Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Was John a prophet? … Christianese … Kendrick brothers movies … Confronting immodest nursing…)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


In response to the question about Simeon [in this article], would you consider John (the John that wrote Revelation) to be a prophet? I know he was an apostle but I was just wondering if he would also be considered a prophet due to all the Lord showed him regarding Revelation.

Great question! I love it when women are thinking deeply about the things of God. Since you’re asking my opinion, I didn’t delve into any scholarly works on the subject, I’m just going to give you my take on it based on what I know of Scripture.

As you probably know, in the Old Testament, there were two different types of people who prophesied:

  • Men who held the office of prophet – what we might think of as a “professional prophet,” so to speak – like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, and so on.
  • People to whom God gave a “one and done” (or maybe twice or thrice) word of prophecy for a particular reason or moment in time, like Eldad, Medad, and the 70 elders, Saul, Eliezer, and others.

Jesus was, and is, the final, permanent occupant of the offices of prophet, priest, and king. This is why we don’t see the office of prophet or priest in the New Testament church or anyone installed as “king” over New Testament Christians.

Until the canon of Scripture was complete, however, and foretelling prophecy become obsolete, we do see occasional references to the second type of prophecy in the New Testament church. It seems to me that second category is the category John’s prophecy in Revelation would fall into. He held the office of Apostle, but not the office of prophet (since that position was filled), and God gave Him a “one and done” prophecy to communicate to us.


I’m learning so much from your articles, and I think my husband would benefit from and enjoy hearing what I’m learning. Can I share your posts with him? I don’t want YOU to be teaching my husband and break that command.

It’s always important to be obedient to God’s commands, but it’s equally important that we understand exactly what the command does and doesn’t prohibit so we can obey it properly.

For example, the sixth Commandments says, “You shall not murder,” but this Commandment doesn’t preclude self defense, capital punishment, fighting in a war, or vehemently annihilating an uppity rat or snake with a shovel (I hate rats and snakes. :0)

In the same way, the New Testament’s prohibition on women instructing men in the Scriptures doesn’t mean no male can ever learn anything – even biblical things – from a woman. For example, we see Lois and Eunice instructing Timothy in the Scriptures when he was a boy, and Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, privately correcting and instructing Apollos.

The biblical prohibition against women teaching men in 1 Timothy 2:11-3:7 has a very specific context. Women are prohibited from preaching to or instructing men (not boys, girls, or other women), in the Scriptures (not in other subjects), or holding authority over men, in the context of the gathering of the body of Believers (the church). Women are also prohibited from holding the office of pastor or elder.

Long story short, yes, you can feel free to show your husband my articles and discuss them with him. Showing your husband one of my articles and having a private discussion with him about what you’ve learned from it doesn’t meet the criteria of the biblical prohibition against women instructing men. A blog is not the gathering of the church body, and as you can tell from the title of it, “Discipleship for Christian Women” I’m teaching you as a woman, not him as a man. The principles in these Scriptures are the applicable ones for sharing with your husband in this way, not 1 Timothy 2:12.

Additional Resources:

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit (1 Timothy 2:11-12)

Rock Your Role FAQs

Rock Your Role article series


What do you think about Teacher X? She preaches to men…he partners with a bunch of false teachers…his church seems to hold New Apostolic Reformation beliefs…she teaches evolution…

While I’m always honored when y’all ask for my thoughts on a particular teacher, if you already know a teacher is sinning by preaching to (or allowing a woman to preach to) men, yoking with false teachers, teaching false doctrine, or unrepentantly doing something else unbiblical, you don’t need my – or anyone else’s – input or approval to stop following that teacher, refuse to use that teacher’s materials, etc. You’ve done what you’re supposed to do – you’ve compared that teacher’s behavior and teaching to Scripture and found it to be contradictory. You’ve been a good Berean. Go ahead and stay away from that teacher.

You might also find my article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own to be helpful.


This week two separate women from different churches and ministry settings have used the words “Too Christianese” to describe words in a song or tract that were being considered for ministry with children. I wonder where this term has come from and why this has become a catchphrase. To me it felt critical and condescending at the same time as well as limiting to the church ministry to have to feel around for words so they are not labeled in this way. I should note we live in New Zealand so I’m not sure if this line of thinking is solely a problem for here or if it is an issue elsewhere.

I think that the foundational issue here is not the word “Christianese” itself, but the underlying paradigm that’s at play.

Sometimes, as might be the case in your situation, when people say, “This has too much Christianese in it,” they’re saying, “People don’t understand biblical terms like ‘sin,’ so we should ditch those terms in favor of other words most people understand, like ‘mistakes’.”

In other words: dumb the Bible down for people. That’s not a biblical paradigm. (And yes, that’s just as much a thing in the U.S. as it apparently is in New Zealand.) The biblical approach is to use biblical terms and teach people what they mean, especially when you’re dealing with children.

