Christian women, Church, Complementarianism

Unforbidden Fruits: 3 Ways Women MUST Lead and Teach the Church

Originally published April 20, 2018

Ladies, we whine too much.

Like petulant little girls, we look at what’s off limits to us, stomp our Mary Janes on the floor and cry “Why can’t I? I want to!” instead of giddily jumping into all the opportunities God has blessed us with. Instead of being happy and thankful for what we have, our greedy little fingers stretch out to grasp what God has said we can’t have because it’s not good for us or anybody else.

God has instructed pastors – who are, in turn, to instruct us – that, in the gathered body of Believers, women are not to preach to men, instruct men in the Scriptures, or exercise authority over men. And that’s what we focus on, and whine and kick our feet about. That part – the childish rebellion and discontent with the role God has graciously placed us in – that’s on us.

But pastors, we badly need your help on this one. Many pastors do a wonderful job of rightly and biblically explaining what women are not to do (And may I take a moment to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I know how difficult that can be and that you take a lot of undeserved flak for simply teaching God’s Word on this subject.), but that “no” teaching has often not been coupled with the “yes” teaching of what women must do and how they must lead in order for women, and the church, to be healthy and function properly.

You’ve loved us well to tell us not to bite at the apple from the forbidden tree, but we also desperately need you to take us on a tour of the Garden and introduce us to the all-you-can-eat buffet of pear and peach and cherry and pecan trees that we have the privilege and the responsibility to feast on.

🍊 The Other Institution 🍊

Did you ever notice that the “do” for women in the church comes before the “don’t”? We tend to totally skip over that enormous little word that kicks off 1 Timothy 2:11: “Let a woman learn…”. We have no idea of, nor appreciation for, how huge and groundbreaking it was for the Holy Spirit, through Paul, to proactively instruct pastors: “Hey, get these women in here, make sure they listen up, and train them properly in the Scriptures so they’ll be equipped to fortify their homes with biblical truth.”

We completely miss the fact that, though God installs men as the teachers and leaders in one of His foundational institutions – the church – He has very much made women the functional, boots on the ground, day to day, teachers and leaders by example – of His other foundational institution – the family. The church didn’t even exist for the first few millennia of human history, but the family has existed since Creation. And people who are members of families populate and lead the church. Raising and molding those people is a tremendous position and responsibility. A position and responsibility God has largely given to women.

Wives pray for our husbands’ growth in Christ. We build them up with Scripture. With a gentle and quiet spirit, we set a godly example for them as they observe our respectful and pure conduct. We encourage and help them in their leadership roles at church.

Moms pray for our children’s salvation. We pour the gospel into them at every turn. We train up our children in the way that they should go – in the nurture and admonition of the Lord – so that when they are old they do not depart from it. We teach them to love and serve and invest in the church both directly and by modeling these things for them.

And our single, widowed, and childless sisters work right alongside us in this labor, praying for church leaders and members, nurturing children at church whose parents are unsaved or unequipped to raise them biblically, encouraging and assisting brothers and sisters in Christ.

We grow and develop, nourish and support, exhort and sharpen the population of the body of Christ.

Men may lead the church, but women raise the church.

🍐 Woman to Woman 🍐

Essential to the health of any church is the component of women training women, whether in the formal setting of a Bible study class and structured women’s ministry programs or an impromptu “let’s get together for coffee this week” discipleship discussion.

Though we receive instruction in Scripture from our pastors, elders, and teachers, there are some counseling and teaching situations it’s not appropriate for a man to address with a woman, or that a woman understands better than a man. There are issues women face that men just don’t “get” in the same way a sister in Christ does. There are insights and perspectives a woman can use to explain Scripture to another woman that a man just doesn’t have. There are times when a woman needs someone to walk through a long term emotional journey with her that requires a personal intimacy which would be inappropriate for a man to engage in with her. And in the same way men are better equipped than women to train men to be godly husbands, fathers, and church members, women are better equipped than men to train women to be godly wives, mothers, and church members.

God knew all of this back when He breathed out the words of Titus 2:3-5…

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

…and, again, 1 Timothy 2:11:

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.

Women must be trained properly in the Scriptures so we can take that training and pour it into other women, teaching and sharpening them into godly women, wives, mothers, and church members.

