Much has been said in recent months about including women in church leadership. Boundaries, limitations and theological discussions surrounding this topic have left many a church leader confused or frustrated. For many women in the local church, the issue has raised questions like, “Are we valued in the church?” or “Does my voice matter?”

I know I’ve personally benefited from pastors and church leaders who have affirmed my calling and gifts as a leader both in the local church and in denominational work. I’m grateful for not just the leadership these men have shown, but also the relationships where they have valued me as a sister in Christ with the goal of taking the Gospel to a lost world.

Whether you’ve considered this topic or not, I would like to encourage you to begin looking for ways to incorporate women in your leadership. Here are five of 10 ways you can begin. Look for Part 2 of this list in the Aug. 15 Baptist Messenger.

1. Ask them for input—and then incorporate it. Gather a few women from your church and ask them if they feel valued as church leaders. Answer questions, but most of all, listen to their input. Compile a list of your results and see how you can incorporate their suggestions.

2. Include women in your sermons. Whether it’s quoting a woman, studying a female Bible teacher or focusing a sermon series on women in the Bible, including women in your Sunday morning sermon. The women in your congregation will appreciate this and be inspired by other women’s lives.

3. Elevate their giftedness by allowing them to lead committees. Seek out women in your congregation who lead in other arenas of life. Many of them are leading in the marketplace, and you would be remiss not to include them on committees that use them. I’ve seen female accountants lead finance committees and human resource professionals provide excellent help for personnel and policy committees. The possibilities are many.

4. Allow women to be seen and heard in services. Providing opportunities such as making announcements, reading Scripture or praying in the service are ways you can easily incorporate women. Last December, my pastor interviewed me during the service on the topic of missions. After the service, two young women approached me about ways they could be more involved in missions.

5. Set an example for younger women who are watching. This connects with the previous point, but many young women struggle with how God may be calling them to vocational ministry and may have a limited view of what they can do. By exposing younger women to others in the service, you are providing role models for a future generation of leaders.