On the other hand there’s a lot of churchy “inside language” we use, often without even realizing it, that can make new Christians and people who don’t have a church background feel left out because they don’t know what we’re talking about. For example: “Unspoken prayer request,” “the right hand of fellowship,” “extend grace,” “backslider,” “altar call,” “rededication.” With these sorts of non-theological terms, it might be appropriate to find a clearer way to say things, or it might be appropriate to just explain what they mean.

As to where the term “Christianese” came from and why it has become a catchphrase, I plead ignorance. :0)


We used to regularly follow and enjoy the Sherwood people/movies (i.e. the Kendrick brothers and their crowd)…We’ve pretty much moved away from them due to some theology & discernment concerns (working with/fellowships with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, as well some muted undertones of the prosperity gospel) and was hoping to hear your opinion on where you’d classify them.

I guess I’d stick those movies in the same category as “Christian fiction” books, meaning that I don’t hold works of fiction to the same high standard as, say, Bible study or theology books, but that doesn’t mean anything goes, either. (I’ve explained more about that here.)

Here’s where I’d land on those movies, or any other work of Christian fiction:

  • Don’t get your theology from works of fiction. This includes any “Bible” studies, devotionals, journals, curricula, programs, or any other materials based on a novel or movie. Get your theology from the Bible, from good teaching and preaching at your church, and from theological books from trustworthy authors/teachers.
  • Think about the financial angle. Will your conscience allow you to financially support the people who made the movie, the actors in the movie, and any false teachers or false doctrine in, or associated with, the movie?
  • Evaluate your spiritual maturity and level of discernment. If you’re spiritually mature and skilled in discernment, you may be able to step around a few doctrinal “cow pies” in a novel or movie that’s otherwise generally in compliance with Scripture. If you’re a new Christian or have not honed your discernment skills, you might want to forego certain novels and movies, or at least watch or discuss them with a spiritually mature, discerning friend.

Thank you thank you for the article on being discreet when breastfeeding. There was a lady at the ballpark yesterday, walking around, and sitting down with it popped out in front of everyone!!!!! I just about lost it and don’t want to. But I need to know how to approach her nicely. I hope and pray I can.

Hang on just a sec, there. I think you might be misunderstanding something. That article was addressed to Christian women about policing their own personal behavior. It was not written to anyone about addressing other people’s behavior.

If you have a personal discipling relationship with a Christian young woman for whom this is an issue, and she’s open to it, you may want to share that article with her and disciple her in the area of modesty.

But don’t go up to random strangers and address this issue. It doesn’t matter how nicely you approach her, it’s not going to go well. And, assuming she’s lost, she’s not going to care about biblical reasons for modesty. Please trust me, and the massive number of emails and comments I got from professing Christian women who were offended by that article, on this. Avert your eyes, mind your business, and look for an opportunity to share the gospel with her instead.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Discernment

Jen Wilkin

Jen Wilkin will be speaking at the LifeWay Ministers’ Wives Luncheon at the upcoming 2021 Southern Baptist Convention. If you’re attending, you might want to know more about her.


If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.


This article is kept continuously updated as needed.

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. The teacher below is someone I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on her.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Jen Wilkin
Not Recommended

Jen is a women’s Bible study author, blogger, and conference speaker, and is on staff at The Village Church as the Executive Director of Next Gen Ministries (TVC’s ministry to “children and students ages 0–18″). To my knowledge all of Jen’s books and Bible study materials are generally doctrinally sound, but I have some concerns about her in other areas. That said, I do not believe Jen falls in the category of false teacher at this time, and I hope she never will. I’ve published a review of Jen’s book, Women of the Wordand here is one reader’s take on her book 1 Peter: A Living Hope in Christ:

“…in the foreword Jen wrote, ‘a paraphrase, such as the NLT or The Message, can be useful but should be regarded as a commentary rather than a translation.’ However, aside from that, I have found no other problems with the book at all. It is an eight week long study of 1 Peter based on the method of Bible study that she writes about in Women of the Word. My favorite thing about this study is that it causes us to focus on what the text is telling us about God. I love how Jen Wilkin is teaching women to study the Bible properly. I wish she would be more discerning about who and what she endorses though. There are so few women who bring us solid teaching and discernment.”

I’ve heard several positive reviews of Jen’s books from other trusted and discerning friends as well.

I’ve looked through all of Jen’s current (2021) speaking engagements. All appear to be women’s conferences or events, and her speaking engagement request form says she is a “teacher who helps women…”.

While this is a good sign that Jen usually does not preach to men or teach men the Scriptures, concerns have been raised that she may be getting too close to, or occasionally crossing this line. For example, Jen’s staff position as TVC’s “Executive Director” of children’s and student ministries, depending on the exact nature of her job responsibilities, may (I am making a reasonable inference, as TVC’s website does not explicitly say) require her to teach Scripture to, or exercise improper authority over young men in the student ministry (which includes students through age 18) and men who teach or volunteer in the student ministry. The title “Executive Director” makes it sound as though she is over the entire ministry and everyone in that ministry is under her purview.