🍑 Super Models 🍑

Women instruct our brothers and sisters in the church in biblical truth when we lead by example. When we sin against someone, we go to that person and ask forgiveness. We demonstrate the importance of meeting together with the Body by being faithful in our church and Sunday School attendance. We model servanthood by serving the church and our brothers and sisters. We paint a picture of biblical compassion by ministering to the sick and others in need. We show Christians how to carry out the Great Commission by sharing the gospel. We set an example of trusting God when others see us depending on Him through difficult situations.

And one of the most important biblical concepts women have the privilege and responsibility of teaching the church through our example is submission to authority – a lesson the church is sorely in need of these days.

Because God blessed us by creating us as women, we have an opportunity to model submission to authority in a unique way that God has chosen to deny to men.

As we submit to our husbands, we teach the church what it means to submit to Christ. How to walk in humility and obey Him out of love. How to put selfishness aside. To trust Him to take care of us. To deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him.

When we submit to God’s design for leadership in the church and joyfully carry out the work He has planned for us as godly women, we teach the church to submit to God’s authority and love Him by obeying His commands. We instruct our fellow church members in respecting and submitting to the pastors and elders God has placed in spiritual authority over us.

Submission to Christ, to God’s commands, and to pastors and elders is the bedrock of a healthy church. God has graciously given women the role – and the duty – of teaching these and other biblical principles to our churches in a way that men cannot -through our example as godly women.

 

Remember the series of fun little nutritional books that came out several years ago called Eat This, Not That? The idea the books centered around was, “Don’t eat that unhealthy thing. Eat this similar but healthy thing instead.”

Sadly, many Christian women have only been getting half the story. “Not that” (preaching to/teaching men and exercising authority over men) is biblically correct, but it’s not biblically complete. If all you tell someone is “Don’t eat that,” without showing her the “Eat this,” part, what she needs to eat to be healthy, she’s going to starve, and the church will be malnourished as well.

Christian women need our pastors to teach us to eat the fat of the land of being properly trained in the Scriptures and drink the sweet wine of leading and instructing the church the way God gifts us and requires us to. Only then will the Body be healthy and well nourished.

Christian women, Complementarianism

Throwback Thursday ~ Toxic (Evangelical) Femininity

Originally published August 24, 2018

Toxic masculinity. It’s a buzzword that’s gaining momentum as it’s bandied about in pop culture like a shuttlecock over a badminton net. There’s a clinical definition of the term (which, in the ivory towers of the scholarly world is, properly, “hegemonic masculinity“):

Hegemonic masculinity is defined as a practice that legitimizes men’s dominant position in society and justifies the subordination of women, and other marginalized ways of being a man. Conceptually, hegemonic masculinity proposes to explain how and why men maintain dominant social roles over women, and other gender identities, which are perceived as “feminine” in a given society.

And then there’s the sort of similar working definition of the huddled masses: Anything a man does that others, especially women, don’t like that can, by any stretch of the imagination, be blamed on the fact that he’s a man.

If a man cuts you off in traffic, it’s not that he’s a jerk or didn’t see you, it’s toxic masculinity. If a man holds a door open for a woman, it’s not that he’s polite and helpful, it’s toxic masculinity. If a man leaves his socks on the bathroom floor, it’s not that he’s sloppy and has no home training, it’s toxic masculinity. In other words, he’s not doing these things because he’s a polite or rude or aggressive or helpful human being, it’s because he’s a man who just wants to keep women down and exercise dominance over them.

Pardon my French, but what a bunch of malarkey.

Yes, I’m sure there’s a fringe element of men out there who consciously think they’re better than women, that women shouldn’t have any rights or hold any positions of responsibility, blah, blah, blah. And you know what? They’re considered fringe kooks, and rightly so. But I’m not buying this business of these elitist gnostics telling us that every little move a man makes is a subconscious act of belittling women or exercising domination over them, and neither should you. It’s like the race-baiters who say that every single white person is racist, deep down, and this latent racism manifests itself in everything we do, from the way we tie our shoes to the breakfast cereal we buy at the store. We’re just not aware of it, supposedly.

Poppycock.

You want to know where this notion of toxic masculinity came from? It sprang from the loins of toxic feminism. Zoom out and look at the big picture. This is a manufactured concept, baptized in the (assumed) credibility of academia, designed to help women leverage power and control over men. How? By denigrating them at every turn, thereby convincing the world that men are intrinsically bad and women are good and must be elevated to prominence. Call me crazy if you want to, but it doesn’t take a prophet or the son of a prophet to look down the road and see that the feminist end game here is a matriarchal world where women rule and men drool. And there are plenty of brazen females out there who would openly and unashamedly admit this.

