Monday, August 26, 2013

Women and Men in Leadership

Today I wrote a piece that will be published in the weekly "Pastors' Column" of our local newspaper.

My contribution this time is entitled "Biblical Equality" and mostly consists of a paragraph or two from the introduction to a book I've referenced before Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy.  I'll share what I wrote at the end of this post.

So why write about "Biblical Equality" today?  

God has made Crossroads to be the kind of church that has many men and women who are serving as spiritual leaders.  A glance back at what the Lord has done in our midst over the past week shows this leadership in action.  During the week from August 18-25, God has blessed us with:
  • Two "My Hope America" introductory meetings.
  • A "network huddle" that I participated in with leaders from North Heights and Community of Hope churches in the Twin Cities area.
  • Planning and leading a Youth focused worship service.
  • A High School student led "JAM" time of Bible study and prayer.
  • Tuesday night prayer and lots of Spirit-led planning for a Saturday morning "pampering" outreach to the women of Cokato's  Golfview Apartments.
  • Prayer and planning for student/youth ministries for the fall.
I didn't initiate any of those things.   The only thing you might say I "led alone" last week was a worship service at the Cokato Manor on Wednesday... and I really didn't do that alone either... the wonderful activity staff at the Manor makes it all possible.  Other than that, everything happened as God has been working through men and women who pray and then act on what God has said.  Praise God!

So what does that have to do with "Biblical Equality"?  Simply this: some would say that women should not be equal partners in church leadership.  They would point to certain Bible passages in the Holy Spirit inspired letters that were written to churches in Ephesus, Corinth, Colossae and to church leaders such as Timothy--letters that tell women to be silent, to be submissive, and to avoid any leadership role.

Because the Bible is God's Word we need to take these challenges to women in leadership seriously.  We will not just brush these things off as if God's Word doesn't apply to us now in 2013.  And that's why I wrote what I wrote today.  Here it is:
Biblical Equality

Today I'd like to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to consider the issue of men and women in the church and in the home.

A helpful (and scholarly) book about this is entitled Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy.

The book begins as follows:

"'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free' (John 8:31-32).

"So promised Jesus Christ, the Lord of the church and of the cosmos. The cause of Christ is advanced only as truth is recognized, affirmed and lived out with wisdom and integrity... Doctrine that falls short of the truth not only impedes believers from walking in the full freedom of the gospel of grace and truth but also hinders unbelievers from coming to salvation through the work of Jesus Christ."

Biblical equality "recognizes patterns of authority in the family, church and society--it is not anarchistic--but rejects the notion that any office, ministry or opportunity should be denied anyone on the grounds of gender alone.

"This is because women and men are made equally in God's image and likeness (Gen 1:27), are equally fallen (Rom 3:23), equally redeemable through Christ's life , death and resurrection (Jn 3:16), equally participants in the new-covenant community (Gal 3:28), equally heirs of God in Christ (1 Pet 3:7), and equally able to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit for life and ministry (Acts 2:17).

"Consequently, any limits placed on the gifts and abilities of women should be challenged through a rigorous examination of the biblical texts--rightly interpreted and harmonized with the whole of God's Word..." (end quote)

If you'd like to discuss this, please contact me. Careful Bible study (Acts 17:11) and deep prayer (Acts 16:17) around these these issues will advance the gospel of Jesus in our communities. Let's study carefully so no human prejudice will get in the way of God's soul saving work (Rom 14:13).
So that's what I wrote for the newspaper.

I encourage you to pray about this.  As we move forward as a church, Crossroads will need to gather our spiritual leaders together sometimes, and I am believing it's important to face the issue of women's leadership head on before we do.  Let's talk together about these things and seek the will of God.

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