There have also been questions about exactly where Jen stands on the biblical role of women in the church. That she presents herself as, and is known as, a complementarian is very clear. She has stated equally clearly that women are not to hold the office of pastor. But beyond that, in listening to and reading her articles and interviews about the importance of women leading in the church, I’m not really clear on what positions of church leadership she thinks are and are not biblical for women. For example: May a woman guest preach the Sunday sermon as long as she is not the pastor of that church? Teach co-ed adult Sunday School? Preach sermons to mixed audiences at conferences? Indeed, in the video* below (~32:05), Jen says:

“We need [women’s] visible leadership. How visible? As visible as your church’s complementarianism allows.”

This answer is at best, unhelpful, and at worst, opens the door for women and pastors to rebel against Scripture. More and more churches’ so-called “complementarianism” allows women to preach the Sunday morning sermon or serve in any pastoral or leadership position short of head pastor. The biblical answer to this question (aside from the fact that the church should be far more focused on servanthood than leadership) is: Women may serve in any position in the church that does not require them to preach to, teach Scripture to, or exercise authority over men, and which does not violate any other principles of Scripture.

Perhaps, somewhere, Jen has been very clear about biblical and unbiblical positions of leadership for women and I have just missed it. I’m not saying she definitely has an unbiblical stance on these issues, I’m just saying it is often unclear as to what her stance is. (I have attempted, in the past, to contact Jen about this issue and other questions, but have not received a response.)

Adding to this confusion, Jen has spoken at several co-ed conferences leading some to question whether or not she is violating Scripture’s prohibition against women teaching the Scriptures to men. I believe she has crossed that boundary on occasion. Give the first 15 minutes of the video below a listen*. Despite the fact that Jen’s very first remark is that she is not teaching the Bible in this session for pastors and church planters, she almost immediately goes on to quote and allude to the opening chapters of Genesis (and later in the video, other passages) and teach on them. I would challenge you to listen to what she says and ask yourself, “If I heard a pastor give this type of instruction, would I consider it a sermon/Bible lesson?” I think most of us could easily answer, “yes”. *(Unfortunately, the full length video of Jen’s complete teaching session has been removed from the internet. The video below is an excerpt of the full length video.)

(This is also the teaching session in which Jen made her infamous remarks about menstruation helping women to understand the gospel differently from men, which is not only a private and potentially uncomfortable subject to address in public – especially for an audience of men – it’s a patently ridiculous teaching. Menstruation teaches us nothing about the gospel. The two subjects are completely unrelated. Also, aside from Jen, I’ve never heard a single woman say her period helped her understand the shedding of Christ’s blood better.)

In another instance of preaching to a co-ed audience, Jen was one of the featured speakers at The Gospel Coalition’s 2021 Conference. TGC, as many have noted, seems to be on a woke / social justice trajectory. Jen has been featured on TGC’s site numerous times.

Again, one of the reasons it’s especially problematic for Jen to be teaching men, or to even to seem to be teaching men, is that she openly and unashamedly wears the label of complementarian. Boldly proclaiming complementarianism while actually or apparently teaching men muddies the waters and confuses the women who follow her as to what the Bible truly teaches about the role of women in the church. Are there times when it is technically not a violation of Scripture for a woman to speak with men in the audience? Yes (see #7 here). But weigh the impact Jen has on the church by speaking to men against the counter-evangelicultural impact someone of her stature could have by flagrantly refusing to teach men. Which would cause more people to sit up and take notice, set a better example for Christian women, and have a more biblical influence on the church?

Another concern about Jen is that she seems to be increasingly associating and appearing with false or problematic teachers.

In 2013, Jen wrote a blog post entitled, The Next Beth Moore in which she spoke glowingly of Beth Moore, her teaching, and one of her books. She has also had several friendly and/or affirming interactions with Beth on Twitter, and has pointed women to Beth’s writing. Jen has appeared on the IF: Gathering podcast with Jennie Allen (to discuss and promote Women of the Word), and has written a devotional for Lysa TerKeurst’s Proverbs 31 blog.

During LifeWay’s 2018 Abundance conferences, Jen appeared alongside Lisa Harper, Raechel Myers, Amanda Bible Williams, Christine Caine, Jennie Allen, Kelly Minter, Whitney Capps (of Lysa TerKeurst’s Proverbs 31 Ministries), and others.

L-R: Christine Caine, Lisa Harper, Raechel Myers, Whitney Capps, Amanda Bible Williams, Jen Wilkin, Jamie Ivey

In August 2020, Jen is scheduled to appear at LifeWay Women Live with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Jackie Hill Perry, Kelly Minter, Angie Smith, and Jennifer Rothschild. 

