Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Pianist leading worship, hosting a women’s event, re-baptism…)

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 also 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 can be a helpful tool!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


Usually The Mailbag is all about mail I’ve received from readers, but today, I want to start by sending a thank you note to you!

Thank you from the depths of my heart to each and every one of you who donated so graciously and made it possible for me to speak at the Cruciform Conference in Indianapolis this October. I was floored by your generosity and it was a great way to celebrate my birthday. I’m so honored that you would partner with me in ministry to the ladies at the conference. Thank you and God bless you.

(I tried to make sure I sent an individual thank you message/e-mail to each donor, but if you donated anonymously or I somehow missed being notified of your donation, I apologize and hope you’ll accept my thanks here.)

If you’re going to be in the area, come on out to Cruciform. It will be a blessing to you, and I’d love to meet you!


I’m the pianist at my church, and my pastor has asked me to select the hymns for our worship services because it takes a lot off him and helps him out. I select the songs from a certain hymnal and two other doctrinally sound sources. Am I in an unbiblical position of “leading” the worship service when I select these songs?

This is a great question. It’s so encouraging when Christian women want to be godly in every aspect of their ministry at church!

No, that’s not leading, that’s serving your pastor and your church. Basically what you’ve got here is a body of songs your pastor already approves of, and he has asked you to whittle it down to four or five songs each week from this pre-approved “list”.

If you choose a song he doesn’t like for some reason or that doesn’t fit with what he’s preaching that week, he always has the prerogative to say, “This song isn’t a fit this week. Could you please choose a different one?” In essence, you’re presenting him with suggestions and he makes the final decision, so he’s still the one in the position of authority. I used to do the same thing for my husband when he was a minister of music at one of our former churches.

Thank you for serving your pastor and your church!


I loved your article Women’s Events on a Shoestring Budget. The funding tips encouraged me to put on an event for our ladies, but our small church has never done anything like this before. What kind of event should we have and how should we get started?

I was so encouraged to get a couple of questions like this in response to my article. Even at a small church (and sometimes especially at a small church) a women’s event can really help refresh and build up the ladies of your church. It can be a great outreach to the ladies of your community, too.

I would recommend starting small and then growing year by year. For example, if I were in a church with an attendance of 50-150, I would start with an in-house (only ladies from your own church) mini-conference. A Saturday morning simple breakfast (coffee, doughnuts, fruit – food that’s easy to get, serve, and handle), followed by a local speaker (maybe the pastor’s wife at a sister church, or even one of the ladies in your own church) and a couple of songs. You could end there, or possibly have a time of discussion around the tables afterward, or just allow the ladies to hang around and fellowship with each other.

The next year, you could build on that. Maybe the speaker does two sessions with a break between, and you invite/publicize to other local churches. The following year, you could do an overnight retreat or you could expand the conference to an all day thing and have more than one speaker. If you start small and grow your event each year, you’ll learn things you should and shouldn’t do differently along the way, and you won’t be biting off more than you can chew the first time out.

Another thing that might be a good idea is to have a meeting with all of your ladies and ask them what kind of event they’d like. You might be thinking “conference” and they might be thinking “movie night”. It’s good to brainstorm and take the pulse of your ladies on what they’d prefer.

You could also get the men of your church involved in putting together and serving at your conference or event. I spoke at one conference where the men of the church actually put on the conference for their ladies – to honor and thank them. That was one happy bunch of ladies!

Just remember what I said in the article: Don’t try to compete with the expensive glitz, glam, and giveaways of mega-conferences. You do you, your church or host organization…And remember, it’s the caring and hospitality of the hosts that will make the greatest impact on your attendees, not the swanky food, decorations and swag bags.


I wanted to let you know I saw an inappropriate advertisement on your blog.

Thank you so much for letting me know. Rest assured, I don’t choose those ads, nor do I have any control over them. I can’t even see them from my end. I’m in the process of considering some formatting changes to the blog that may (or may not) put an end to the ads.

