I don’t know about you, but for many years when I would attend Christian conferences, I avoided the women’s break-out sessions like the plague.
(And just to be clear, I am speaking to women right now. If you’re reading this and you’re a guy, then I really hope you avoided the women’s break-out sessions. That would be weird if you didn’t.)
The reason I was so deliberate in not attending was two-fold: One, I was fairly certain I already knew what they were gonna say. Something about submission or modesty. Two, I hated being defined by my womanhood. I wanted to attend sessions that taught me how to be a better Christian first, and a woman second.
In my mind, women’s ministry equated with a mushy, emotional, let’s-all-hug kind of theology. Some of it was helpful, but after awhile you’d heard it all and it was time to move on. I’d gotten all the mush that I needed for one lifetime.
Well since that season of my life, I’ve re-evaluated my stance, but not because I’ve come to embrace the emotion-driven theology that I once spurned. I have not. I still hate it, and I have to fight every fiber in my being that resists it—sometimes women really do need a good cry or an old fashioned hug fest. I need to accept this.
But the real reason I’ve come to value women’s ministry anew is that it is our best tool for equipping women within the Church. Yes, our pastors can do this and male leaders are able to teach us, but women will never know what it means to be a woman in leadership if some of us don’t step up and set an example with our lives.
For generations, the vision cast for women has been painfully small. Not all of us have realized our full potential in serving the Kingdom of God because we don’t even know what that really looks like. It’s not often that we’ve heard female preachers teach with power and authority, and there aren’t a lot evangelical women with doctorates in theology. We’ve seen men do these things many times, but not women.
It’s not that women are too stupid to study theology, or that we aren’t capable of teaching. It’s that we didn’t even know that we could. That is the climate that we younger women are coming out of. Only in very recent years have the number of women in seminaries come to equal that of men.
The issue here is not the rights of women. Don’t hear me as preaching some sort of she-woman empowerment message. That is not my agenda. The reason we should be educating ourselves and pushing ourselves in the study of God is because GOD DESERVES NO LESS! Mediocrity has no place in His Church. Women who are content with the status quo, you will not find your place here. We must consistently challenge ourselves to grow and learn and teach so that we can pursue God more fully and cast a vision for other to do so as well.
But this kind of vision cannot come from men. Why? Because men are not women. In the same way that I can’t exemplify to the men in my ministry what it means to be a godly, male leader, men cannot exemplify to women what it means to be a godly, female leader. Men can teach us many things about Christ and Christian discipleship, but how that plays out in a specifically female context is best taught by women. That’s why Scripture advises women to teach other women in Titus 2.
We need women to step up and do that job.
Yes, women’s ministry does matter. It matters a lot. We are waging a spiritual battle for the glory of God, and we must all be as equipped as possible if we are to fight this good fight. We must be pushing each other and challenging one another to grow and be stronger and dream big dreams. God requires this of women just as much as he requires it of men, not for the sake of women, but for the sake of His name. So until we are maximizing our gifts and abilities, it is not ourselves who are being robbed, but God.
That, ladies, is why women’s ministry matters. And that is where women’s ministry is going.