Somehow I am now on the women's ministry committee at my church. I didn't exactly sign up for it; but I'm happy to participate. We are a small church and our congregants are friendly but we don't have a cohesive group of women. Yet. We're working on it.
I just finished reading, for the second time, J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt's wonderful book, Women's Ministry in the Local Church. I received it five or so years ago while at a leadership conference. This is a practical book with real ideas for starting and maintaining a useful, lively women's ministry. It is also the place I first encountered the term "complementarianism." This is the idea that men and women are different, with different gifts, skills, and talents, and thus have different roles in the church and in life. Here is Ligon Duncan on the concept:
Complementarianism gives the relational framework for men and women to live out their covenantal privileges and responsibilities. The complementarian position acknowledges that God created men and women equal in being but assigned different - but equally valuable - functions in His kingdom and that this gender distinctiveness complements, or harmonizes, to fulfill His purpose.He contrasts this idea with egalitarianism, which "asserts that there is no legitimate difference of role and function between men and women in the home and church..." I also love this: "[Egalitarianism] wrongly equates any acknowledgment of role distinction with inequality and discrimination."
This forms the basis of the book: a church needs a women's ministry because women and men are different, with different needs and different gifts. The book expands on that ("the apologetic") and then goes on with practical help for leaders, but is also written for the male leadership of the church and explains their role in it as well.
Both Dr. Duncan and Mrs. Hunt are part of the Presbyterian Church in America, which assumes male headship in home and church. You will not find a female pastor or elder in a PCA church. Nor will you in my denomination, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. (They are very much alike; we were members of the PCA before we moved and the seminarian could serve in either denomination when he graduates.) People in denominations where women do serve in leadership might not like everything this book says, but it might still be valuable for the information specific to women's ministry. Or who knows? Maybe it will change your mind about the roles of men and women in the church. I found it very useful, and plan to pass it on to my sisters as we work together to serve the women in our church.
Tell me about your women's ministry!