LifeWay Women Live 2020 Speakers

Jen has also been added to LifeWay Women’s stable of Women’s “Bible” study authors including many of the aforementioned teachers and others. In addition to my normal concerns about someone yoking with false teachers (i.e. the Bible says not to, and disobeying God’s Word is a sin), I am concerned that LifeWay is using Jen (for her reputation for being a doctrinally sound teacher and a complementarian) to lend credibility to the false teachers they promote, and I’m also concerned that Jen’s good reputation is now suffering by being associated with these false teachers.

And in March 2021, when Beth Moore cut ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, Jen offered this glowing farewell…

In a strange irony, in the midst of unbiblically partnering with these false teachers, in her session, The Gospel and The Future of Bible-Centered Discipleship at the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Pre-Conference (also to a co-ed audience), Jen teaches the following…

[Biblical literacy] guards against false teaching…Basic comprehension-level mastery of the text guards against false teaching. (~30:12)

You know what our [discipleship] formula has been for the last 20 years? [We’ve said], ‘We’re going to keep making [the level of biblical teaching] lower and lower’…It is our high calling, in the face of a biblical literacy crisis, to raise the bar in an age of low expectations. (~43:40…44:39)

And yet, Jen’s level of “mastery of the text” – to the point that she is instructing people in the text and teaching them how to improve discipleship – has not sufficiently guarded her against partnering with women who are largely responsible for the bulk of false teaching aimed at women today, who don’t teach “basic comprehension-level mastery of the text,” and who have continued to lower the bar and perpetuate low expectations for biblical literacy. Jen has associated with, talked to, and listened to the teaching of these women far more than I have, I’m certain. How does she not see this?

And remember when J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, got himself into all kinds of hot water for saying in a sermon, “The Bible whispers about sexual sin.“? He was quoting Jen Wilkin.

Finally, in the same way that the influence Steven Furtick has on Lysa TerKeurst as her pastor is worrisome, I’ve been seeing some things over the past few years with Jen’s pastor, Matt Chandler, and his wife, Lauren Chandler (with whom Jen sometimes appears at conferences), that have given me pause.

Jen is pastored by Matt, and as a ministry leader and staff member at The Village Church, she works under his direction and influence. Over the past few years, Matt has publicly praised or affirmed false teachers like Ann VoskampBeth Moore, and Jesus Culture. He has raised some questions about the extent of his continuationism by playing this video prior to a sermon, and with His notorious “pirate ship prophecy“. He allows Bethel and Israel Houghton (Joel Osteen’s former worship leader) music to be used for worship at his church. Matt allows his wife, a worship leader at TVC, to select this music, and to yoke with and be influenced by numerous false teachers. Matt and Lauren and their associations with false teachers have undoubtedly influenced Jen.

In summary, my thoughts on Jen right now are that she is not a false teacher (since she is still generally teaching sound doctrine), but I still find that I’m not, in good conscience, able to encourage you to follow her, attend her conferences, or use her materials due to the red flags that are increasingly popping up with her. (As I said in the introduction to this article, there are better people you could be listening to.) We need to be cautious, watch Jen’s trajectory carefully, and pray for her, that God will deal with her heart and correct her about some of the unbiblical waters she has been wading into


Additional Resources:

Articles on Jen Wilkin by Elizabeth Prata

Jen Wilkin on What Pastors Need to Know about Women: Comments and Caution Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 at Conservative Resurgence: Voices.

False Doctrine, Movies, Southern Baptist/SBC

Throwback Thursday ~ Critical Race Theory Video Series, Parts 1-6

Originally published February 9, 2021

For six weeks, in January-February 2021, I ran this series of videos on Critical Race Theory created by my friend, Pastor Travis McNeely, and featuring LSU law professor, Randy Trahan. In this series, Randy, a former proponent of CRT, describes his journey into – and out of – critical theory, explains what CRT is, and why it’s a danger to the church, particularly to Southern Baptists.

I am running the series again (all six parts today) in hopes of helping my fellow Southern Baptists prepare for the upcoming annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in June. CRT/I will be a front and center issue.

Pastor Mike Stone (anticipated nominee for SBC president) will be making a motion at this year’s annual meeting tentatively titled: Resolution on the Incompatibility of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality with The Baptist Faith and Message, as something of an antidote to 2019’s Resolution 9. (Read more about Resolution 9, here.)

Any Southern Baptist from a qualifying church can co-submit (sign on in support) this resolution, even if you’re not a messenger, even if you’re not attending the Convention. Click the link above, download the form, fill it out, have your pastor or church clerk sign it, and upload it TODAY, Thursday, May 27 (deadline).

If you are Southern Baptist, I encourage you to serve as a messenger from your church and vote to support the above resolution and any other denunciation of Resolution 9 or Critical Race Theory.

