Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Who’s on Your Wing?

Written by: on April 3, 2019

James Beck’s Two Views on Women in Ministry offers the egalitarian and complementarian sides of an evolving inside-outside church debate over whether women should have equal access as men to all church leadership positions. In short, the book says the debate needs more time to solve issues, become more irenic, and review new ideas.[1] I like the word irenic because it comes from the Greek word “eirene” meaning peace and is a theology that promotes unity in the church.[2] This post will search for unity on this debate but will definitely stay on the periphery and fly a high cover and observation position watching the fight from above. I will try to send my other LGP8 members emergency aid and commentary relief if their literary posts become injured or pushed out of the fight. While I believe this is one of the great schemes from the principalities and powers to divide God’s people from each other, there is still hope. Why, because God reins, and we have the authority of Christ’s victory on the cross to withstand and overcome this battle.

First, I must do a little “virtue signaling”[3] to let all of you know, according to Dr. Jason, how righteous the next words in my blog may or may not be… I trained women officers to fly fighter aircraft for service in combat. Think about that for a few seconds… Ok, sorry, I remember, this post is for women leaders serving in ministry. I forgot where I was, I thought we were going to war. Well, I suppose you could envision flying the pulpit around your congregations is like flying in combat sometimes, right?

Second, after going through the for-against debates over LGBT+ attending, serving, and leading in ministry in last week’s Zoom conference I wonder what will happen next. Will the LGBT+ argument soon overshadow and take priority from the debate for control of the pulpit? Instead of coming to a consensus on women leading men in ministry, the fight may be changed very soon and look nothing like it did a few years ago.[4]

Third, after reading around this book, looking at a few reviews, and comparing what other authors have said about hierarchicalism versus biblical feminism it seems a lot like war to me. The Bible has something to say about that. The Apostle Paul says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood.”[5] Nevertheless, the egalitarian versus complementarian struggle is focused on flesh and blood strategies and looks like it could be another long and drawn out war that successfully divides God’s people from their primary task of finishing the Great Commission.[6]

One author, pre-Beck, who wrote a book about the struggles of women in ministry is Michelle Lee-Barnewall. She describes how the debate “crystallized” in the late 1980’s referring to the two opposing positions as either hierarchicalism or biblical feminism.[7] Barnewall offered a third position on the debate that was neither egalitarian nor complementarian. Her position focused more on “unity and inclusion” over equality and freedom and projects “love and humility” over authority and privilege.[8] Her proposal was ultimately rejected by both sides, but there is that “unity” theme again that I said I like from the Irenicism theology introduced by Beck. Barnewall wishes both sides of the debate would come together in a “spirit of love, unity, humility, and selflessness” and study the Biblical texts and find some middle ground, agree to disagree, and get on with Kingdom building and get off fighting with each other.[9] Another author, Robert Buchanan, in his dissertation, highlights that Satan’s goal, using his principalities and powers, is to separate the Savior from the servant, separate God from His people, and alienate His people from one another.[10] And a final review, from Sarah Sumner, proposes that the argument over women in ministry “has been inappropriately reduced to one of roles when it is more fundamentally one of relationships.”[11]

So, what is my position on the egalitarian-complementarian role design. First, how many engines does it have? Seriously, here is my aviation perspective. Women fly fighters in combat.

Fighter pilots almost never fly solo in combat, and as such, they train together and share the responsibilities of being the lead and wing positions on any mission. In other words, each pilot takes turns flying on the other pilot’s wing.

While there may not be anything scholarly about combat aviation theology, I have been there, flown together, survived together, fulfilled the mission together.  Women fly, fight, survive, and overcome the challenges of combat aviation. I believe they will survive this challenge too.

Stand firm,


[1] James R. Beck (Eds.). Two Views on Women in Ministry (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology Book 12). (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010) 14-15.
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irenicism
[3] Dr. Jason Clark. “ZOOM Face-to-Face Meeting,” March 29, 2019.
[4] David W. Jones, “Egalitarianism and Homosexuality: Connected or Autonomous Ideologies,” JBMW 8 (Fall 2003): 5.
[5] Eph. 6:12.
[6] Mat. 28:19-20.
[7] Michelle Lee-Barnewall. Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian : A Kingdom Corrective to the Evangelical Gender Debate. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2016) xi.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Robert Buchanan, Donald S. Whitney, and Adam W. Greenway. Training Families at Faith Baptist Church, Parker, Colorado, to Face Spiritual Warfare by Using Principles Based on William Gurnall’s “The Christian in Complete Armour”, 2011, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.
[11] Sarah Sumner. Men and Women in the Church: Building Consensus on Christian Leadership. (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2003) 30-31.

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6 responses to “Who’s on Your Wing?”

  1. Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Mike,

    You and I both commented on “virtue signaling”. I had never heard of this before, so I did further study on it and found this helpful article. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/30/opinion/sunday/virtue-signaling.html

    I thought you were going to do a fly-by on your Blog and not take a side–then you closed with this thoughtful perspective, “So, what is my position on the egalitarian-complementarian role design. First, how many engines does it have? Seriously, here is my aviation perspective. Women fly fighters in combat.”

    Never looked at it like that before. Thank you.

  2. Trisha Welstad says:

    Mike, I think your perspective is helpful in this dialogue. It is more important to stay in unity than debate and be distracted from God’s mission. We tend to fall into this so easily and it’s wasting our time and voice in kingdom building, perhaps a perfect scheme of the enemy. Thanks for your analogy and work with fighter pilots. The need for partnership is crucial there as it is in the church.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for acknowledging the schemes of the devil on this matter. I am so glad you can “see” the threat and name it when needed. Yes, “unity” is a key theme for the body of Christ. If more could “see” with your eyes, we would have more unity for sure. Stand firm and keep your armor on.

  3. Mike says:

    Yes, I tried to do a high speed fly-by on this topic, but owe it to my LGP8 sisters and brothers to take a stand. I pray we can still refer to each other as a spiritual brother and sister by this time next year. Wouldn’t it be a Holy shame to have to refer to each other as spiritual sibling? At the pace of this new warfare scheme on same sex-gender challenges, only God knows. That is why I always claim Christ as my armor of God.
    Stand firm,

  4. Dan Kreiss says:


    Using your experience and flying above the fray is a good position. I took a different angle but came down in a similar place. I don’t see how we can train women for combat, even fighter and bomber pilots, to serve along with men and exclude them from Christian leadership. I believe you are right in that this is another attack from the enemy…..the one that seeks to divide and weaken the Church to prevent God’s mission for humanity being completed. I particularly struggle to understand why this discussion is more difficult in the conservative branches of the church where one might assume they want ‘all hands on deck’ to ‘fight the good fight’. It seems to me that this is just another distraction to keep us off task.

  5. Shawn Hart says:

    Mic, though I appreciate your piloting analogy, my problem with it is that I do not believe it adequately relates the problem some of us have with this issue. My question regarding women in leadership has never been one regarding ability; I mean look at our classmates and it is clear we are surrounded by very intelligent, able, and even qualified women. Their ability has never been in question; but their authority is…at least for me. I love and agree with the partnership you described in pilots, I just don’t believe that God gave them the same duties. He appointed one to be the pilot and one the wing. I do not have to agree with it, like it, or even give my consent to it; but I believe I have to recognize it. You see the privilege of sharing that cockpit because those in authority told you that it was allowed; what would you be doing though if they had told you it was forbidden?

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