“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my Spirit” (Joel 2:28, 29).
Although we may idealize the early church, most of us would not have enjoyed a visit to a worship service at Corinth. The impression which one was most likely to receive was that of chaos and delirious insanity:
So if the whole congregation is assembled and all are using the "strange tongues" of ecstasy, and some uninstructed persons or unbelievers should enter, will they not think you are mad? (I Cor. 14:23, NEB).
As women, many of us have found out how wonderful it is to be loved by our families. But then we venture out beyond the shelter of our home and loved ones and go to the edge of the woods--into the male world--and we discover that we are not taken seriously.
The two divergent approaches to the question of the role of women which are common among contemporary Evangelical Christians we might call the Traditional View (the majority opinion) and the Egalitarian View (the minority opinion).
To build the Body of Christ, we must use all our God-given resources. Yet the church is fragmenting itself over the issue of how to use the resources. I argue that the testimony of the whole body of Scripture leaves room for cultural interpretation on the role of women in the church, and thus we must be sensitive to cultural expectations.
There are many models of ministry. Women are as diverse as men in the patterns of ministry they follow. But let's look at the response of this one woman to Jesus to learn more about the place of women in ministry.
The following is presented as both a definition and an illustration of the New Testament concept of leadership. This exchange took place during the question and answer period of a women’s meeting at Willow Creek Community Church. Church elder Laurie Pederson’s answer was given extemporaneously.
Change begins with our language, because what we say and what we write reveals our unchallenged assumptions about women. Beyond that, however, we must change our missions commitment to include evangelizing and training the world’s women.
I have been told on a number of occasions that men who adhere to an egalitarian view of the marital relationship and who see no ministry restrictions for women in the church approach the Bible from some personal bias that keeps them from seeing the truth. What usually follows in the conversation (lecture) is armchair psychologizing as to why such men want or need to hold an egalitarian view. I find armchair psychologizing somewhat specious and boring when it occurs among my professional colleagues, so I am quite intolerant when laypersons enter into such endeavors, particularly when I know they are applying their theories to me! Nevertheless, in violation of my own rules in this regard, I offer some of my ideas as to why men have a psychological investment in holding to a hierarchical view and thus may show little willingness even to entertain the possibility that an egalitarian view could be scriptural.
Lorry Lutz highlights the lives of a dozen contemporary women who have exercised leadership in Christ's kingdom, hoping to encourage more women to take their rightful place alongside men in building Christ's church.