But even if you’re not Southern Baptist, it’s urgent that you understand what CRT/I is and make sure it doesn’t infiltrate your church.

Travis has developed a discussion guide to go with the videos, so as you watch, consider whether this might be a good series for your pastor to guide your church through, and pass it along to him.

Church, Servanthood

The Servanthood Survey

The Servanthood Survey is a free resource for churches and individuals – a biblical alternative to spiritual gifts inventories and quizzes.

I’m taking a little time off before starting our new, regular, Wednesday Bible study, so today I thought you might enjoy working through The Servanthood Survey, since it’s essentially a brief Bible study for helping you find, or evaluate, your place of service in the local church.

Originally published July 19, 2019

Over the last few months I’ve been asked more than once, “How can pastors help women find a biblical place of service in the church?”. And each time I’ve been asked, my heart’s desire to create a resource to help pastors get people serving in the church has increased, which resulted in The Servanthood Survey.

The Servanthood Survey takes church members desiring to serve through a brief study of the Scriptures describing what biblical servanthood is, the value of servanthood to God and to the church, following Jesus’ example and teaching on servanthood, the biblical parameters God has placed on certain roles in the church, and prayerful consideration of how God has designed and equipped the individual for service.

The survey can be used with men or women, and even teens or children desiring to serve their local Body. I envision it being sent home with a church member to work through and pray about, followed up by a meeting with the pastor (or whoever assigns positions of service in your church) to discuss the church member’s responses and potential place of service. But churches could also integrate the survey into their new member classes, create a mini (2-4 weeks?) class around the survey, work through it during midweek services, or whatever works best for that particular church.

The survey itself is also meant to be tweaked for use by each individual church. You may not like the way I worded something or you might like to add something (you’ll see at the end, you’ll need to add a sheet with a list of opportunities for service for your particular church). To that end, I’ve made the survey available as a Google Doc as well as providing the text below so you can copy, paste, and edit it in a way that works for your church.

You may notice that my name and website do not appear on the survey. That’s intentional. This is my gift to you to take, make your own, and use as a tool in your church. (I would ask that you please not credit me or include my website on the document if you modify the theology of the survey.)

I hope you’ll find this to be a useful tool for helping the men and women of your church to get plugged in and serve the Body.

The Servanthood Survey

Every Christian who’s able should be serving in the local church. This survey is designed to help you find a place of service in our church. It will help you understand the biblical concept of servanthood and to consider which place of service God may be leading you to as you think about the ways He has uniquely gifted and equipped you.

What is biblical servanthood?

Unfortunately, in Christian culture today, the concept of servanthood has been lost or abandoned in favor of the desire for notoriety. Our flesh wants to be recognized, applauded, and patted on the back for what we do in the church. But what does the Bible teach about serving?

Jesus is our ultimate and perfect example of servanthood:

Read Matthew 20:25-28

  • How does Jesus contrast His followers (26) with Gentiles (the lost) (25)?
  • What does Jesus say is the way to “greatness” in the Kingdom of God? (26-27)
  • What is the example Jesus set for us regarding servanthood, and how does He say we can follow His example? (28)

Read John 13:1-17

In a culture in which people often went barefoot or wore sandals and public sanitation was not what it is today, foot washing was a dirty, sometimes disgusting, task. Because it was a job nobody wanted, and considered beneath the dignity of more highly positioned servants, foot washing was usually assigned to the lowest ranked servant in the household.

  • Who took on the task and the position of lowest ranked servant in this passage? (3-4)
  • Why was Peter upset when Jesus tried to wash his feet? (6,8) How did Peter normally view and think of Jesus (see Matthew 16:15-16) that would have caused him to be appalled that Jesus would lower Himself in such a way?
  • What was the “example” (15) Jesus gave, and how should we carry out His example? (14)
  • Who do the “servant” and “messenger” represent in verse 16? The “master” and “the one who sent him”? What does verse 16 mean?
  • Look closely at verse 17. What is the difference between “knowing” and “doing” these things? What is the consequence “if you do them”?

Prayerfully examine and compare your heart attitude about serving in the church to what Jesus taught and demonstrated in these two passages:

  • Compare your willingness to Jesus’ willingness. His humility to your humility. What He taught about lowliness and serving in anonymity to your thoughts and attitudes about serving in lowliness and anonymity.
  • Is your heart’s desire to fill a “spotlight” position in the church because you crave recognition and praise from others?
  • Do you desire to be “first” and “great” in the eyes of others, or in the eyes of God?
  • Jesus’ regular ministry was teaching, not foot washing. Are you willing to pitch in and do whatever needs to be done at the moment even if it’s a thankless task, a dirty job, or “not your ministry”?

