Calling All Competent Complementarians


I consider myself a smart, theologically minded, strongly opinionated woman. I also consider myself fully complementarian. I’ve adopted the term “competent complementarian.” In 2013, DA Carson said, “Complementarianism is not an issue of competence, it’s about obeying the Word of God.” When I heard these words, I felt an exhale of relief. I’d been searching for a way to explain my conviction on biblical complementarianism—and I found it here. Not only could I be both confidently competent and complementarian, but the church actually needed me to be both.

As a competent complementarian, I love talking theology and polity. I enjoy studying and teaching God’s word, and I’m passionately committed to my local church. I can hold my own in a debate on baptism, and I have plenty of opinions and ideas about church growth. I’ve never once felt silenced or oppressed, and have only been championed and encouraged to develop as a well-trained Christian in order to build up the body of Christ.

Dearest sisters in the Lord, one of the greatest ways you can live out complementarianism to the glory of God is by growing in both competence and confidence.


Being a woman who knows God means you must be a woman who knows God’s Word. Don’t just be a devotional reader of the Bible; be a student. If you’re able, buy commentaries; learn how to study the Scriptures inductively. Be a faithful hearer and learner of God’s Word as you sit under preaching each week. Be a discerning reader as you consider what authors you learn from. Pursue excellent teaching that deepens your knowledge and understanding of the Bible. As competent complementarians, we ought to give our lives to knowing God’s Word so that we might rightly handle the Word of truth (2 Timothy 3:16) and teach what is good according to sound doctrine (Titus 2:1–3).


You excel in something by practicing it over and over again. We can love God, listen to all the podcasts, and go to all the conferences, but if we’re not willing to engage in the active work of ministry, then we’ll never grow in being competent complementarians.

When I refer to the ministry of the church, I primarily mean discipling, evangelism, and hospitality. These three areas cover a multitude of opportunities given to all believers. As women, we don’t merely support the work of the men from the sidelines. We’re called to do the work of the church alongside them as committed church members. This doesn’t require a position, a platform, or a spot on the payroll.

Be a woman who sees needs in the church and offers to meet them, whether that’s in women’s ministry, international outreach, administrative help, budgeting and finance, marketing and social media relations, hospitality, serving in nursery, or on the music team. The harvest is plentiful, and the laborers are few. As competent complementarians, we ought to be women who push up our sleeves and take up the plow.


There’s deep joy and relief in following God’s good design. Sisters, if you’ve committed yourself to being competent in studying God’s Word, then be confident in what that Word says.

I’m so grateful for a church that has modeled a biblical picture of manhood and womanhood—in everything from gender, singleness, and marriage to the home and workplace to church leadership.

So many cultural voices tell us ever so loudly that churches like this are oppressive. But God’s plan for his church is beautiful—and as women, it’s a great privilege to be a part of that plan. I praise God for pastors who lead with love and humility, encouraging women to use their gifts to glorify God and serve the church. Following God’s Word isn’t always easy, but it’s always best. Let us be confident as complementarians, and show a watching world the joy and blessing found in obeying God’s good design.


As we study God’s Word, we see who God is and who he has called us to be. We’re dearly beloved and redeemed citizens of heaven; we’re co-heirs with Christ. Each and every woman is fearfully and wonderfully made with unique gifts and talents, so that we might glorify God with our whole lives.

The body of Christ isn’t made of just one member, but of many (1 Corinthians 12:14), and praise God that he has blessed women to serve and strengthen the church. As we discover how God has made us, may we lay our lives at the foot of the altar and ask how he might use us to make disciples and advance his kingdom. As competent complementarians, we confidently rest in our identity in Christ and rejoice that we serve the Almighty God!


1. Above all, preach boldly and hold fast to sound doctrine.

2. Equip women in their knowledge and understanding of the Word of God.

3. Encourage the good gifts God has given the women in your church. Praise them publicly.

4. Correct and admonish any church traditions that prohibit women from doing things that the Bible never clearly prohibits (reading Scripture, collecting an offering, serving as a deacon).

5. Develop men who lead and care for women in a way that models Christ’s love for the church.

6. Create an environment on your staff and elder board that welcomes conversation, feedback, and questions from women.

7. Help women to use their gifts to bless the church and grow the kingdom of God.

Carrie Russell

Carrie Russell lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband, Dave, and four children. She is a member of Oakhurst Baptist Church, where Dave serves as pastor.

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