In the meantime, my article Advertising Redux explains what you can do to avoid those inappropriate and annoying ads on my site and on other sites as well.


I have a friend who was baptized as an infant, but since she was baptized in the name of the Trinity, she feels as though she can not be re-baptized as an adult believer. How would you speak to her?

I’ll bet that’s kind of a challenging road to navigate as her friend, isn’t it? Without a great deal more information I’m hesitant to give a definitive answer, but hopefully I can point both of you in a helpful direction.

I’m assuming if your friend is considering being baptized, she’s either a member of a local church or a candidate for membership at a local church. The first thing I would want to make sure of is that she’s in a doctrinally sound local church, because the second thing I’m going to advise is that she set up an appointment with her pastor to discuss this issue of baptism. (If the church she’s in isn’t doctrinally sound, getting her into one that is is job one, not baptism. Check out the Searching for a new church? tab at the top of this page.)

Different churches and denominations have different understandings of baptism. Her pastor can explain to her how her church views baptism, why it is requiring(?) her to be re-baptized for membership, and how it understands Trinitarian paedo (infant) baptism versus credo (Believer’s) baptism.

Once she has sat down with the pastor and had all of her questions answered, she will need to search the Scriptures, pray for wisdom, and make sure her understanding of baptism lines up with that of the church she’s considering being baptized into. If it does not, she will need to further study the Scriptures to determine whether or not her personal view of baptism is indeed biblical. If it is but does not align with her current church, she will probably need to find a new church whose view on baptism she agrees with.


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.

Mailbag, Speaking Engagements

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Joni’s testimony, “Messy”, Female seminary profs…)

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 also like to take the opportunity in these potpourrri 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 can be a helpful tool!


Our church has a ministry for the homeless where once a week, lunch is provided and a Bible Study is given usually by a woman, occasionally by a man to a mixture of both men and women. Some might be saved, probably most are not. What are your thoughts in regard to this situation from a Biblical perspective?

Great question! I’ve answered it in #11 of my article Rock Your Role FAQs.


We watched a video of Joni Eareckson Tada speaking at a recent Shepherds Conference. She gave her testimony and shared the meaning of Scripture and what some Greek words were so there was teaching going on as well as testimony. I know she is thought of highly but I was wondering about her speaking and teaching to groups of men.

Joni is not someone I follow closely, though I did read her first book, Joni, when I was a teenager. John MacArthur heads up the Shepherds Conference, which is a conference for men in church leadership, particularly pastors (“shepherds”).

Just to give a little background for anyone not familiar with him, Dr. MacArthur is a staunch complementarian and is a doctrinally sound pastor, teacher, and author I am happy to recommend to my readers. He would never invite a woman to preach at ShepCon nor invite a doctrinally unsound speaker. So I trust Dr. MacArthur’s judgment and reasons for inviting her to speak – that he was not inviting her to preach.

That foundation being laid, there are instances in which it is perfectly biblically appropriate for a woman to speak in front of a co-ed Christian group or a group of Christian men, and giving her testimony – so long as she does not veer off into preaching (instructing and/or exhorting men in the Scriptures) – is one of them. I’ve written more about that, giving examples, in these three articles:

Rock Your Role FAQs (#7)

The Mailbag: Deaconesses- That’ll Preach!

The Mailbag: Should women give testimonies and reports, lead prayer and worship in church?

I have not listened to the talk Joni gave at ShepCon. It is possible that I would think her explanations of Scripture crossed the line into teaching, but it is also possible I would not. I just can’t say since I haven’t listened to it. (I would not consider giving the definition of a Greek word or two to be the type of biblical instruction prohibited by 1 Timothy 2:12.)

I would be more inclined to look at Joni’s history and intentions. Did she come to ShepCon with the intent of preaching or instructing men in the Scriptures? Does she have a track record of preaching sermons or giving Bible instruction to men at conferences? If the answer to both is no and she is normally very careful to stay within the parameters of biblical womanhood, I’d be inclined to extend grace on any bobbles she made during her testimony at ShepCon. It’s a very fine line to walk, and I’m sure I would probably make a few mistakes too if I were in that situation.

