Monday, 29 September 2008

Gift-based ministry

I am constantly amazed how many women are still held back.

I've just come back from running a vocations weekend, and met several obviously gifted women who were beginning to grasp the idea that they could be called to leadership as much as their husbands were.

I really thought the days when women aspired to be married to a vicar (rather than being a vicar themselves) were over, but I fear that in some parts of the Church this idea is still alive and well. Over and over again I hear women say how men are always encouraged to consider ministry, whereas they struggle to hear God's voice amid the conflicting messages around them.

Yet it seems so obvious to me that God does not universally oppose the authority or public ministry of women. In Scripture there are so many examples of women who served as apostles, deacons, prophets, judges, church planters - and just one example would be enough to demonstrate that limiting women's leadership is not a universal biblical principle.

One of the chapters in my book recounts briefly the stories of women leaders in the Bible, while another examines the theology often used to restrict women's ministry - the so-called 'difficult passages', the significance of priority in Genesis and the recent concept of 'role subordination.' As more and more scholars support a more egalitarian interpretation, it grieves me so much that gifted women are unaware of how God can call them (and not just their husbands) to serve him in ordained or authorised leadership in the Church.


jody said...

aha, I just said this in a comment about your other post (sexist and rich) - should've looked at this before commenting!

but, yes yes yes!

(and I have found that even men and women who affirm women in ministry have not caught the fire of having to be pioneering and proactive in mentoring and nourishing these women - this is a really significant problem in the evangelical wing of the church)

Crunch said...

Sadly the problem of women finding it difficult to even consider that God may be calling them is all too real. With Evangelical organisations like 'Reform' insisting that their leadership sign up to the 'Danver's Statement'from the 'Council of Biblical manhood and Womanhood', is it really a great surprise? Especially as these are the Evangelical leaders who are influencing many of the women we are referring to.
I have copied an extract from the Danvers statement below:
"Redemption in Christ aims at removing the distortions introduced by the curse....
In the church, redemption in Christ gives men and women an equal share in the blessings of salvation; nevertheless, some governing and teaching roles within the church are restricted to men (Gal 3:28; 1 Cor 11:2-16; 1 Tim 2:11-15).
In all of life Christ is the supreme authority and guide for men and women, so that no earthly submission-domestic, religious, or civil-ever implies a mandate to follow a human authority into sin (Dan 3:10-18; Acts 4:19-20, 5:27-29; 1 Pet 3:1-2).
In both men and women a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries (1 Tim 2:11-15, 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9). Rather, Biblical teaching should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God's will....
We are convinced that a denial or neglect of these principles will lead to increasingly destructive consequences in our families, our churches, and the culture at large."
I was put off by this kind of teaching for years...I am now in training for Ordained minstry..

Mr Gnome said...

Mr Gnome has recently been enjoying:

a. Reading your fab new book

b. Being encouraged by the wonderfully open and positive teaching re women's ministry that emanates from the Iona Community - which has a fab hymn, by the way, beginning 'Women and men as God intended...'

upfreakcreek said...

In a training day at Oakhill College I put Jody's point (the one in brackets) to the panel in the plenary session and there a predictably blank response from the male vicars on the panel. I preach regualrly now and am relishing the challenge - my blog is and I'm a bit interested in the Arrow course but also just thinking I should carry on learning on the job as it were. Any thoughts?