What Role Do Women Have in Evangelical Christianity?

What Role Do Women Have in Evangelical Christianity? October 28, 2022

What Role Do Women Have In Evangelical Christianity?



The role of women in church leadership today is a HOT topic.


As a Pastor of a Southern Baptist Church, Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, for the past 25 years, and a graduate of Liberty University (93)  and Dallas Theological Seminary (96), I understand the strain and hurt this issue has brought our bible training institutions and our local churches.


How do conservative evangelical churches make sense of the tensions and differences of opinion on what the Bible has to say about “women in ministry?”


I have written extensive on this issue in this article I would encourage you to check it out here:




The question I want to answer in this article today is, “Who was the first woman evangelist in the Bible?”


I have a hint for you, she was famous for saying, “Come meet a man who told me everything I ever did?”


Can you imagine today using this slogan as a means to get people to come to church?


Hey everybody, come meet a man who told me everything I ever did?” Many today including Christians would say, “No thank you!”


In our “free grace” society and church world we live in today, where it is supposedly the easiest ever to receive grace for indiscretions, the famous quote and statement still is not received well. NO ONE really wants to meet someone who can tell them everything they ever did. Most people want to go to church or to God today to FORGET everything they have ever done. However, for this woman, she knew and understood after encountering Jesus, that life transformation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ occurs at the point of FULL DISCLOSURE.


Let that sink it for a while!


Most of us are familiar with the woman who made this statement in John 4. It was the woman at the well. We know that Jesus knew she would be there because he knows everything. And we know that she waited to come in the middle of the day to avoid those who knew her best. But unlike everyone else Jesus met her in her shame and invited her through His full disclosure of her sin to walk differently and go tell everyone else what He had done for her.


And guess what? She did.


We pick up the story in John 4:27:


John 4:27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?”

Now lest you be offended by the disciples’ questions and thoughts, earlier in the story she wanted to know from Jesus why he a Jew would talk to her, a Samaritan woman.

Men did not speak to women alone in public setting back then. Women were seen as second class citizens and were not allowed by society to be educated or even be seen on the same level as a man. Jesus however in ONE CONVERSATION changed all of that for this woman, his disciples, and eventually a whole town who believed in Him because of her and her testimony of him.

Why did Jesus do this? Why did Jesus pick a woman per se to be the first “evangelist” to her city. The twelve disciples were still in training and this woman quite honestly had a sorted dark past that she was still living in and had no plans of ever leaving it. Why did Jesus choose to make her the first person in the Gospels to be used by Him to bring her WHOLE city to Him?

I won’t pretend to know all the reasons why God does what He does, when He does it, and how He does it, but I do observe here, He did it. He chose a woman to be the first evangelist to her town to bring the whole town into real relationship with Himself. And not only any woman, but a woman with a sorted past, a past that was STILL in her present when he met her.

If you were starting a church today or a movement or shaking the world upside down with the Gospel, who would you pick?

I remember when we came to start Vanguard Church with the Southern Baptist Convention in 1996, we found a location and we moved into an apartment in Colorado Springs and we began to pray… (this story is adapted from my book, THE FRIEND OF SINNERS: TAKING RISKS TO REACH LOST)

“Lord, send People!”


This was the prayer I was praying in my office in our two bedroom apartment just days after moving to Colorado Springs.


I was scared to death.


How was I going to meet people?


How was I going to start a church?


How would I meet people who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ?


Lord, Send People!


The doorbell rang. It irritated me. I was in the middle of praying and the doorbell interrupted me. I was frustrated. I got up went down a very long flight of steps and opened the door. There stood a person who I thought said, “Hello, my name is Leo, I am here to fix your leaky pipes.” I had called the day before to have a maintenance person from the apartment complex come and take a look at my leaky pipes.


I let “Leo” in and went back up the steps and showed Leo where the leaky pipes were. Leo went to work on the pipes and I went out of the bathroom where the pipes were leaking and back into my makeshift office.


I immediately went back to praying…


Lord, how do I meet people? Lord, Send People!


Do you know the story of the early church in Acts praying for Peter to get out of jail? It is recorded in Acts 12:5


5 …while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him. (to get out of prison)


Look what happens…


6 The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, chained between two soldiers, with others standing guard at the prison gate. 7 Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel tapped him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. 8 Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered. 9 So Peter left the cell, following the angel.

Can you believe that?


12 …he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer. He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!” 15 “You’re out of your mind,” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.” 16 Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally went out and opened the door, they were amazed.


I am glad I am not the only one that struggles to believe in the power of prayer.


Here I am in my make shift office praying that God would send people. The doorbell rings. I am annoyed. It never dawns on me that God is answering my prayer. I go down and open the door. I talk to the person. They come in my apartment and are standing in my bathroom just ten feet away from my office. I didn’t get it. I go back into my office, sit down, and begin praying again for God to send people for me to meet.


