Interview: What the Ordination Debate Misses: Laywomen in Ministry

Complementarians and egalitarians share common ground in lay leadership.

As managing editor of the Christian Research Journal and a women’s ministry trainer in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), Melanie Cogdill has had ample opportunity to closely observe the unique discipleship challenges faced by evangelical women. In Beyond the Roles: A Biblical Foundation for Women and Ministry, Cogdill has gathered essays from various authors who explore a theological foundation for women’s ministry and also delve into 14 practical issues often found in female-centered ministries. CT spoke with Cogdill to find out more about her burden for women’s discipleship in the church.

Why were you particularly burdened for a book that went “beyond the roles”?

Several years ago, I was in the exhibit hall for the Evangelical Theological Society, where the attendees are more than 95 percent men. The books some publishers had put out were ones for women that focused on marriage and motherhood. Literally hundreds of books come across my desk at work each year, and I have very rarely if ever seen a volume that addresses laywomen in ministry.

Sure, many books address exegetical issues regarding women’s roles in ordained leadership but not the particular issues women face as they minister to other women. As someone on the national women’s leadership team for my denomination, I wanted to let church leaders know that there is a fully developed ministry philosophy that doesn’t focus on a woman’s stage of life or marital status but that is all about equipping women in discipleship in the local church.

These essays don’t cover the exegetical debate about women's ordination. Why not?

I have spent my career working in theology and apologetics, and I have seen many, …

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