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versão On-line ISSN 2304-8557
versão impressa ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.75 no.3 Pretoria  2010


Female leaders in an international evangelical mission organisation: An empirical study of Youth With A Mission in Germany


Vroulike leiers in 'n internasionale evangeliese sendingorganisasie: 'n Empiriese ondersoek in Youth With A Mission in Duitsland



F.A.S. Hornstra-Fuchs ; W.L. Hornstra

Department of Philosophy and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, PRETORIA and School of Biblical Studies, University of the Nations, HURLACH, Germany. E-mail:




Evangelicals are frequently perceived as conservative, for instance in their perspective on women. There is indeed a widespread evangelical hierarchical or complementarian theological view which objects to women in church leadership. There is, however, a growing egalitarian counter position, sometimes also referred to as "evangelical feminism", which supports female leadership.
This article concentrates on the international missionary organisation Youth With A Mission (YWAM), which clearly endorses female leaders in formal statements. In YWAM Germany, however, women are under-represented in leadership positions.
The article seeks to explain this under-representation, especially in terms of the role played by Scripture.
By means of interviews with leaders in YWAM Germany, possible answers were explored. Surprisingly, for an evangelical organisation, the interpretation of Scripture proved not to be a significant factor. Factors that do play a role are church background, the lack of female role models, lower self-confidence of women, family responsibilities, and the role of incumbent leadership. The latter appears to be the most crucial factor, since the incumbent leaders, who mostly are men, select and appoint new leaders. It is likely that in this they are influenced by stereotypical conceptions of the leader as male and are inclined to appoint leaders similar to themselves.

Key concepts: evangelicals women, under-representation in leadership positions, Youth With A Mission, Germany


Evangeliese Christene word dikwels gesien as konserwatief, byvoorbeeld met betrekking tot hulle perspektief op vroue in die bediening. Daar bestaan inderdaad 'n breed aanvaarde hiërargiese en komplimentêre evangeliese teologiese perspektief wat probleme het met vroue se leierskap in die kerk. Daar is egter ook 'n groeiende egalitêre teenposisie wat die leierskap van vroue ondersteun.
Hierdie artikel fokus op die internasionale sendingorganisasie Youth With A Mission (YWAM), wat die beginsel van vroue in leierskapsposisies duidelik in formele uitsprake ondersteun. In YWAM Duitsland is vroue onderverteenwoordig in leiersposisies. Hierdie artikel poog om hierdie onderverteenwoordiging te verduidelik, veral met betrekking tot die rol wat die Bybel speel.
Deur middel van onderhoude met leiers in YWAM Duitsland word na moontlike antwoorde gesoek. Verrassend genoeg blyk dit dat die interpretasie van die Bybel nie 'n deurslaggewende rol hierin speel nie. Faktore wat 'n rol speel is eerder kerklike agtergrond, 'n gebrek aan vroulike rolmodelle, minder selfvertroue by vroue, verantwoordelikhede in die gesin en die rol van bestaande leiers. Laasgenoemde blyk die mees deurslaggewende faktor te wees, omdat die leiers wat nuwe leiers selekteer en aanstel tans meestal mans is. Dit is waarskynlik dat hulle hierin beïnvloed word deur 'n stereotipiese beeld van leierskap en voorkeur gee aan manlike leiers.

Kernbegrippe: evangeliese Christene vroue, onderverteenwoordiging in leiersposisies, Youth With A Mission, Duitsland



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1 The research on which this article is based was undertaken while F.A.S. Hornstra-Fuchs was registered as an M.Th. student in the then Department of Systematic Theology and Theological Ethics at the University of South Africa.

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