That, however, is not my concern. Sinners gonna sin, and God’s going to deal with them in His own way and in His own good time.

My concern is the way this attitude is fleshing (pun intended) itself out in Christian families and the visible church, and creeping into evangelical women’s (and men’s) hearts. Because, whether or not we’d like to admit it, this worldliness is advancing upon us, and we need to be aware of – and biblically approach – the facets of this issue that are already at our doorstep:

On the Top of the World Looking Down on Creation

I actually laughed out loud when reading some of the academic definitions of so-called toxic masculinity. There seemed to be an air of, “We just don’t understand it! This pattern of male dominance seems to transcend all cultures and time periods!”

Well here’s a really academic response to that: Duh.

I mean, you have to wonder if these researchers and scholars have ever said to  themselves, “I wonder if there’s a reason for that. I wonder if this tendency in men that defies time and culture can be traced back to a pinpointed source.”

There is, and it can. It’s called Creation, and God is the one responsible. God created man first and then woman. God created husbands to lead and wives to be helpers. God set up the Old Testament patriarchal society that became the nation of Israel, which was led by male tribal heads and, later, male kings. God established male leadership in the temple, and subsequently, in the church. The major and minor prophets were male, Jesus was male, the apostles were male, the writers of Scripture were male. And all of this traces back to that one moment in Genesis 2 in which God decided to create man first and hard-wire him to lead, protect, and git ‘er done. Broadly¹ speaking, the reason we see a general¹ pattern of male leadership across time and culture is because God set those wheels in motion.

As Christians, we recognize that sinful men sometimes abuse the positions of leadership God has given them, but that doesn’t negate the entire pattern and call for us to turn it on its head. We study our Bibles and embrace and submit to the way God has instructed men and women to behave in the roles He has bestowed upon us.

(Don’t) Do the Woke-Emotion

One of the components of God’s creative work that adds inexplicable beauty to this world is the tender-heartedness, passion, and empathy He built into women in a uniquely feminine way. Emotions. Feelings. God created them, and they are good. What a dreary and heartless world this would be if women didn’t bring nurturing, caring, sympathy, and love to the table. God uses us to soften the hard edges of life and make the planet pleasantly inhabitable.

But along with that good gift comes the challenge to steward it wisely and in obedience to God so that we may use it to glorify Him rather than dishonoring Him.

I see Christian women wisely stewarding their emotions to the glory of God every day as they care for their husbands and families, friends and co-workers, and serve in their churches. It is a beautiful picture of the mature fruit of biblical womanhood.

Unfortunately, I also see the exact opposite. I see (ostensibly) Christian women who scream like banshees any time their pastor preaches on the passages of Scripture dealing with women’s roles in marriage or the church. I’ve seen women who claim to believe and follow the Bible throw an everloving fit when someone points out – from Scripture – that their favorite women’s “Bible” study author is a false teacher. I see women formulating their beliefs and practices about God, worship, the Bible, their own behavior, their families, and their churches based on their own personal opinions, experiences, and feelings rather than on rightly handled Scripture.

And, just like secular feminists demand domination over men because they feel oppressed, have experienced sexism, or resent the world’s history of male dominion, I see Christian women letting their emotions rule the day as they demand unbiblical solutions to their real or perceived personal experiences with men and male leadership.

The anger, the outrage, the hurt feelings, and being offended are nearly as evident in evangelicalism as they are in society at large.

Godly women are not ruled by their feelings. We are ruled by the Bible. We make our feelings submit to and obey God’s Word. We don’t make decisions based on what we like or don’t like, or what makes us feel good about ourselves. We base our decisions on what the Bible says. When our feathers get ruffled, we take a step back and evaluate the situation with rightly handled Scripture. Maybe we’re upset because someone actually sinned against us, but maybe we’re upset because our pride or vanity was wounded, or our unbiblical notions were biblically challenged, or because God used someone to expose an idol we’re worshiping. Maybe it’s not that the other person sinned, but that we’re in sin. Those hurt feelings could be a wake up call from God to humble ourselves and repent.

Ladies, we must learn to put our feelings aside and act on the objective truth of God’s Word instead of our fickle and deceptive emotions. If we display the same sorts of fleshly emotionalism as unsaved women, how are we being salt and light in the world, pointing the way to Christ? We’re supposed to be set apart and different from the world.

Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?

Because – speaking of salt and light – embracing and submitting to our biblical roles in the family and in the church sets us apart from the world. Now, more than ever, we have a unique opportunity to be counter-cultural – simply by obeying God’s Word.

Women being hired as pastors and teaching and exercising authority over men in the church and leading denominations and becoming popular evangelical conference speakers with co-ed audiences – that’s what the world expects because that’s the way they do things. But a Christian woman who happily puts her foot down and refuses to teach men in the church setting or joyfully insists on submitting to her husband? That’s different. It’s against the grain, not the norm.

Remember that out of the ordinary burning bush that caught Moses’ attention and he turned aside out of curiosity to investigate? And remember how, when Moses was watching it burn, wondering what in the world was going on, that God called to him out of that fiery shrub – “Follow Me.”? God can do the same thing with our obedience to Scripture.

Lost people see this anomaly of our “weird” behavior, and they want to know what in the world is going on. Why do we act differently than they do? And that’s when we get to explain it to them. We get to share the gospel. God can call to them out of our passionate burning for Christ and His Word, “Follow Me.”.

People in darkness gravitate toward light. Salt makes people thirsty. Do we care more about giving them the Light of the World and the Living Water or our own selfish and fleshly desires for power and position? Our embrace of and obedience to the biblical roles God has laid out for us as Christian women is one gateway to sharing the gospel with the lost.

 

Toxic femininity is worldly and fleshly. It has no place in Christian homes and churches. How do we combat it? We take up the sword. We submit to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. We recognize that God is the authority in our lives, not self, and that we are to obey Him at any cost – even at the cost of our convenience and pleasure. We trade our desires for His.


¹I’m well aware that there are plenty of exceptions to this generalization. I’m referring to a broad pattern across time and culture, here. There are many biblical ways women can contribute and lead in the family, society, and the church.
Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Katie’s Story

Katie’s Story

Hi, my name is Katie. I am a wife to a great husband and mom to young children like many of you; loving the Lord and trying to live for His glory, and this is my story…

I became a believer in the summer before eighth grade. I had lived in the “Bible Belt” south all my life, but had not heard the full gospel until then. My family did not attend church. It was only my older sister who had started going to church, became a believer, and relentlessly kept inviting me until I at least starting going to youth group meetings. Once I finally came, I realized that the youth there were different from all the other kids I had met moving around and going to a few different public elementary schools. I was intrigued, and quickly became a regular in youth activities at the church. I started going to the Sunday morning services too. At a back to school rally, it finally all clicked for me and I fully understood the gospel and fully and completely gave my life to the Lord, asking Him alone to save me from my sin, and grant me new life in Him.

It was such a transformation! The Lord gave me a newfound desire to read His Word; to try and understand better who I was now as a believer.

It was such a transformation!

Fast forward a couple of years to about age 21. I started reading the “Christian” books for women that I was finding at LifeWay and other Christian stores. I found Beth Moore’s materials, and her style of writing and speaking was very interesting to me. She had a very likable persona when she spoke. She seemed like the coolest Christian woman ever. Always smiling and joking, telling stories with spiritual messages. Always seemed well put together. “Who would not like to be her?” I thought.

I just did not know that her Bible teaching was not exactly rightly dividing the Word of Truth. I quickly accumulated a bunch of her studies, books, and started going to some of her events. I became a regular on her blog on her ministry website too. I would check her blog everyday, comment on virtually anything her or her writing staff posted. I know, I had completely bought into her teachings. I even met her once at an event, very briefly, and she recognized who I was by my screen name on the blog. She even gave a shout out to me on her blog once.

The red flags started popping up…

I did not want to think that there was anything wrong with her teachings. That is, until the “red flags” started popping up. I came across some critiques of her on the internet on discernment blogs of various kinds. Some of them were written thoughtfully and fairly I thought, but some were just downright mean and hateful. Did they even know her or follow her teachings all that much? I didn’t think any of these critics knew her personally.

I started to see it though. She wasn’t actually dividing the Word of Truth very accurately. She would not listen to anyone either that tried to alert her or warn her. Not enough to change the theological direction she was heading in anyway. It concerned me that she seemed to be trying to bring in the Catholic Church into fellowship with Protestant denominations in her Believing God study videos. It concerned me that she seemed OK with preaching to men. I tried writing many letters to her, but the replies I received, just a few sentences from her or a pre-made letter from her writing staff did not satisfy my questions about what she was teaching or doing at her events and in her Bible studies. It really broke my heart because I think that Beth and her staff really cared a bunch for me, and I for them. I had followed the blog so closely that I felt like I “knew” Beth as a friend. As a spiritual mentor even. She seemed almost like family.

