Gender Roles, Tullian Tchividjian, Women and the Church

Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Has 11 Men and 0 Women on Their Pulpit Search Committee to Find a New Pastor

Pastor Search Committees, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Women in Church, Pulpit Committee


Coral Ridge, Pastoral Search Committee, Pulpit Committee, Women in Church


In June of 2015, Pastor Tullian Tchividjian resigned as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church after publicly acknowledging that he had an affair. A pastoral search committe was formed:

In September 2015, the congregation elected a Pastor Search Committee consisting of the 13 Ruling Elders of the Session. (Source)

Rod Hayes, Chairman of the The Pastor Search Committee reported that the average church attendance from January to June 2015 was 923, with 1,796 listed as active members.

This is a sizable church.

Here is the list of the people in the search committee as listed at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) website:

  • Rod Hayes (Committee Chairman)
  • Arturo Perez
  • Clark Cochran
  • Jeff Masters
  • Rich Blatz
  • George Barbar
  • Jim Airdo
  • Joey Spinks
  • Jorge Cedeno
  • Mike Pritchard
  • Bill Jennings

I looked up CRPC and found them listed in the PCA directory. I found the following information about how search committees are selected from the Presbyterian Church in America Administrative Committee site:

The BCO in 20-2 provides that the pulpit committee “may be composed of members from the congregation at large or the Session, as designated by the congregation (see Chapter 25)”.

And then there is this:

From the Book of Acts we learn that the Apostles themselves did not appoint officers, but asked the congregation to elect them (see Acts 6). The Presbyterian Church in America seeks to maintain as an absolute principle the right of the congregations to elect those who shall serve as officers over them. The Session, therefore, should not try to select the pulpit committee prior to the congregational meeting, but rather should call the meeting with the stated purpose given at least one week ahead and allow the congregation full freedom to decide whether they want to name the Session or a select group from their number at large. For the Session to nominate persons for the committee or to suggest that they themselves should serve as the committee could be viewed as an infringement of the rights of the congregation to exercise their freedom in the calling of the minister they desire to have.

So, evidently the congregation decided that they wanted to name the Session as the pulpit committee. The Session consists of eleven men.

So then I searched to see how other churches selected a pastoral search committee. Here is excerpt from a document entitled, More Than a Search Committee: Exploring Opportunities in Times of Transition:

Considerations in choosing members of the search committee should include diversity of ages and gender, diversity of long-time church members and newer members, diversity of spiritual gifts and perspectives. Include, if possible, some who have had prior pastor search team experience. (Source)

Here is one more sampling from the Tennessee Baptist Convention:

A word of caution is in order at this point. It is hoped that the persons selected to serve on the committee will be characterized by emotional and spiritual maturity. Nothing impedes the work of a committee more than the presence of a member who has a personal agenda. The committee should be as far as possible a microcosm of the congregation. All members in the church need to feel they have someone on the committee who will represent their interests.  . . It is very important that the members of the committee be representative of the entire congregation. Therefore, the committee should be balanced in gender and age. (Source)

Ok, here is the link which shows the pictures of the CRPC  Pastor Search Committee.  Click on the link and tell me what you see. Do you see these group of men as a microcosm of the congregation who will represent their interests?  Do you see men, women, various races, and diverse age groups represented?

While I am concerned about the lack of diversity in race and age, I am more concerned about the 50% of the church who are not represented in CRPC’s Pastor Search Committee:  women/girls. Those who have followed SSB for a while have surely seen my growing concern about women in the church. How can a 100% all-male Session adequately reflect the hearts of women?  Let’s say that a man on the Session does share concerns about the needs/desires of women in the church. Where will it be on his priority list of requirements?

Is having an all-male Session the most accurate and appropriate way of representing the church? I wonder if the women at CRPC are so used to men taking the lead on areas such as this, that they may not question their role in the process of finding and hiring a new pastor. If that is true, then what a shame. In the process of voting for the Session to represent the congregation, I’m afraid that women’s voices will be put on the back burner.

What other implications do you see in having an all-male pastoral search committee?

47 thoughts on “Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Has 11 Men and 0 Women on Their Pulpit Search Committee to Find a New Pastor”

  1. Once upon a time I heard a pastor I otherwise respected talking about pastoral search committees on his podcast. He mentioned that sometimes they have to fend off unhelpful questions from the congregation such as, “Are there going to be any women on the committee?” They laughed and laughed. So funny! It’s one thing to have a policy that the search committee will be all-male. It’s another thing to ridicule even the suggestion that it could be otherwise.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve been on a pastor search committee. We had men and women, older and younger. The women were as helpful, forceful and supportive in their contributions as the men, and we all worked together.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve got a really great suggestion for a pastor. He’s kind, loving and especially tender hearted towards the female kind.

