Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What's a Girl to Do?

In the last post, we saw that God does not permit women to serve as pastors. I admit that we theological conservatives have spent so much time telling women what they can't do that we have neglected to tell women what they can do. This is a sad reality. It has hurt our sisters in Christ and the entire body of Christ.

Let me be very clear about this:
Without the God-given ministry of women, the church will cease to exist.

I am not overstating it in the least. It is that serious. Ladies, we desperately need you. And I’m not just saying that women can be involved in ministry; I’m saying every woman should be involved in ministry. It is your calling.

The ministry of the local church stretches far beyond the pulpit. Just because God doesn’t call you to preach doesn’t mean God doesn’t call you to serve.

Joshua Thomas, our son, is scheduled to arrive at the end of August. Dianna is the one who’s carried him for 9 months. She will be the one to give birth to him. She will be the one to experience that unique mother/child bond. No matter how much I might want to, I can’t do any of that. God won’t let me. I’m a man and that isn’t His design for me. But that doesn’t mean I have no place in Thomas’ life! My place is just different from Dianna’s.

Can you see how that applies to women in the church? Ladies, you have an absolutely unique and necessary place in the ministry of your local church. So let’s think this through and see the high calling of a woman in the body of Christ.

Allow me to restate the biblical view of women in ministry. I’m breaking it down into 2 parts.
Part 1= Men and women are equal, but God has given each unique roles.
Part 2= God gifts both men and women to do the work of ministry in ways fitting with their roles.

Part 1 goes back to the Creation itself. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). All mankind, both male & female, are created in the image of God, meaning they are equally able to serve God, to have fellowship with God, and to represent God. In our spiritual nature, men and women are equal in every way.

But God did not give the man and the woman the same roles. God created man to be the leader, and He created woman to be the helper. Genesis 2:15 says that God created man to “work” and “keep” the garden. In verse 18, we read that God created woman to be a “helper suitable” to the man. Those gender specific roles are seen from the very beginning.

In Genesis 3, we learn that mankind fell into sin. They disobeyed God. But notice how the gender roles played a part in this. God tells Adam that the reason he is being judged is “because you have listened to the voice of your wife” (3:17). Now that’s not to say that we shouldn’t listen to our wives! God is judging Adam because he failed to lead his wife away from sin. We also see that one of the results of sin is a distortion of these gender roles. God tells Eve, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (3:16). The Lord is saying that sin will cause some women to want to dominate their husbands, and sin will cause some men to want to dominate their wives in an abusive manner. The gender roles, like everything else, are marred by sin! Yet, the principle remains. God created men and women equal in His image, with unique, gender specific roles.

Part 2 flows naturally from Part 1. Because men and women have unique roles in life, it is natural that we should have unique roles in ministry. Leadership in the church must reflect leadership in the home. 1 Timothy 3:4-5, 12 teach us that one of the qualifications for serving as a pastor or deacon is a man’s ability to lead his family. So the positions of spiritual authority are delegated, by God, to men. (Gentlemen, that is a huge responsibility. Step up to the plate and do your job.)

The woman’s role in the church remains one of a helper. And if you think that is a demeaning task, you’ll do well to remember that God the Holy Spirit is called “the Helper” (John 14:26). So a woman’s ministry in the local church is to assist, to help the leadership accomplish its biblically mandated duties. The leadership of the church cannot accomplish these duties apart from the assistance of their sisters in Christ.

That is the overall principle. The hard part is applying it to specific situations. In this post, I don’t want to get into each specific staff position. So let me just give you a list of biblically appropriate places of ministry for women in the local church.

> Teaching Women
> Teaching Teenage Girls
> Teaching Children
> Counselor for Women
> Music Ministry (choir, praise team, instrumentalist, etc.)
> Hospitality Ministries (making meals, opening one’s house for a Bible study, etc.)
> Outreach Ministries (visiting the sick, shut-ins, lost people, etc.)
> Missions (promoting missions-giving, going on mission trips, serving as a missionary under male leadership, etc.)

That’s a lot! And I could think of more. Sisters, you play a critical role in our churches. I pray that you would delight in your God-given role and seek to use it to build your local church and glorify your Father in heaven! If you want more information on this topic, I highly recommend Women's Ministry in the Local Church. It's under the 'resources for church life' section on the blog.


WEEEEO said...

hey Josh,
so i still have a few thoughts and such that are brewing around in my nogin about this one.

what you are saying makes sense but:

what if there are no men present to lead a youth ministry?
where i am in Bowling Green SC they have had a lot of interns and short term youth pastor guys but a woman has remained the constant leadership for over 17 years.

What is the difference between a woman serving in a role as a youth minister or as a music minister?

Does it really matter?
i tend to think of things in an "eternal impact" mentality...i think that if it is not going to interfere with eternal plans, why does it matter if a woman is a youth minister or not?

i am saying these things in support of your article, for the most part, for the parts i understand.

i just think that if i am called by God and a woman is called by God, i would not want to be in the way of what God is doing, know what i mean?

