Expanding the Leadership Voices at Your Table with Jeannette Cochran

Thanks for joining us for the unSeminary podcast. This week we’re chatting with Jeannette Cochran, executive pastor Seneca Creek Community Church in Maryland. Jeannette is talking with us today about what it is like being a female executive pastor in a church and how you can empower more women to engage their gifts and lead in your church.

  • Lead in trust and honor. // Too many churches are dragging their feet on including women in leadership or executive roles within the church. The church can’t reach its full potential until men and women are leading together in relationships of trust and honor. Both men and women are created in the image of God. When women aren’t allowed to step into their callings and passions to serve the church, the body of Christ loses out.
  • Remain humble. // An essential quality in a healthy church is that the leaders remain in a humble posture of a learner. At one point in history, Christians tried to argue from scripture for slavery, but that changed because Christians were willing to continue to humble themselves, be learners, and be teachable. Leaders today should ask themselves if they are open to hearing the voices of others. That is the leadership model that Jesus has given us, that leaders will be listeners and learners.
  • Make a commitment. // Make a commitment to shared leadership and actually look around the table to ask if you do have diversity and the voices you need. Unearth those biases and stereotypes you might not realize are there. Commit to having hard conversations and creating safe spaces where you can be honest with each other. Be open to listening without becoming defensive.
  • Trust is the beginning. // Be open to women and communicate that you want to hear their feedback. Many women are socialized to be people-pleasers and minimize themselves, especially in Christian circles. Let them know that you are open to hearing their challenges and pushback and that they aren’t going to be penalized for speaking up. Women, on the other hand, need to do their homework and be willing to put themselves out there. It takes vulnerability on both sides.
  • Don’t be held back. // Often women leaders may not recognize that they have limiting beliefs that are holding them back. What is that internal voice we’re listening to? Whenever there is a sense of stepping out to become vulnerable or taking a risk, that voice will come at us and try to stop us. Don’t allow that voice to hold you back. Recognize that internal critic for what it is and turn it down to listen to the voice of God in us. Individual coaching can help tremendously with this issue.
  • Don’t view each other as a threat. // We need to have thoughtful boundaries, but not view each other as a threat. Many times, women leaders may be seen as a threat because the way things have always been done may need to change. Scripturally we should be looking at how we can view each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Ask how you can have some thoughtful boundaries that help each other to feel safe and cared for, but not view each other as enemies or threats.
  • Look for the potential. // Studies have shown that many times men are promoted based on potential, but women are promoted only based on performance. So look for that potential in the women at your organization to move them up to the next level.

You can find out more about Jeannette at and learn about Seneca Creek at

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Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: Red Letter Challenge

One of the best times of the year to start an all-in church series is the time after Easter. The team at Red Letter Challenge have become the 40-day church series experts…they created not only a 40-day church series, but offer unique daily challenges as well for everyone in your church to complete. It’s a fun, amazing time and many people take steps towards Jesus! Pastors, grab your free 40-day challenge book here and see what your church can do!

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.