I felt like I knew Beth…She seemed almost like family.

However, after Beth appeared on Joyce Meyer’s TV show and endorsed her to her face, I knew enough to know that I couldn’t follow her blog anymore or recommend her or her teachings to anyone. I, who had actually facilitated her studies at my church, now did not want her studies at my church. I wrote to her by hand to tell her that I could not follow her or recommend her anymore, but I would at least pray for her. I had told her on her blog that I would always pray for her and her family, and I wanted to keep my promise. I truly meant that. She had been through such an awful childhood experience and I felt such sadness that she was so deceived, and was now deceiving others, not rightly teaching God’s Word. I told her I really wished it was not her who was doing and teaching these things. I still pray that one day, if it is possible, that she would repent.

It has taken a few years now for me to separate myself from who I was and how I thought that I should relate to God to who I am now, and how to truly, biblically relate to God and His Word as a true believer. It has been a journey of sorts, having to go back to the pure truths of God’s Word. I became legitimately depressed because, come to find out, not just Beth Moore; but quite a few of the women authors who sold studies and books at Lifeway and other Christian bookstores are not rightly teaching God’s Word either. I had no idea. Naive? Yes, for sure, I think, looking back now.

But I can warn other women…

But, I can warn other women like myself. Other Christian young or older women need to be told to be Bereans. Research the teachers that you listen to! Even look into the Christian music that you listen to! You need to know God’s Word. The Bible is truth without error. Do not be ignorant of the Scriptures and proper hermeneutics- how to properly understand and interpret the Scriptures. Do not just blindly follow any so called Christian celebrity teacher that you think is interesting. Really look into what they believe and teach and see if it does square with the Bible or not. If it doesn’t match up, even if you love their personality, don’t follow them anymore.

Hopefully, my story can help you in your walk with the Lord, my sisters in Christ.

With much love, Katie.


Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His Word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Contact me, or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (The Bible Project, leaving Elevation, Bible study supplements, Attend the study?…)

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.


A friend recently recommended your website for guidance with deciphering false teachers. I am wondering what do I do with all the books that I will now be getting rid of. I can’t in my right mind donate them or sell them. Is it enough to recycle them? Should they be trashed or even burned? Thanks in advance for your time and wisdom in this question. Thank you for your site and all the research and resources you have put together. I appreciate you.

How very kind of you to say! It is my absolute pleasure to serve you, and all my readers, in Christ.

I rejoice with you that God is growing you in discernment. Your instinct not to donate or sell these materials is correct. Throwing them out (render them unreadable first) or burning them is the best thing to do. (See section 3 of this article for more – you are not alone!)

(Long time readers- I know you’ve seen me address this question several times, but it is so encouraging to me to hear from women whose eyes have been opened to biblical truth, and I figured it would be encouraging to you, too. I might address this question every time I receive it just for the encouragement factor! :0)


Have you researched The Bible Project?

I have not, but my friend Gabriel Hughes has done a bunch of research on it. The short version is that he doesn’t recommend it. Click here for the long version.


I read your article about leaving Elevation Church. I am interested in hearing more about your experience.

Thank you for asking. I’d love to help you out, but as you can see from the title of the article and other remarks before, after, and in the article, this was a guest post, written by one of my readers who wishes to remain anonymous. I didn’t write it. I’ve never been to Elevation nor laid eyes on Steven Furtick.

If you have a question for the author of the article, I would suggest leaving a comment in the comment box on that article (click “leaving Elevation church” above, and leave your comment there, or she probably won’t see it). I will leave it up to her to check the comments from time to time and reply as she feels appropriate. (Just to save fans of Furtick, Elevation, and false doctrine some time: I will not be publishing your comments.)

Or, seeing as I’ve received several comments and questions about this article, if someone would like to start a “Survivors of Elevation” sort of Facebook group, send me the link. As long as I don’t receive any reports of unbiblical shenanigans, I’ll refer any inquiries I receive to the group.


Do you know if any good resources to study 1 Corinthians? Any good books, sermons, teachings you know about? It’s for my church’s ladies Bible Study. We read from the Bible but always like an extra sound resource.

