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An Egalitarian Mega Church?

On December 17, 2008

"So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:11-13, TNIV).

When we think of mega churches, very often we imagine large evangelical congregations—numbering in the thousands, located in the United States. But, do you realize that five of the ten largest mega churches are located in South Korea?! According to last year’s research by the Economist, the Yoido Full Gospel Church claims 830,000 members, and continues to grow by 3,000 members each month! Astonishing, isn’t it? But, what if I told you that this church, pastored by Dr. Cho, is also egalitarian!

According to Why Not Women, Dr. Cho was initially unsure whether gifted women teachers should have access to the pulpit because of cultural, rather than biblical, concerns. Yet, under the encouragement of Loren Cunningham—cofounder of Youth With a Mission—Dr. Cho began to open ministry opportunities for women, including positions as ministers and cell group leaders. Several years later, Cho visited another country and was shocked at the small size of their churches. What was his recommendation? Dr. Cho said:

I told them to release their women, but they insist that’s not the problem. They ask me ‘What’s the key to your church?' I tell them again, “release your women…” (Why Not Women, p. 69)

Friends, if, as Scripture suggests, God gives spiritual gifts to all Christians (Rom. 12:6-8, 1 Cor. 12:7 ff, and Eph. 4:11-13) regardless of gender, education, class, or ethnicity then one would expect to find healthy, vibrant, growing churches where the spiritual gifts are given their fullest breadth of service. And, who can but admire a leader like Dr. Cho for courageously giving women opportunities for leadership despite cultural prejudice to women leaders. And, we can only wish that all pastors might learn from Dr. Cho’s example. Let us pray for churches around the world to release women’s gifts in order that we might “all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13).

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CBE advances the gospel by equipping Christians to use their God-given talents in leadership and service regardless of gender, ethnicity, or class. Together with supporters and ministry partners from 100 denominations and 65 countries, CBE works to inspire and mobilize women and men with the Bible’s call to lead and serve as equals.

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