What does a Female Pastor do in a Complementarian Church?

Northview’s leadership structure follows a “complementarian” model.  Both men and women are encouraged to participate in all lay-ministry and pastoral leadership positions with the exception of those which fit the “elder” role (governing church affairs and guarding its teaching) as defined by 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and and Titus 1:7-9.

The biblical framework for this model has been discussed in Northview sermons and podcasts and other resources.  I can direct you to them if you would like but, for the purposes of this brief blog post I thought I would do something different.

What people seem most confused about is how this model “plays out”.  Hearing that Northview has a complementarian structure, people assume that women are not encouraged to lead or to teach.  In my opinion, the best way to dispel assumptions is with facts, and so I spent a few hours analyzing my own time-sheets from September 2013 to April 2014.  The results are depicted below.

Teaching and Preparation – We have approximately 250 – 300 women participating in weekly Bible Studies at Northview.  I spend the majority of my time teaching and preparing to teach.

Leadership Training – We train women to teach the Bible and to lead groups of people.  We attend conferences and seminars and bring other Northview women along to learn, and I also mentor an intern each year.  I participate in the weekly “sermon review” with the other teaching pastors; providing feedback to them, and receiving suggestions for my teaching.  We give each other direction on how we can improve the content and delivery of our presentations

Congregational Leadership – This includes MC’ing weekend services, leading communion, baptizing, baby dedicating, attending and participating in monthly elder meetings, one on one meetings with people in the church and representing Northview at MB Conference events and activities.

Administration (emails etc) – Well that’s self-explanatory!

Consulting with staff – Northview has a large team of pastors, directors and support staff. We meet regularly and as needed as a large group and in smaller teams to plan, problem solve, and serve our congregants.

Special Events – We have a few annual events such as our Imagine Spa, Women’s Retreat etc.

Podcast and Blog – Brandie, Thaleia and I have recently begun the Bonus podcast discussing practical faith questions and applications and, as I have time, I contribute to our blog and facebook posts.

Prayer – We spend lots of time praying with people in the midst of all these activities.  I wasn’t sure how to separate it out, so thought I’d just mention it here at the end.

In addition to these activities, I am encouraged to pursue my own education.  To that end,  Northview is helping to fund my seminary courses at Regent College.

Being a female pastor in a complementarian church like Northview is stretching and challenging.  I have never been more challenged to think hard and well, and to lead others effectively.

If you are a woman, and you wonder how your gifts can be used here, please contact me! What I love most about my job is watching people grow in their faith and abilities as we serve God together.

Kristal Toews

Pastor of Women


To all Women on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are polarizing events.  They focus a spotlight on our intimate relationships;  for some women this is a joyful experience, and for others it is painful.  With this in mind, I hope to cautiously encourage all women as we approach Mother’s Day :-).

From what I have observed in my own life, and in the lives of women I serve and know, it seems that we women tend to tie our identity to relationships.  If we have a husband and children who are “successful” we bask in the glow of other’s admiration and derive our self-esteem from their achievements.  If we are married to someone who doesn’t “measure up” to our ideals or the ideals of our parents, our friends, or our church community, if our children aren’t as smart or outgoing or athletic or dedicated in their faith as we would like, we can go down the opposite path – trying to “get everyone to behave” for the sake of our own image and reputation.

The absence of relationships if we don’t have a husband or don’t have children, can also can make our quest for identity convoluted and rocky.

Regardless of where you land on this spectrum, I believe the need for caution is the same for all women.  We are always tempted to define ourselves by our relationships with other people rather than by our relationship with God.

A variety of circumstances sprinkled throughout my years of marriage and life with kids have made me personally aware of this tendency.  In His grace, God has continually reminded and convicted me that I will only walk truly in line with Him and in harmony with others when my identity is derived from Him.

When I am reminded of who God says I am and what He requires of me, I can enjoy and cheer on friends and family who are doing well, pray for and support those who are struggling, and allow room for people to grow truly in God’s image and grace in His time and through His purposes rather than falsely in response to my self-serving expectations.

Keeping my eyes on Him teaches me to ask, “What are you requiring of me, God, in this time and place?  What do you want me to learn, where do you want me to serve? How can I bring honor and glory to You today?”  This attitude enhances my ability to love and care for those around me while keeping my relationship with God at the center of my vision.

So this Mother’s Day, my encouragement is the same for all women in all circumstances: if you have a great marriage and supportive kids, or if you have a difficult marriage, aren’t married or don’t have children, thank God that your worth is defined by your relationship with Him and ask Him to teach you to love Him and serve Him better.

If you struggle in this area, and want to figure it out come talk to me or Thaleia; that’s what we’re here for.

My prayers are with you this Mother’s Day.

Kristal Toews
Pastor of Women