While I don’t make recommendations for what I call “canned” (book, workbook, DVD, etc.) Bible studies, if you’re already studying straight from the Bible itself it can be helpful to use some good study aids, sermons, etc. as supplements from time to time. Here’s what I’d recommend for 1 Corinthians or any other book of the Bible:

Bible Book Backgrounds: Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them (I would also recommend any of the other materials at these three sites, not just the book backgrounds.)

Study Bibles, Commentaries, Dictionaries, and Bible Study Helps (see #4)

Recordings / transcripts of any previous sermons your own pastor has preached on the passage you’re studying.

Anything John MacArthur / Grace to You has preached, taught, or written on the passage. (Use the search bar)

Anything R.C. Sproul / Ligonier has preached, taught, or written on the passage. (Use the search bar. Also note that this is a Presbyterian ministry, so if you are more in the Baptistic stream, there will be a few perspectives you don’t align with,  but it’s always helpful to hear the other side of the issue from a doctrinally sound source.)

When using these resources (except for the Bible book backgrounds), I would strongly recommend studying the passage yourself first, and then listening to someone else’s sermon, reading someone else’s article, etc. Do the work of digging in by yourself, without being influenced by anybody else’s voice.

Why? A) It’s good discipline. We need to be able to mine the Scriptures and hear God speaking to us through His word for ourselves, without someone else doing the work for us and telling us what the passage means or how it applies. B) It’s such an amazing experience to grasp what God is saying in a particular passage and then turn to other Christians – maybe even Christians who lived hundreds of years ago and thousands of miles away – to whom God revealed the exact same thing by the exact same Holy Spirit. It will help you get a bigger sense of the inspiration of Scripture, the Holy Spirit’s work through His living and active Word, God’s sovereignty, and your connection to, and fellowship with the church catholic (“little ‘c'” / universal).


Regarding the steps listed in “How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing”: If I talk to the Women’s Ministry Team and they decide to use the wrong teaching regardless, is it best to AVOID the classes or attend and be quiet? Previously, I attended and stayed quiet. I did not like that strategy, but to bow out totally feels uncomfortable as well. Just wondered whether anyone else has this issue. Pretty sure I will bow out next time.

Great question – and yes, it’s an issue for many women, unfortunately.

First, just in case you or another reader might need clarity on this part of the article (in #4a), when I say “approach [the women’s ministry leader] first before going over her head to the elders or pastor. You want to win your sister over to the truth, if possible, not simply force her to change things because a superior tells her she has to,” and “it’s usually best to approach the lower level leader, if any, before going over his head,” I don’t mean to approach only the women’s ministry leader or other lower level leader(s).

If you go to the women’s ministry leader, following the steps in the article, and she ends up saying, “Sorry, but I think you’re wrong and we’re going to do this study anyway,” you don’t stop there. You start over at step 1 with the next person up the chain of command – for example, the elder or associate pastor who handles discipleship/Bible study. You go through all the steps with him. If he gives you the same answer as the women’s ministry leader, you keep going up the chain of command until somebody listens and does what’s biblical or until you get to the top of the chain (in most cases, the pastor), whichever comes first.

If you’ve gotten all the way to the pastor and he, despite the evidence you’ve given him essentially says, “I don’t care. I’m going to allow the women’s ministry to keep using materials by false teachers,” it is then time for you (and your husband, if you’re married) to start considering whether or not you need to move your membership to another, more doctrinally sound church.

Deciding whether or not to attend the “Bible” study class is only necessary if you can’t find a more doctrinally sound church to move to, or if it’s something like, for example, you and your husband prayerfully come to the conclusion that you need to give this church six more months before you decide to leave it.

If you’re in a similar situation to one of those scenarios, I would not recommend attending the study and remaining quiet about the false doctrine being taught. This makes it appear that you either aren’t discerning enough to know there’s false doctrine in the study, or worse, that you either don’t care about the false doctrine being taught, or that you actually agree with it. I think you’ll find my article The Mailbag: Should I attend the “Bible” study to correct false doctrine? to be helpful.


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.

Christian women, Church

The 5 Church Ladies You Don’t Want to Be

Originally published September 21, 2018

It’s just as easy to fall into a ditch on the right side of the road as it is to fall into a ditch on the left side of the road.

