There is one conversation that is repeated over and over again; it is the one about what women can’t do in ministry. Media hostility has increased towards those who believe the bible teaches complementarianism because restricting church leadership to men is considered unjust. The underlying implication is that women who teach women are inferior and succumbing to the second best option. Amidst this the committee of the Northern Women’s Convention felt that we need to help Christian women understand their ministries and with the North West Gospel Partnership decided that the time has come to encourage women in the ministries that they can do.
I believe it is essential that those of us who hold that the bible teaches men and women are equal in status, equal in salvation but have different roles in service, model what this looks like in practice. It is interesting that time and again women have told me that they really value being taught the bible by other women which is exactly what the New Testament encourages in Titus’ injunction for older women to teach younger women.
On Saturday 26th June 2013 seventy women from around the North West of England met together at St Andrews Leyland for ‘Equipped’ our first conference for women in ministry. One woman said that she had been nervous coming to a ‘women’s event’ fearing that it might be ‘fluffy’ but had been thrilled to find it was a day full of serious bible teaching. The talks are available on the Equipped! website at www.womeninministry.co.uk
Only a handful of the women who came were in paid ministry jobs the vast majority were 'tentmakers’ who are doing as much ministry as possible around their secular jobs, or using their stage of life as mothers or newly retired to serve Christ. It was a great encouragement for them to meet with each other, share ideas and pray together. One group have already begun to plan some new ministry initiatives working with those who have additional learning needs.
We hope that this is just the beginning of providing on going training and support for women in the region. We are planning more events in the future and hope that Equipped! will not only be of practical help to women but also enable supportive ministry relationships to be formed. I really hope that initiatives like this one will begin in other regions too – where next perhaps the Midlands?