Update: Thanks to reader DebbieLynne (see comments section) for the heads up that Joni actually gave her testimony at the Strange Fire Conference (2013, also spearheaded by John MacArthur), not at the Shepherds Conference. Strange Fire was co-ed rather than men only. Whether or not women were in attendance at the conference doesn’t really change my answer to the reader, but it’s good to have the facts straight.


Is it OK for women to teach pastors-in-training at seminaries?

John Piper recently answered this question on an episode of Ask Pastor John. You should read his response for yourself (it’s not long), but, essentially his answer was that experienced pastor-mentors should be training up young pastors, and since it is unbiblical for women to serve as pastors themselves, they lack the experience necessary to mentor pastors-in-training. And, my word, the egalitarian world had a fit – including Beth Moore and her daughter Melissa (who helps run Beth’s ministry):

While I consider him to be a generally doctrinally sound brother in Christ, I’m not particularly a fan of John Piper, but I do want to say that I think his answer was taken wildly out of context by those pushing unbiblical agendas, that he was treated shabbily by many on social media, and that I thought his answer was very good, biblical, and just plain old made sense. Women are not qualified to serve as pastors. Why on earth would we want them training pastors? Moreover, what student wouldn’t want the most qualified and experienced professors he could get for his tuition money?

Let’s say you were the dean of the neurosurgery department at a medical school. A gentleman, totally blind from birth, comes in and applies for a position teaching surgical practicum (cutting, suturing, removing tumors, etc.). He has held positions teaching various subjects at other universities so his ability to impart information is not in question, but he has never performed surgery in his life because he’s blind. Would you hire him to train neurosurgeons to perform brain surgery?

The reason Dr. Piper’s answer caused a bit of a kerfuffle is that he limited his answer to the question he was asked. Imagine that. He was asked if women should train pastors and that’s the question he answered. The agenda-driven screaming neemies took his answer of “no” to mean that no woman should ever teach anything to anyone in any seminary anywhere ever. That is not what Dr. Piper said. He said women should not train men for the pastorate.

I would have answered the same way. However, if I were to expand on Dr. Piper’s answer, what I would further explain is that most seminaries (at least the ones I’m familiar with) do far more than simply train men for the pastorate. Take the seminary my husband attended for example, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. If you’ll click on the “Academics and Admissions” tab at the top of the page and examine the various degree and non-degree programs, you’ll find that most of them are not strictly preaching programs. There are programs for women’s ministry and children’s ministry (Surely we wouldn’t say women are unqualified to teach in these areas?), college ministry, urban ministry, music ministry, missions, counseling, languages, and many more. There’s nothing wrong with women teaching things like music theory, finance, general education classes like math, history, and English, archaeology, legal issues, languages, business, etc., even in a seminary.

There are definitely some classes women shouldn’t be teaching in seminaries, but there are plenty of other classes that would be fine for them to teach.


Since we’ve become parents my husband and I have mostly attended churches that were larger and offered childcare. We were saved out of Mormonism eight years ago which has its own order of services and no childcare provided for the main service, but I don’t know what to expect from a Christian service that doesn’t offer childcare. I don’t know what will be expected of me and my family. I have a four-year-old and I worry that he will end up running around or asleep on the pew. Do we call ahead? Pack a busy bag? Are snacks alright? How do you ever get anything out of the service for yourself?

Before I answer, I want to encourage readers who are experienced church members to really let this precious sister’s question sink in and inform the way you respond to visitors and new members. Increasingly, the people who are new to your church will have very little church background. Church culture may be old hat to you, but it’s like landing on Mars to many of them. They have no idea where to go or what to do, and they don’t speak Christianese. Make sure you warmly welcome and encourage newbies and let them know that it’s OK to ask questions.