The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I see how true this is in the Christian life. We can be legalistic or antinomian. Crushed by guilt over our sin, or hard-hearted about our sin. Extending too much grace to unrepentant sinners, or not extending enough grace to repentant sinners.

Abandoning the church altogether, or taking ownership of the church and using it for our own purposes.

The purpose of the local church is to glorify God through worship and discipling the saints. Proper, biblical church membership is not optional for Christians. It is not to be treated as unnecessary by “Lone Ranger” Christians, nor is it to be used as a means toward our own ends. We are to be faithful, invested church members, but we’re to do so in a humble, loving, serving, “others first” way.

I’ve talked about the “left ditch” of abandoning the church:

Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians

Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly

You Don’t Need the Internet, You Need a Pastor

Today, let’s talk about avoiding the “right ditch” of doing church the wrong way. Here are five church ladies who use the church for their own purposes- to build their own little empires, to impress others, or to make themselves feel better. Church ladies you don’t want to be, and the Scriptures they need to embrace and obey:

Part-time Paula– Paula is involved in lots of different pursuits: travel, hobbies, volunteer work, her kids’ sports/activities/clubs, social events, political events, family gatherings, civic projects…and church is just one more activity on the list. And it’s not even at the top of the list. Paula comes to church when she has time, when she feels like it, and when church doesn’t conflict with one of her other activities, but she doesn’t have any leftover time, energy, or desire to get plugged in, commit to a place of service, or fellowship with her brothers and sisters in Christ. Paula keeps just enough of a foot in the door at church to assuage any guilt she would feel for quitting altogether, or to be able to keep it on her “resume” of activities to impress others.

Paula’s Scripture: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

Screechy Sheila– Sheila knows how this church ought to be run: her way. And if you step out of line – not with Scripture, but with her personal preferences and methods – she’ll let you know. Sometimes she’s loud and vehement. Sometimes she’s quiet and threatening. Sometimes she’s nicey-nice and just educates you on the “right” way to handle things. But you’d better get with the program – her program – or else. Sheila uses the church as a platform for being bossy and exercising control.

Sheila’s Scripture: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Cotton Candy– Forget the meat and potatoes of church – sound doctrine and theology, studying the Bible, serving others, and giving sacrificially – Candy is only there for the fluff. She’ll be there for every fellowship, day trip, and fun-filled women’s ministry event, but she wants her “sermons” chock-full of jokes and stories, and her “Bible” studies to be positive, encouraging, self-esteem builders. Candy uses the church as entertainment or to make herself feel good.

Candy’s Scripture: But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3a

Que Será Katie– Katie is a founding member of this church, doggone it, and she’s not going anywhere. Some Katies have been known to say to their less-favorite pastors, “I’ve been here for fifty years, and I’ll be here long after you’re gone.”. Others are more placid, unfazed by unbiblical pastors, faulty doctrine, or spiritually unhealthy practices in the church. They just go with the flow. There’s a lot to be said for a faithful church member who doesn’t cut and run at the least little problem and works hard to help the church become healthier. But that’s not why Katie sticks around. There are biblical reasons Katie should have left this church in the past, but her friends are here, her memories are here, she’s comfortable in these surroundings, and those things are more important to her than whether or not the church is operating biblically. So she stays, loving the church for sentimental reasons.

Katie’s Scripture: Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25b-27

Ulterior-Motive Ursula– Ursula has an agenda and the church seems like a convenient gathering of good-hearted people to use for reaching her goal. Maybe she needs volunteers for a community project. Or she’s trying to get out the vote for the candidate she’s campaigning for. Or she needs a client base for multi-level marketing. Or she’s trying to become the next American Idol and needs a pre-fab audience. Whatever the end game, coming to church where a crowd of people is already assembled is easier than staging a rally or phone-blitzing or setting up a free concert. Maybe Ursula is a faithful member of the church. Maybe she isn’t. But she’s using the church to further her own goals.

Ursula’s Scripture: And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:12-13

 

The purpose of the local church is not to salve our emotional wounds, or to fill a void in our lives, or to further our own agenda. The purpose of the church is to focus our attention on Christ – how He gave His life for us, forgave us, and made us His disciples. It’s where we come together to praise Him, honor Him, worship Him, serve Him, serve our brothers and sisters, and get equipped in His Word. We’ve probably all been guilty of being Paula, Sheila, Candy, Katie, or Ursula at times. I know I have. But let’s strive to be the godly women at church – and everywhere else – Christ commands us to be.