Mailbag

The Mailbag: Nursing Home Ministry Questions

I recently received some questions about nursing home ministry, so I thought I’d put all the answers I’ve given in the past in one post so they’d be handy.

Originally published January 22, 2018:
The Mailbag:
Men attending women’s Bible study class at nursing home

A female relative of mine teaches a women’s Bible study at a Catholic nursing home (my relative is a Protestant Christian). Sometimes, a male resident or two – none of whom are saved – will wander in and attend her class. Occasionally, one of them attempts to correct her according to Catholic doctrine. Even though she’s not technically teaching “in the church” (1 Timothy 2:12) she’s uncomfortable with men attending the class, as well as with having to biblically correct their unscriptural Catholic doctrine. On the other hand, she shares the gospel every time she teaches, and she doesn’t want to turn away anyone who might receive the good news and be saved. What should she do?

I love it when Christians think deeply about issues like this. It is encouraging to interact with godly people who want to be obedient to Christ, and it pushes me to desire to obey Him better myself.

Foreword:

Just to lay a quick foundation for my answer to this question, it needs to be understood that people who currently believe and practice Catholic doctrine as it is written in Catholic documents are not saved. There are numerous unbiblical beliefs Catholics hold to (which I will not go into right now because that’s beyond the scope of this article) but for the purposes of understanding my answer, in a nutshell, the Catholic religion does not teach salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (in fact, Catholicism anathematizes {condemns to Hell} anyone who teaches this), works must be included in the salvation process. If you believe your own good works play any part in earning your salvation, you are not saved. Salvation is all of Christ, and Christ alone.

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I am assuming that whoever invited this teacher to teach a Bible study in the nursing home knows that she is Protestant and will be teaching Protestant (biblical) doctrine. I am also assuming that the person who invited her to teach is OK with this. I would not advise someone to give the appearance of teaching in compliance with Catholic doctrine and then surreptitiously “sneaking in” Protestant doctrine. That’s deceitful and dishonest, and it would be understandable for the Catholic residents to be correcting her.

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If you’re unclear as to why having men in her Bible study class is a dilemma for the female teacher, I’d encourage you to read these two articles before moving on to my answer:

Jill in the Pulpit

Rock Your Role FAQs (this article expands on my brief comments below)

Here are my thoughts on the issue:

1. If the people attending the study are Catholic, then the female teacher is evangelizing the lost outside of the church, not discipling (teaching) Believers who are the church, unless some of those attending the study have gotten saved (the question indicates none of the male “drop ins” are saved). Evangelism falls under the “do” of the Great Commission, not the “don’t” of 1 Timothy 2:12. (see #11)

2. We always have to keep the definition of “church” in mind when we’re talking about women teaching or holding authority over men “in the church.” The gathered body of Believers is the church, not the building in which they meet. The mere fact that a group meets in a nursing home, house, park, community center, or other edifice that isn’t a church building doesn’t automatically mean a woman is free to teach men (see #7). It doesn’t automatically mean she can’t teach them either.

3. If the male attendees are being disruptive and introducing false doctrine, the teacher is well within her biblical rights and wisdom to say that this a women’s only group and exclude the men. (The same would apply to excluding any women who behave the same way.)

4. If, at some point, genuinely regenerated men begin attending the class because they want to be taught the Bible, praise God! The best case scenario would be for the teacher to go to her pastor, explain the dilemma, and have him ask one of the associate pastors, elders, or another appropriate male church member to volunteer to teach the men.


Originally published February 18, 2019
The Mailbag: Potpourri (Prayer quilts, Discouraged husband, Jesus Calling at the CPC…)

I need some direction. I’ve been teaching/sharing God’s Word at a nursing home for over two years on Sunday mornings. We have mostly women, but there are two men who join us. I was asked by the nursing home to lead our little church because they haven’t been able to find any men willing to do it. That’s my dilemma, I know Paul said he wouldn’t allow a woman to teach men, I don’t know how to handle this. I myself am not part of any other church, so I don’t have a pastor to help. I’ve reached out to some churches, but no one is getting back to me. Since we can’t find a man willing to lead, am I okay to keep doing what I’m doing? 

That is quite the dilemma! Let me see if I can help.