I think my article Churchmanship 101: Training Your Child to Behave in Church will help with some practical tips and expectations. You should not allow your child to run around the sanctuary during the worship service any more than you would allow him to run around a restaurant if you went out to eat, or a store if you were shopping, but I would not get overly stressed about him making a few minor noises or dropping the occasional Bible during church. If a church doesn’t offer childcare, they’re surely used to children making a little noise during the service from time to time. Sermon-time naps at four years old are not the end of the world, but you’ll want to curb those as he approaches school-age (if he can stay awake all day in school, he can stay awake for 30 minutes or an hour in church).

Until your child gets into the routine of attending worship and learns how you expect him to behave, you may not get very much out of the service. That’s just one of those parts of being a mom that we all have to accept – like stretch marks :0) But if you will be consistent and diligent as you train your child, he’ll get with the program soon enough.

When you ask if you should “call ahead”, if what you mean is calling the church office prior to Sunday and asking any questions you might have, that is a super idea! Most pastors I know would be delighted to chat on the phone or in person to welcome you to the church and help you feel at ease. That is the point at which I would ask about snacks. Different churches have different policies about food and drink in the sanctuary. I’ve never heard of one that wouldn’t allow a baby bottle, but some may not be keen on the idea of Cheerios ground into their carpet. You could also ask if they have a “cry room”. Some churches have set aside a room near the sanctuary where you can take a fussy baby or jumpy toddler. Many of them have the sermon “piped in” so you can listen until you go back into the worship service. You might also want to ask if the worship service is recorded and posted online so you can listen at home to any parts of the sermon you may have missed. Never be afraid to ask an honest and polite question.


I have been hearing the word messy a lot in reference to our lives..has this word replaced the word sin?

Well…I suppose it may have for those who are trying to sand off the sharp edges of the gospel, but the biblical term is sin, so that’s the correct word to use, despite how popular “messy”, or any other trendy word, might be.


Can you recommend any doctrinally sound female speakers for women’s events?

(I promise this is an actual question I recently received, not one I made up for promotional purposes! :0)

Yes, me. Click the “Speaking Engagements” tab at the top of this page for more information.

If I’m not really your cup of tea, or I’m too far away for your travel budget, I happily recommend any of the women listed under the “Recommended Bible Teachers” tab at the top of this page (although I’m not positive all of them do speaking engagements).


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.

Uncategorized

Upcoming Events: Let’s Meet and Greet! (Maybe this week?)

I’m headed out for the G3 Conference tomorrow, so I thought I’d rerun this article. I still want to do an informal “Hey, y’all, I’m standing in the lobby right now, come on by!” type of meet and greet at the conference center, but I’ll need to figure out where and when once I get there, so stay glued to my Facebook or Twitter for the details. Hope to see you there!


It’s always so much fun for me when I can get out on the road and meet some of my online brothers and sisters face to face. Here are a couple of upcoming events where we might be able to do just that!

January 18-20, 2018
G3 Conference
Atlanta, Georgia

For almost a year, I’ve been desperately hoping to attend the 2018 G3 Conference, but travel expenses plus the cost of the conference put that event out of my reach. Recently, I won complimentary tickets to G3 in a Wretched Radio contest, which will allow a good friend to travel with me and split expenses. What a blessing! I am THERE!

The biggest reason I had been wanting to attend this conference is the theme: discipleship. Since my ministry centers around women’s discipleship, I see this as sort of an “in service” training event. An opportunity to sit under fabulous teachers like Steve Lawson, Phil Johnson, Justin Peters, Martha Peace (and many more!) and learn how to serve you, my dear readers, as well as the ladies of my own church, better.

I’m hoping to do a very informal, low key, meet and greet time for my readers at the conference venue (The Georgia International Conference Center) either before or between sessions on one of the three conference days. I probably won’t be able to give much advance notice on the blog, so be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the time and place.

I’ve only been to Atlanta once, briefly, so if you live in the area and have any travel, traffic, hotel, or restaurant advice or if there are any discounts you know of that would be helpful, I’m all ears! Please comment below or e-mail me at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com. (We will be driving in, not flying.)

