Postscript on Women in Ministry

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

Hearing impaired
Blind
Lame
Retarded

Ministries to the sick

Nursing
Physician
Hospice care-cancer, AIDS, etc.
Community health

Ministries to the socially estranged

Emotionally impaired
Recovering alcoholics
Recovering drug-users
Escaping prostitutes
Abused children, women
Runaways, problem children
Orphans

Prison ministries

Women’s prisons
Families of prisoners
Rehabilitation to society

Ministries to youth

Teaching
Sponsoring
Open houses and recreation
Outings and trips
Counseling
Academic assistance

Sports ministries

Neighborhood teams
Church teams

Therapeutic counseling

Independent
Church-based
Institutional

Audiovisual ministries

Composition
Design
Production
Distribution

Writing ministries

Free-lance
Curriculum development
Fiction
Non-fiction
Editing
Institutional communications
Journalistic skills for publications

Teaching ministries

Sunday school: children, youth, students, women
Grade school
High school
College

Music ministries

Composition
Training
Performance
Voice
Choir
Instrumentalist

Evangelistic ministries

Personal witnessing
Parachurch groups
Home Bible studies
Outreach to children
Visitation teams
Counseling at meetings
Telephone counseling

Radio and television ministries

Technical assistance
Writing
Announcing
Producing

Theater and drama ministries

Acting
Directing
Writing
Scheduling

Social ministries

Literacy
Pro-life
Pro-decency
Housing
Safety
Beautification
Drug rehabilitation
Pastoral care assistance
Visitation
Newcomer welcoming and assistance
Hospitality
Food and clothing and transportation

Prayer ministries

Praying
Mobilizing for prayer events
Helping with small groups of prayer
Coordinating prayer chains
Promoting prayer days and weeks and vigils
Missions

All of the above across cultures

Support ministries

Countless “secular” jobs that undergird other ministries
The awesome significance of motherhood
Making a home as a full-time wife

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3 thoughts on “Postscript on Women in Ministry”

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