I guess I don’t really believe God is going to answer prayer. I just do it because I don’t know what else to do.


A few minutes later in thick headedness of the moment, the person comes out of the bathroom and says, “All done, I have fixed your leaky pipes.” I thank Leo. Unlike Jesus and the woman at the well, It never dawns on me that this is a divine moment. Then out of the nowhere Leo says to me, “Why did you come to Colorado Springs?”


The light went off. I heard bells. I saw the sign. Finally God penetrated the thickness of my mind and heart and removed the scales so I could see and feel that this was a divine moment and that He had orchestrated and supernaturally answered my prayer. I was blown away. I thought God answers prayer but now I knew He did.


After I gathered myself from being stunned by God answering prayer, I said, “My wife, Tosha and I came here to start a church.”


Eventually I got around to saying, “We are starting an X-group on Tuesday nights starting next week and I wanted to invite you to be a part of it.”


Leo asked, “What is an X-group?”


I answered, “An X-group is a spiritual discussions group. It is not a Bible study. It is where a group of us get together and hang out and discuss spiritual issues. If someone asks me my opinion  I will share my perspective based on what the Bible has taught me about my life, but more importantly we want to hear your journey and talk about your spirituality. We seek to answer the questions you are dealing with as we talk about the pain of our lives.”

Leo responded, “That sounds great. I just recently lost my mother to cancer and I have had a lot of questions about the afterlife and wanted to talk with someone about it.”


Immediately God opened my heart to talk to Leo about having lost my mother just four years prior to a drunk-driver who ran over her and my step-grandmother and killed them instantly. It was still a very raw and broken area of my life at that time. We immediately connected.


Leo assured me that he would be there the next Tuesday night and ask if he could bring his friend Jennifer. I said, “Most certainly.”


I was on cloud nine.


I walked Leo out and came back up the stairs and went back into my make shift office.


Tosha, came out of the main bedroom of the apartment where she had been working to decorate the apartment asked me who I had been talking to and how the conversation went?


I said, “That was Leo and he is coming to our X-group this Tuesday night and is going to bring his friend Jennifer.”


Tosha said, “Kelly, I am pretty sure when I saw that person come in our apartment that he is not a he, but a she.”


I just looked at Tosha like, “What is wrong with you?” I proceeded to say, “Tosha, I know the difference between a girl and a boy. I know the difference between a man and a woman.”


Men, I learned that day the same painful lesson I have had to learn many times in our marriage. She was right. I was wrong. Oh, those words just cut deep.


Leo, turned out to be a woman. Leo was not her name. She had said, “My name is Lil, short for Lillian.” I was so embarrassed. And Lillian was a lesbian who had just invited herself along with her girlfriend, Jennifer, better known as her lesbian lover.


I grew up on a dairy farm in Kentucky. I knew more about dairy cows than I did about lesbian lovers. I was freaked out. I said to Tosha, “What am I going to do?” I have invited a lesbian couple to our first X-group. What if they kiss? What if they…whatever…what do I do?


I was scared to death, again.


What was I going to do? Was I going to uninvited them? I didn’t approve of lesbians. I had never had a lesbian in my home, certainly not a professing lesbian couple. This couldn’t be God’s will for this new church plant, could it?


What do I do? What do I say? How do I back out of this? I honestly don’t know why I didn’t back out of it. Tosha and I prayed, and reflected back on how she ended up at our door. We talked about how I was praying and how God must have wanted her to be a part of this new church plant. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would start a church with a lesbian couple.


Less than nine months later Lillian stood on a stage in Fort Worth, Texas in May of 1997 at the Southern Baptist Convention and shared in front of 30,000 Southern Baptist that she gave her life to Jesus Christ.


Looka there, Jesus has gone and done it again. He used a woman to be the FIRST evangelist of our little church plant in Colorado Springs in 1997.


The same thing Jesus did with the woman at the well, He did with Lillian in our Vanguard Church plant. It was remarkable to behold then and it still remarkable to remember today as I reflect on John 4 and the woman at the well.


Listen to these words of the woman at the well again…


29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” 30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him.


And then look at this final line in her FIRST evangelistic message to those who knew her the best:

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!”

The woman at the well went from being a woman who was ashamed of her life to a woman who was proud of the life she had found in Jesus.

Now isn’t that what it means to be an evangelist?

And whether the “established” church is willing to acknowledge the role of a woman or not, may women all over the world who have met Jesus rise up in FULL DISCLOSURE and take the Gospel to anyone who will listen.

Jesus said, “Go!”

And it’s NOT your gender that determines your calling, it is GOD!

Jesus has commissioned you woman.



Pastor Kelly

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