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.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Reliance on God and His Word Women’s Conference

It was such a blessing to speak last weekend at Princeton Bible Church’s Reliance on God and His Word women’s conference. I was tremendously encouraged, and I hope you will be too as I share a bit about the conference with you.

PBC is beautiful and homey

Thursday evening was a delicious potluck dinner with the ladies of PBC. I’ve learned two things from traveling around to different churches: 1) church ladies are the same everywhere you go (And why wouldn’t we be? We’re all sisters in the same family!) so I always feel at home, and 2) church ladies know how to cook! A wonderful time of good food and sweet fellowship was had by all (which is why I forgot to take a picture – I was too busy enjoying myself!).

Amy Spreeman and me

On Friday, at long last, I got to meet my dear friend, Amy Spreeman, for the first time face to face. What a gift this woman is to the body of Christ! Intelligent and well-studied, wrapped in the grace, humility, and compassion becoming of a woman of God, Amy is a joy and a delight. It has been my pleasure to recommend Amy and her uber-helpful materials at Berean Research and Berean Examiner many times here at the blog. I was honored to share the stage with her at the conference.

Getting ready for the first session

Friday night was the opening conference session. My talk centered around the theme of the conference, Reliance on God and His Word, and dealt with the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, and the necessity of God’s Word in our daily lives.

Saturday’s festivities kicked off with an ample breakfast in the gym for all. Sustenance is necessary for a full day of Bible teaching!

Amy’s main sessions and breakout session centered around discernment, false gospels, and the New Apostolic Reformation. I found the sessions helpful and informative, and I’m sure all the other ladies did, as well.

My main session explored applying the sufficiency and authority of God’s word to our every day lives in the areas of obedience and godly decision-making. In my breakout session we discussed the application of Scripture when dealing with situations of sin and suffering.

The ladies were also treated to sessions from one of the lovely ladies of PBC, Deb Bullington, as well as a missionary who spoke about her experiences.

You can listen to the audio from the conference at PBC’s website.

First Thessalonians 5:18 was a verse I used in one of my sessions, so I was delighted to see this hanging just outside the sanctuary.

A long day of teaching, fellowshipping, and answering questions builds up quite an appetite, so after parting from these wonderful women of God, PBC’s Pam, Erika, and Erika’s husband, Mike, whisked me off to The Prime Quarter Steak House where I continued my travel tradition of eschewing souvenirs in favor of eating the food most iconic to the locale – in this case, hearty Midwestern beef.

The Prime Quarter offers the option of grilling your own steak!
I decided I had had enough excitement for one day and left it to the professionals.

I loved seeing the picturesque farmland of Illinois.
This beauty is right across the street from the church.

PBC’s women’s committee kindly made sure I got some souvenirs anyway: regionally harvested honey, locally made chocolates, a magnet of Princeton, and a journal (which just happens to have my favorite flower {pink roses} and a verse from my favorite Psalm {37} on the front).

After a lovely Sunday morning service worshiping with my brothers and sisters at PBC, it was time to say goodbye. Many thanks to Pam, Erika, Mike, Justin, Curtis, Jessica, and all the hard-working men and women of Princeton Bible Church for your sweet hospitality and for putting on such a wonderful conference. I highly recommend this warm and welcoming church to anyone in the Princeton area who is looking for a doctrinally sound body of Believers to join.

If your church is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.


Photo Credits:

1- Photos courtesy of Princeton Bible Church
2- Photo courtesy of Amy Spreeman
3- Photos courtesy of The Prime Quarter Steakhouse (Facebook)
(All other photos by Michelle Lesley)

Christian women, Church, Complementarianism

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

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.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Memphis

A couple of weekends ago I had the blessing of speaking at Providence Baptist Church’s spring women’s conference. It was such an encouraging experience I wanted to share a little about it with you.

Pastor Kelly & Gayle Smith, Scott & Michelle Lesley

What a joy it was to finally meet my Twitter friend Gayle, who heads up the women’s ministry at Providence, and her husband, Pastor Kelly. PBC generously and graciously hosted not only me, but also my husband and two of our sons, for the weekend. After we arrived in Memphis Friday afternoon and got settled in to our lovely hotel rooms – hospitably stocked by Gayle with every snack two teenage boys (and their parents!) could dream of, as well as some charming locally made gifts – Gayle and Kelly took us out for – what else? – barbecue!

Corky’s BBQ not only had this amazing sweet and spicy barbecue sauce, they had a phenomenal Memphis specialty, the Sweet Tea Fried Chicken Sandwich. They marinate the chicken filet in sweet tea overnight before frying it. There are not words, y’all. You’ll just have to find a Corky’s and order this delicacy for yourself.

On Saturday, the gents set off to see the sights of Memphis, including the iconic Memphis Pyramid, which now houses a spacious Bass Pro Shop (yeah, you might have to be Southern to grasp the attraction)…

…while I was treated to the sights of a beautifully bedecked PBC, all set to welcome the ladies coming to the conference.


(Trust me, if you want to be sure
the women of your church see something,
put a flier in the ladies room!) 

