Women’s Ministry: When You Don’t Like What They’re Serving
I don’t want to spend my time listening to people’s feelings through their tears.
Skits and toilet paper games are for high schoolers.
I’m an alto. And I don’t drink tea.
We give lots of excuses, but it comes down to this: lots of women are too good for women’s ministry.
I was blessed to grow up in a church with a string of solid, Bible-teaching youth pastors who taught us to love the theology of old dead men. Many of my friends and I caught the bug, falling in love with the doctrines of grace and hard truth.
But, like many immature Christians do, we took a wrong turn and adopted snooty reformed know-it-allness. We attended statewide conferences and church camps where during breaks we’d run back with our noses in the air telling each other about the man-centered worship music and weak preaching we heard.
So from a young age I badly wanted to be in Bible studies with other girls my age that were serious about their relationship with God and growing together. At various times during my teen years a few close friends and I were able to create that on some level, in fits and starts.
As a teenager I had a few opportunities to teach younger girls in my church and community. I wanted to inspire something that hints at rich community around the Word. But it quickly fizzled out. It couldn’t live up to my expectations.
The reality was that I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. My knowledge of Scripture was minimal and my exposure to healthy Christian community was basically nonexistent. No example to follow, no mentor leading the way.
Now with some maturity and time spent in a healthy church I’ve gained a different perspective. So here are some thoughts for the I know-better-ers and the deep thinkers:
It’s not about you
The church doesn’t exist to serve you. You’re here to serve the church. The verse doesn’t read, “Let me now consider how everyone else might spur me on to love and good deeds.”
The body of Christ works together, and if one part of the body thinks it’s in better shape or deserving of special attention, it’s wrong. That’s called being divisive.
This isn’t just about what you actively do for your church, but also about your attitude toward what your church does to care for the congregation. If God has gifted you with knowledge, wisdom, and discernment, it doesn’t belong to you, but to him and to the church. He can use it as he pleases to equip his church. That means the women’s ministry, too.
But I’m not being fed.
Unless what is being taught is heretical, simmer down. Proud people starve at feasts. Humble people can feast on scraps, because they see their sin and they see application in everything that comes from God’s Word.
There may be times to speak up if the teaching isn’t good, but, more often than not, if you don’t think you’re being fed, it’s probably because you’ve chosen to keep your mouth closed. You’ve read the books and studied the “pink passages” of the Bible (you know, those only pertaining to women) and you think you’ve got that covered and are free to move on to other things.
If that’s you, try being truly humble instead of just pretending to be. Trust that those God has placed in leadership over you probably have something to say to you. Ask an elder’s wife or maybe just another friend and she just might tell you she sees something you don’t.
Don’t hate on your sister
Truth is, women generally process things practically, and on a personal level. This is why we thrive with lists and models to follow. (This is also why we struggle with guilt, fear, and legalism, but that’s for another day.)
There are some women out there 🙋who relate to things differently than a lot of women do. We lean more thinking than feeling (you know, Meyers-Briggs). This doesn’t make us better than our neighbor (even though we’re tempted to think so).
In fact, it turns out that not being able to empathize with others very well is a weakness. Shocker!
But these are exactly the kinds of people that tend to complain about not being fed. However, the Bible teaches us not to look down on our sister, but to consider her better than ourselves. She has something to give, and if you can’t receive it, it might actually be your problem. Not hers.
You are a woman
As Christians, we come to the Bible as children of God. We also come to it as women. And we don’t leave our womanhood behind when we come. To pretend otherwise is to make a huge mistake.
Part of what that means is we need to study the Bible with other women—women who can see and help us understand and apply the Bible to us in ways that are specific for, well, women. That’s part of what Paul means when he tells Titus to have the older women teach the younger women.
There are ways that women teach the Bible that are different and good and especially helpful to women. Women teaching women the Bible, how to live out what is good (theology and hard doctrines are good), to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, pure, kind, working at home as a single, married, mothering, widowed, empty nesting, aged woman as the case may be.
Now, I get it. Sometimes it can be tiring to hear the same applications made. But unless you’ve mastered it, and this side of heaven you won’t, you still need to hear it. So…be humble.
At the end of the day, here’s my point. We are not special snowflakes who happen to be female. We are not adequate in ourselves. And we can’t just get by on theology to the general population, even the best theology written by the best old dead guys, taught or podcasted by the best pastor or author (even if she’s female).
We are women. We need the church and we need each other.