Knowing Our Roles

When Jesus came to earth, God had a special, well-defined role of service for Him. He was to live a sinless life, teach, perform miracles, die on the cross for our sins, and rise again. He was not to be a husband, father, chief priest, scribe, farmer, or soldier. One of the ways Jesus obeyed God was by staying within the parameters God had set for Him and joyfully and robustly fulfilling His role without coveting the roles of others or complaining about the role God had assigned Him.

God has also assigned certain roles of service in the church to certain people. We must be sure to follow Jesus’ example by joyfully embracing, and robustly fulfilling, the role He has given us and not coveting the roles of others. 

Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

  • What does this passage teach us about the value of each church member’s service to the Body?
  • Is it right for any church member to look down on anyone else’s role of service? (21) Is it right for us to look down on our own “lowly” role of service and be jealous of someone else’s more “prestigious” role of service? (15-17)
  • Who arranges members – and, consequently, their roles of service – in the Body? (18) Did He do so arbitrarily or with purpose? (18)  What does that tell us about the importance of obeying God by staying in the role He has assigned us?
  • What is the effect when we embrace the role God has assigned to us and encourage others in the role God has assigned to them? (25)

Most roles of service in the church are open to many Christians. But in the same way there are good reasons we wouldn’t allow a five year old to drive the church van or a man to chaperone the girls in their sleeping quarters at youth camp, God has good reasons that He restricts certain people from serving in a few specific roles, and that He requires certain people to step up and fill certain roles.

Read 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Timothy 2:12-15, and Titus 2:3-5

God requires that certain biblically qualified men to step up and take on the leadership of the church as pastors, elders, and deacons. 

  • What are the qualifications for each of these offices in the 1 Timothy 3/Titus 1 passages?
  • Is every Christian man qualified to serve in these roles? What are some things from these passages that would disqualify a man from serving in one or more of these roles?
  • Must every man who is biblically qualified serve in one of these offices? (1 Timothy 3:1) What would be some reasons a biblically qualified man might not or should not serve in one of these offices? Should a man who is biblically qualified give serious prayerful consideration to serving in one of these offices?
  • Is a godly man’s service to the church any less valuable if he does not serve in one of these roles? (You may wish to review 1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

God requires that women who are mature in the faith train up younger women and children in godliness. However, as we have seen in the 1 Timothy 3/Titus 1 passages, He has restricted the offices of pastor, elder, and deacon to biblically qualified men. First Timothy 2:12-14 shows us that women are also restricted from carrying out two of the functions of these offices: preaching and teaching the Bible to co-ed/men’s groups in the church setting, and exercising teaching or non-teaching authority over co-ed/men’s groups in the church setting. This means that our church will place qualified men in any position of service which requires preaching or teaching the Bible to men, and/or holding authority over men.

  • Recalling 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, does God’s restricting these few church offices/functions to biblically qualified men mean that He values the service of women or men who don’t serve in these roles any less than He values the service of men who do serve in these roles? Should we value their service less?
  • What are some ways you see men and women serving in our church which do not require them to preach/teach the Bible to men or exercise authority over men? Explain the importance of a few of these roles of service and their value to the church.

Read Matthew 5:29-30

Everyone sins, and everyone deals with different temptations to sin. If there are certain roles of service in our church that would tempt you to sin, it is not wise for you to serve in that position of service. For example, if you struggle against the temptation to steal, we want to lovingly help you avoid that temptation by not making you our church treasurer.

  • What does Jesus say we should do with things that tempt us to sin?
  • Prayerfully consider your areas of weakness and temptation. Are there any areas in our church in which you feel it would be unwise for you to serve?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Are there any areas in our church in which it would be illegal or violate your probation for you to serve?

If you’re struggling to embrace the role in the church that God has assigned to you, prayerfully examine your heart to discover why that might be. Compare the way Jesus embraced the role God assigned Him with your heart attitude about embracing the role God has assigned you.

Suited to Serve

God has created each human being with unique talents, abilities, and interests, and gives Christians spiritual giftings for service (see Romans 12:3-8). This is one of the ways He equips us for ministry in the church. While we should always be ready to pitch in and help whenever a need arises, most of the time, God does not assign people long term roles of service that go against the grain of the way He wired them. However, there are times when we serve in a capacity we think we’ll hate, and we end up loving it, discovering giftings and abilities we never knew we had!

Take some time to prayerfully consider your character traits, interests, abilities, experience, talents, and gifts that may help match you up with a place of service in our church:

  • Have you ever worked on a task or project that gave you the sense that, “This is what God put me on this earth to do,” or brought you great joy? Describe that task or project. Would others objectively look at the results and say you did a good job? Is there a way you could serve our church by doing that same thing or something similar?
  • What kinds of things do unbiased people (not close friends/family) tell you you’re good at and encourage you to pursue? 
  • Make a list of ten categories of work you enjoy and are good at (ex: organizing, working with children, repair work, writing, hospitality, etc.). Is there a way you could serve our church in one of these capacities?
  • Are you willing to give a role of service a try even if you’re inexperienced in that area or it’s not your favorite area?
  • When looking out across the landscape of our church, do you think, “Somebody needs to do something about _______,”? Pray about the possibility that God has put this need on your heart because He is moving you to do something about it, help someone else do something about it, or facilitate (provide finances, materials, a meeting place, etc.) someone else doing something about it.

