Women in Ministry?

Empowering Women in Ministry
Empowering Women in Ministry

Celebrating the Call and Debunking the Myths

Introduction

Woman in Ministry? The body of Christ is built on the foundation of apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). The fivefold ministry gifts – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers – are essential to equipping the church for ministry and promoting unity and maturity among believers (Ephesians 4:11-13).

Despite this, some still argue that women are excluded from these roles. This article seeks to promote women in ministry, highlighting their contributions in the New Testament and debunking the theology that restricts their calling.

New Testament Women in Ministry

  • Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2): A deacon and patron of the church in Cenchrea, Phoebe was a leader and benefactor. –
  • Junia (Romans 16:7): An apostle and fellow prisoner with Paul, Junia was a prominent figure in the early church. –
  • Priscilla (Acts 18:2-3, 18-20): A teacher and leader, Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, instructed Apollos in the way of God. –
  • Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2-3): These two women were coworkers with Paul and leaders in the Philippian church. –
  • The four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9): These women were prophets, continuing the legacy of their father, Philip the Evangelist.

The Fivefold Ministry

Under the New Covenant, the primary role of each of the five-fold ministers is to equip believers to do the work of ministry and to bring them into unity of faith and maturity. This framework is outlined in Ephesians 4:11-13 (NASB):

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

Primary Roles of Each of the Five-Fold Ministers

Apostles: Role

  • Apostles are foundational builders who establish and oversee churches. They provide spiritual leadership and ensure doctrinal soundness.
  • Equipping: They train and send out other ministers and missionaries.
  • Unity and Maturity: Working together to unify the body of Christ and guide believers towards maturity in their faith.
  • Scriptural Reference: “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20 NASB).

Prophets: Role

  • Prophets reveal God’s will through divine inspiration. They provide guidance, correction, and encouragement to the church.
  • Equipping: They help believers understand God’s will and develop discernment.
  • Unity and Maturity: Prophets call the church to faithfulness and holiness, fostering spiritual growth and unity.
  • Scriptural Reference: “Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 NASB).

Evangelists: Role

  • The Evangelists primary role is within the church, to equip believers in evangelism to proclaim the gospel and bring people to faith in Christ. While they also minister to unbelievers outside of their role within the Church, to bring sinners to Christ.
  • Equipping: They train believers to effectively share their faith and lead others to Christ.
  • Unity and Maturity: Evangelists inspire and mobilise the church to fulfil the Great Commission, contributing to the unity and growth of the church.
  • Scriptural Reference: “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5 NASB).

Pastors: Role

  • Pastors shepherd the flock, providing care, guidance, and oversight. They nurture the spiritual well-being of believers.
  • Equipping: They teach and counsel believers, helping them grow in their faith and live out their Christian walk.
  • Unity and Maturity: Pastors foster a sense of community and unity within the church, guiding believers towards spiritual maturity.
  • Scriptural Reference: “Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness” (1 Peter 5:2 NASB).

Teachers: Role

  • Teachers provide instruction in sound doctrine. They help believers understand and apply the Scriptures.
  • Equipping: They educate believers in biblical truths and principles, equipping them to live godly lives.
  • Unity and Maturity: Teachers promote doctrinal unity and help believers grow in their knowledge of God and His Word.
  • Scriptural Reference: “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1 NASB).

Summery

The five-fold ministry, comprising apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, is essential for the equipping of the saints for ministry, the building up of the body of Christ, and bringing believers into unity and maturity. Each role is distinct but interconnected, ensuring that the church grows in faith, knowledge, and unity. These ministers focus on empowering believers, rather than ministering directly to unbelievers, emphasising the importance of internal growth and preparation within the body of Christ.

These gifts are not limited to men; women are equally called and empowered to serve in these roles. Each of the fivefold ministers is given to: –

Scriptural Equality

Galatians 3:28 states, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This verse emphasises that in the body of Christ, there is no distinction between genders, races, or social classes. We are all equal and united in our faith.

The Bride of the Lamb

Revelation 19:7-8 describes the church as the bride of the Lamb, prepared for the marriage supper of the Lamb. This imagery represents the union between Christ and His church, not a gender role. Both men and women are part of this bride, called to be united with Christ.

Other Examples

The 70 disciples (Luke 10:1-24):

Both men and women were sent out to minister and spread the Gospel. – The apostle Paul’s coworkers (Romans 16): Paul mentions several women who worked alongside him in ministry, including Phoebe, Junia, and Tryphena.

Conclusion

The New Testament presents a compelling case for women in ministry, showcasing their vital contributions to the early church. The fivefold ministry gifts are not gender-specific, and women are called to serve in all aspects of ministry. Let us celebrate and empower women to fulfil their God-given potential, advancing the kingdom of God together. By doing so, we can build a more inclusive and effective body of Christ, where every believer can thrive and minister in their calling.

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Reach NZ Evangelism Network, a dynamic platform committed to spreading the transformative message of the Gospel throughout New Zealand. At Reach NZ, our mission is clear: we exist to preach the gospel wherever people are and to equip God’s people for evangelism. As a non-profit organisation, we are dedicated to networking with other evangelists, evangelism organisations, and resources to empower churches and individuals for impactful outreach in their communities.