Dear GFC Community,

Last fall, the elders communicated with the GFC body our position on women in ministry. In our communication, we shared that the title of pastor at GFC was no longer restricted to men only. Here is a portion of what we shared:

Pastor is not an office Biblically. It is a function. The word translated pastor in our New Testament is the Greek word for shepherd and it’s a function, like evangelism and teaching, to help build up the body of Christ. Culturally, that title at GFC has always been reserved for men. Based on elder consensus, we are making that title open to qualified male or female leaders on staff at GFC as fits their function in ministry.

The title of “pastor” means many different things in different church traditions and contexts. What does “pastor” mean at GFC? At Grace Fellowship Church (as well as most non-denominational churches like ours) the title of pastor is not restricted to elder-only staff roles and does not convey a level of spiritual authority over the whole body; nor does it imply regular teaching responsibilities. It is a title for staff members who function in a capacity that involves spiritual leadership over a particular flock within the larger body. For example, the “Student Pastor” at GFC is a shepherd of their flock – students, families, volunteers. They are not viewed as possessing spiritual authority over the whole church. For most of our 45 year history, GFC has had around 5-6 pastors on staff at any given time (Lead Pastor, Executive Pastor of Ministries, Pastor of Adult Ministries, Family Life Pastor, Groups Pastor, Student Pastor, Worship Arts Pastor, etc.)

Who gets to be a pastor at GFC? Historically, we have given the title of “Pastor” to someone based on the following criteria: level of leadership on our staff, function in their leadership role, maturity, character, and calling. As we stated, this will continue to be the case. We are not trying to advance an agenda but have decided, based on Biblical study and after much discussion, to make this title no longer restricted to men only.

Having said all of that, we are pleased to announce that we are changing Malia Grant’s title from Family Life Director to Family Life Pastor. A few additional comments on why we are making this decision:

In her role as Family Life Director, Malia provides oversight for two of GFC’s largest and most strategically important ministries: Grace Kids and Student Ministry. This includes casting vision and providing strategic and pastoral leadership for: 6 staff members, more than 100 volunteers, and close to 500 kids and students (and their families). It’s a big job! (Fun fact: When Matt was initially hired at GFC, this was his role. His title was Family Life Pastor not Director, but functionally, in terms of staff leadership and oversight, it was very similar.)

In her almost 20 years on staff at GFC, Malia has always demonstrated very high character. She is someone GFC is proud to put their “stamp of approval” on. But furthermore, in this most recent reason as she stepped into this new leadership role beginning two years ago, she has shown a high degree of both spiritual maturity and leadership capacity. We (the elders of GFC) sense God’s calling on Malia to shepherd staff and families at GFC. God is using her in a remarkable way!

For all of these reasons, Malia’s title is changing from Family Life Director to Family Life Pastor. In the past, when we have changed a staff member’s title from Director to Pastor, we have not typically broadcasted that decision to the church. However, because this is the first time this has happened with a female staff member, we wanted to communicate very transparently with you about this.

We are so excited about what God is doing at GFC! Thanks for the vital part you play in that.

The Elders
Grace Fellowship Church