Prayerfully look over the attached list of roles of service needing someone to fill them. Is there a certain role God seems to be leading you to or that you believe would be a good fit for the way God has created and equipped you? Is there a need you see in our church that’s not on the list that God has placed on your heart to fill? Make an appointment with the pastor, elder, or other appropriate leader and discuss the role of service you would like to take on.

(Churches using the survey: You will need to attach your own list of specific opportunities for service available in your particular church HERE.)


Additional Resources

Servanthood
Let Me Count the Ways: 75 Ways Women Can Biblically Minister to Others

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit
Rock Your Role FAQs

Discernment

Sheila Walsh

Sheila Walsh is speaking at the Send Conference (NAMB/IMB) at the upcoming 2021 Southern Baptist Convention. If you’re attending, you might want to know more about her.


If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.


This article is kept continuously updated as needed.

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. The teacher below is someone I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on her.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Sheila Walsh
Not Recommended

Sheila is a women’s Bible study and children’s book author, speaker, and singer. Formerly a co-host of The 700 Club for several years, she now co-hosts Life Today with James Robison. Life Today routinely features false teachers as guests, including Joel OsteenJoyce Meyer, Paula White, T.D. Jakes, Kim Walker-Smith (Jesus Culture), and Beth Moore, among others.

Sheila habitually yokes in ministry and fraternizes with false and problematic teachers in other venues as well. Space does not permit me to list every incidence of Sheila doing so, but the following examples are representative.

In 2014, Sheila joined Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Priscilla Shirer, Victoria Osteen, and Lisa Harper for the Unwrap the Bible conference at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood “Church.”

Sheila is a contributor at Hillsong’s web site, spoke at Hillsong’s 2015 and 2018 Colour Conference, and has preached the Sunday sermon at Hillsong, saying, “I love pastors Brian and Bobbie [Houston] so much…”.

She gave an enthusiastic Instagram recommendation of an event at which Bobbie HoustonChristine Caine, and Sarah Jakes Roberts (T.D. Jakes’ daughter) were the featured speakers.

Sheila is one of the Women of Joy stable of speakers, which also includes Lysa TerKeurst, Lisa Bevere, Margaret Feinberg, Bianca Olthoff, Chrystal Evans Hurst, Christine Caine, Lisa Harper, Jennie Allen, Angie Smith, Karen Kingsbury, and Jennifer Rothschild. Sheila regularly speaks at WOJ conferences with these speakers.

Jennifer Rothschild’s Fresh Grounded Faith conference organization also counts Sheila as one of its featured speakers alongside Lysa TerKeurst, Angie Smith, Karen Kingsbury, and Ann Voskamp.

Sheila regularly and unrepentantly preaches to men including her aforementioned Sunday sermon at Hillsong, the Sunday sermon at another Hillsong campus, the Sunday sermon at Rick Warren’s Saddleback, a pastor’s conference she mentions in this video, the Sunday sermon at James River Church (which is co-“pastored” by a woman), the Sunday Sermon at NewHope Baptist Church, the Sunday Sermons at Emmanuel CC, and the Sunday Sermon at Transformation Church (also co-“pastored” by a woman), just to cite a few examples.

Interestingly, none of these events at which Sheila is preaching the Sunday morning sermon or otherwise preaching to or teaching men/co-ed audiences was listed on the calendar of events at Sheila’s website. She only lists women’s events she’ll be speaking at. As I continue to research evangelical women speakers, I’m seeing this trending more and more. Many only list on their websites women’s events they’re speaking at, and don’t list the events where they’ll be preaching the Sunday sermon or speaking at co-ed events. It is only speculation on my part, so I’m not making accusations or assumptions, but as I keep seeing this happen, I can’t help but wonder if it is to hide the fact that they are preaching to men in order to maintain a semblance of being doctrinally sound, and to avoid reproof for this sin.

In addition to yoking with false teachers and preaching to men, I noticed a few other things while researching Sheila.

There is no clear statement of faith or gospel presentation on Sheila’s website, but the home page of her website greets the reader in bold print with GOD IS FOR YOU (which she says is “her message”). Underneath, a caption says,

“Your destiny isn’t determined by your history. No matter what you’ve gone through or where you’ve been, God is inviting you to take the next step.”

Below this caption are two clickable buttons, “About Sheila,” (which, as you might guess, links to a page with Sheila’s bio), and “Start Again.”

