As a woman in ministry, I have been inundated with questions and had numerous conversations about my gender’s role within the church. I once was told my purpose as a woman was to deeply study theology and Scripture so the pastor of my church would be challenged when he wrote his sermon. Although I strongly encourage women to study these things, I think it’s misguided to rally them to do so for this reason.
The role of women in ministry tends to be a controversial topic. So, I’ll preface my thoughts by saying this: Whether you come from an egalitarian viewpoint (men’s and women’s roles are equal in every way, including serving as elders, preachers, etc.) or a complementarian outlook (men’s and women’s roles are different, but they complement one another for the glory of God), I anticipate you will agree with the thoughts I share here.
What Are the Roles of Women in the Church?
1. To practice spiritual disciplines. The term spiritual disciplinesencompasses many things, but the most vital to the Christian life are prayer, fasting, and fellowship. Scripture says, “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18). The best way we can strengthen our relationship with God and fulfill our role in his kingdom is through prayer. (If you want to learn more about the spiritual disciplines, check out Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline.)
2. To serve and volunteer. Women are great at serving others and volunteering at a church where we are needed, and this is an exceptional way we can fill our role in ministry. First Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” We need to discover our gifts and then use them. God commanded us to do it.
3. To be inviting and inclusive. “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). Women can make others feel welcome or unwelcome with just the tone of our voice. We are told to show hospitality, and I urge you to do this, especially at church.
4. To study the Word. I strongly encourage all Christians to know the Bible, and a Barna study showed why that’s so important among Christian women. In “Commitment to Family, Faith, Career & Community: Mothers Juggle It All,” Barna wrote, “Moms are [children’s] foremost partners in prayer (63 percent) and conversations about God (70 percent), the Bible (71 percent), or other faith questions (72 percent). This is consistent with Barna data through the years that show mothers are the managers of faith formation (among other household routines and structures).” Additionally, as women, we tend to compete for attention among the many distractions going on around us, which makes it even more important that we consciously take time to learn about God and spend time with him. “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11).
5. To evangelize. The Great Commission isn’t just for men, ladies! Jesus was talking to all Christians when he said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
What Are Not the Roles of Women in the Church?
1. To compete. Let’s stop comparing ourselves against others. This is a common flaw among women. It is easy to look at other ladies and see what they want us to see. We all have something we are working on or struggling with. We all are traveling on different roads, so we cannot compare our journeys. Sometimes our roads intersect or run parallel, but they are never the same.
2. To entertain gossip. We are called to be peacemakers and peacekeepers, not gossips. It’s best to stop slander when you hear it. Say something like, “I am not interested in that, but why don’t you tell me more about . . .”
3. To overcommit. Overcommitment is the enemy of peace. To remain spiritually healthy, we need to evaluate what we can do with the time we have available.
4. To be alone and keep to ourselves. We were created to be social, a part of a community. There is nothing wrong with recharging and taking time for self-care, but we are not called to be lonely and cut off from everyone else. Allow yourself to build deeper relationships with your church family.
5. To be argumentative. Let’s not argue over nonessential doctrine. As representatives of Christ, we should do all things in love.
I pray that these lists encourage you as you pursue Christ boldly.