Women’s Fellowship Annual Address 2011 Part 2

Last time, we looked at how Christ’s ministry is the foundation for the Church’s ministry. You can read part 1 here. We continue with how, but considering Christ’s emphasis for the church, how that may shape our own Women’s ministry.

So then what might Christ’s ministry say to our Women’s Fellowship here at Zion? Broadly, it first gives us some emphases to keep in mind in all our ministry:

Women’s Ministry Themes
Attractional vs. Missional
Attractional approaches to ministry are those which basically take the “if we build it, they will come” direction. These churches are typically known for their varied resources often including rock walls, coffee shops, gyms, sports leagues, etc. The idea that drives this approach is that if you can just get the people in the doors, you can keep them there.

We prefer to view things not from an attractional, but a missional perspective. Instead of ministering on the basis of people coming to us, our approach is to take the ministry to the people. Like the Son of God condescending to leave His heavenly home and dwell among those whom He loved, we want to be known for our willingness to take the gospel from within the walls of our building to affect the lives of those we come into contact.

Width vs. Depth
In polling various churches, the vast majority cite numeric growth as their driving evidence of success. Success is measured by quantifiable numbers of weekly attendance, small group attendance, Sunday school attendance, etc. Achievement is determined by the number of people with whom the message is shared. We want our primary purpose of the local church to be making disciples. Not mere attendees or even converts, but disciples – mature followers of Jesus Christ. In the end, the “Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be [Christ’s] disciples” (John 15:8). As we go deeper in Christ, we will pull others along with us.

Marketing vs. Gospel
Some churches emphasize a certain “draw.” Perhaps they are the church with good music, or a great drama team or a really excellent children’s ministry. Like the attractional approach, the hope is to market the church to bring people in. The problem that we see with this approach is that it is generally true that “what you win them with is what you keep them with.” If you win people with lights and smoke, then next year you need more lights and more smoke. You are always forced to better your resources and marketing of those resources to distinguish yourself. The challenge is that the culture is always changing and when you market a specific segment or ministry, then you inevitably teach that your church is not for everyone.

At Zion we hope to win people by the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we can do this, then all we have to do to keep them is continue to preach the gospel — what we should be doing anyway. We hope to accomplish this through challenging our people to have a missional perspective as they live a gospel-centered life. So, the church will experience growth because of mission rather than marketing.

Entitlement vs. Sacrifice
A deep and pervasive sense of entitlement exists in much of the evangelical community. Those who have such an attitude, though they might not articulate it, assume that the church exists merely to
meet one’s own felt needs. Therefore, the church that caters to such an ideology is forced to create thousands of different programs to meet those ever-changing desires.

The Bible teaches not that the church exists to meet your needs, but rather that you exist to meet the needs of others. A heart of humility does not say “meet my needs,” but instead “do not cater to me. I am here to serve.” In the end, the greatest need, felt or not, is for the gospel. If we spend our time meeting peripheral issues, all we have done is dealt with symptoms without addressing the disease. Certainly we recognize the legitimacy of needs and are here to serve those in need, but an attitude of entitlement and true service are at odds.[2]

Organization vs. Covenant
Jesus didn’t come and set up an organization. He came and established His Church as the earthly outpost for the Kingdom of God. And this Church was a covenantal group. So the covenant is relational: The God of heaven and earth is a personal God who enters into an intimate relationship with us. This means that our relationships with each other are to mirror His relationship with us. This is not a relational model built on sentimentalism and felt-needs theology. Instead it is built on the eternal bond forged between our Heavenly Father and we, His adopted children.

The covenant is familial: From the beginning, God worked through families. The covenant promise was given to Abraham and his seed. This means that, as we teach women about marriage and parenting, it should be from a covenantal perspective. The Christian family is to exist within the context of the covenant family, the family of families, the church.

The covenant is generational: Throughout Scripture there is the emphasis that one generation is to tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord and the wonders He has done. This is the covenant way. It may mean that we enfold teen girls into this ministry.

The covenant is integrative: head and heart, knowledge and relationship, taking Scripture and applying it to life.[3]

So these are five broad ways of thinking about our ministry here at Zion.

Women’s Ministry for Women
But we can be more specific as well. Women’s ministry is to the women of our church, and (to state the brutally obvious!) women are not men! Unfortunately, we live in a time when this simple fact of the uniqueness of women is clouded and misunderstood. Women are constantly torn between the horns of feminism and a false, “Leave It To Beaver” 1950’s housewife model in which neither are called to biblical fidelity to the Triune God.

So how can we help women recover their identity as women? We can start by reminding them of what God’s Word says about them. Here are some titles for women:
1. Helper – ezer.
Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Immediately we complain. “Oh! I don’t want to be a ‘helper!’ That sounds so second class! Why don’t the men have to be called ‘helper?'” But women object because they forget that this term ezer is also used for God Himself! Remember, God made humanity in His image, both male and female. Without women, we don’t have the complete picture of God’s image, and women teach the church about God’s nature as Helper in ways that men alone cannot understand. Women, we need you to faithfully fulfill your calling as helper because, without you, we miss out on a part of who God is!

2. House manager – oikodespot
1 Timothy 5:14 “So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.”
Again, we hear the howls or protest. “What! A homebody?! (said with such disgust!) We are better than that!” But again, when women reject the titles that God himself gives them, they are exchanging the glory of what He calls them to. In this passage, women are called to literally be the ruler, the emperor, of the home. Now does that mean all women are “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?” Of course not! Listen to the best description of a house manager in Scripture:

Proverbs 31:14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. 16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 17 She dresses herself1 with strength and makes her arms strong. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Does that sound like some weak, neglected woman? Does that sound like a doormat that everyone walk all over? No! She is providing for her family, her husband praises her in the local press, and she is blessed and envied by all around her. She is a “business woman” who manages what God has given her.

3. Expose the Truth – ektithemi
Acts 18:26 “Apollos began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”
Priscilla worked with her husband to “expose Apollos to the precise truth.” There is so much bad theology and teaching out there today, and we need women in our church to step up, identify it, and call it out for what it is. [redacted – the story of the minister who taught so poorly on the inheritance from God]

Now you might be thinking, “Oh Pastor. Don’t be so nitpicky. Not everything that goes bump in the night is heresy.” That may be true. But don’t underestimate the severity of bad teaching on God’s people. Many scholars surmise that one of the reasons Mohammed rejected Christianity and started Islam was because he was taught a deficient view of the Trinity (Father, Son and Virgin Mary) that led him to seek for truth elsewhere. Hence, in a small way, the birth of Islam is in part because of poor teaching on the Trinity. We need women with an eye for detail and a love for truth to stand up and say, “Enough is enough. We need solid teaching.”

2 Timothy 1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
2 Timothy 3:15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

How did Timothy learn his faith? From his mother and grandmother as a child. They knew the “sacred writings” so well, that they were able to lead Timothy to Christ from the Old Testament. Oh, that our congregation would be filled with women who know God’s Word this well!

[2] These four broad ways of thinking have, with only a few minor changes, been taken from The Village Church’s philosophy of ministry.
[3] These insights into the covenant for ministry come from Susan Hunt’s WIC materials.

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