- Julia Jones
Women need educating too!
Of course they do, or perhaps I should say, of course we do. But what I’m talking about is women receiving Theological education. Although sadly it’s not the case in the majority world, in the UK most of us have the privilege of being in churches that are led by those who have had appropriate training for their teaching roles. Of course we should always be like the Bereans of Acts 17, examining what we are taught, checking it out with a bible open before us – but generally we can be assured that those who teach us are leading us into truth rather than into error. They have been trained so that they know how to study, how to teach and how to help us learn, week by week. But is that true for all those who teach in various settings in your church fellowship? Have they received any training to rightly handle the text, to teach what scripture intends us to learn rather than backing up their own pet topic, moralising or becoming mystical? What about the women in your fellowship who teach others? If we embrace Paul’s teaching in Titus 2 this should be happening in both formal and informal ways. Women should be teaching and encouraging other women in small group studies, in one to ones, informally as they get alongside to encourage one another. How can we be confident that they are rightly handling the Word of truth?
I’m the Director of the Flourish training course for women at London Seminary – so it’s probably no surprise that giving women a theological education and practical equipping, is my passion! It was around 7 years ago that the then Principal of the Seminary Robert Strivens, and I started talking about the possibility of such a course. I’d been running evening sessions for the Wives of the students training to be Pastors for 14 years, carrying on that work that others had begun. Both Robert and I discovered that as we came into contact with women serving in churches, some as paid Women’s Workers, some as unpaid Ministry Wives, as well as other gifted servant-hearted women who were just getting on with the work – we repeatedly heard, ‘I wish I’d had some training – I often feel so inadequately prepared’. So, following a consultation with a number of experienced women involved in ministry – Flourish was born.
Women are often juggling a variety of roles and responsibilities, therefore theological education sometimes could be a very difficult thing to pursue. So in order for women to attain this it is necessary to offer options that they could easily attend. In addition to that, women deserve wholesome bible lessons with both theological grounding and practical aspects of ministry, as Dr Natalie Brand, who has joined our teaching staff wrote recently: “In the grace of theology, we apprehend more of God. When we take hold of our bibles, or books written by those sherpas guiding us through, we take hold of God, grasping more of who he is.” Priscilla, where are you? Union Publishing (39)
Our desire at Flourish is that as women learn they will gain biblical confidence, will rightly handle the word of truth and will do the women in their churches good! As we finish another year’s course, one of our students, Ellelein Kirk says: “I have been blessed by the classes, the fellowship and the reading at Flourish. Classes are face to face which after covid it is always a plus, and they are only once a month, so it has been easier to schedule the diary in order to attend. I had never had the opportunity to have formal theological education, so it has been a joy to attend classes and learn Systematic theology, biblical studies and learn about other practical areas of ministry, including how to engage with our current culture. I have loved attending this year and I am planning to join the optional second year in 2024. In my current job we are also passionate about theological education and what I have learnt at the Seminary has made it even more important to me and helped me understand better things I didn’t know before. I pray God can use what I have learnt for his glory.”
Finally – would Theological Education enable you, or a woman you know, to serve more confidently and effectively? Why not pray about it and search for options. You will always be welcome to join us!