Women equipped for the Gospel, why theological education matters.
A friend and I went to an open day for a theological college, I was only one of 2 women there that day. In the UK in 2009, more men were going forward for theological training rather than women. That tide has turned and last year the number of women starting training in theological colleges was 54% within the Church of England compared to 46% of men.1
Ministry for women is changing; inherently women are becoming more likely to stay in ministry and manage their family or a single life more than ever before. Key to this is training, so that we can be as equipped as we possible to share the gospel with others. Whether you are a complementarian or not, within evangelical circles women have a key role to play in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in many different ministries. Jesus calls us in Acts 1:1-8 to go out and be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. He gave us all we needed for that, his Spirit v8 and eye-witness accounts of His life in the gospels v1.
In order to proclaim His good news, we must have an understanding of God’s nature, purpose, likeness and plans, found through studying the bible. The whole counsel of God in scripture is God breathed and used for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that we may be thoroughly equipped for his work (2 Tim 3:16-17) in ministry. Key to this is theological training, whether that be for ordination or for lay training. For women’s ministry, mission or youth and children’s work. As women we need to be called and equipped just as much for ministry as men.
I studied under Mel Lacy at Oak Hill Theological college in London completing my DipHe in Theology for Youth and Children’s ministry. Oak Hill created a community of believers who support and reach out to one another to continue to share the gospel, even 10 years later. Those 2 years were the most formative and correcting for me as a Christian in my personal walk with Christ; as well as equipping me to be an effective communicator of the gospel to children and young people. It helped me to realise that children and young people have the capacity to understand the wonder of God and his work, sometimes even much more so than adults. They are capable of hearing and being taught the whole council of God in the bible. As it says: tell the next generations the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord (Psalm 78:4), not just key stories like Noah, Joseph or even the cross.
My theological training helped me build a framework for biblical based youth and children’s ministry. It gave me the depth of understanding to teach children doctrines of God and the breadth of skills to help equip parents to bring their children up as Christians. The aim is one that seeks to move children on in their walk with Jesus. This is done while working within the bigger framework of the church’s mission. This includes using a whole church syllabus approach where the same material is taught to every age group, children and young people serving with or alongside adults in church and regularly being part of the running of the services.
It is essential for anyone seeking to undertake ministry to seek wisdom and prayer from those who know them well and then to pursue opportunities for training. There are so many models of education now from full time Bible Colleges, to online distance theological training (ie. Crosslands). Even if you are going to work in a part time role theological education is key. We have been given the greatest calling by the Lord Jesus Christs, to share the good news of his gospel with the world, we should therefore be seeking to be as equipped as we can as women in understanding the gospel in order to share it effectively with others.
1. Ministry Statistics 2018’ The Church of England, 2019, p3.
Gemma-Louise Piggott is Children and Families Minister at St Michaels and all angels, Gidea Park