Was Paul For or Against Women In Ministry

Via Seedbed

The question of a woman’s role in ministry is a pressing concern for today’s church. It is paramount first, because of our need for the gifts of all the members God has called to serve the Church. The concern, however, has extended beyond the Church itself. Increasingly, secular thinkers attack Christianity as against women and thus irrelevant to the modern world.

The Assemblies of God and other denominations birthed in the Holiness and Pentecostal revivals affirmed women in ministry long before the role of women became a secular or liberal agenda.1Likewise, in the historic missionary expansion of the 19th century, two-thirds of all missionaries were women. The 19th-century women’s movement that fought for women’s right to vote originally grew from the same revival movement led by Charles Finney and others who advocated the abolition of slavery. By contrast, those who identified everything in the Bible’s culture with the Bible’s message were obligated both to accept slavery and reject women’s ministry.2

For Bible-believing Christians, however, mere precedent from church history cannot settle a question; we must establish our case from Scripture. Because the current debate focuses especially around Paul’s teaching, we will examine his writings after we have briefly summarized other biblical teachings on the subject.

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50 Women You Should Know

The following article appeared in the October 2012 issue of Christianity Today.  It is a list of today’s most influential Christian women leaders.  Two Wesleyans are among the women – our General Superintendent, Dr. Jo Anne Lyon and President of Houghton College, Dr. Shirley Mullen.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/october/50-women-you-should-know.html

Yes, there are always dangers in these kinds of lists.  Just looking through the few comments that were posted – there were several “why wasn’t so and so listed” and so on.  I think it’s pretty cool that out of 50 leading women, two are Wesleyans.  The Wesleyan Church is a small denomination compared to many others and yet, here are two of our great leaders profiled in this article.  Check it out.

Ann Romney, Michelle Obama, and Giving Women a Voice in the Church

I received this link via the Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy Facebook page.  It is something to think about.

Ann Romney, Michelle Obama, and Giving Women a Voice in the Church

Before you throw stones or want to endorse me as a candidate for the next president, just hear me out. And even if some of you strongly disagree or hate me more than you already do, just ponder the thought and question I pose in this article about the importance of having the voices of both women and men in our lives and in the larger Church.

My intent isn’t to hurt or bash the Church, but as someone that loves and serves the Church, I want to see it grow deeper, more just, and more reflective of the Kingdom of God–one that fully embraces the gifts of both women and men.

So let me set the table.

I care about politics not because I obsess over politics. Hardly.

Rather, politics is important to me because it involves policies, and policies ultimately impact people. And the last time I checked, people (a.k.a. human beings created in the Imago Dei) are important. In my opinion, we have no choice as Christians: we must be engaged in our civic responsibilities and affairs. In other words, if our faith in Christ and the work of the Kingdom are important, we ought to be engaged in the issues of our world—locally, nationally, and globally.

At the same time, I am an “independent” when it comes to political parties and urge Christians to not be played, swayed, or seduced by the powers that be. For this reason, I’ve tried to urge others to be cautious of the politicization and manipulation of Jesus, Christians, and religion.

For this and other reasons, I’ve attempted to catch some of the Republican National Convention last week and this week’s Democratic National Convention. Some of it has been educational, other parts were infuriating, others confusing, and still others very inspiring. I am listening and watching, as I want to be more deeply educated and informed so I can steward the privilege of voting with care, prayer, and discernment. But thus far (and I know that the DNC has just gotten underway), one clear observation for me from both the RNC and DNC has been the amazing voices, words, leadership, and speeches from…the women. The three that obviously stood out for me were the speeches delivered by Ann Romney, Condoleezza Rice, and Michelle Obama. Ann’s speech was heartfelt and compelling. Condoleezza’s speech was inspiring and—dare I say it—“presidential.” And wow, Michelle Obama’s speech was simply riveting. I found myself in tears on a couple occasions during the FLOTUS’ speech.

As I soaked in the inspiring speeches from these women, I was mindful of the incredible fact that the 19th Amendment to the American Constitution—allowing women to vote—only took place in 1920. Just 92 years ago! And with that, America became just the 27th country to support “universal suffrage.”

