What are we training women for?
So what are we training women for? That isn’t a rhetorical question. (Nor am I saying that training women is pointless! Don’t even think it. Keep training us.) No, this is a question I urge you to consider – especially if your church runs, or is considering running, a ministry trainee programme. What is the purpose of your training programme for women? Does it match with the training you offer and your trainees’ lived experience? More than that, to what extent does your programme take into account the current employment landscape for women in complementarian evangelical churches?
I am not advocating for you to stop training women, nor for you to train women less thoroughly than men. Train the women, and train them well – it’s a big harvest field! But please train them wisely. Train them to the best of your abilities so that they are as equipped as possible for both Christian and secular employment. Think broadly. Prepare them for a fruitful Christian life of unpaid as well as paid service, at home or overseas, as gospel-hearted Bible teachers and gospel-hearted administrators. Help them build a portfolio of transferable skills. And do the same for men and women. It will be hugely beneficial to both – but it is particulary important for the women, for whom fewer word ministry jobs currently exist. Do your best to give the women a sense of their future employment which is as hopeful and prayerful as it is realistic – and be prepared to walk alongside them through the encouragements and challenges of looking for a job.
Two final things are needed. One, if we are passionate about training women for word ministry, we must be prepared to put our money where our mouth is. We must be willing to fund jobs for them. And last, but by no means least, we need to pray. We need to pray for more women (and men!) to be raised up as workers for the harvest field. We need to pray that they will be trained and prepared to serve wherever the Lord sends them. And we need to pray for more jobs so that women, as well as men, are able to devote more and more time to word ministry. And who knows? Once upon a time, we weren’t praying for women to be raised up as gospel workers – and yet the Lord has done it anyway. Let’s see how much more he will do when we ask.
For footnotes click here