Women in Church Ministry

Hi All, A great topic regarding how a complementarian would view women in the church was brought up and if anyone has time to discuss various views and scenarios in the church, I'd love to discuss it, too. Specifically in regards to:

1) What age group do you think the transfer should happen when women stop teaching "children" and men take over the bulk of the teaching?

2) Does anyone Scripturally believe that a woman cannot teach a women's bible study? If so--why?

3) Do you think if a woman is teaching an all-woman's Sunday School class on Sunday morning or some other sort of teaching is going on and a man walks into the room and sits down--a) the woman should stop teaching; b) continue on teaching, but not look at the man; c) ask the man to leave; or d) explain to the group what the bible says about women teaching to men? I've also heard this type of scenario repeatedly happening with a popular woman's speaker at her church and have read her explanation on why she continues to teach, with her church's full support.

4) Do you think it's biblically appropriate for women to share their thoughts on Scriptures in Sunday School where men are present?

5) What about small group settings where men are present, either in a church building or in a home?

6) How does one explain I Tim. 3:1 where Paul writes to the office of elder (I think) and just addresses to men/he/ and then in verse 8 switches to the office of Deacon and goes on to men and women using, from what I can tell, the word "likewise"? Am I misunderstanding this?

As honest as I can be, I really am more curious than debating it. I have strong opinions about what the bible says about a woman's role at home, but have (much) less understanding and study about a woman's role at church. While our church holds to the office of Deacon for a woman, and I agree to a point, I'm also desiring to come to my own conclusion as faithfully as I have about my conclusions about women at home.

I'm appreciative of anyone's time to discuss all or part of these questions (or others anyone else may have).

Thank you!

Kim Noble Smile

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

While you're pondering this topic, Kim, you might want to check out the thread http://sharperiron.org/article/mothers-saved-childbearing-part-2 ]Mothers Saved In Childbearing Pt. 2 - good discussion there.

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1) What age group do you think the transfer should happen when women stop teaching "children" and men take over the bulk of the teaching?

There is no definitive way to answer this question Scripturally. In the OT, it appears that boys were not counted as men until age 20, but I think there is a great necessity for men to be the primary instructors in preparing boys to become men, so IMO men should take over the teaching of boys around age 13.
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2) Does anyone Scripturally believe that a woman cannot teach a women's bible study? If so--why?

There are no prohibitions that I can see. Women are to mentor each other, and while I think we've forsaken one-on-one relationships for the efficiency of the classroom model, I don't think that women getting together to study the Word is a bad thing. It doesn't make sense to say that women can get together for every reason under the sun except to discuss Scripture. Or to restrict women from getting together at all for any reason.
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3) Do you think if a woman is teaching an all-woman's Sunday School class on Sunday morning or some other sort of teaching is going on and a man walks into the room and sits down--a) the woman should stop teaching; b) continue on teaching, but not look at the man; c) ask the man to leave; or d) explain to the group what the bible says about women teaching to men? I've also heard this type of scenario repeatedly happening with a popular woman's speaker at her church and have read her explanation on why she continues to teach, with her church's full support.

I think most of these scenarios border on the ridiculous. What if a guy is standing outside the door eavesdropping? The lions, the tigers, the bears, oh my. What it would mean is that men could never subject themselves to being within earshot of a women talking intelligently about anything, lest they learn something from a female.
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4) Do you think it's biblically appropriate for women to share their thoughts on Scriptures in Sunday School where men are present?

I'm not comfortable with women 'sharing their thoughts' in formal settings such as Sunday School, mixed gender Bible studies... the Bible does give us a clue on this by saying that if the woman wants to learn something, she should ask her husband at home- so why not write a note to hubby during the class and if he doesn't know the answer, he can ask. Two birds, one stone, and nobody gets hurt... except for the birds.
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5) What about small group settings where men are present, either in a church building or in a home?
See #4
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6) How does one explain I Tim. 3:1 where Paul writes to the office of elder (I think) and just addresses to men/he/ and then in verse 8 switches to the office of Deacon and goes on to men and women using, from what I can tell, the word "likewise"? Am I misunderstanding this?

According to my perception of Biblical principle and pattern, females should not hold any formal 'staff' positions in the church. Chief cook and bottlewasher- OK. Overseeing the nursery? OK. Organizing the food pantry, the International Dinner, baby and wedding showers? OK. But if Scripture mandates that a woman isn't to teach in the church or hold a position of authority over men, then she isn't to teach/hold a position of authority over men. All of the descriptors, from the use of the pronoun 'he' to the other qualifications seem to designate the man for offices in the church. Their wives are to be supportive, and their testimony, as described by the text, informs the man's credibility as an authority.

I think the only argument I've ever heard to explain the exceptions in Scripture that made sense was that if God can't find a man to do something, He'll find a woman- hence Deborah and other female exceptions-to-the-rule. But what makes them special is that they are a deviation from the norm. What we tend to do is take the anomalies and try to make them the standard. They are exceptions for a reason.

skjnoble's picture

Thanks for taking the time. It seems I've stepped into my first(?) SI faux pas--not doing a search for a topic first to see if it's already been (recently, at least) discussed. Yikes! Sorry about that.

A funny little side note is I didn't see the rest of your post--just the link and read through that. As I was coming back to post a response, I saw that you had taken the time to respond, in detail, to my questions. Thanks, Susan!

