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The Holy Spirit Gifts Men & Women for Leadership (6)

In Episode 6 of 7 on The Local Churchology Podcast, Dr. David Fitch says that when the Holy Spirit is the authority & gifts both genders, then the church must follow. It makes no sense to exclude based on gender.

Dr David E. Fitch is a pastor and the author of The Church of Us vs. Them: Freedom from a Faith that Feeds on Making Enemies. Dr. Fitch works at Northern Seminary in Chicago and has participated in many church plants with the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination, which originated in the holiness movement.

Encyclopedia Britannica defines the holiness movement as a type of Protestant Christianity focused on following the lead of the Holy Spirit, continuously becoming more holy after becoming a Christian. The movement includes Christian and Missionary Alliance, Pentecostal, Church of the Nazarene, and some Wesley, and Methodist denominations.

Dr. David Fitch, pastor and author, on Episode 6 of the Local Churchology, discusses patriarchy, hierarchy, church organization and the holiness movement
Dr. David Fitch, pastor and author

Q. What is the place of women in church?

In the holiness movement, the Holy Spirit is the source of authority and power in the church. You are recognized for your Spirit-given gifts; the gifts push for authority. Men and women are equal recipients of gifts and we need both in the offices of the church. Churches of the holiness tradition such as Missionary Alliance, Nazarene, Wesleyan, Methodist, Four Square, Pentecostal, and Anabaptist have always had women leaders.

Here is a 60-second clip from the video that is summarized in this blog post. "When the gifts of the Holy Spirit are the source of authority, office follows and it makes no sense to exclude women from the offices of the church. Click on it to hear the whole interview.

Dr David Fitch says the holiness movement follows where the Holy Spirit leads

Over the centuries there have been outbreaks of mission including gifts of the Holy Spirit and the work of women, followed by criticism, coercion, and hierarchy. The distinct gender roles of Complementarianism end up being hierarchal with men in power over women. These hierarchal systems are tied to patriarchy, coercion, and abuse - it's the opposite of what God wants to do through the church in the world.

Dr David Fitch: as the church became organized, it became patriarchal

For the first few hundred years of the Christian church, women and men were both filled with the Holy Spirit and led churches and shared in mission work.

It was after Constantine that the church became organized in a hierarchal structure. The church moved from being based on bottom-up gifting of the Holy Spirit to top-down patriarchal authority. Hierarchy and patriarchy are tied together, but that's not the way of Jesus. Jesus overturns patriarchy when he says not to imitate the way pagans rule (Matthew 20:25-28).

Dr David Fitch explains male hierarchies are not the way of Jesus

Paul also overturns patriarchy when he talks about mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 7:4-6) and when he connects the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14, Ephesians 2:18).

Dr David Fitch says the way the church interacts with the world needs to change

The church cannot engage the world when we use postures of worldly power. We cannot impose our moral convictions on the world by using external laws. We need to change the world as Jesus did, by allowing the Holy Spirit to change hearts.

Having women and men work together in ministry is essential to witness to the gospel. Mission needs mutual leaders, on the ground organizing around what God is doing.

The church needs to empower everyone to be kingdom agents in their neighbourhoods, with decisions made at the grassroots level. Christians should not posture over others with us vs them but come alongside and see the Spirit work in people's lives. We cannot pontificate or legislate the culture into holding our views.

Dr David Fitch: the church is in a time of transition; the Spirit is at work

Pastors are there to give theological guidance. We don't want women to become like men to enter the ministry. Women and men bring different gifts and perspectives to the church, and these distinct gifts are needed in church leadership. Before WW2 maybe a third of Alliance curches were planted by women. The distinction between elders, deacons, and pastors started post-WW2 and came with statements limiting women in these offices.

The church is in a time of transition and requires a different kind of leader to facilitate honest discussions and mutually respectful conversations. The church is ineffective if it tries to pontificate and expect people to listen and blindly obey. We need a different kind of church leader. We need to focus on including everyone in open discussions. We need to focus less on our conclusions and more on our process to reach a conclusion. We need to stop this idea of it's "us vs. them". We need to see where and how the Holy Spirit is working and go there.


The Local Churchology Podcast examines women in ministry and in church office.

Episode 7 interviews Tom Barker about 1 Timothy.

Episode 6 interviews Dr. David Fitch and discusses being led by the Holy Spirit.

Episode 4, where Old Testament scholar Dr. Lee Beach discusses his journey from complementarian to egalitarian.

Episode 3, Dr. Beth Felker Jones provides a framework to navigate gender and theology discussions.

This is Episode 2, where Dr Lynn Cohick discusses how God shows no favouritism and the impact of Ephesians and Colossians on women.

Episode 1 is my interview on The Local Churchology Podcast. Often a story is the most accessible way to introduce ideas. My interview discusses how Jesus lifted up women and how fiction can be seen as a parable. My novel #ForgottenFollowers from Broken to Bold is about women in the Gospels. 

Check out my blog summary of each episode. Original interviews are available on YouTube.


Elaine Ricker Kelly Author is empowering women with Christian fiction about women in the Bible and early church and Christian blogs about women in leadership, church history and doctrine. Her books include:

  • Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold

  • The Sword A Fun Way to Engage in Healthy Debate on What the Bible Says About a Woman's Role


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