    He is a servant leader.

    Not in it for a wage.

    There’s only One of him, but as He is Spirit there is more of Him to go around.

    He doesn’t need a building as He is everywhere.

    He doesn’t care much about celebrity, in fact I think he hates it.

    He’s available 24/7.

    We all know His name.

    Coffee time!


  4. While I think it very unwise to exclude women in such a decision, it makes sense to me that CRPC would lean this way, at this time in their history. They’re doubtlessly still rattled by TT’s sudden departure, and the circumstances of it. They may have lost membership, income, etc., not to mention reputation. In such times and conditions people and groups naturally are inclined towards a very controlled, conservative approach, one that values perceived safety over risk-taking and what feels less secure. The PCA is their governing denomination, and it is a complementarian denomination–so the church is likely tending towards its “mother-ship” denomination for support, stability, direction, etc., and not willing to go off the reservation in its pastoral selection process (kind of like they did with TT). Only churches that are emotionally mature and self-secure have the “chips” to do things different, and CRPC doubtlessly has some healing still to go through. Plus, pastoral search committees are notoriously ineffective, often contentious, and are a remnant of American Christendom—I don’t think I’d really want to be on one, myself.


  5. “If only all the authors of Scripture hadn’t been male.”

    Well, there’s Mary’s Magnificat. Plus, why, just why, has the authorship of Hebrews been kept so hush hush?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It is the prayer of the Pastor Search Committee and the congregation of Coral
    Ridge Presbyterian Church that we will be sensitive to the leading of the Holy
    Spirit as we seek God’s man to lead the ministries of our church into a future of
    continued significant impact and fruitfulness for His kingdom.

    What happens if God’s man to lead the ministries is a woman (God forbid). Then I gather they will have to be ‘insensitive’ to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    By not allowing women into any positions in the Church they are already squelching the Holy Spirit. The man they get will be the one they want, not the one God wants.

    And you only need to look at the photos of them to see what he will be like.

    This post is coming from an expert in Presbyterian (Australian) polity.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. senecagriggs said,

    If only all the authors of Scripture hadn’t been male; if only all the disciples had included a woman – dryly

    So, seneca, you enjoy minimizing women and claiming they have little to no role in Christianity?
    That is sexism, something Jesus did not support.

    You are intentionally filtering the Bible in such a way to marginalize women. And you seem to be taking glee or joy in doing so here on this blog. You enjoy disparaging women, or trying to rub their faces in your complementarian view of the Bible, to cut women down. That is disgusting.

    And it’s contra to Gal 3.28, which says there is neither male nor female in Christ – and that is not referring to salvation.

    Some of the first disciples were in fact women. It was a female disciple who first told the 11 or 12 in the room that Jesus had arisen. Jesus has lady disciples today.

    Junia was a woman apostle.

    It must really disturb you that Gensis says that women are created in God’s image – not just men.

    _But the Twelve Apostles were All Male_


    Liked by 2 people

  8. Persephone on February 12, 2016 at 4:22 PM
    If only God weren’t male… Oh wait.
    This isn’t an understood concept among evangelicals 😦


  9. ““If only all the authors of scripture hadn’t been Jews. (See what I did there)?”

    Luke was a Jew?”

    Do you really want to get into the realm of NT authorship, the timeline, lack of originals, the differing opinions of NT scholars and formation of the canon?

    Inerrantists really should stay away from such things. :o)


  10. Seneca Griggs cares more about the genitalia of Christ followers and using that to judge believers than Christ ever did.
    Griggs may want to re-examine his faith.


  11. Griggs you’re the kind of guy who would look around to make sure there are only white people in the room before making racist jokes.

    In the same way…
    I guess on the internet where you can use a fake name makes you feel more comfortable about being sexist.

    I’m not trying to be funny. Sexism is not funny. That you are treating any of this as a joke is further indication of your lack of empathy and being a fail as a self proclaimed Christ follower. At least I assume you claim to be a Christian.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Daisy, all the social justice warriors I know dislike me for my racism, sexism and white privilege etc. Whenever I’m around they get triggered and start searching for their safe places. If I was invited to be a speaker on campus they’d dis-invite me. I’m that kinds of a guy.

    But this is Julie Anne’s blog so I’ll leave it at that.


