The problem I have had with women and ministry is that the theology and ecclesiology of the conservative leaning circles I have worshipped and worked within seem to contradict one another.
My faith experience has been significantly shaped by the Pentecostal/charismatic movements and in these communities there's an emphasis on the indwelling and empowering activity of the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Spirit through the manifestation and demonstration of the gifts is a unifying aspect of our ecclesiology. We are a community of men and women who worship and witness by the Spirit and the Spirit breathed word. We recognize Jesus in one another as he works through one another. We are equal as sons and daughters even if we are different in how gifts or callings may outwork in our ministries and roles. This equalizing presence of God in each of us is the source of our openness to one another in ministry and mission.
In my church experience women are predominant in attendance, practice, support, receptivity, faithfulness, discipleship and teaching. They run most of the ministries, fight most of the battles, start most programs and often keep everything from falling into chaos and pointlessness. They humanize vision, breathe warmth into plans and priorities and provide the stabilizing joy of deeper togetherness that often lacks in male-heavy circles. We exist as churches because of the activity, empowerment and expression of God's gifts and presence in and through women. If the sisters stepped down and stepped out from leading in our churches you would see the whole structure collapse.
This reality is true to most people if they are honest, yet the cultural barriers and many theological conclusions or biases keep artificial values in place that look good on paper but fall apart in our practice.
I don't have answers to every scriptural knot on the subject but I try to hold to the story of the Spirit's work in the gospels and Acts as my stake from which the other stories have to be tethered to in order to make sense.
The Apostle Peter explained the Acts 2:14-18:
"Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you...this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy."
I tend to see healthier ecclesiology from the witness of pneumatology. I embrace the glory of God and his gifts in women in light of the work and witness of scripture in the ministry and relationships of Jesus and the outflowing mission and ministry of the church in Acts as well as in my own experience.
On all, in all and through all is the witness of community and scripture in my faith journey.
Join us for our next community discussion at 10 a.m. on March 2 at Indaba Coffee, where we'll talk about how Gender and Spirituality.