Women are to mentor each other, and while I think we've forsaken one-on-one relationships for the efficiency of the classroom model, I don't think that women getting together to study the Word is a bad thing. It doesn't make sense to say that women can get together for every reason under the sun except to discuss Scripture. Or to restrict women from getting together at all for any reason.

I've come, so far, to that conclusion myself. Just thinking out loud (sans blueberry bagel Lol I'm not sure why I've come to such a hard and fast conclusion about women's roles at home, but not-so-much about women's roles in the church. Do you see, in Scripture overall, more mandates/descriptions for the roles of women in the home than in the church?

I completely agree with women forsaking the one-on-one-ness aspect of things. The sin of autonomy is prevalent. Any ideas as to why--beyond cultural, educational? influence?

I think most of these scenarios border on the ridiculous. What if a guy is standing outside the door eavesdropping? The lions, the tigers, the bears, oh my. What it would mean is that men could never subject themselves to being within earshot of a women talking intelligently about anything, lest they learn something from a female.

You're right. It is ridiculous, but I'm coming across more and more of these types of scenarios. As technology and modern conveniences allow for more (Christian) women ministry time for the local church, I think these types of questions are getting asked more and more. One incident came up recently with our church holding an all-women's conference and another question was posted elsewhere because of a (very) popular "christian" woman's speaker was experiencing an influx of male fans. Smile Since I believe the one-on-one mentoring relationship is sorely lacking because now women (or at least this is one example) can just Google an answer, it's even more imperative that those growing and desiring to obey the Titus 2 mandate for women, be informed, as well. Or at least have thought through some of these modern-day issues.

One other personal note. One extra argument I would have for Kevin Subra(?) over in the other link is what would he do with the Matt. 18 reference that people should confront others about sin? Or any other communications regarding topics of Scripture? Basic communication in the local church (not just the 'building' but the 'family' as well) would have to completely drop off because if a woman spoke anything other than cooking or cleaning tips--according to what I could glean from his posts, the woman (and the man listening) would be sinning. Maybe I'm missing his point.

For what it's worth--I was really thankful for the post. I know there are a lot more SI readers that probably have an opinion other than what the thread ended up being or was probably intended which was child-bearing.

Thanks Susan.

Kim

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

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Do you see, in Scripture overall, more mandates/descriptions for the roles of women in the home than in the church?

Yes- there are many obvious mandates and examples from which we can garner information about roles in the home, but it seems not so much information is given about how women function in the church. We also have staff positions in the church that are not in existence in the NT, like choir directors. Although, one could use the OT pattern of how the temple functioned and who was allowed to serve... that'd eliminate women in teaching/authority roles... but men were also didn't qualify as well for various reasons. Women were active as far as donating materials and furnishing it though. I don't know what you could effectively distill as far as NT doctrine from all of that.

But in both the OT and NT we see the lives of many women and wives/mothers. We have a detailed passage in Proverbs 31, and no where is it mentioned that she was an integral part of the temple ministry. This is, however, the absence of information, and I'm cautious about giving the lack of mention too much significance, although it can be indicative if there are other patterns/principles that reinforce it. We do have some definite information about what is/isn't expected of women in the church, but it seems to be focused on authority functions, not helper or supportive type roles.

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I completely agree with women forsaking the one-on-one-ness aspect of things. The sin of autonomy is prevalent. Any ideas as to why--beyond cultural, educational? influence?

Probably all-of-the-above. The ability of most folks to travel quickly and easily, the advent of the career woman, the abundance of inexpensive products and services that used to be provided by the wife or trade within the community, the focus on convenience... all of society has moved away from deeply meaningful relationships in favor of shallow Monday-night-football fellowshipping, and we no longer engage in our communities because we can so easily choose to only hang out with our co-workers, family, church friends, fellow hobbyists...

Women especially are more fearful now of bodily and emotional harm, I think, and are increasingly reluctant to get involved in the lives of others. But relationships are hard work, and you have to be willing to take some lumps and persevere in order to have meaningful friendships or a beneficial ministry. However, it is much more self-gratifying to bemoan one's victimhood and hope for a spot on Oprah. Wink

This was kind of a thinking-out-loud post, so excuse me if there is a lack of coherency.

Jim's picture

  • What age group do you think the transfer should happen when women stop teaching "children" [color=red ]Answer: 12 or 13 / Should have a male teacher for boys only classes (above 12-13) or mixed gender classes (same age)[/color ]
  • Does anyone Scripturally believe that a woman cannot teach a women's bible study? [color=red ]Answer: not me! A woman should teach a women's bible study![/color ]
  • Do you think if a woman is teaching an all-woman's Sunday School class on Sunday morning or some other sort of teaching is going on and a man walks into the room and sits down .. [color=red ]Answer: keep teaching! What's he doing there anyway! Is he carrying a purse? Smile
    [/color ]
  • Do you think it's biblically appropriate for women to share their thoughts on Scriptures in Sunday School where men are present? [color=red ]Answer: yes. (My wife just tells me what to ask and I obey her Smile )[/color ]
  • What about small group settings where men are present? [color=red ]Answer: yes.[/color ]
  • How does one explain I Tim. 3:1 where Paul writes to the office of elder (I think) and just addresses to men/he/ and then in verse 8 switches to the office of Deacon and goes on to men and women using, from what I can tell, the word "likewise"? [color=red ]Answer: My views are http://www.sharperiron.org/comment/19176#comment-19176 ]here and http://sharperiron.org/comment/19220#comment-19220 ]here [/color ]