  13. @ Griggs

    I’m a right winger, Registered Republican and a social conservative on most topics.

    I am not a SJW. I am not a Democrat, nor do I go by a “feminist” label.

    But I recognize sexism when I see it, and sexism is immoral.


  14. _Husbands, Submit to Your Wives_

    There are others, however, who wish for the “good ol’ days” to make it’s way back into the American home.
    The days when men ruled as leader of the household, when women would obey their husbands with a meek, weak, and passive heart, when men made the decisions and women obeyed, and when women devoted themselves to all things inside the home. But I would argue that this is more of a doormat theology, and not Biblical theology.


  15. Oh, Seneca knows exactly what he’s doing. He did it for aeons at TWW. Your inclusion in the recent list of egalitarian-friendly bloggers probably brought him here.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Churches and denominations have their books of church order which they are supposed to follow. One may disagree with it, but it is really up to the church/presbytery/denomination to determine. The congregation made this choice.


  17. Why am I not surprised.

    That being said, even though I think it’s important to have women on search committees, I have no desire to ever serve on one.


  18. “How can a 100% all-male Session adequately reflect the hearts of women?” By considering the needs of women. I don’t see the problem. If the congregation (comprised of men and women) duly decided these 11 men should do the job, then these 11 men should do the job. I guess the women aren’t threatened by having men do the job.


  19. terriergal said:
    “By considering the needs of women.”

    They would have to ask the women in the church what their needs are. I wouldn’t leave it to most men to know what women want, need or prefer. Especially not gender comp men.

    Gender comp churches (which are run by men) I have been to, and the web sites of such gender comp churches I’ve seen, assume all women want to be mothers or be stay at home wives, or that all women like stereotypical feminine pursuits and hobbies.
    These types of men would need to understand that not all women have or want the same things in life. They could only find that out by actually asking women in their church what those women want or prefer.


  20. Terriergal, do you think men are able to discern and understand what the needs of women are? I am kind of amused imagining it.


  21. I wonder whose issues are brought before the committee first, the men’s or women’s? I have a hunch that other issues will be of far more importance because that is precisely how so man churches simply run. Women are a second thought.


  22. Troy said,

    Folks it’s no one else’s business what Coral Ridge does, if you don’t like it then don’t support it.

    I thought that the body of Christ was universal? What harms one part harms another part of the body?

    Sexism is institutionalized in the body of Christ – I think other Christians from other churches have a right to point it out when they see it and criticize the sexism, as is being done in this blog’s post.

    What if this same church had a “no black people can be elders, deacons, pastors or Sunday school teachers” rule,
    Would your attitude still be, “Folks, it’s not YOUR church, so why do you care what they do? Just move along, nothing more to see here.”


  23. I suppose their justification would be that these men are all married, probably most of them have daughters, and therefore they represent their wives’ and daughters’ interests by proxy. Similarly, single men have very limited pastoral opportunities (if they have any at all) in most churches.


  24. My husband and I are members of an SBS affiliated church. Women have the same representation as Coral Ridge – none. It would suit me just fine if all women requested our names be removed from church membership roles. We are only quasi members anyway. We are not granted the same rights, respect, or freedom in Christ as the males. Shoot! 14 year old boys outrank grown women!


  25. We are only quasi members anyway. We are not granted the same rights, respect, or freedom in Christ as the males. Shoot! 14 year old boys outrank grown women!

    I find that very sad and the more I think about it, the more angry I get.


  26. Tom, I have heard from a number of sources that not all women were happy with the decision to appoint the men-only Session. That speaks volumes to me. What kind of environment is at CRPC in that women will send me private notes, where they know they will be heard, but their own church rejects their representation in the choosing of a new pastor?


  27. JA: In the Southern Baptist world, of which I have been a part of for 42 years, I continue to be amazed that women stay in an environment that is absolutely anti-women.


  28. If a man insists that his wife participate in a “church” where she is marginalized, dishonored and disrespected, is that not a form of abuse?


  29. Odd. A few years back, a church I was a member of–fundamental Baptist–had ladies on the search committee. I think the rationale was that ladies will tend to see some things that guys do not, and the decision wasn’t controversial at all.

    Praying for them, as their elders also failed to act when they learned of the wife’s affair and separation. I do not know and will not speculate about what the proximate and ultimate causes were besides the generic “sin”, but in missing the obvious “rules his own house well” qualification, I would argue they’ve got even bigger problems than an unrepresentative search committee.


Thanks for participating in the SSB community. Please be sure to leave a name/pseudonym (not "Anonymous"). Thx :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s