“God is for you!”, the subsequent caption, and “start again” might cause the reader to think that clicking the “Start Again” button will lead to a page outlining the plan of salvation, but it doesn’t. It links to the About page of Sheila’s site which gives eight steps to…I’m not sure what. It is definitely not the gospel. Nothing is mentioned about sin, repentance, faith in Christ for salvation, the cross, the resurrection, or anything else you might expect in a gospel presentation. Also, there isn’t a single Scripture cited.

I honestly don’t understand if this is supposed to be aimed at lost people or saved people (Maybe she’s addressing backslidden Christians? I can’t tell.), but either way, it’s not about what Christ did to save us or how He sanctifies us, it’s a works-righteousness litany of all the things you have to do to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and “start again” (whatever that means). And it lists all these things you need to do (“we have to change the way we think,” “step out in faith,” “rise above disappointment,” etc.) but it doesn’t explain how to do them. There’s no mention of repentance, placing your faith in Christ for salvation, studying your Bible, prayer, or joining with a doctrinally sound local church. She mentions “the hope we have in Him” but doesn’t explain what that hope is or how to get it, which, in a sad irony, leaves the reader hopeless.

What’s more, there is Christian-ish vernacular that lost people are not going to understand: “Walk with Him in the garden,” “Christ redeems every drop of our suffering,” “find your hiding place under the shelter of God’s wings”…I’m not sure I even totally understand what she means by all of these things.

And the entire “God is for you,” posture of Sheila’s message, writing, and speaking give the sense that God’s main function is to be your magic Band-Aid to make all your owies go away. Certainly, God loves us, helps us, comforts us, and wants what’s best for us, but God isn’t for us – to serve our every desire and salve our every hurt. We were made for Him – to glorify, honor, and serve Him.

Sheila’s blog posts – though they are blog posts, not Bible studies – reflect the current trend in women’s “Bible” study: personal stories from the author’s life with a few Bible verses sprinkled in here and there. Perhaps most of the Bible study books Sheila writes are in a different format and focus on the proper exegesis of Scripture (as I said, these are blog posts, not Bible studies), but if she writes all of her Bible studies in the same way and style in which she writes her blog posts, they should be avoided in favor of studying the actual Bible.

I have not had the opportunity to read all Sheila has written, but if the introduction and first chapter of her most recent book, It’s Okay Not to Be Okaywhich is marketed as a “Bible study,” are indicative of the way she writes these studies, the style is, indeed, very similar to her blog posts: personal stories with a few Bible verses (some from the completely unreliable paraphrase The Message) sprinkled in. (And the endorsement page of this book reads like a laundry list of contemporary false and problematic teachers such as: Lisa Bevere, Ann Voskamp, Christine Caine, Jennie Allen, Lisa Harper, Roma Downey, Bobbie Houston, and Karen Kingsbury.)

Furthermore, echoing her website’s ambiguous eight steps to…something, the first part of It’s Okay seems to muddle the line between saved and unsaved, sinner and saint. The thrust of this opening material and the theme of the book seem to be: “God’s love for you isn’t dependent on your striving for perfect behavior,” which is absolutely true, and something many Christian women need to grasp. However, in the midst of this “it’s okay to stop striving for perfection and rest in God’s love for you” talk, she refers back to the Fall:

The story continues in verse 10, when God asks Adam where he is: “He replied, ‘I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.'”

There you have it!
Shame.
Fear.
Covering up.
Hiding.
…and we’ve been doing it ever since.¹

While a Christian striving for perfection rooted in fear of losing God’s love and a lost person’s willful disobedience may both be displeasing to God, they are not the same thing and should not be conflated in this way. It is right and good for a sinner to feel shame and guilt for rebelling against God, because she is guilty, she is covered with shame, until she repents and trusts Christ as Savior. But this is a completely different animal from someone who has already had the guilt and shame of all of her sin (including any lack of trust in God’s love for her) washed away by the blood of Christ, and who is striving to please Him, albeit imperfectly. It is concerning that Sheila does not clearly differentiate between the two.

Southern Baptists should be aware that, despite the fact that Sheila unrepentantly preaches to men, yokes with false teachers, and seems to be somewhat ambiguous on the gospel, LifeWay does carry her materials.

Sheila is a charming woman who lavishes great passion and love on her audiences, but, unfortunately, I cannot recommend her to you as a biblically trustworthy teacher you should follow.


¹From chapter 1 of It’s Okay Not to Be Okay. Taken from Amazon’s free Kindle excerpt of the book, which has no page numbers. This quote looks to be a page or two before the end of the chapter.

Comments are closed on this article because it is a reprint and I like to keep all the comments in one place. If you’d like to comment, please do so on the original article. If you’d like to link long term to this information, I’d recommend you link to the original article as well, since I sometimes delete reprints to keep the blog tidy. :0)