve never been in that particular position myself, so I can only imagine the difficulty of stepping down from such a ministry. I will certainly pray for you, and ask my readers to stop here and take a moment to pray for this sweet sister in Christ, as well.

I have previously addressed the idea of women preaching to men or teaching them the Bible in parachurch or evangelistic outreach types of situations in my article Rock Your Role FAQs:

…So, when a body of believers comes together for these purposes [worship, prayer, the sacraments, and/or the study of God’s word], regardless of the building in which they meet, or whether you call it “church” or not, they are the church, and the biblical parameters about women teaching and holding authority over men applies…

…When it comes to outreach ministries (for example, a meal for the homeless, followed by a group gospel presentation or Bible lesson), it’s best for a man to lead co-ed (or male only) adult groups in anything that could be construed as preaching or teaching the Bible… 

(Click the link above and see #7 & 11 for the complete answers.)

How to gracefully step down? I think you should do so the same way you would if you had to leave because you were moving away or took a new job whose hours conflicted with the ministry’s. You kindly inform the leadership of the ministry that you will no longer be able to participate, and briefly explain why. And in this case, you should also prayerfully consider how you might repent toward your co-leader friend and the participants, in whatever way seems biblically wisest.

Because you do have to leave, and for a reason far more important than an upcoming move or a new job: obedience to Scripture. Leaving due to a move or a job would probably not induce such intense feelings of guilt because you would look at those situations as unavoidable, or out of your hands. But as a slave of Christ who must do her Master’s bidding, if the Word of God requires something of you, it is out of your hands and unavoidable. Obedience to Scripture is not optional for Christians, nor contingent on our convenience, comfort, or circumstances, nor does God accept excuses for our disobedience.

As you’re experiencing, obedience to Scripture can often be difficult. But “Atta girl!” for hunkering down and doing it anyway through the strengthening of the Holy Spirit. I think you will find that the Lord will grow you in holiness and dependence on Him through this situation. May He use you in the future as an example and help to other Christian women facing like circumstances.

If you’ve had a similar experience to this reader and would like to connect with her to encourage her or pray for her, please comment below or e-mail ( me with your name and contact information (e-mail, social media, or phone number- I will read, but not publish, comments containing this private information), and I will pass it along to her. Or feel free to share your own experience in the comments section below.

If you have a question about: 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.