Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Remarriage after divorce… Spiritual gifts… Spiritual warfare at Bible study… Pants at church)

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.


I am wondering what your thoughts are on remarriage post divorce?

Great question, but let me tweak it just a little bit. “My thoughts” on remarriage after divorce are irrelevant. As Christians, what we want to know is what the Bible has to say about it. Unfortunately, every situation is different, so I can’t give you a simple answer that would apply to every single situation out there. But here are a few general biblical principles:

  • God makes clear throughout Scripture that He doesn’t like divorce and that He intends marriage to be for life.
  • There are two biblical grounds for divorce: adultery and abandonment. It is not a sin for a Christian to initiate a divorce when his/her spouse is guilty of one of these. Remarriage after a divorce for one of these two reasons is biblically permissible and is not a sin for the Christian.
  • But even in cases where there are biblical grounds for divorce, God does not require it. Scripture is saturated with the teachings of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation, even after heinous sin, and if reconciliation is in any way possible after a spouse’s sin, that is the route that should be pursued, with copious amounts of pastoral counseling.

If you are a Christian who has been divorced (either before or after salvation) and you’re thinking about remarriage, my best counsel would be this: If you’re not already joined to a doctrinally sound church, find one and join it immediately, then set up an appointment with your pastor so he can shepherd you through applying Scripture to your particular situation. (If, for some reason, you can’t go to a doctrinally sound pastor for counsel, check out the Biblical Counseling Resources tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.)

Additional Resources:

The Mailbag: Is it all right for a Christian to get divorced?

The Mailbag: Must I reconcile with my abusive ex-husband?

Remarriage Forbidden?

DivorceCare


I have been thinking about cessationism and spiritual gifts for single women in the church—especially those who have been converted later in life with no prospects of marriage or child rearing in their future. What are they to do, and how does the Reformed church help these women find and nurture their spiritual gifts for the service of the church?

I’m so glad you asked. Every Christian is given at least one spiritual gift by God to use for serving the church. (I’m a little confused as to what marriage and parenting have to do with that. God gives spiritual gifts to every Christian, regardless of his or her station in life, and spiritual gifts are primarily for serving the church, not the family.)

There are a variety of spiritual gifts, but because the sign gifts have fulfilled their function and ceased, miracle working, healing, extra-biblical revelation (prophecy), and the ability to spontaneously speak a foreign language (“tongues”) are not among the gifts God bestows today.

“The Reformed Church,” as you’ve termed it, isn’t really a monolithic entity. There are all kinds of Reformed churches. You would have to ask each individual local church how they help their members find and nurture their spiritual gifts.

Personally, I do not recommend so-called spiritual gifts tests. However, I have developed a resource that I think will help Christians who are trying to find a place of service in the church as well as discover their spiritual gifting (and for churches who are trying to help their members with that). It’s called The Servanthood Survey.


I am one of the leads of a prayer group that also does a Bible study. We are doing chapter by chapter in the Old Testament. Most of the ladies are name it and claim it and speaking prophecy, casting out demons, health and prosperity expectations, one speaks in tongues, etc. I have disagreed with this which has upset the women for the sake of unity. I have stayed to try to give the opportunity to share Biblical Gospel, but it wears me out after each session. I let the pastor know. He’s planning changes to the group and I’ve let him know I’m not going to lead the group anymore. I feel like I’m letting God down. I also need to think of my spiritual well being. This is a Wesleyan church BTW. I plan on using your Bible studies. Your thoughts will be appreciated.

Having been in a few situations like this, I can certainly understand how spiritually, and therefore emotionally and physically draining this kind of thing is. This is true spiritual warfare.

I’m not quite clear as to whether or not you’re a member of this church, but if you are, you shouldn’t be. Any church, Wesleyan or not, that condones, encourages, or fails to teach biblically about “name it and claim it and speaking prophecy, casting out demons, health and prosperity expectations, [speaking in] tongues, etc.” is not a doctrinally sound church, and it’s no place for genuinely regenerated Christians. You can’t have “unity” with false doctrine and, very likely, false converts.

You’re not letting God down. On the contrary, you need to run, not walk, out of that den of demonic activity as fast as you can and find a doctrinally sound church to join.

It’s admirable that you’ve tried your best to teach these women biblically, but you cannot continue to be a member of this church. And even God the Father, Jesus, and their admonitions in Scripture don’t teach us to keep pursuing indefinitely people who have rejected biblical truth:

  • Think about Old Testament Israel. God pursued them, disciplined them, sent them prophets, performed miracles – the whole works – and He bore with them in their idolatry and disobedience for hundreds of years. But not forever. He eventually sent them into exile.
  • Remember the story of Jesus and the rich young ruler? Did Jesus chase him down and keep trying to convince him once he rejected biblical teaching from Jesus Himself? No. He let him go. What about the father of the prodigal son? Dad lets that rebel leave. (You can probably think of many more examples.)
  • Matthew 7:6: Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
  • Mark 6:11: And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave [this phrase assumes they will leave], shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.

