The issue of women as pastors has, for some strange reason, been a difficult one for the church in America for the last few decades. It’s still a problem today, as evidenced by the recent controversy in the SBC, sparked off by Beth Moore bragging about how she would be preaching for Mother’s Day, in direct violation of clear biblical teaching in 1 Timothy 2:11-12, which says women are not allowed to teach or exercise authority over men. It’s an open and shut case, women are never, under any circumstance, to preach. Why is this an issue then? It’s the same trick the devil pulled in the garden of Eden, where he drew Eve’s attention to the one tree out of all of the trees that they weren’t allowed to eat from. It’s a trick he loves to use on both men and women, getting us to focus on the one thing we’re not allowed to have or do, so we forget about all of the great things God has given us. That’s not the only cause, for certain. Most of the women leading the charge for women preachers strike me as stubborn, self-willed, renegades, not people earnestly seeking to serve God. Some people, however, feel that women don’t get to do much in the church. If that’s you, I get it; it can feel that way if we focus on the one thing women can’t do. So here’s a list of important things that women can do in the church, in many cases better than men. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just what I think are the four most important areas where women can serve in the church.
First up, Paul has an explicit for older, more mature women in the church. In Titus 2:3-5, Paul says that older women are to “encourage younger women to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” That’s a description of discipleship, which is just older christians helping younger christians to grow to be more like Christ. That involves teaching, as well as being a good example, and it’s a very important part of the Christian life. Women are commanded to disciple other women who are less mature in the faith than they are. It’s an important part of the Christian life that, if done properly, has a huge impact in the life of the church over time.
Being a good Christian mother is another thing that is exclusive to women (duh), that has a massive impact on church life. A sunday school teacher can only teach their kids on sunday, while a mother can teach her kids every day of the week. As it says in Proverbs 22:6 “train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Granted, this isn’t a promise that kids will turn out perfectly, but it shows the massive impact of parents on the course of a child’s life. Church history is replete with examples of great preachers, like Spurgeon, who came to Christ because of their mothers. If you’re a mother, that should be your main focus. Moms have a massive opportunity with their own children, both for outreach to unsaved children and for discipleship of saved children.
Next, we have teaching children. Women aren’t allowed to teach or exercise authority over adult males, but most mothers exercise authority over small pre-adult human males (i.e. little boys). That’s biblical, and Proverbs 22:6 isn’t limited to men. It’s fine for a woman to teach children’s sunday school, if you’re in a church that does sunday school. For some, this may seem like foisting off an inconvenient and unimportant task on women. After all, they’re just kids, right? Wrong. Teaching children requires very specific skills in addition to a firm grasp of Scripture. A sunday school teacher has to take Biblical truth and simplify it so that little children can understand it (without stumbling into heresy), while keeping their attention on the lesson and fielding the totally random questions that little minds tend to generate. A solid understanding of scripture is crucial here because, frankly, kids are pretty dumb. A kid can’t discern between truth and error, they don’t know enough. A sunday school teacher needs to know the scripture well, so that they don’t teach the kids heresy. Heresy is bad.
It’s also important that a sunday school teacher communicates on a level the kids understand. Women tend to be better at connecting with children than men, which is just as crucial as knowing Scripture. After all, if the kids have no idea what the teacher’s talking about, it’ll go in one ear and out the other. Teaching children is a massive opportunity to reach them for Christ, not some drudgery to be foisted off on anyone who can fog a mirror.
Finally, service is an often overlooked aspect of church life, which applies to both men and women. Women will have opportunities to serve in the church that men won’t. For example, cooking a meal for a family who are going through a hard time is something that women whose kids are grown can do to love and serve other members of the church. If that’s not your thing, even just sending cards to people can be a great encouragement. Watching children to give tired moms a break is a way older ladies can serve, if they really like kids. Anything that involves being alone with a woman is, honestly, probably better handled by another woman (Pence rule anyone?). The opportunities for service are as broad and varied as life itself, when we submit to God’s will instead of our own.
As I said this isn’t a comprehensive list. God gives many gifts and opportunities, but we need to stop focusing on the one thing he forbids if we are to see them. As Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 12, every Christian has a role in the church, and every Christian’s job is important for the church to function.
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