A spirited discussion continues under my previous post “Evangelical Gender Wars and the Authority of the Bible.” In the comments under that post, one of the items in contention is the idea that complementarians limit/restrict women who want to serve in Christian ministry.
While it is true that complementarians hold that some offices and teaching situations are for qualified men only, complementarians affirm that faithful Christian women should have vital ministries within the church of Jesus Christ.
Since 1987, the Danvers Statement has long been recognized as an overview of the core beliefs of complementarians. This document has an important word of affirmation concerning the need for women to serve in Christian ministry:
With half the world’s population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world (1 Cor 12:7-21).
In John Piper’s essay “A Vision of Biblical Complementarity,” Piper actually expands upon this section from the Danvers Statement and lists scores of ministries that are vital and in which women can and should be involved (see list below). But even Piper admits after his long list that many more ministries could and should be added.
In light of the expansive opportunities for women in ministry that are cited by complementarians, I do not think that it is credible to argue that complementarians want to relegate women to the sidelines in Christian service. Quite the opposite is the case. What we are saying is that all of the ministries of both men and women should be done with deference to the principle of headship that God has established within the created order (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22-33).
OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN IN MINISTRY
Ministries to the handicapped
Ministries to the sick
Hospice care-cancer, AIDS, etc.
Ministries to the socially estranged
Abused children, women
Runaways, problem children
Families of prisoners
Rehabilitation to society
Ministries to youth
Open houses and recreation
Outings and trips
Journalistic skills for publications
Sunday school: children, youth, students, women
Home Bible studies
Outreach to children
Counseling at meetings
Radio and television ministries
Theater and drama ministries
Pastoral care assistance
Newcomer welcoming and assistance
Food and clothing and transportation
Mobilizing for prayer events
Helping with small groups of prayer
Coordinating prayer chains
Promoting prayer days and weeks and vigils
All of the above across cultures
Countless “secular” jobs that undergird other ministries
The awesome significance of motherhood
Making a home as a full-time wife