Go. Get out of there while the gettin’s good.

Additional Resources

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

The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?


So I’ve been going to this new small church I found, seemingly very sound and conservative. The first time I went, I wore flowy pants, not immodest at all in my opinion. And I noticed all the women wearing skirts or dresses, and so I felt out of place. And I also attended a father/daughter camping trip, and lo and behold, all the girls are wearing skirts to this camping trip.

I am not a dress wearing type of girl. I have usually worn jeans to church, I try to dress it up and look feminine and also wear makeup.

I don’t like feeling self-conscious, and I don’t want to look like I’m some sort of feminist by wearing pants. And I feel like I’m less of a Christian woman if I wear pants to church. But at this new church, I’m one of maybe a few other women who has worn pants. I also don’t want to just start wearing dresses and skirts to church JUST because I want to live up to this standard I feel the church is setting. I have talked to the leadership there and they said I’m fine wearing pants. I But I still feel like I’m out of place. How do you think I should be thinking about this?

Nobody likes to stick out like a sore thumb. I get it. Personally, I kinda like to blend into the wallpaper wherever I go, if possible.

And I think that’s the heart of your dilemma – you feel self-conscious and it makes you uncomfortable, and you want that uncomfortable feeling to go away. (Go back to your original email and count how many times you said “I feel” or referred to your feelings.)

This isn’t an issue of modesty, because you’re neither outlandishly (you said a few other women had worn pants) or provocatively dressed. This isn’t an issue of the other women or anyone else unbiblically judging you for wearing pants (at least you didn’t say that anywhere in your email). And though you describe the situation as, “this standard I feel the church is setting,” you said you had talked to the elders and they said you were fine wearing pants. So the church is not actually setting this standard, you just feel that it is because of your own self-consciousness.

This isn’t about other people, this is about you. What you’ve got here is a battle of the feelings. Feeling 1: I don’t want to feel self-conscious by wearing pants. Feeling 2: I dislike wearing dresses. Welp, as I see it you’ve got three options:

  1. Wear pants and stop worrying about it. Focus on worship or whatever activity you’re at and stop focusing on yourself and how you’re dressed. (We’re not supposed to be focusing on ourselves anyway. That’s a form of pride and narcissism. You might want to explore that with the Lord in prayer. Go back to your original email and count how many times you used the words “I” and “me”.) After a while you’ll get used to it and that self-conscious feeling will fade. And besides that, maybe those other pants-wearing women will be emboldened to wear pants once they see you wearing them. You could start a trend!
  2. Wear a dress and stop worrying about it. How do you know you’re not a dress-wearing kind of girl if you don’t give it a good faith effort? Try it for six months. It’s not going to kill you. It might grow on you. You never know.
  3. Find another doctrinally sound church in the area where more women wear pants. This is an option, but, honestly, I would not recommend it. It sounds like you’ve found a good church and God is trying to do some sanctifying work in your heart and life. Don’t kick against or run away from what He’s trying to do, submit to it and grow to greater Christlikeness.

And one last thing- from the way you described everything, I’d be willing to bet that nobody at your church is fretting about you wearing pants as much as you are. I encourage you – hang in there, stop looking down at your pants, start looking up at the Lord, and walk with Him as He works this out.

(And before I hear from the “women can’t wear pants” crowd: The Mailbag: May Christian Women Wear Pants?)


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.

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

Church, Servanthood

New FREE Resource for Churches: The Servanthood Survey

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, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Replacement Theology, Spiritual Gifts Test, Books by false teachers…)

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!


Can you explain what replacement theology is?

I can, but there are pastors and theologians way smarter than I am who have done a much better job of it than I could. I reached out to my friend Pastor Gabe “WWUTT” Hughes for some help and he addressed the question in this episode of the When We Understand the Text podcast (starting at about 1:30):

WWUTT 565 Q&A Replaced Protesting Eligibility?

You may also find the following resources helpful:

The Church and Israel: The Issue at Ligonier

What is replacement theology / supersessionism? at Got Questions

What is replacement theology? at CARM

Supersessionism at Theopedia


I want to get more involved in serving my church. Can you recommend a spiritual gifts survey web site so I can find out what my spiritual gifts are and how I should be serving?


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.