You started your e-mail by saying, “I need some direction,” so I hope you’ll be open to some direction that’s in a bit of a different direction than the one you’re asking about.

It’s wonderful that you’re wanting to help out at the nursing home and teach God’s Word. We need more women in mercy ministries like this, and I’m sure you’re a joy and a blessing to the ladies. But I’m afraid there’s a bigger issue you need to deal with than whether or not to be teaching at the nursing home.

You need to find a doctrinally sound church, become a member of it, and attend and serve it faithfully. Church membership, fellowship, and service are not optional for Christians (Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians).

The Bible knows nothing of unchurched Christians, and serving at the nursing home is not a reason not to be joined to a local church. You could always serve at the nursing home on Sunday afternoons after worshiping at your own church, or serve on another day. If you’re asking around at churches for someone to volunteer on Sunday mornings, this is why you’re not getting much of a response – you’re contacting churches. Pastors and their church members are supposed to be in church on Sunday mornings, not somewhere else.

I know you might be thinking that your group of ladies at the nursing home is your church because you called it “our little church”. It might be an awesome group of ladies with super close fellowship, but what you have there is a women’s Bible study class, not a church. It doesn’t have a pastor, elders, or deacons. It doesn’t have a membership, so there’s no mechanism for church discipline. Nobody is giving offerings or serving the Body. You’re not performing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper (I hope). This is not a church.

Have you ever been on an airplane and noticed that when the flight attendant gives the safety instructions, she always tells you to put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others with theirs? It’s good advice in this situation too. Right now, you’re disobeying Scripture by not being joined to a local church, so you’re setting a sinful example for your ladies while simultaneously teaching them that they need to obey God’s Word. Put your mask on first. Repent and join a local church. You also need to be sitting under good preaching and teaching at your own church so you’ll have something to give these ladies and to keep your own theology on track so you can make sure what you’re teaching them doesn’t veer off into false doctrine. Put your mask on first. You can’t help other people breathe if you’re passing out from lack of oxygen. Finally, joining a local church will fix the problem you mentioned of, “I don’t have a pastor to help.” If you’ll put your mask on first by finding a good church to join, you will have a pastor, elders, deacons, and lots of other men to help.

When we do things God’s way, in God’s order, most of the secondary things, like your dilemma about the men at the nursing home, tend to fall into place. Tell you what. You find a good church to join – maybe one of the ones you contacted for help (check out the “Searching for a new church?” tab at the top of this page if you need it) – get plugged in, and ask your pastor for some help with this. If he can’t or won’t help you, write me back, and we’ll go from there, OK? I’ll bet you won’t need to.


Originally published July 5, 2021
The Mailbag: Asked and Answered

Is it appropriate for a woman chaplain to teach men, evangelizing and then answering questions using the Bible to present truth in nursing home one on one or in a coed worship service at the nursing home?

I think I must have a number of followers who visit and care for those in nursing homes, because I’ve received several questions over the years about nursing home ministry. Can I just take a moment to say – thank you so much. What a blessing and an encouragement you must be to those precious ladies and gentlemen.

Let’s unravel your question just a bit because there are several issues at play:

First of all, should a woman even be a chaplain? I don’t want to give an across the board “no” because “chaplain” is such a catch-all term these days, and different organizations (hospitals, prisons, the military, nursing homes, etc.) probably all have different job descriptions for their chaplains which may or may not require a woman in that position to violate Scripture.

But if I were asked, “Should women be chaplains?” and I had to give a yes or no answer, my answer would be no, for the simple reason that most lost people (or even Christians) aren’t going to differentiate a chaplain from a pastor. To them, a chaplain is just a pastor who works in a hospital (or wherever) instead of a church. And it’s unbiblical for women to be pastors, so you don’t want to give the evil appearance of someone living in unrepentant sin. Even if you’re not technically violating Scripture in your position, you appear to be.

OK, for your next several questions, it’s immaterial whether or not these things take place in a nursing home:

Is it OK for women to evangelize (share the plan of salvation with a lost person) and answer biblical questions one on one with a man? Yes. Carefully and with wisdom: Rock Your Role FAQs #11

Is it OK for a woman to evangelize (share the plan of salvation with lost people) a co-ed group? Not if she’s essentially preaching a sermon and functioning as a preacher, which is what I’m inferring by your use of the term “worship service”. Rock Your Role FAQs #11

If it’s something more akin to you hanging out with 5 or 6 friends, some male and some female, and you start sharing the gospel with them, that’s different. That’s really more like a one on one situation.

