Deborah-Ruth Ferber is a two time graduate of Tyndale University College and Seminary (BRE and MDiv) and holds additional certifications from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Harvard Divinity School EdX. Deborah's work has been widely published in North America and the UK and she has been a featured writer for Premier Christian Magazine, Purpose Magazine, the Canadian Mennonite, and Mennonite World Review. Deborah is also the co-author of "A Living Alternative - Anabaptist Christianity in a Post-Christendom World." A member of the MennoNerds, State of Formation, and Bible Gateway blogging collectives, Deborah enjoys writing on several topics related to Christian theology, social justice, church practice, discipleship, and disability studies. When Deborah is not behind a keyboard or does not have her nose stuck in a book, she enjoys travelling the world in search of the next biggest adventure.
Throughout Christian history there have been stories of great heroes of the faith. These heroes ranged from those who conquered social and systemic injustice and oppression, those who preached the Gospel courageously, those who taught children, and those who wrote theological tomes. But what truly made these individuals heroes? Aside from the fact that God greatly blessed these women and men and allowed them the opportunity to shine, the main reason these people changed the world, is because they lived into the calling and giftings that God assigned for them.
There are two main lists in the Bible looking at Spiritual gifts. These are Romans 12:1-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. Although there may be many additional gifts that didn’t exist in Biblical times (such as an uncanny use of social media and promotions for church work), the basics have stayed the same millenia later. To give an idea of the various gifts which one can possess, there are gifts of EDIFICATION (including: prophesy, teaching, exhortation, and encouragement), COMPASSION AND SERVICE (practical service, generosity, hospitality, mercy), and LEADERSHIP (apostleship, teaching, preaching, and evangelism).
Now in the church, the majority of gifts are not debated. For example, both men and women can be able administrators, both can be encourage, and both can be generous with time, talents and treasures. Yet, the issue arises when it comes to matters of leadership. In some churches both men and women are able to accept roles such as deacon, elder, pastor or bishop, but in many others these roles belong solely to men. Does that mean then that women were somehow bypassed when it came to giving out the spiritual gifts or does it mean that women are somehow inferior and therefore not eligible for these roles? Continue reading Is the Spirit Gender-Blind?→
I still remember my first experience of being told I couldn’t do something I wanted to do. I was only four years old and my Sunday School teacher asked us to go around the room and share what we wanted to be when we grew up. Without any hesitation I blurted out “I want to be a pastor.” My teacher, who was warm and friendly, stooped down, put her arm around my shoulders and said “honey, women can’t be pastors.” I remember being utterly confused. I had always enjoyed lining my teddy bears up after church on the steps of my house, singing Bible songs, and pretending to preach sermons. This is something I liked doing and that my parents always encouraged in their own ways. Obviously, four was too young to understand the theological implications of such a bold statement – there was no possible way I could have known at the time that this has been a grey area debated over the centuries with Bible believing Christians on both sides of the fence. All I knew was that I was being told I couldn’t do something that in my very core I felt I wanted to do, that I was called to do, that I was meant to do.
Since then, I have occasionally faced discouragement as a woman in other areas and I know that I am not alone. Thus, when I was asked to write this blog for PCPJ, I opened up my Facebook by posting an open question: “To all my Christian Women friends, what are you tired of hearing?” The results poured in and surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly) nearly everyone said the same things but in different ways. I also took this offline by asking Christian and non-Christian women alike what they were tired of hearing, and I discovered that these very same issues often permeate into the lives of even those who are not religious. That is to say, culture and tradition, often overshadow the truth and sometimes churches lose sight of what is Biblical and historically accurate in favour of what has simply been passed down to them or what they have been taught without further investigation.
On Saturday, October 28th, one of the largest churches in Toronto – People’s Church, hosted a “Serve the City Day.” The day was focused on evangelism, outreach, and missional leadership and included a plenary session in the morning with the famous charismatic evangelist and author, Patricia Bootsma. I have heard Bootsma speak on more than one occassion, and every time I listen to her I am reminded of how much of a woman of God she is.
Here is a woman who has experienced and helped to bring about healings, prophecies, visions, and more. It is evident when you meet her that the Spirit of God is upon her and the most impressive thing of all, is her humility towards this. She is not someone who does any of these things in order to amass fame and fortune, but rather she is someone who only seeks for God to use her as His evangelistic instrument. Continue reading Do You Love Souls or Do You Just Love Your Ministry?→