Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Women in the front lines of ministry (part 1)

I'm writing this post, from a convent, that's right a nuns' convent.

No, I didn't join a convent. But I did come to stay here for a week of conferences with Fundacion Generacion. As I mentioned in a previous post, I took the job of executive assistant with the fundacion. And although the job is WAY more work than I expected, I am loving it. Planning conferences, especially church planting conferences, is really an ideal for me. It's the perfect blend of administrative and people work. It's abstract and concrete. And it's so diverse.
So I've been planning these conferences over the last month or so. There are three back to back conferences, all surround the topic of training apprentices in the local church. And today, the first one took off. It's a group of 16 men. Men. And I say that because I'd like to take a moment to comment on what it is like, from my perspective as a woman at this conference.

This conference is for leaders in the church who are going to train up other leaders in the church. And I'm the only woman. And in the sessions, when I ask a question about women, there is this feeling of "there she goes again." And these men are good men. And they are very kind to me. And maybe I'm feeling something that isn't actually there. But I feel it. I feel like the status quo is to assume that leaders will be men, and they should train up more men. And women? Well, there is coffee to make... and kids to watch... oh right, and the women's bible study. I guess this means that a solid theological education and ministry training isn't necessary to lead a women's bible study.
I need to guard my heart because my sinful tendency is to rebellion and anger. And I know these men are working hard to serve their communities well. But dear men of God, consider your sisters worthy of training. Consider the burden of proclaiming the gospel to a broken world a shared one. Consider us your co-laborers in the mission
If we are going to have healthy churches, churches that cultivate discipleship, churches that reach the lost and the hurt, we need everyone on board. We need to equip all believers for the work of ministry (Eph 4:11). So what does it look like to equip women for ministry? Well, one thing for sure, don't assume that they don't need good deep theology. They NEED to know who their God is and what He has done. And don't assume that they shouldn't be formally trained just because they won't be a preaching pastor. I don't have the title of "pastor" in my church (although I am actually part of the pastoral team). But I will say this, what I do in my church is nothing short of pastoring. It would be a shame, indeed, it IS a shame that we leave women's ministries to women who are not necessarily equipped to lead them. Just because a woman has been in the church for a long time, does not mean she is equipped to lead other women.
Pastors, please, I beg of you. Invest in your women. Invest in building up and equipping godly leaders among your women. Those women in turn, will build up and equip more godly women. Who will continue the process and on and on. The point is, the church does a real disservice when it leaves the women in spiritual anorexia. Jesus called us all to follow Him, to make more disciples of Him. So let's not assume, and let's not overlook. He wants his daughters in this battle too!

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