Sometimes at church, we preach a message. Other times we live a message.
For the last four years and more pertinently for the last four weeks we have been living a message.
It is a message that many people do not agree with. It is a message that stirs the waters. It is a message close to the heart of God and one engraved deeply in my own. It is a message I want to write about here.
If you were to take a glance at our podcasts over the last fours years you may notice something a little different. If you were to look closely at the titles to the podcasts over the last four weeks you might notice something unique in the memo on the table.
For the last four years, Scott and I have Co-Pastored our new church. For the last four years we have preached as a team. For the last four weeks we have invited women to preach from the pulpit on Sunday mornings.
Over the years I have heard ministers teach and preach against a practice such as ours. The doxology has been something like this:
Women can teach, but only children and other women.
But we suffer her not to teach a man.
Women cannot be trusted with revelation, after all Eve was deceived.
God will very occasionally use a women to bring a message, but only if a man is not available
This may be the tune to which many were raised or what they have been taught. This may be their belief. This could even be what they are most comfortable or content with. But none of that actually matters. The only thing that does matter is this: Does a belief system like this stand firm against the winds of truth that rise up in the study of God’s word?
I gave my life to The Lord at 17 years old. I grew up in England. A country where the monarch was a woman, the Prime Minister was a woman and the principle of my school was a woman. I, therefore, found it a bit perplexing that when I began church attendance, I was informed that women could not have authority…..because…you see…uhm…they are women. And apparently God has not designed women for that kind of thing.
Truthfully, I was so radically impacted by God, who was more real than I could have imagined, that it didn’t matter. As I read the bible, new and green, the words leapt from the page and I wrote sermon after sermon in my little book. I liked teaching other women and kids and was content with that.
What Would People Think
Well, the story goes on. In short, I eventually ended up as part of an association of churches that believed women could preach and teach from the pulpit. But, the “issue”, or shall I say, the fear of wrongdoing was not quieted in my own heart.
Fast forward: In 2008 my husband and I moved to plant a church in Summerville, South Carolina. Scott felt very strongly that we were BOTH to be in leadership, equally as Co-Pastors. I was not too excited, being the “Pastor’s wife” seemed safer. But, my husband is the spiritual leader of our home and I am committed to follow when he feels strongly about an issue.
As we dove into Sunday morning services I was wrestling with a concern. In the night-watches the fear of man hissed at me - what would people think - that I was a cunning, power-thirsty female, lusting for authority, usurping my husband and pulling the wool over his eyes so I could run the show? Unfortunately, I knew that this is how at least some people would see it.
Then, one night late, I was awake pondering and I poured out my complaint to the Lord.
Lord, I have heard a lot of teaching about what Paul meant and what he did not mean. One camp says this and another says that. It’s historical, it’s cultural, it’s not cultural, it’s emphatic…..it’s excruciating! Each theologian coming up with one more insight from hermeneutics or anthropology that outwits that last one. I just want to know…what your heart is.
Read The Gospels
I have come to cherish the freedom that touches my soul when I lay down the truth I know in order to look into the face of truth. And so, the whisper came so sweet and so unassuming.
Just read the gospels…I will show you MY heart.
So I did. And there I found something quiet and sure. There I acquired something I can stand upon. As I read the gospels, I got the message.
I noticed three matters brought by revelation about Christ to mankind that are core to the Christian faith.
1. Jesus was to be born
2. Jesus was The Christ
3. Jesus rose again
No one can dispute that those truths are foundational to the Christian faith. As I read the gospels, The Lord whispered something to my spirit. He was sending a message.
In the gospel accounts, all three of these heavenly revelations were given first to women, who in turn communicated them to men. This is an especially powerful message as it was so counterintuitive for that time and culture.
1. Mary was first visited by the angel with the news of Christ’s birth. She then reported it to her husband.
2. The woman at the well was the first to whom Jesus revealed I who you speak to am He. She ran to the village and told everyone about the man she had met.
3. Jesus resurrected, appeared first to the women and instructed them tell my brothers I have risen.
The Lord spoke to my heart a new song
Women can teach women, children and men about God.
Women can be trusted with revelation
God has redeemed Eve as much as He has redeemed Adam.
Stephanie Jones and her husband, Scott, are the Pastors of New Day Church in Summerville, South Carolina. They met and fell in love at Catch the Fire’s SOM in Toronto, Canada in 1998 and now have 4 gorgeous children. Stephanie also has a book titled, “The Upside Down Kingdom”.