Without any offense intended to others—especially the male speakers—these women’s speeches were the clear highlights. I don’t care what others will do or say during the DNC from here on out; no one is going to top the speech delivered by Michelle Obama. But this isn’t my attempt to say that women are better than men, more articulate than men, more intelligent than men, or any other nonsensical comparisons. Rather, I want to simply communicate how incomplete the conventions would have been without their voices, words, challenges, and exhortations.

Imagine if only men were allowed to speak.

Seriously, imagine that for a second.

Now, I want to connect this to “the Church.” And by using the “Church,” I’m not indicting any and all churches, organizations, and denominations, but simply speaking to the general larger Church.

Now, I get it. It may seem heretical to juxtapose “a political convention” with “the Church,” but hear me out. I know for some of us, it simply comes down to one’s “theological” and “biblical” convictions. I understand that because those are the critical elements that informed and transformed why I support women in all levels of leadership—not because of political correctness, trendiness, or hipsteriness, but rather my own biblical and theological convictions.

Now going back to Ann, Condi, and Michelle…can we all agree how important their voices were in their respective conventions as they addressed American citizens and delegates from all 51 states, all walks of life, and all ages, as they were broadcast to homes and halls throughout the country, and really, the larger world?

Deeply impactful.

And yet in some churches and Christian conventions, associations, conferences, and denominations, women still aren’t allowed to lead or speak, particularly from the “main” platform.

Yes, they can teach children’s ministry, counsel other women, lead the women’s tea party, organize bazaars, or host a bake sale, but when it comes to addressing, teaching, preaching, leading sacraments, challenging, and exhorting the larger church from the pulpit or stage…no can do.

And that is sad. Really sad.

Not having the voices of women in the Church is not just sad for women, but truthfully, it’s sad and a deep loss for the Church. We’re missing the stories, convictions, and challenges from the Ann Romneys, Condi Rices, and Michelle Obamas within our churches. [And for goodness sake, can we please have some Asian representation in these conventions so I can include an Asian woman for my article.]

The amazing speeches of women in the conventions make the silence of women in the Church that much more deafening.

And to be honest, this article isn’t even about advocating for women in all levels of leadership; it’s not even a post about the never-ending debate about egalitarians vs. complementarians. But rather, it’s simply to convey that we really need the voices of women in all our churches. We really do.

If you want to read a couple of other posts I’ve written about this and similar matters, here are some links:

 

Eugene Cho is the co-founder (with his wife) and executive director of One Day’s Wages — “a movement of People, Stories, and Actions to alleviate extreme global poverty.” He is also the founding and lead pastor of Quest Church and the founder and executive director of Q Cafe — a non-profit community cafe and music venue in Seattle. Follow Eugene on Twitter or his personal blog.

More from Eugene Cho or visit Eugene at www.eugenecho.wordpress.com

Women In the Ministry

This has been a historic week in the life of our denomination. We (the General Conference) has approved a restructuring of our headquarters.  We have gone from three General Superintendents to one.  Also in the process, we elected to the position of General Superintendent Dr. Joann Lyon.  There’s been an interesting conversation on Facebook and this morning I came across this video from N.T. Wright about women in the ministry and I thought I would share it with you.

Learning Interesting Facts

This evening, Pam and I were watching “Who Do You Think You Are?” featuring Helen Hunt.  This was a great show, because in it Helen finds out about her great-great grandmother who was a leader in the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union.) At first Helen approached this part of her genealogy with trepidation, but as the layers were pulled back, she became aware of the great things her great-great grandmother did through the work of the WCTU.  Her thoughts were initially that the WCTU was a judgmental organisation.  Again she discovered that in the 1800’s alcohol was the source of physical and sexual abuse.  This is what the WCTU fought against.  In addition, the WCTU fought for voting rights for women, education, and other important social issues.