Is it OK for a woman to preach/teach in or lead a co-ed worship service? No, regardless of the venue or her title. Rock Your Role FAQs #7 Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit


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

The Mailbag: Asked and Answered

Good Monday morning, readers. It is an honor and a joy to serve you in Christ. Welcome to all the newbies and to you seasoned veterans of the blog.

Because some of y’all are new, you aren’t yet aware of all of the resources here to help you. Or maybe you’ve been around a while and haven’t noticed something that might be helpful. Let’s remedy that!

First, if you’re new (or if you’ve never read it), check out Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends. It’s like a Cliffs Notes intro to the blog.

Second, be sure to familiarize yourself with all of the tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of the page. That’s where I keep the info I’m most frequently asked about.

Third, there’s a search bar at the bottom of every page (and one in the blue menu bar at the top of every page) which might help you find what you need.

Fourth, if you don’t find your question answered in one of these ways or below, you might want to check previous Asked & Answered articles and The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs.

And finally, let me get you new readers some answers to the questions several of you have asked. Some of you long time friends may have missed these along the way, so I hope they’ll be helpful to you, too!


Is it appropriate for a woman chaplain to teach men, evangelizing and then answering questions using the Bible to present truth in nursing home one on one or in a coed worship service at the nursing home?

I think I must have a number of followers who visit and care for those in nursing homes, because I’ve received several questions over the years about nursing home ministry. Can I just take a moment to say – thank you so much. What a blessing and an encouragement you must be to those precious ladies and gentlemen.

Let’s unravel your question just a bit because there are several issues at play:

First of all, should a woman even be a chaplain? I don’t want to give an across the board “no” because “chaplain” is such a catch-all term these days, and different organizations (hospitals, prisons, the military, nursing homes, etc.) probably all have different job descriptions for their chaplains which may or may not require a woman in that position to violate Scripture.

But if I were asked, “Should women be chaplains?” and I had to give a yes or no answer, my answer would be no, for the simple reason that most lost people (or even Christians) aren’t going to differentiate a chaplain from a pastor. To them, a chaplain is just a pastor who works in a hospital (or wherever) instead of a church. And it’s unbiblical for women to be pastors, so you don’t want to give the evil appearance of someone living in unrepentant sin. Even if you’re not technically violating Scripture in your position, you appear to be.

OK, for your next several questions, it’s immaterial whether or not these things take place in a nursing home:

Is it OK for women to evangelize (share the plan of salvation with a lost person) and answer biblical questions one on one with a man? Yes. Carefully and with wisdom: Rock Your Role FAQs #11

Is it OK for a woman to evangelize (share the plan of salvation with lost people) a co-ed group? Not if she’s essentially preaching a sermon and functioning as a preacher, which is what I’m inferring by your use of the term “worship service”. Rock Your Role FAQs #11

If it’s something more akin to you hanging out with 5 or 6 friends, some male and some female, and you start sharing the gospel with them, that’s different. That’s really more like a one on one situation.

Is it OK for a woman to preach/teach in or lead a co-ed worship service? No, regardless of the venue or her title. Rock Your Role FAQs #7 Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit


This comment was mentioned in your article: “Having a blog in the public square for women that men trespass on is not the same thing as intentionally and unrepentantly preaching to men in the church setting as I’ve explained in further detail in this article.” Is Priscilla Shirer the pastor of a church? (“Church setting” was mentioned above.) I thought what she did was teach in seminars/conferences…Has she ever taken a stance that it’s okay for women to be pastors of churches? (I don’t believe women should be church pastors.) Please help clarify this for me. Thank you and God bless!

Great question! I think the confusion here is over the definition of the church, or “church setting”. I’ve clarified that in my article Rock Your Role FAQs #7.

I don’t know whether or not Priscilla Shirer has ever flat out said, “It’s OK for women to be pastors of churches,” but she yokes with and is friends with women “pastors” and she has preached the Sunday sermon in churches like she did just a couple of weeks ago at Joel Osteen’s “church”.


I discovered again that my husband is looking at pornography.

