Saturday, December 15, 2012

Women in Ministry

It is time for the Church to completely open its doors to women in ministry.  In order to fulfill the Great Commission, the Church needs men and women serving in every role their gift and character opens to them in local churches and church networks.

In some parts of the Church, women already serve in the same ministry roles as men.  But in much of the Church, the issue is far from settled, or a men-only practice continues with little discussion.

Much has been written about the rightness of women in ministry leadership and teaching roles.  Men and women much better equipped than I am to find answers from scripture have staked well-researched, thoughtful positions on both sides of the question.  I respect their hearts to serve faithfully and their diligent scholarship.

But I suggest a simple way to cut through the differences:   just decide that the cost of failing to use gifted women in strategic ministry roles is far too high, and the cost of doing so in error is low.

In a recent team-building exercise in our church community, a group of us tried to accomplish one simple task keeping in mind one simple rule.  To our shock we initially did exactly the opposite of the task.  We had tried to balance the task and the rule, and it turned what should have been a two-minute task into ten minutes.  Once we began to focus on the task, we were able to quickly finish.

On the issue of women in ministry, I would say that the Church has tried to accomplish the task (the Great Commission) while significant parts of the Church have been obsessing over what has seemed like a rule.  In this case, "the rule" would be the seeming Biblical prohibition in the letters of Paul against women in ministry.....or maybe just tradition.

Right doctrine and right practice are important.  On key issues of faith, the Church cannot be flexible. But the issue of women in ministry is not a key issue of faith.

From my perspective, we have misunderstood Paul's intent in writing about women in the Church.  I believe Paul's words were bound to the culture or cities he addressed and do not relate in the same way to us today.  And I believe a male-leaders-only tradition has blinded us to a significant opportunity to advance the Kingdom.

If the Church is wrong in permitting women to enter strategic ministry roles from which they are now excluded, the cost of that error is low.  No one's salvation is threatened.  The key doctrines and creeds of the Church are not contravened.  If we are found to be wrong, our gracious Lord will restore right practice to the Church, as He has done before.

Brothers, where we do not already, let's clear paths for women to come into every role of ministry...and not only clear those paths, but actively encourage gifted sisters to walk them.

Sisters, we need you like Barak needed Deborah.  Together we will win victories that the Church can lay at the feet of the King, victories that it could not win without you.  I am so deeply sorry we have delayed you and held you back.  But for the Kingdom's sake, join us now!

Now that you have read this, men, what are your thoughts on this issue?  Women? How about you?  Your comments are welcome below.

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