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04 June 2013

Press release

Women should lead in every church – findings from latest survey

Women should lead in every church – findings from latest survey

Evangelicals surveyed feel strongly that churches should have women in leadership roles, although men still outnumber women when it comes to running churches.

Life in the church? our latest research report found that 73 per cent agree that women should hold senior positions in the Church with 80 per cent agreeing that women should preach or teach. These figures corroborate the findings of our survey in 2010, which found that of the 17,000 evangelicals who participated in that first survey, 71 per cent thought that women should be eligible for all roles within the Church.

Most of those who participated in the survey attend churches led by men – 84 per cent of senior leaders are men and 16 per cent women. Women make up 36 per cent of the leadership of churches that have a leadership team.

The balance might soon shift if the number of women in ministry training go on to become involved in church leadership. More than 40 per cent of ordinands currently in Church of England ministry training are women.[1] These figures are matched at the London School of Theology, Europe's largest evangelical training college, who say there is an upward trend for the number of women studying theology.[2]

What should new leaders – male or female – expect in their ministry? 

Leaders admit to a tendency to work long hours, which they say makes their family life or friendships suffer, yet they are seen by their members to be good delegators. Leaders try hard to be strong and decisive, leading from the front, but are less confident than their congregation about achieving this (56 per cent of leaders try to display decisive qualities, while 70 per cent of their membership think they adequately display this quality).

Evangelical leaders are popular – only seven per cent of church members have a problem with their leader, with only nine per cent of those having moved church citing leadership problems as the reason they left.

Leaders are well supported by their congregations - 29 per cent give six to 10 hours of their time to the church each week, while a further 11 per cent give more than 10 hours.

Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy, Evangelical Alliance, said: "This report confirms our earlier research showing that evangelicals are strongly supportive of women being in all kinds of church leadership. Countering some of the less helpful caricatures of evangelicals, the survey shows church life as being vibrant and healthy.

"The survey also illustrates how much churches both value and contribute to community wellbeing – further evidence that community engagement by the Church is propping up a Big Society that would otherwise wither and die."

Dr Graham McFarlane, vice principal academic, London School of Theology, said: "We are encouraged in seeing a growing number of women studying theology who then go on to positions of leadership in churches. As an interdenominational evangelical college we train people from across the denominational spectrum to change the world. More female graduates than ever are now rising to this exciting challenge."


  • Community engagement is high – 32 per cent take part in social action projects and the level of outreach is very important to 54 per cent when choosing a new church
  • Voluntary support is high – 29 per cent of non-leaders spend six to 10 hours per week on church leadership or ministry; and 11 per cent give more than 10 hours per week.
  • Job satisfaction is high – 84 per cent of church leaders greatly enjoy their ministry work
  • But family life can suffer – 25 per cent of leaders say marriage, family life and friendships suffer because of their work, while 38 per cent of leaders find it difficult to switch off, especially younger leaders
  • Biblical truth is vital – 99 per cent agree that a church should faithfully teach the Bible as the true word of God.
  • Church teaching is important, especially to the young – when choosing a church 68 per cent, especially those born after 1980, prioritise a church by its doctrinal and theological stance
  • Church growth – 47 per cent agree that their church is growing in numbers, while 70 per cent expect attendance at their own church will increase over the next 20 years.

1,864 people took part in this survey in February 2013. The male to female ratio of respondents was 53:47.

The report is available online at: www.eauk.org/snapshot, where hard copies can also be ordered.

[1] There are currently 482 female and 620 male ordinands in ministry training with the Church of England (Church of England website).

[2] The current ratio of male to female undergraduate theology students at the London School of Theology is 58:42.Women currently make up 44 per cent of those studying postgraduate theology (LST figures May 2013).

Media Enquiries

Danny Webster
Tel: 07766 444 650
Email: info@eauk.org

Notes to Editors

21st Century Evangelicals

21st Century Evangelicals is a series of research booklets produced by the following group of organisations: Care, Christians Against Poverty, Compassion UK, CWR, Evangelical Alliance, Mission Aviation Fellowship, Open Doors, Prospects and Wycliffe Bible Translators. Its purpose is to study the beliefs, habits and practices of evangelical Christians in the UK.  In January 2011 the first publication of 21st Century Evangelicals was based on a groundbreaking survey of more than 17,000 respondents. The follow-up surveys will help us move forward and delve deeper in to understanding more fully the beliefs and practices at the heart of evangelicalism. 

Previous issues in the series are: 21st Century Evangelicals, Does belief touch our society?, Are we communicating?, The World on our doorstep?, How's the family?, Does Money Matter?, Confidently sharing the gospel? andDo We Value Education?

The Evangelical Alliance

We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK's two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We're here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it's celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org. www.eauk.org