I’ve recently been reading a book on Women’s Ministry that has given voice to some of my own thoughts on women’s ministry, as well as adding some perspectives I had never before considered. The book is entitled Women’s Ministry in the Local Church and it’s written by J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt. Duncan is a PCA pastor in Mississippi and Hunt is the former Director of Women’s Ministries for the PCA. Hunt has also authored a number of other books that I am eager to check out, including Leadership for Women in the Church and Spiritual Mothering: The Titus 2 Model for Mentoring Women.
Now before I fully endorse this book, I have a caveat. The book is written from a Complementarian perspective (That is to say, men and women are equally valuable but fundamentally different) which means that some of you will totally agree with it. Others of you will object to parts of it. I have not read the whole book so I’m not in a position to come down either way. Today, I simply want to share some of the wisdom I’ve been encouraged by thus far.
In particular, I wanted to include some excerpts from the chapter entitled “The Need.” This chapter addresses the specific reasons why the local church needs Women’s Ministry, and it begins with some of of the common mistake that churches make in this regard.
Here I want to highlight a specific one: Amidst the placing of boundaries on what women cannot do, there is little teaching about what women can do, or more importantly what the church needs women to do. Because of this breakdown, women are left feeling frustrated and restless, possessing God-given gifts with no outlet for expressing them:
Some churches do not have a women’s ministry because of a concern or even experience that if women are organized they will make demands or seek power. In this vacuum of isolation and underutilization of women there is the potential for frustration and anger-birthed leadership to erupt among the women, and the very thing the church is attempting to avoid becomes a reality.
I myself have experienced this frustration. There is a constant battle with the temptations of anger and bitterness when this dynamic occurs. So while a church’s failure to enable women to use their gifts in NO WAY justifies the indulging of sinful compulsions, it was encouraging to have my feelings articulated so clearly, and it offers a helpful insight for church leaders to consider.
Later on in the chapter, the authors list 5 reasons that the local church needs a Women’s Ministry, and I wanted to highlight the fifth one here:
We need to help Christian women appreciate the manifold areas of service that are open to them in the church and to equip them distinctively as women to fulfill their ministry. But this will never happen if our approach to discipleship in the church is androgynous–that is, if it refuses to take into account the gender distinctives of the disciple.
This last point was particularly interesting to me because it is a point well made. Paradoxically, many churches that espouse a Complementarian perspective have a practically androgynous approach to discipleship. Though small groups may at times be divided along gender lines, the intentionality given towards shaping specifically Christian women ends there.
Those are just two points that have stood out to me in the book thus far. There are numerous others, but I hope it will give you a taste of the book, as well as encouraging you in your thinking on this subject. Given that women constitute one half of the Body of Christ this topic certainly warrants our attention, so I was delighted to learn that there are key evangelical leaders who are wrestling with these very important questions.