There’s a real danger that this post will sound patronising. It’s really not meant to. But I know, having read it through and having just had a thoroughly helpful telephone conversation with an old friend that it sounds like ‘ooh we got some women to do some stuff, and you know what, they didn’t mess up – isn’t that swell!’ What it’s meant to say is ‘God has given us some fantastic women. And I rejoice in that. And I left church having been encouraged by seeing God at work in them and through them’. Take this post in that way and you’ll be working with authorial intent not butchering it!
Last night three of our young women were involved in the meeting; one led the music group, one advertised our forthcoming summer book groups and one prayed publicly for the first time as she led congregational prayers. And to a man they were brilliant. Or, should I say, to a woman.
I think it’d be fair to say that they were all operating a little outside their comfort zone. At least that’s what they told me. But they were brilliantly competent. The music was well led and that bred confidence in those of us in the congregation looking to them for a lead. The concept of the book group was explained with clarity and the summaries of each of the six books on offer was precise and succinct. It was a model of how to advertise something. And then the congregational prayers were heartfelt, articulate and well thought through. The young woman praying had never prayed in public like that before.
It was a real joy seeing the way God had grown and matured these three women. They’ve been with us for a few years. I’m pretty sure the training and equipping they’ve received has been sporadic and insufficient. And I say that because the odds are that they’ve received it from me. And that’s my modus operandi. But God is clearly at work in them. And it’s wonderfully encouraging to behold. God has blessed us with some very able and godly women at CCB. It was terrific to see them contributing to church life last night.
We’re a congregation that believes that the Bible restricts the teaching ministry of women in a mixed congregation. It does so for gender complementarity reasons not giftedness or competency reasons. And we’ll get stick for that. But we’re not misogynistic dinosaurs. We want to live by the Bible and we’re trying to do that, even when it goes against the grain. But the Bible also rejoices in the contribution women can make in that mixed congregation through their service, their prayers and their prophetic insight. One or two struggle with the limitation on preaching. But no one can fail to have celebrated in the wholeheartedly brilliant contribution that they made last night. And I left, after delivering what I thought was a below par sermon, with joy in my heart for the quality women that God keeps sending us.
I hope that no women were embarrassed in the construction of this post!