Saturday, March 14, 2009

What Makes for a Strong Women's Ministry?

This is the recent question posed over at CBMW. Brent Nelson writes:

Recently Sarah Flashing wrote an article asking, "Does ‘complementarian' equal anemic women's ministry?" Her answer was: yes, usually, but it needn't. After a brief anecdote regarding a conversation with a young woman on her bus-ride home, Flashing concludes,

"Holding to a complementarian view of the church and family does not necessitate that women's ministries focus primarily on social activities, discussions how to feed their families, or fill in the blank bible studies. There is room for young women...who want to bring solid methods of biblical interpretation and theological reflection to women's lives, and we can talk about more theological topics than just biblical womanhood, though we should certainly talk about that as well."

I applaud the direction Flashing takes in the article, save for a subtle contrast that could bode poorly. There wafts an air of chronological snobbery (to echo C.S. Lewis): "These are women who want to fulfill the Titus 2 mandate, to mentor and ministry to other women, who wan to play a significant role in Christian education, but also want to escape the culture of women's ministry that they inherited from their grandmothers."

There's a danger lurking here. First, what is it about their grandmothers' culture of women's ministry that must be escaped from just because it was two generations back? One could argue that since every generation must admit to its blind-spots, past generations could illumine our current blind-spots at least as well as we can illumine theirs.

Yet a second danger seems even more risky. Are those who reject their grandmothers' kind of women's ministry sure of what they reject? It is well that the Titus 2:3-5 mandate drives the current aims, but was it not held high 50 years ago by our godly grandmothers? Indeed, some who led women's ministries in the 1950's may have lived the scriptural ideals of ‘self-control, purity, working in the home and submission to their own husbands' far better than some today.

Those women who mean to glorify God by seeking to become theologically robust, spiritually sagacious, steadily joyful, biblically-surrendered and steeled in their faith dare not neglect the help available to them from Christians past.

Read further for Brent's book recommendation on how women can lead women.

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