Women Mentoring Women
Copyright © 2006 by Galen
Currah and George Patterson
Here’s a MentorNet message especially for ladies. (Girls, your husbands might want to read it, too.) We who mentor church workers must facilitate the training of women in ways that honor Scripture, respect culture, empower women, advance the gospel, and cause new churches to reproduce continually. The New Testament provides significant examples and teaching about women workers. Likewise, church history and the contemporary church reproduction around the world reveal some powerful facts about women workers.
Biblical and Current Examples
· Around the world, the majority of church workers are women, often poor, even illiterate, women. If only males were allowed to plant churches and train leaders, then most of that work would never get done, and most of the major church planting movements currently underway around the world would grind to a halt.
· The New Testament teaches that the Holy Spirit distributes ministry gifts to all believers, according to His will. The result is that “each one” has a gift to share with others (Rom 12:3-6; 1 Cor 12:7; 1 Pet -11). Thus, woman believers all have one or more gifts of the Spirit which are for the common good, enabling them to share in church meetings, to start new church meetings, to train new leaders, and much more. Among the five kinds of gifted persons that Christ gives to every church or cluster of churches (Eph ), some are women:
apostles. Here we are not talking about the Twelve but about ordinary
church-planting apostles. Junia and her husband
Andronicus (Rom 16:7) were well-known apostles [not “known by the apostles”],
as were Priscilla and her husband
Women prophets. Anna, a prophetess, blessed Baby Jesus (Lk -38). Four daughters of Philip, an evangelist, prophesied (Ac 21:9). Paul told women, along with everyone else, that they could prophesy in the church (1 Cor & 31) in submission to their husbands.
evangelists. The first evangelists were women (Mt 28:7), and women
figured amongst those who received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Euodia and Syntyche labored
with Paul “in the gospel” at
teachers. It is normally older women who teach younger women (Tit 2:3-5).
Priscilla, along with her husband,
· Any legitimate church practice can be carried to an unhealthy excess. Some pundits decry a ‘feminizing’ trend in Western churches that emphasizes feeling good and developing warm relationships at the expense of obeying Jesus’ order to call an unbelieving world to repentance and faith. In some big churches, when women have taken the lead, those who complained loudest about their leadership were other women, including some who had long abandoned the wearing of head coverings. Unfortunately, many capable men simply drop out, no longer seeking positions of leadership.
· In regions that are hostile towards Christians, it is often safer for women to lead new churches, because the authorities usually do not look for women to arrest them.
· The apostle Paul wrote these sticky passages:
Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 1 Timothy & 12 ESV.
As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 1 Cor. & 35 ESV
Exegesis of these verses and their context shows that Paul was concerned that wives not usurp authority over husbands. See details in the Appendix below.
A few guidelines for those who mentor women.
· Most apprentice women church workers should be trained by other women who have more experience.
· If you are a man, then you should empower your wife and women co-workers to mentor and supervise other women.
· Mentors should seek to learn how each woman is gifted by the Holy Spirit and called by Christ to serve in the body, whether as apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds or teachers.
· Where women workers win families to faith in Jesus, they should seek to raise up the men as shepherds and church planters.
· Women apostles should be empowered and trained in how to organize new cells and congregations, and in how to appoint and mentor leaders.
· Women prophets should be trained in how to prophesy while remaining in public submission to their husbands.
· Women evangelists should be instructed in how to let the gospel flow into families, households, and communities. They need methods and materials that women can afford.
· Women shepherds should be supervised in how to lead cells and congregations to become obedient to the command of Jesus and of the New Testament.
· Women teachers must be provided Bibles and literacy or easily recallable lessons and Bible stories to pass on others.
· Mentors should help women to realize their spiritual gifts and their biblical mandate, and how to defend themselves against misogynists who try to silence them.
Appendix for our
more scholarly readers