Wednesday, November 28, 2012

questions about women's ministry (3) what it looks like in practice

Simone has been asking some questions about women's ministry. Here's my answer to her third question (an extension of the last one).

If you think Titus 2:3-5 gives us a model and a curriculum for women's ministry, are you following the curriculum? 

Yes, in the women’s ministry at our church I make a deliberate effort to follow the "curriculum" (we're slowly working through the Titus 2 qualities, both 2:3 and 2:4-5) but very slowly, very flexibly and with plenty of additions, to make our teaching and training relevant to women in all kinds of situations.

I could have chosen another passage, but I started with Titus 2:3-5 because ours is a new ministry and I wanted to begin by inspiring the group with a model of older women teaching younger women.

I deliberately began with the topic of “reverence for God” (Titus 2:3) rather than marriage or motherhood, because I wanted to concentrate on the heart of godly womanhood, to avoid the legalistic emphasis on certain models of womanhood that can sometimes characterise women's ministry.

And yes, I spoke on the topic of marriage (Titus 2:4-5 - we have lots of women heading towards marriage in our group) but I made sure that I emphasised the "greater marriage" to Christ and the "greater gift" of singleness, and addressed my applications to all kinds of different life situations.

We’ve also had a session training women in evangelism; and next month, we’ll be discussing work and outreach at work, since we have lots of young women in this life situation. So you can see we cover the topics in Titus 2:3-5 in a way that's relevant to all, but lots more besides.

I should add that I don't see Titus 2:3-5 as a necessary or prescribed curriculum, just a good starting point. I could have chosen something else. For example, I love the list for widows in 1 Timothy 5:9-10, and I wish we were more familiar with this passage instead of jumping straight to Titus 2, as it seems to me to be a little broader in its application to different seasons and situations (I'll probably move there next). Or I could have picked Proverbs 31:10-31. Or I could have ignored the "women's passages" and gone with Colossians 3:1-4:6 or something else entirely.

But I do think Titus 2:3-5 is a useful set of topics to cover, especially with young women. And I do think the qualities on the list aren't just situation-specific, as they spring up all over the Bible, often (but not always) with reference to women (e.g. 1 Tim 2:11-15, 3:115:9-10). More about that next time!

Please add your thoughts to the comments.

image is by Andrew Kirkley at flickr

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