Toward the end of the segment they talked about how instrumental Helen’s great-great grandmother was in women getting the right to vote in 1920.  One of the things that I love about our denomination is that we fought for many basic human rights back in the 1800’s – slavery, basic rights for women, taking care of the widows and orphans and so on.  I’m glad to see that we are doing some of these things again through organizations like World Hope International, Hephzibah Ministries and Wesleyan Native Ministries and others.

As I watched that segment this thought came to me.  In the Wesleyan Methodist and Pilgrim Holiness Churches, women were able to preach before they had the right to vote. Many look at our stance at women in the ministry and think we’ve come to this late in the game, when in reality, Wesleyans were one of the first to ordain women.  Some may ask why we ordain women.  Isn’t that against the Bible?  Let me close with two links

How To Empower Women In Your Church

From Cultivate Her

*Post by Sharon Hodde Miller*

As some of you might know, I am currently a student pursing a PhD in educational studies. I have a great passion for women in our churches and I hope my research will one day serve them, so I love to share what I’m learning from time to time. Especially when I think it can help church leaders.

In recent months I have studied a phenomenon called stereotype threat. This term refers to the pressure individuals feel in the classroom or workplace due to perceived stereotypes about themselves. For instance, women are sometimes stereotyped as being less capable at math, which can influence the way young girls perform in their math classes. If they believe they are worse at math, they are likely to perform worse regardless of natural ability.

Numerous studies have shown that the simple presence of a stereotype can inhibit academic performance, but it creates an additional obstacle. If a student or employee anticipates being stereotyped, some will actively try to undermine the stereotype. For example, a businesswoman may fear being perceived as overly emotional by her male colleagues, so she intentionally minimizes her emotions and conducts herself stoically. Unfortunately, the cognitive energy she puts into combating the stereotype also inhibits her performance. Likewise, students who find themselves resisting a stereotype in a classroom setting are less able to learn and engage the subject matter.

It is remarkable and troubling that a stereotype can be so powerful. Fortunately, researchers have also looked into the best methods for breaking the power of stereotype threat, and they have discovered two primary options:

1. An authority figure publicly debunks the stereotype. In a study at Stanford University, a group of men and women were administered a math test and their performances were recorded (Spencer and Steele, 1999). Then, the same math test was administered to a different group of men and women, but with one small change. This time, before the students began, the test administrator told the group that there was no previous gender discrepancy in performance on this test.  This simple statement debunking the stereotype about women and math made all the difference. The women in the second group tested better.

2. In-group role models. It is also helpful for victims of stereotype threat to see individuals from their own group (ie. women or minorities) functioning competently outside the stereotype (McIntyre, Paulson, Taylor, Morin and Lord, 2011). Having a talented female math teacher, for instance, can help dispel the myth that women are not good at math.

This research is fascinating, and it has led me to wonder about its application to women in the church. There are many stereotypes out there about women that are both sociological and psychological, so the cycle can be tough to break. If women believe they are not capable of thinking theologically, or leading and teaching in the church effectively, then that stereotype perpetuates an unfortunate cycle in which women are hesitant to even try.

That said, there are two applications that evangelicals can take from the above research. The first applies to men. In the same way that authority figures have the power to break stereotypes with a simple word, men in the evangelical church have that power as well. That is not to say that women should not also speak out against unbiblical stereotypes, but research seems to indicate that the power group–the group that is stereotyped as being naturally gifted or authoritative in a certain area–has particular influence in this regard. If men were to tell their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters that women can think theologically, that women should be important voices in the church, and that the church needs the contributions of these women, that message would have a tremendous, positive impact.

I should add that this influence is evident in my own life. I have a strong and brilliant dad who has always been unconditionally supportive. Although both my parents believe in me (sometimes more than they should!) my dad would seriously fight anyone who tried to stand in my way. I am no doubt the woman I am today because my dad wanted a strong daughter.

In short, men, we need you! Challenge your wives and raise strong daughters!

The second application from the above research concerns us ladies. If we want to see younger generations of women pushing themselves and using their gifts for the Kingdom of God, then we need to be doing that ourselves. Change can be slow and discouraging at times, but the more women who are out there studying, growing and leading, the more we can expect younger women to follow our example. Change begins with us.