Does it really matter enough (eternal impact minded) to make it an issue? I speak these questions out of curiosity and eagerness to learn my way, not doubt of scripture.

If a woman has a bigger bench press than i do, does that mean i should give up my youth pastor position to her?


Josh Culbertson said...

Reo, thanks for the questions. I'm glad you're thinking through this.
1) If there are no men, the job does not get done. When women disobey God's Word in order to fill in for lazy men, both genders are in sin.
2) Youth Minister & Music Minister aren't biblical titles, so it's hard to state qualifications. But I go back to the question, "Does the role require a woman to have authority over a man?" The answer is that both Music & Youth Ministers usually have some form of authority over men.
3) YES IT MATTERS! It matters now and it will matter in eternity. On Judgment Day we will give an account for every word we've ever spoken and every thought we've ever had. If we're encouraging women to disobey God's Word, then we will face God's judgment for doing so. Even doing ministry can be sinful if we aren't doing it God's way. And for us to tell the Lord that women SHOULD be able to do ministry when He's clearly told us that should not is a terrible form of pride.
4) If a woman can bench press more than you, I'd let her do anything she wanted 'cause that's one tough gal!

WEEEEO said...

thanks man.


AirEelle said...

Speaking from a Woman's point of view who was unspeakably called into youth ministry. I'm a Pastor's daughter (a Southern Baptist Pastor to be exact) and I would have much rather done anything in the whole world other than full-time Christian Service. I can now see myself doing nothing else because I know this is what God has called me to do. I have a female mentor who has tole me on multiple occasions that God uses those people who are willing to be used. I totally agree with her. Now on with my comments about your post.

You have said that Women cannot be Youth Pastors because of 1 Tim 2:12. Have you ever thought of adolescence and how in Jewish time the age of becoming a man was age 12 but is NOW up to age 25! So if you take that look at it my call is biblical.

Another thing is the women in the church Timothy was in were all new Christians. Do you really think that Paul would have allowed a new Christian to teach in the church when the men had been allowed to grow in their faith much much longer? The women were on the same level as children and slaves at this time... They had just gotten to the point where they were allowed to even sit and listen. If the women were to stand the church would have looked like the temples down the road of idol worshipers who had female prostitutes outside. So to go against your point I think culture has A LOT to do with why Paul wrote this. If not why do men not lift up holy hands in prayer every time they pray or why are women now allowed to braid their hair and wear Gold?! I think this has a lot to do with what Paul was talking about.

I know you probably are not going to agree with anything I have said, but I thought this might give you another perspective. Yes, I have struggled with my call... NOT because I felt I was not called, but because Males have told me I was not called. I was verbally harassed because they felt that I was disobeying God. Yes, I am from a state which has the most Baptist female ministers, but I was raised strong in the word of the Lord. I attend NGU and it was there where I have felt the most persecution from faculty and male students than I have ever felt in my whole life. I look to Deborah because she was used by God in a spiritual way but also a way which I will never be which is a government leader.

I was raised to ask God to use me in any way possible. He chose Youth Ministry and that is where I will stay until either I die or He directs my path in another way! I just hope God opens your eyes to what really matters and if women are in ministry or not shouldn't be a concern if everyone is leading the life God has called them to!

Josh Culbertson said...

Airelle, I can see that you are very passionate about this, and I greatly appreciate you commenting on my blog! It's great to get your perspective and it's great to hear from a fellow NGU 'Crusader!'

I didn't say that God could not use you in youth ministry. In fact, the biblical model (Titus 2) requires older women to be involved in the lives of younger women. That's biblical youth ministry. So, I encourage you to get all the education you can on the subject so that you are all the more prepared to counsel and instruct teenage girls.

Secondly, I totally understand what you're saying about the age of manhood being pushed back. But this is not a good thing. It's not something that we should accept; it's something we should work against. College tends to encourage guys to stay teenagers as long as possible. That is immature and irresponsible. That's where most guys are. But our local churches (youth ministries in particular) should not stand for this. We should train up young boys to be men and young girls to be women.

I understand your argument about Paul speaking to their culture. Yes, the women were new Christians, but so were the men. It was a new church. The thing I think we miss is that Paul roots his argument in CREATION, not CULTURE. That makes it binding for all people in all times. And men are to still lift up holy hands (meaning pure lives - Ps.24:4) and women are still not allowed to dress flamboyantly. All the principles you mentioned DO still apply.

Let me give a gentle exhortation, Airelle... you said "if women are in ministry are not shouldn't be a concern if everyone is leading the life God has called them to." But if a woman or man is doing something forbidden by God's Word, then it is a concern for me, and it should be for you, too. These things DO matter. I cannot live the life God has called me to live if I'm disobeying His Word.

I pray that God would use your life in a mighty way for His Kingdom. I also pray that you would embrace biblical womanhood and all that it has to offer you and your church. Women like you, who know the Scriptures and who are seeking God's will are SOO needed in the local church. Keep asking, seeking, and knocking. The door will be opened.