My ten favorite books on the topic of women in the church

Over the years, I’ve read many books that have helped me to understand the role of women in the body of Christ.

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In my early days as a Christian in the UK, the stream of churches we were part of held the traditional view of women–they could lead prayer meetings, children’s and women’s ministry and make the coffee. They were not allowed to have any kind of strategic leadership role.

This viewpoint was ingrained in me for many years. (I disliked it intensely, but if this was what God had for me as a woman, then I would submit to it–although I have to admit to doing more than my fair share of grumbling and complaining! I might be sitting down on the outside, but inside I was definitely standing up.)

Aside from my own study of the Scriptures, books by various authors played a large part in setting me free. I’ve read fairly extensively around this topic. Here are ten of my favorites:

Why Not Women : A Biblical Study of Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership by Loren Cunningham and David Hamilton. This is one of the first books I read that answered a lot of questions and is still one of  my all-time favorites on this subject with a good blend of justice and theology.

What’s With Paul and Women? by Jon Zens takes a practical and theological look at the challenging passages for women in Paul’s writing in ways that the ordinary person can understand.

Ten Lies The Church Tells Women: How the Bible has been misused to keep women in spiritual bondage by Lee Grady covers the big questions concerning women in ministry.

For Such a Time as This by British theologian, Martin Scott. It has a hand grenade on the front cover–need I say more?

Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters by Philip Payne–my new favorite theological textbook on this topic. Well worth the read for anyone who is looking for a book that goes deeper into this subject.

Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church by Pam Hogeweide also looks at complementarian/egalitarian issues (not a topic we’ll be covering in the book I’m co-writing). Well worth the read.

The Fall of Patriarchy: Its Broken Legacy Judged by Jesus & the Apostolic House Church Communities by Del Birkey–a deep and weighty theological book with a lot of good information.

Powerful and Free: Confronting the Glass Ceiling for Women in the Church by Danny Silk is a recognition of the stained glass ceiling for women and an appeal for equality in the church.

Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman’s Place in Church and Family by Gilbert Bilezikian–an oldie but a goodie, looking at the key texts of Scripture regarding women in a format that encourages independent conclusions.

How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals by Alan Johnson. A number of prominent evangelicals describe why they changed their opinion about women. The story by Bill and Lynne Hybels in this book is outstanding.

Add to this a Kindle-only book, Junia Is Not Alone by Scot McKnight that tells the story of how people tried to make the apostle Junia into a man down the centuries.

And here is a very good position paper by David Gschwend

I’d love to hear what other books you’ve found helpful on this subject