Posted in theology

Women’s ministries then and now

By Elizabeth Prata

Lois and Eunice were Timothy’s mom and grandmom. They were lauded for teaching Timothy the Jewish scriptures well, and raising him as an obedient son of God. He was ready for the Gospel message when it came. We know where that ended up! Timothy became a pastor.

What if Lois and Eunice said one day “We believe in the passion, purpose, and potential of every woman everywhere. Let’s start a guild to activate every woman to make an impact in her world for the Kingdom”. And, what if, forsaking teaching the boy, Lois and Eunice cast their eyes on the wider world, abandoned their sphere of influence at home and instead struck off to focus on women everywhere ‘make an impact’? No Timothy, true son of Paul and pastor to many. The Lord developed spheres of influence and roles for each demographic, including women for a reason. The Lord puts us where we are for a reason.

Continue reading “Women’s ministries then and now”
Posted in theology

Report back: Apologetics Live interview & list of women’s ministries

By Elizabeth Prata

This past week Andrew Rappaport of Striving for Eternity ministry asked me to come on his show which is a live show broadcast on Thursday nights with Anthony Sylvestro. It’s called Apologetics Live and people call or write in with comments and questions. The topic they’d asked me to speak to is women in ministry, women talking theology, and discernment. Did I mention it was live? And two hours long?

I was honored to be asked and also nervous. But it turns out I can talk about Jesus all night long. The time flew. I’ll leave it to you to decide if it was a good talk. If it wasn’t, that’s on me, the two gentlemen are personable and knowledgeable with a long history of preaching & teaching, apologetics ministry as well as evangelism and discernment.

My podcast is The End Time Blog Podcast, available on Apple and all the rest. Also it’s a direct widget on my right sidebar at the blog, https://the-end-time.org

Welcome to new folks who heard about this site from the show and checking me out. I appreciate it! If you would like to know a bit more about me I wrote about why I named this blog The End Time, a few nuggets of quirky info about me, and my doctrinal stance, this information is here at my ABOUT page.

I’ve been writing here at The End Time since 2009. I started the podcast 6 months ago. It’s just me reading what I wrote that day on the blog, lol. Nothing fancy. The longest one was I think about 25 minutes but mostly they last between 5 and 10 minutes long. A friend of mine said that is a great length because she can listen to two or three episodes while driving in to work. I had busy women in mind moms at home, busy working singles, who might not have the time to sit and read, but can listen while they do something else like fold laundry or drive. I’m pleased to report 10,000 listens already. Thank you!

One of the questions Andrew asked me on Apologetics Live was who I thought credible and solid women’s ministries are. I shared a list of several I enjoy, my list is certainly not exhaustive. Quite a few of these are pastor’s wives. Though that certainly isn’t a requirement for a women’s solid ministry, I believe it helps. Many men do not pay attention to what their wives are reading or the conferences they attend. Pastors have a higher diligence in protecting the flock and that includes their wives, as well as striving to maintain an orderly household as the scripture says they must.

Another thing that helps is if the woman has a long track record of being in the public eye without compromising their message nor becoming immoral in any way (in other words, fame or influence hasn’t gone to their head). There are many other solid ministries by women too besides the ones on my short list, who are proclaiming Jesus and honoring His name by being a diligent daughter of the King.

You can find many of these women in their blogs, on Youtube, Instagram, etc. The links I offer are just one of their many presences online. I’m listing women, because the topic I was asked to speak on was women doing theology and women in ministry, but at my blog there is a blogroll that contains many great men’s ministries. I don’t feel that women must listen to women only. In fact, I encourage women to listen to men.

1. Dr. Shelbi Cullen & Kimberly Cummings– Women’s Hope Podcast, part of the Master’s University. https://womens-hope.masters.edu/

Shelbi and Kimberly have 25 years of combined experience in biblical discipleship and counseling as ACBC counselors, and their content deals with both theology and practical life issues for women.

2. Susan Heck– With the Master. https://www.withthemaster.org/

Susan is a certified counselor with the ACBC, recently widowed after 46 years of marriage to her husband- who was a pastor for 50 years, an author, and serves in her church as well as online and at conferences.

3. Martha Peacehttps://www.facebook.com/marthapeaceofficial/

Martha is also an ACBC counselor, speaker, and author. Her books The Excellent Wife and The Exemplary Husband are in 3rd printings and translated into many languages.

4. Brooke Bartz & Erin Coates – Open Hearts Podcast; Open Hearts in a Closed World free online annual conference- https://www.openheartsinaclosedworld.com/

Younger and newer to the scene are these two ladies. Brooke is Founder of Open Heart’s in a Closed World Conference which is now featured on American Gospel TV, and author of “Chronic Love: Trusting God while suffering with a chronic illness.” Co-Host, with her husband, of the “LIT” (Lead in Truth) Podcast.

Erin is wife to Canadian pastor James Coates, conference speaker, and Bible teacher of women. https://www.instagram.com/erincoates80

Erin and Brooke just started a podcast together which will be dropped for the first time in November, and available on AGTV, the BAR Network available on all major podcast streaming and on the YouTube page-Open Hearts in a Closed World. They are also starting an online woman’s book club in November!

5. Amy Spreeman & Michelle Lesley – A Word Fitly Spoken https://awordfitlyspoken.life/

Amy helped launch a discernment radio program called Stand Up for the Truth, speaks at conferences and women’s groups and is the founder of Berean Research and Naomi’s Table Bible Studies for Women. She is married with two grown children.

Michelle is a family-focused stay at home mom of 6, home school veteran, is active at church and in women’s ministry, and trains Christian women through her blog, speaking engagements, and the podcast with Amy.

