This is a series about women in ministry. I have found that in most evangelical circles, women who are in ministry do not have the same opportunities as men. Why is this? It comes from a deep seeded belief that core leadership of a biblical church is found in men alone. Women are equal in worth to God, but are limited in their function within the body of Christ. Here is the kicker, I think that Scripture might tell a different story. This series will be and exploration on this important topic. Here is part one two three & four.
Central Question: Can women serve in any role within the church? If so, how does this compare to most modern evangelical churches? If not, what are the boundaries for women in ministry? How does the New Testament serve as a guide on this issue?
LIVING THE TEXT: THE CHURCH AS A COMMUNITY THAT CULTIVATES THE GIFTS OF BOTH FEMALE AND MALE LEADERS
The need to reframe the way people in the church understand these texts is not simply for the sake of the issue of women in ministry, but also in order to enable the larger Christian community to embrace a better exegetical approach that leads to a more biblically robust ethic. Surface readings of the Bible are not only evident on this issue, but have created many distorted theologies that must be revisited. On the particular question of female leadership, we have demonstrated that both women and men can be encouraged to discover their unique gifts including those of the leader and teacher within the body of Christ. We also have the opportunity to be missional in a whole new way. For the woman who is highly educated, in vocational leadership, and has gifts of public speaking and teaching, this is an opportunity to let her know that the church is relevant for using the natural abilities that God has given to her. Not only on an individual level, but also in regards to the social structures of society, the church has the chance to continue the process of raising up women to equal status within our culture. Our society at large may be becoming egalitarian, but there may be some biases that still favor men in various arenas that are still ingrained from historical ways of defining gender roles. Also, it will be imperative that we create a culture within our youth ministries that cultivate gifted young ladies to become fully empowered for whatever God may call them to within the body. Leading/teaching/preaching must become an option that girls who follow the way of Jesus are sincerely exploring with the support of the Christian community. If this becomes commonplace, the church will be equipped with many new gifted leaders and teachers that will serve to move the kingdom of God forward into her mission. Both male and female were made in the “image of God,” and both are summoned to lead the church through the twenty-first century and beyond. May we become a church where there is: “neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for…all are one in Christ Jesus.”
I realize that I have not dealt with every text with the amount of detail that is required for a more detailed exegesis. With that said, I hope that you have come to see that the bible is much more than an inspired book that we take at face value. It is an inspired book that was incarnated within a specific culture that must also be excavated as we attempt to faithfully interpret within twenty-first century culture. May women rise up with men and manifest the reign of God!
ANY LAST THOUGHTS?