While great strides have been made towards gender equality in church leadership, a staggering segment of churches still subscribe to a narrow view that permits females only certain opportunities to exercise the call of God on their life. Women may exercise authority over children and other females in the Western church context. Women are also commissioned as missionaries and sent to the furthest reaches of the world that the borders of God’s kingdom may expand. In this role they certainly teach, have authority, and pastor congregations of believers. Yet, women are excluded from teaching/pastoring roles where males are present in the same churches that commissioned them to the mission field. As a scholar of theology, I find this position inconsistent with scripture and harmful to the global church.
Not only is this position inconsistently applied within churches that do not affirm female leadership, it is damaging to women theologically, vocationally, and personally. When taken to its logical conclusion this position is also harmful to congregations in other countries that have been planted by female missionaries. Essentially, this position views male members of these churches who have been led to Christ and growth in spiritual maturity by a woman as less valuable than Western males, or less worthy of “proper” teaching, since they would not be permitted to receive instruction from a woman should they live in the United States.
The Acts community gives us a wonderful picture of women being actively part of the community of the Lord in the last days. In Biblical times, the idea of female speakers was acceptable due to God’s use of prophetesses like Sarah, Deborah, Miriam, and Huldah. Luke, the evangelist who wrote the two-volume corpus, Luke-Acts, even began his Gospel with a series of prophecies uttered by the most unlikely women: the barren, the widowed, and the pregnant-before-marriage. Amid societal taboos, God displayed a unique reversal of norms, when he spoke through the barren Elizabeth, the widowed Anna, and the virgin, Mary. Clearly, the Bible demonstrates that God uses women as agents of his revelation.
Unfortunately today, some churches, who stand by a traditional male hierarchy view, do not permit women to speak as pastor-teachers or preachers. In my opinion, these groups miss out on the fullness of what God wants do in their assemblies. Deborah was a judge in the Old Testament, who prophesied, taught, counseled, and even led the community to victory (Judges 4). What can they say about Deborah’s role? What can they say about the role of Philipp’s prophesying daughters in Acts? Could it be that people who do not permit women to speak in the assembly do not recognize the eschatological reversal that God initiated when Jesus triumphed over sin and death? Continue reading Let Women Speak in the Assembly: Towards the Inclusion of Women in Verbal Ministries→
Shortly after the #MeToo movement, another movement surfaced, #ChurchToo.#ChurchToo is about sexual harassment and abuse within the body of Christ.I am so grieved about the #ChurchToo movement as it hit’s at the vision for beloved community in Christ.And I have begun to ask the question, how do we live out the beloved community in Christ between men and women working together for the sake of the Kingdom of God?I have a couple of thoughts but first I want to lay out some Biblical support.
Ezekiel 34 tells the story of evil shepherds and good shepherds.Essentially, the evil shepherds have been feeding on the sheep instead of feeding the sheep.While the sheep are bleeding, hungry and suffering on the mountains, the evil shepherds are getting fat.And the Prophet asks the question, who will care for and bind up the wounds of the sheep?The answer is, the good shepherd.The good shepherd is, of course Jesus, the coming one who will bind up the wounds of the sheep, and tend to them in the sheepfold where they will flourish.
The prophet is helping God’s people to understand that the task of leaders and shepherds is the task of tending and caring for the sheep.I think the #ChurchToo movement is surfacing this issue in the church today so that we might become more whole as leaders and so that our communities might flourish.As those who long for the beloved community, we must be aware of the human lust for power, ego issues and self-gratification when in ministry.I want to lay out some principles that could help us move closer toward a healthy and safe community within which men and women are respected, and the sheep are fed. Continue reading #ChurchToo, Good Shepherds and Beloved Community→
Heidi Baker, founder and CEO of Iris Global – a missionary organization based in Mozambique – has inspired thousands of Christian women to aspire for leadership positions and reach their full potential. In this video from God TV, she explains some of the reasons we should embrace gender equality in the church. Who honestly thinks their daughter cannot change the world, or that a donkey would be more worthy of sharing God’s word than a woman?
What is the best argument for gender equality according to you?
Yoido Full Gospel Church (YFGC), with 830,000 members, is well-known for being the largest church in the world. The Assemblies of God congregation, located in Seoul, South Korea, was started by Yonggi Cho in 1958. However, some readers may be surprised to learn that the congregation’s growth is due in large part to the ministry of women. In a 1979 Pentecostal Evangel article, Yonggi Cho shared how the Holy Spirit prompted him to train and empower women ministers — despite the negative view of Korean culture toward women leaders. These women became the backbone of the church’s cell group structure.
Yonggi Cho’s ministry in Seoul began with dreams and visions. As a newly minted Bible college graduate, he had a dream that he was going to someday pastor the largest church in Korea. People scoffed at this dream, which he believed God had given to him. He worked very hard, and after six months he had used all of his sermons and wore himself out. Continue reading How Women Ministers Fueled the Growth of the World’s Largest Church→