Thursday, October 14, 2010

If you serve in a women's minsitry...

I would love to hear about it.

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!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Our current church doesn't have a women's ministry. We are small and new. Though I think we are getting to the point where we could use one.
In our previous church (which is part of the RPCNA as is our current one), there was a women's group which met monthly for prayer and Bible study. The first time it met the pastor came and gave us a little lecture about women not taking over the church. It kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I know he meant well and i know women can tend to take over. But I also think thye are most likely to take over when men aren't living up to their responsibilities. And there were lots of mature Christian women there including his wife and I don't think such a warning was at all necessary.

I also started a mothers' group at that church. Initially we got together every other week and the little ones played and we talked and prayed. It was wonderful. I know there is always a danger things can get gossipy in such groups but this one was not that way. I think everybody who passed through it appreciated it. And it was a great thing to invite non-Christians too because it was very unthreatening and moms of young kids are always looking for contact. The group has since morphed into a moms' night out (as our kids have gotten older) and now a ladies' night out (because non-moms wanted to come). It is still winderful. I drive 50 minutes to attend it when I can.

I suppose a church doesn't necessarily need organized minstries to reach women but I do think women need more relationships and talkign than men. And I think that organized things can help us to fulfil the commands to disciple and advise younger women. It can be hard to make the time to get together or to connect with others who are not demographically like you (ie to meet older or younger women) without something organized like a bible study to go to.