Oh honey, I am so sorry. I am going to strenuously recommend that you make an appointment with your pastor to get the counsel you need (even without your husband if he won’t go).

The Mailbag: You need to set up an appointment with your pastor for counsel…

Biblical Resources on Pornography


Is it Biblical for me to be a worship leader? I have men on the team (one of them my husband) and I obviously help them to learn the music and I pick the music…I will introduce a new song and talk about it and sometimes read a Scripture that ties in with the song, but I don’t expound on the Scripture. I also pray for the body during worship. Is this Biblical?

I know this is a hard answer to hear, but no, that’s not a position you should be serving in. You need to repent and step down. Rock Your Role FAQs #16

And if, as you mentioned in your email, you are in a church that has let you hold the position of worship leader for several years, allowed you to use music from Bethel, Hillsong, Elevation, etc., and was an environment that was conducive to your being steeped in false doctrine for many years, you almost certainly need to find a new, doctrinally sound church.


How would you react if attending a church that still promotes Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer Bible studies and others?

I know that’s a tough spot to be in. I’ve been there myself. Here are some resources I hope will help:

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?

The Mailbag: How to Leave a Church

Searching for a new church?


I know what you’ve said about disposing of books by false teachers [3rd section], but what if it’s a false teacher’s study Bible? I don’t know if I should be burning a Bible.

It’s very interesting that I’ve gotten this exact same question twice in the past few days, one about Joyce Meyer’s study Bible and another about the Tony Evans study Bible. Yes, definitely get rid of those and praise God for opening your eyes to the false doctrine these teachers espouse!

I would still recommend disposing of a study Bible in the same ways I described in the article linked above for disposing of a regular book by a false teacher.

I understand the visceral aversion to throwing away, destroying, or burning a Bible, and, believe me, that aversion comes from a very good place in your heart and mind. You love and revere God’s Word. You see it as high and holy. That is a good and right perspective to have. But let me offer you a couple of thoughts here.

Just for a moment, compare (I’m not saying these two things are equivalent) properly disposing of a study Bible by a false teacher, or even a regular Bible that’s old or damaged and no longer usable, to properly disposing of an American flag.

If you’re a patriotic American, you’re probably familiar with the U.S. flag code that tells us that the proper way to dispose of a flag that has been sullied, damaged, or is old and no longer usable is to burn it respectfully.

Just as properly and respectfully disposing of a flag by burning it is not the same thing as burning it in rage-fueled protest because you hate America, properly and respectfully disposing of a Bible that has been sullied and damaged by false teaching (or a regular Bible that’s too old or physically damaged to be used) by burning it is not the same thing as burning a Bible in rage because you hate God. Don’t forget, God can see into your heart and understands exactly why you’re burning that Bible. He’s the one who put the desire in your heart to get rid of it in the first place.

Also, in the same way that the flag you hold in your hands that needs to be disposed of is, fundamentally, simply a piece of cloth, the Bible you hold in your hands that needs to be disposed of is, fundamentally, simply paper.

Hear me carefully. I’m not saying we shouldn’t treat our Bibles (or the flag) respectfully. What I’m saying is there’s nothing supernatural or mystical about the paper pages you hold in your hands. The Bible is waaaaaaaay bigger than that. It can’t be contained by paper and ink. It goes far beyond paper and ink. It’s living and active. It stands forever.

Be careful not to slip across the line from conceptual reverence for the Word of God in toto into superstition about the paper pages you hold in your hands. Respectfully disposing of a Bible isn’t going to cause bad things to happen to you. Again, God sees your heart. He knows exactly what you’re doing and why.

If you’d like, make a little ceremony of it around your chiminea or fireplace. Say a prayer thanking God for His Word and thanking Him for opening your eyes to false teaching. Read part or all of Psalm 119, one of these passages, or another passage that extols God’s Word. Sing a hymn about the Scriptures, like Holy Bible, Book Divine, Standing on the Promises, Every Promise, or Wonderful Words of Life1.

Don’t be afraid to properly dispose of study Bibles by false teachers. You’re not disrespecting the paper pages of God’s Word, you’re doing it because you respect the heart of God’s Word.

1I didn’t vet any of these artists/groups, and I’m not endorsing any of them who conflict with Scripture or my statement of faith. These videos are just to give you an idea of how each song goes.


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.