Biblical Woman Statement, #8:
Ministry – We believe that every Christian woman is called to fulfill the Great Commission and has the opportunity for significant service in the Kingdom of God; that all service to Christ according to biblical guidelines is significant to the Lord; that women are exhorted to instruct and mentor other women (Titus 2:3-5).
Woman-to-woman teaching may be described as “spiritual mothering,” by which spiritually mature women share, through teaching and lifestyle, the importance of holiness in daily life as well as of voluntarily submitting themselves to God’s order for the welfare of the family. This divinely planned woman-to-woman mentoring program is one of the most effective tools for winning women to Christ and discipling them in whatever the cultural setting. Women indeed are challenged to share the gospel and nurture in the faith, performing a myriad of kingdom tasks—all within biblical boundaries and in harmony with the creation order.
There are a myriad of ways in which women are encouraged to do their work for Christ:
- Older or “spiritually mature” women (Gk πρεσβύτιδας) are exhorted to instruct the younger or “new-to-the-faith” (Gk νέας) women, and they are given specific instructions on what to teach (Titus 2:3-5).
- Mothers share equal responsibility with fathers in teaching their children in the home (Deut 6:7-9).
- Women are to share the gospel (1 Pet 3:15).
- Women may pray and prophesy in the church (1 Cor 11:5).
- Women are uniquely prepared to be guardians of the home and nurturers of the children (Prov 31:10-31).
The New Testament describes women who serve in various ways in the kingdom:
- Priscilla joined her husband Aquila in instructing Apollos (Acts 18:26).
- Women, like Mark’s mother Mary and Lydia of Thyatira, opened their homes for meetings of believers, and they practiced hospitality (Acts 12:12; 16:14-15).
- By His own divine fiat, God reserves the right to make decisions, even through the unexpected or extraordinary—such as calling Deborah to be a judge of Israel (Judg 4–5).
- Paul mentions women, like the highly capable Phoebe, with favor (Rom 16:1-2); and he employs women in the service of the gospel (Phil 4:3).
- Women offered themselves in special ministries to Jesus (John 12:1-11).
- Women are mentioned as prophetesses: Miriam, who led the women of Israel (Exod 15:20); Huldah, whose only prophecy in Scripture was to a man who consulted her at home (2 Kgs 22:14-20); Anna (Luke 2:36-40); and the daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9), though the text does not place their prophesying in the assemblies.
Single women are included in this challenge to teach and model Christian character. They can exercise their divinely-given nature by acting as “spiritual mothers” to others, which includes keeping their homes as a refuge for those whom God may send to them and teaching biblical principles about the home and family to women who are single as well as those who are married.
Mary and Martha (who, from a simple reading of the text, were apparently single) opened their humble home to the Lord Himself for rest and fellowship (John 12:1-11). There Jesus found a quiet place to sleep, nourishing meals, and comforting friends with whom to relax. Lydia, a prominent businesswoman (no husband or children are mentioned), surely must have given money and witnessed verbally about kingdom causes. Yet, though she was respected and honored in the community for her education, position, and business expertise, she was primarily commended in the book of Acts for her hospitality (Acts 16:14-15,40).
What Is a Woman Who Wants to Serve Christ to Do?
Commit yourself to line up under the authority of Scripture. Jesus neither criticized nor questioned Old Testament authority. He believed all of Scripture (Matt 5:17-18). Beware of judging biblical teaching in such a way that infallibility falls on your shoulders. Let Scripture interpret Scripture, knowing that all Scripture works together to present God’s truth to you (Ps 119:130-36).
Examine the two organizations offering different viewpoints on the roles of women in the church. These are the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (representing complementarians) and Christians for Biblical Equality (representing egalitarians). Both of these organizations can recommend watershed books to help you understand their respective positions.
Refuse to accept any scholar’s interpretation of difficult passages of Scripture without looking carefully at his documentation and especially at exegetical work based on the text of Scripture (1 John 4:1). Consult classic commentaries that have stood the test of time. Look for Christian journals, periodicals, and the writings coming from your own denomination with a fair representation—open forums with equally qualified proponents who discuss these issues based upon biblical principles.
My fervent prayer is that women will work under the clear authority of the written Word of God (based on a natural reading of Scripture and careful exegesis of the text), neither seeking recognition nor demanding higher office, but making every effort to serve the Lord and trust Him to open opportunities appropriate to their gifts, embracing usefulness despite limitations and beyond expectations.