If my ministry has blessed you and you’d like to be a blessing in return by helping to defray the costs of my trip, your generosity would be much appreciated. Please click here or on the “Financial Support” tab at the top of this page.

Hope to see you at G3!

(Save the Date card courtesy of Providence Baptist Church)

February 24, 2018
Providence Baptist Church Women’s Conference
Arlington, Tennessee

Sorry guys, this one is just for the ladies!

Ladies, Providence Baptist Church of Bartlett would like to invite you to attend their Women’s Ministry Spring Gathering where I’ll be speaking on the authority and sufficiency of Scripture in the morning and afternoon sessions:

Saturday, February 24, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Providence Baptist Church of Bartlett

Tickets are $15 for members of PBC, $20 for for non-members. A catered lunch is included in the cost of your ticket. Space is limited, so call (901-937-5115) or e-mail (info@pbcbartlett.org) the church today for further details.

I’m looking forward to meeting the ladies of Providence Baptist, and you too!

Sometime
Somewhere in YOUR Area

I’d love to come meet and speak to the ladies of your area, too! Putting together a women’s conference, banquet, or other event for 2018 and need a doctrinally sound speaker? I’ve got several slots left on my calendar. Check out the Speaking Engagements tab at the top of this page for more info. Hopefully, I’ll be seeing you soon!

Uncategorized

Upcoming Events: Let’s Meet and Greet!

It’s always so much fun for me when I can get out on the road and meet some of my online brothers and sisters face to face. Here are a couple of upcoming events where we might be able to do just that!

January 18-20, 2018
G3 Conference
Atlanta, Georgia

For almost a year, I’ve been desperately hoping to attend the 2018 G3 Conference, but travel expenses plus the cost of the conference put that event out of my reach. Recently, I won complimentary tickets to G3 in a Wretched Radio contest, which will allow a good friend to travel with me and split expenses. What a blessing! I am THERE!

The biggest reason I had been wanting to attend this conference is the theme: discipleship. Since my ministry centers around women’s discipleship, I see this as sort of an “in service” training event. An opportunity to sit under fabulous teachers like Steve Lawson, Phil Johnson, Justin Peters, Martha Peace (and many more!) and learn how to serve you, my dear readers, as well as the ladies of my own church, better.

I’m hoping to do a very informal, low key, meet and greet time for my readers at the conference venue (The Georgia International Conference Center) either before or between sessions on one of the three conference days. I probably won’t be able to give much advance notice on the blog, so be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the time and place.

I’ve only been to Atlanta once, briefly, so if you live in the area and have any travel, traffic, hotel, or restaurant advice or if there are any discounts you know of that would be helpful, I’m all ears! Please comment below or e-mail me at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com. (We will be driving in, not flying.)

If my ministry has blessed you and you’d like to be a blessing in return by helping to defray the costs of my trip, your generosity would be much appreciated. Please click here or on the “Financial Support” tab at the top of this page.

Hope to see you at G3!

(Save the Date card courtesy of Providence Baptist Church)

February 24, 2018
Providence Baptist Church Women’s Conference
Arlington, Tennessee

Sorry guys, this one is just for the ladies!

Ladies, Providence Baptist Church of Bartlett would like to invite you to attend their Women’s Ministry Spring Gathering where I’ll be speaking on the authority and sufficiency of Scripture in the morning and afternoon sessions:

Saturday, February 24, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Providence Baptist Church of Bartlett

Tickets are $15 for members of PBC, $20 for for non-members. A catered lunch is included in the cost of your ticket. Space is limited, so call (901-937-5115) or e-mail (info@pbcbartlett.org) the church today for further details.

I’m looking forward to meeting the ladies of Providence Baptist, and you too!

Sometime
Somewhere in YOUR Area

I’d love to come meet and speak to the ladies of your area, too! Putting together a women’s conference, banquet, or other event for 2018 and need a doctrinally sound speaker? I’ve got several slots left on my calendar. Check out the Speaking Engagements tab at the top of this page for more info. Hopefully, I’ll be seeing you soon!