Usher: The 4th Office


From an anonymous sister in Christ:

Hi Ryan, I have a question for you. I know that the Bible teaches women cannot be pastors or elders, but what about ushers? I asked our head usher if I could be an usher, and I was told that I could not because it is a man’s job.  When I pushed him to explain he said that there are blue jobs and pink jobs in the church, and that ushering is a blue job.  What do you think?”

Hi thanks for your question.

Women should not be ushers in the Church. Here are a few reasons.

  1. Women should not be ushers, because usher is the 4th office and we believe that women should not hold office in the Church.  I am sure it’s there somewhere in the New Testament that the 7 deacons in the New Testament were so overworked that they went to the elders and were like, “Hey guys! We are so busy serving, and handing out food that we need to appoint some men to stand at the doors and find seats for people…”
  2. Ushers need to be strong. Sometimes ushers need to carry chairs and set them up when additional visitors show up…chairs are heavy, and in 1 Peter 3 it says that women are weaker.  Ushers need to have strong arms in case they need to carry a stack of chairs. Men usually have stronger arms.
  3. An old guy in Church once scolded me when I was an usher for not wearing a tie. Ushers should wear ties.  Women should not, therefore women should not be ushers.
  4. In the old French the word Usher is Ussier, which literally means “Door Man.”  Man.  Not woman…
  5. Sometimes in a crowded church, it is hard to see the vacant seats.  Men are usually taller than women and can spot these vacant seats easier.
  6. If women serve as ushers, they will start wanting to be ministers and we can’t have that.
  7. Ushering is the training ground for men to become elders and deacons, so we can’t waste a training spot…

I hope you appreciate satire. In all seriousness, the role of Usher is not an office within the church. The Canadian Reformed Churches recognize from Scripture that there are three distinct offices: ministers, elders, and deacons. We believe that it is these three offices which are restricted to men only. So that means that other functions within the church ought to be open to women. In our church, for example, women operate the nursery and serve on various committees and perform many other valuable functions.

It is true that traditionally, in our churches the ushers have been men. So I can see why the head usher at your church would say that ushering is a “blue job.” Only once can I recall a lady serving as an usher in one of the Canadian Reformed Churches I have visited, but that is not because of a Biblical mandate, it is really only because of tradition. There is nothing in our form of government, nor in our Church Order, nor in the Three Forms of Unity, nor in Scripture that would forbid  women from serving as ushers.

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  1. Douglas Kok says:

    Very tongue in cheek there. While I agree with you there is a general feeling I get that people are scared of slippery slopes so therefore they won’t climb down onto them to even test them out.

  2. Ushering has absolutely nothing to do with church governance, leadership, or teaching. Serving on a committee like the evangelism committee would actually have more “authority” in the church than serving as an usher does. Lots women serve in that capacity…but being an usher is more visible

  3. Flo de Haan says:

    Why do we often want to follow what people do in other churches, It is sad that our churches are suffering from peer pressure. Slippery slope….yes

    • Dorothy Kamphuis says:

      Flo, that is a shameful and damaging assumption to make, to assume that women want to serve by ushering because they want to “keep up” with other churches. I am a woman, I love the Lord, I love my neighbors, I love my fellow members, and one way I show this love is by ushering. For no other reason than the absolute joy of welcoming others to a day of WORSHIP! Sure I can do this anyways, but we are sharing the load of the work that needs to be done in a vibrant church.

  4. I’m not a member of the Canadian Reformed Church, so in this matter I’m an outsider. I do hold a complementarian view of the Church. I think you’ve done a fine job of pointing out the error in the justification of the head usher’s ruling on female ushers. I quite enjoyed the satire, too.

    One thing probably worth mentioning is the concern of authority given to Ushers. In most cases, the usher is merely offering assistance and welcome to those entering the sanctuary. But what about in cases where the congregation is nearing full capacity, and it falls to the ushers to direct congregants to “squeeze in” or “fill in the empty spaces” or to receive the offering? While personally have no problems with a woman serving in these roles, having an answer for “what happens when” an usher is ignored? My personal preference is to have deacons or even Elders serving as ushers for churches that might have to exercise a degree of authority to maximize sanctuary space. If space is a non-issue, then there should be little need for such authority in that service role. Just something to maybe think about.

  5. Flo de Haan says:

    Sorry Dorothy,I did not think before I wrote!! It is so wonderful you wanting to show your love by greeting people….however you do not need to be an usher to accomplish that. One could be on a list for: serving coffee, nursery, librarian, join study groups, choir or be a greeter.

    Being ushers is a great way for young men to get out of their comfort zone and get to know the congregation before becoming elders and deacons.

    • Dorothy Kamphuis says:

      Hi Flo!
      Thank you. For ALL those jobs you listed, as well as usher, men and women should be recruited (including nursery!). Yes ushering is a great way for young men to step outside their comfort zone, but everyone is called to step outside of their zone in some way for the sake of the gospel.
      Also, I think when you start labelling tasks at church as “male” and “female” tasks, you are giving someone the opportunity to reason their way out of serving. As if they don’t have to help because it’s not a “woman’s task”.
      When a church is small as we are (Blessings Christian Church), we need all the hands we get can to serve in each capacity!

  6. adopted3 says:

    I knew your answer would not disappoint. 🙂