A friend asked me to recommend some women’s studies for a new church plant. Though there are many fine Bible studies aimed at women or by women on the market, I don’t prefer them. First, these times if apostasy means women are especially vulnerable to it, and there are tons of false teachers out there of the female persuasion. Even solid teachers who have for decades developed good curricula of late have made a turn for the worse. (I’m thinking of Kay Arthur, among others). What is recommended today might be apostasy-ridden tomorrow when the woman creates her next curriculum. Though men are not immune from the same, it is a fact that satan attacks women with impunity. (Eve, symbolic Jezebel of Revelation 2, 2 Tim 3:6, etc)
J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt do express the need for women’s ministry in the local church in their excellent book, Women’s Ministry in the Local Church. I would say if one is going to start a women’s ministry in a new church or resurrect a suspended ministry in an old church, to know why you are doing it and what the Bible has to say about it. Don’t have a women’s ministry just to have one. That’s where the Duncan book comes in. An excerpt from the Dallas Theological Seminary’s review of it states,
The book builds on five foundational themes taken from Paul’s pastoral letters: the Gospel, truth, sound doctrine, discipleship, and covenant. From these themes Duncan and Hunt identify five key passages, each emphasizing a different element that they feel is necessary for developing a healthy women’s ministry: 1 Timothy 2:9–15 (submission), 1 Timothy 3:11 (compassion), 1 Timothy 5 (community), Titus 2 (discipleship), and 2 Timothy 3:1–17 (Scripture). Each section offers a solid interpretation of the text, gives biblical examples of women who exemplify the meaning, and lists practical ways to carry out each element in a women’s ministry. Each chapter ends with testimonies from men and women who have implemented that principle in their own ministry experience.
The authors give five reasons why women’s ministry is important in every healthy evangelical church, and they warn of the adverse effects to marriages, families, and churches if women fail to have opportunities to meet and serve together.
I’m not opposed to all women’s ministries of course, but I’m advising care and thought into the creation of it and a watchful eye from the elders to ensure its solidity over time.
What I’d shared with my friend is the second reason I’m not all that excited about women’s ministries led by women is that all too often the ministry delves into topics aimed at women only, meaning, dating, courtship, marriage, and children. While they are important and worthy topics, first, it marginalizes single women by definition. Second, many times these topics are dealt with emotionally and not as theologically as one would prefer. I prefer theology for all ministries, men’s, women’s, and youth. Even children.
As for women, my specific target audience, if satan targets women then it behooves the church elders to formulate a plan for combating that attack. Grounding women in solid theology seems the best method. And yet women are often the last to be offered solidly theological studies in which to delve.
Even at that, the women who nod most vigorously during a solid theological sermon are often the first to gush about the latest Beth Moore study/Lysa TerKeurst book/Sarah Young devotional. That’s why I appreciated the chapter on Scripture in Duncan & Hunt’s book about women’s ministries.
There are three issues with the church ministries’ approach I’ve noticed over time, I’d mentioned in the conversation, and I’ll flesh out further here. (Twitter limits are so exasperating sometimes!) Women as well as men-
1) deny the beginning,
2) mock the end,
3) are biblically illiterate with most everything in between.
To ground women in the beginning, Genesis 1-11 studies help. I believe the following studies from Genesis would make a wonderful addition to the rotation of any women’s or men’s ministry. We must know what we believe and why. Genesis provides that foundation. If more youths, especially girls, were taught the basics that are contained in Genesis, perhaps when they reach age 20 they would not be Already Gone.
A good resource is Genesis 1 to 11- Before Abraham, Creation, Sin, and the Nature of God (MacArthur Bible Studies)
Another good resource for Revelation: This book promises blessing yet too many people fear it, especially women. Here is a booklet that will help, “Jet Tour Through Revelation” ($2 for the booklet or click here to read it free of charge)
Biblical illiteracy: For a new church, I recommend Justin Peters’ seminar “Clouds Without Water“, which discusses what discernment is and why it is important, as well as critiquing the word-faith movement;
This free booklet (free for a limited time as of July 2016) “Discernment: Spiritual Survival for a Church in Crisis“.
9Marks: Anything from 9Marks, an organization designed to help church plants and older churches become and stay healthy.
So that’s it. I might be somewhat if an anomaly, single and childless yet in my mid 50’s. I’m a Titus 2 elder woman who has nothing to say about marriage or child rearing except what the Bible says, not from experience. Perhaps that is why I focus on theology so much. Of maybe it is the Holy Spirit impressing on me that women, man, youth or child, you’re never too young or too old to study God, which is simply what theology is.