One of the primary issues Christian women need instruction on today is the centrality of the Bible in our lives and our churches, so that was the core message of the two sessions I taught. In the morning session, The Necessity of the Bible, we focused on the fact that Scripture is the very words from the lips of God Himself, our desperate need for the Bible, and practical ways to import more of God’s Word into our daily lives.

After a delicious luncheon and warm fellowship, we gathered again for Recapturing Sola Scriptura: The Sufficiency and Authority of Scripture. In this session, we zeroed in on the folly of extrabiblical revelation, the supremacy of God’s Word, and the need for our lives and our churches to be ruled by rightly handled Scripture.

You can read some of what I spoke about in my Basic Training series articles:

The Bible is Necessary
The Bible is Sufficient
The Bible is Our Authority

I couldn’t have asked for a kinder reception
or a sweeter group of ladies!

There was just enough time for a brief rest, and then it was off to another Memphis favorite, Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken, for supper. These folks know how to do chicken spicy, just like I like it!

Sunday morning was a warm time of worship and fellowship with the saints at PBC under the excellent preaching of Pastor Kelly. What a kind and welcoming church body this is! If you’re looking for a friendly, doctrinally sound church in the Memphis area, I couldn’t recommend one more highly than Providence Baptist of Bartlett.

If your church is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.


Photo Credits:

1- Photos courtesy of Gayle Smith, Providence Baptist Church
2- Photo courtesy of Corky’s Memphis (Facebook)
(All other photos by Michelle Lesley)

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: New Jersey

Last weekend I had a wonderful time speaking at Corbin City Baptist Church’s women’s conference and fellowshipping with some sweet, godly sisters (and their equally awesome pastor!). I wanted to share a bit about it with y’all, my co-laborers in Christ.

After Randy (CCBC’s pastor), Cathy (his wife), and Linda (who graciously opened her home to me for the weekend) picked me up from the Philadelphia airport, we went to Adelphia Restaurant for supper- a must visit if you’re ever in the area. Great food and a fun atmosphere.

A good night’s sleep was had by all, and the next morning it was conference time! I taught two sessions: Foundations of Discernment: The Centrality of Christ, His Word, and His Bride and Discernment 101, followed later by a Q&A session, which I thoroughly enjoyed. (Normally, I would re-post the conference sessions here on the blog in article form, but both were largely drawn from my Basic Training articles, Is She a False Teacher?, Clinging to the Golden Calf, Popular False Teachers, and other discernment articles.)

Several of the ladies drove quite a way to attend the conference, as doctrinally sound churches are few and far between in the Northeast. There was a broad range of spiritual maturity and experience represented, but these ladies were sharp, attentive, receptive, and asked great questions. I sensed a real hunger among them for sound doctrine and the unadulterated truth of God’s word. What an encouragement it was to be with them!

The lovely ladies of CCBC

And, speaking of hunger, CCBC’s ladies put on a lovely brunch with a seaside theme between the two sessions. They also presented me with a humongous tote bag full of goodies and New Jersey souvenirs. These ladies treated me like a queen and epitomized biblical hospitality and kindness. It was extremely humbling and I was deeply honored.

After the conference, Cathy, Linda, and another CCBC sister, Theresa, whisked me off to the Ocean City boardwalk, which would have been worth the trip solely for the mouth-watering aromas wafting from dozens of food stands. Oh. my. good. ness. I’d like to stay for about a week and eat my way from one end to the other! We stopped at Shriver’s, a huge candy shop famous for its fudge and salt water taffy, where we got to watch part of the process of taffy-making.

I was so sorry I hadn’t been able to bring my husband and children with me. They would have loved the arcades, mini golf, ferris wheel, water slides, shops, and, of course, the beach. It was unbelievably kind of Cathy to buy some world famous Johnson’s Popcorn to send back to my kiddos.

              Wonderland Arcade                    Johnson’s Popcorn

Those dots in the sky are people parasailing

It was fun to walk back across the intracoastal waterway bridge to the car, and the breeze coming off the ocean was cool and energizing. It was the perfect appetite-builder for an awesome dinner of fish and chips (I love that they put Old Bay spice on the “chips”!) before heading back to the house, and a much needed soak in Linda’s relaxing hot tub.

Sunday, it was such a joy to worship with the CCBC family and sit under Randy’s excellent expository preaching. After hugs goodbye, it was time to head back to the airport. I had a wonderful time chatting about ministry with Cathy and Randy on the way. When we stopped for lunch, I had the opportunity to try one more specialty food of the area: scrapple. Not too bad, but I think I’ll stick with the taffy and fish ‘n’ chips!

It was a wonderful trip filled with such sweet people. Would you take just a moment right now to pray for Pastor Randy and our brothers and sisters at CCBC? And, if you live in, or travel to, the Corbin City area, I highly recommend visiting Corbin City Baptist Church.

There’s a historic bell up in that tower
that they still ring every Sunday!

If your church is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.


Photo Credits:

1- Photo courtesy of Adelphia Restaurant, Deptford, New Jersey
2- Photos courtesy of Leslie Kohler, Corbin City Baptist Church
(All other photos by Michelle Lesley)