All ages of sisters in Christ will flow through the doors at Mercy Hill Church tonight. It’s book club and we are looking forward to our time together. We are a diverse group with many different ways that we spend our days and weeks but we all share one high calling: Christian woman. Laughter and exuberant greetings will fill the room as we sisters come to fellowship and discuss good things. Our time together will be refreshing. We will be equipped to fulfill the high calling that we wake up to each day. The women of Mercy Hill are daughters, wives, mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers. We all make up our women’s ministry and our interactions in our homes, church, and community, when done for God’s glory, make us the most effective we can be for the gospel.
At Mercy Hill we believe the Bible has clear direction regarding women’s ministry. With the new covenant came the bride of Christ, the Church. God gave directions for her in a little epistle called Titus. The pastoral epistle of Titus is where Paul lays out the plan for women’s ministry in the local church and this is where we get our direction. The following are the truths given to Titus as Paul instructs him on how to set the church in order.
- Ministry to God’s women is intended for Christian women.
- Ministry to God’s women through other women is part of the good and proper order of a church.
- The majority of ministry to God’s women will happen under the oversight of the elders of a local church.
- Ministry to God’s women is intentionally living within our homes, our churches and our communities as God has called us to do. Younger women are to seek and receive teaching from older women. Older women are to live in a manner that when emulated brings God glory.
- Ministry to God’s women is for the purpose of bringing honor to God’s Word, putting the opponent to shame, giving him nothing to say about God’s people, and nurturing hearts that adorn the doctrine of God and our Savior in every respect.
The fruit of this right and orderly way of living is women who are strong. This strength is the opposite of worldly strength. Women functioning in right relationship as biblically stated with men and other women in the church are pillars fashioned for a palace. We do not have bursts of strength followed by fatigue. We stand and endure. Elder oversight allows us to flourish as we use our God given gifts to minister in our homes and to other women. Oversight of this kind is one of the most loving ways our elders and men minister to the women of our church. If we remove male oversight from ministry to God’s women we actually masculinize the ministry. This is because our femininity is best displayed when it is seen alongside godly masculinity.
Let us take a brief look at three Christian women who have gone before us. Katherine Von Bora, Amy Carmichael and Elisabeth Elliot.
Katherine Von Bora: Katherine was the wife of Martin Luther and mother of six. She turned an old monastery into a home and hosted countless guests as her professor-preacher husband courageously led the reformation. She did all of this on a very small budget and even had her own small businesses that included gardening and raising pigs. Luther called her many pet names. His favorite was “Katherine my rib.”
Amy Carmichael: Amy was never married or had children by birth. She was known as Amma by her adopted children. Amy started and maintained an orphanage in Tamil, India known as the Dohnavur Fellowship. She lived and died at Donhavur. She was a spiritual mother to Elisabeth Elliot. It is said that today Amy has children ministering for the Lord all over India.
Elisabeth Elliot: Elisabeth was married three times and widowed twice. As a young woman out of college she was on the mission field with her first husband, Jim, in the jungles of Equador. After being widowed and more than a decade of mission work, she continued life in the United States. Marrying again for three years and widowed she then spent her remaining days with her third husband Lars Gren. She loved her husband, managed their home and was a grandmother to her eight grand-children until well into her 80’s when the Lord took her home.
These women didn’t need, “Women’s Ministry Director”, after their names. They didn’t need seminary degrees. As any Christian woman should, they read their Bibles and obeyed God’s word. Their lives, while varied in content, were ordered around the truth that everyday womanhood is God’s grand plan. They lived intentionally as they were designed and as they were instructed by the Lord. They weren’t well known for their personalities or stage presence; they were well known for their lives obediently lived, giving all praise and glory to God. Their spiritual legacy is hard to ignore. I believe there are women in this world who are quietly laboring in their homes and local churches and though they are not famous, their legacy is also one that would stagger us at its impact for the Kingdom.
I see them on a Sunday morning. Mothers holding new babies on their hips, older women clamoring to hold each one of them, the young mom taking time to train up her child in a corner of the church, the twenty something having coffee with the seventy something, girls on the cusp of womanhood giggling and finding their way to the nursery for duty, the widow faithfully using her giftings as she handles administrative needs. Age and season do not affect this intermingling except that the older women are aware of the stewardship they have in regard to the younger and vice versa. What is the fruit of this biblical approach to women’s ministry? Peace, joy and unity in a church body that makes the members of that church long for the next time they can be together to worship the Lord. These women are pillars joyfully enduring all that comes their way. This is the result when, by God’s grace, our elders and the men of our church love us enough to let us be women.
The enemy first engaged woman in the garden and has most recently engaged her in the Church. Let’s take ministry to God’s women back and watch the bride flourish as men and women live rightly in her. The fruit will show quickly. As a plant left without water perks up within hours of having been given a drink so a Church with wilted women will become peculiar again, zealous for good deeds as they are equipped to walk in biblical, godly sisterhood.
The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of womanElisabeth Elliot