6. Lauren Hereford – Host of Tulips and Honey Podcast, and Technical director of Open Hearts in a Closed World. Lauren is married, and is a Reformed, Christian blogger/podcaster who also homeschools her daughter. https://afterthoughtbybiblicalbeginnings.podbean.com/

7. Robin Self – A Worthy Walk- https://aworthywalk.com/

Robin Self is a Baptist pastor’s wife in a tiny town in Oklahoma, serving alongside her husband in church ministry for 28 years. She has 3 grown children.

The key for me is in this set of verses. Older women are to be reverent, younger are to be subject to their husbands, for the sole purpose of NOT dishonoring God. And isn’t that our chief aim? Whether we’re in a ministry or enjoying the benefits of someone else’s ministry, we women should honor God. It is our chief end in life.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2:3-5)

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Ladies, do you want to fulfill your potential? (Think hard before you say yes)

Someone on Twitter asked if we could recommend any good women’s conferences centering on faithful Biblical exposition and an unrelenting love for the church. This was my reply:

Good conferences centering on faithful Biblical exposition &an unrelenting love for the church are any from MacArthur, G3, TMU’s Truth & Life conference, etc. I’m not an advocate of separate women’s conferences. Women need theology, so, “Conference”, not “Women’s conference” IMO.

Below is why I prefer men’s conferences, exactly this, as a reader alerted me to a few days after the Twitter inquiry-

caine

The Dallas Seminary’s Women’s Leadership conference concluded a few days ago. Christine Caine as the keynote speaker makes me so sad, because she teaches things unworthy of Christ. Through this invitation, the Dallas Seminary gives Caine credibility. Think of how many women are negatively influenced and exposed to her, or even when they see the line-up of speakers on the website.

I looked up the Bios of the other women who were on the schedule at the Leadership conference. A pattern emerged.

Have you noticed this phrase very often? It’s become a constant to many women’s ministry bios and purpose statements.

Her mission in life is to equip and inspire women to reach their full potential in Christ.

It sounds good. “Full potential.” Who wouldn’t want to reach their full potential, especially “in Christ”? It sounds great. Here are some more Ministry purpose statements I found along those lines.

[This ministry] exists to serve the local church, leaders, organizations, and individuals by inspiring and helping them connect with their God-given potential and purpose.

[This ministry] believes in the passion, purpose, and potential of every woman everywhere.

[This Teacher] has committed her life to equipping women of all ages, regardless of marital status, with practical, biblical truth to help them live more genuine lives.

I share this dream with some amazing friends… to gather and equip and unleash a generation of women.

According to these teachers in their ministry purpose statements, I can be genuine, reach my full potential, be ‘unleashed’ (because I’m shackled now, right?), find my purpose, and more. Sounds good.

Except it’s wrong. Ministry isn’t about me. It isn’t about my potential. It isn’t about my life. It isn’t about my purpose. We do ministry for an entirely different reason. A reason that has its focus not on ourselves, looking laterally. We look up.

My potential is this: as a sinner I have the utter and constant potential to sin. (Genesis 6:5). Sinners gossip, steal, covet, murder, lust, and more. That is what sinners do. It is what we have the “potential” for. As a believer, my potential is in Christ, and will be fully realized in Christ when He comes. When we are glorified our potential will be full, but not until then. As it is now, as long as we’re not raptured or dead and dwelling in heaven until the Day, we have the total potential to sin. More than potential, actually.

We have the Holy Spirit as a help and an aid to resist our sin-nature. The more we grow, the more we can resist sin through the Holy Spirit’s help. But we do sin. Paul remarked about that, and if there was any believer who had a shot at reaching his “full potential”, as Christine Caine puts it, it was him. Yet he still struggled with doing what he didn’t want to do, and didn’t do what he wanted.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:15-20).

The kind of ministry purpose statements I read and quoted some above sound more like a fortune cookie than deeply committed evangelical purpose. It’s like that funny blog essay Challies did, ‘Joel Osteen or Fortune Cookie?’  Joel Osteen was selected as the unwitting target because he is well-known for issuing nebulous platitudes instead of firmly proclaiming the Word. We can play the same game. “Ministry Purpose Statement or Confucian saying?” Confucius was a Chinese philosopher who lived in around 500 BC. Here is an example:

The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.

It’s a Confucian saying, but if we add “in Christ” to the end it might well match any of the liberal Christian ministry purpose statements we find of the type I’m talking about.

I wish these ministries would have in their purpose statements and their leader bios, something like this:

“Helping women learn who Christ is through the study of His word.”

Or,

“Helping women to learn theology so we bring honor to Christ in our lives and deeds.”

Or,

“Women together studying the person, life, work, and ministry of Jesus Christ.”

Or,

“Studying His word so as to transform our minds and become more Christ-like.”

Or,

“Encouraging women to study God’s revelation to us through His written word.”

If you’re checking out a ministry online and see something like the me-statements mentioned above, promising full potential or unleashing or finding your purpose, beware. Alternately, just because a ministry puts up a solid-seeming purpose statement, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily solid. There’s this purpose statement for a famous ministry, which sounds fantastic:

[This ministry] is dedicated to encourage people to come to know and love Jesus Christ through the study of Scripture.

Sadly, the about statement of purpose is Beth Moore’s at Living Proof. Rather, her purpose statement should read:

This ministry is dedicated to encourage people to come to know and love Beth Moore through the study of my direct revelations, personal dreams, pop psychology, and funny anecdotes.”

So, just be aware of the language ministries use. If they claim to want to help you attain your full potential, it might be wise to say to yourself,

“No thanks, I want to study Christ while on earth, resist my potential, and wait for Him to fulfill it when I’m glorified.”

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

“What recommendations do you have for Women’s Studies?”

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,

and

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;

or

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.