On the Outsourcing of Women’s Ministry

7th in a series.

So, how good is the teaching women receive from women Bible teachers, in your church? Is it top quality, grade AAA? Or is it the leftovers?

 

I am taking a break from the heavy biblical interpretation part of this blog series, to highlight a single, important issue. Have you ever noticed, that for the most part, when it comes to the leading women’s ministry speakers and authors, in evangelical Christianity today, we rarely know what church they are affiliated with? But when it comes to Christian speakers, who are men, the church or institution name recognition is much higher?

Think about some of the men:

  • John Piper. Well, we know (at least I do) that he is with Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • Tim Keller. Redeemer Church in New York City.
  • Andy Stanley. Northpoint, in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • John MacArthur. Grace Community Church in Southern California.

Now, compare that to some of the women:

  • Beth Moore. Uh…. I think she is Southern Baptist…. I think.
  • Ann Voskamp. I have no clue.
  • Nancy Leigh DeMoss. “Revive our Hearts” radio, but her church??? Mmmm……
  • Kay Arthur. She is the Precepts lady, but what church??? I can not tell you, because I just do not know.
  • Lysa TerKeurst. …… Gotta go look that up somewhere….

I know that all of the above women leaders are attached to local churches, with some accountability structure in place, but the fact that their affiliation does not stick out is very telling. Titus 2:3-4 encourages the older women to “teach what is good, and so train the young women….

The fact that local churches do not figure prominently with these nationally and internationally known women’s ministries is concerning. But if you consider this more broadly, a number of popular women speakers and teachers today are barely associated with a particular local church, or the accountability structure is lacking, compared to other men-led ministries.

Think about Jen Hatmaker, the HGTV home renovation star, a popular women’s author, speaker, and blogger, who in 2016 advocated for the acceptance of same-sex marriage, in an evangelical church. She has 156,000 Twitter followers.  Progressive Christian blogger, Rachel Held Evans, has 154,000 Twitter followers.

Compare that to John Piper, who has 979,000 Twitter followers. Tim Keller has 384,000 Twitter followers. John MacArthur has 175,000 Twitter followers.

Hatmaker and Evans have a ways to go to beat Piper and Keller, but they are soon to overtake John MacArthur.

But Beth Moore eclipses Keller, and is just trailing Piper, as she has 885,000 Twitter followers. Lysa TerKeurst is not too far behind Keller with 293,000 Twitter followers.

By December of last year, 2018, the two top selling Christian books , not simply for women, were It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way, by Lysa Terkeurst, and Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis, who has quite a different message than what Terkeurst is teaching. Those two books beat out other Christian-branded best sellers, including those written by men.

Rachel Hollis has a new book out now, and she has over 1 million Instagram followers.

A MILLION INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS???

Though it is not Twitter, she still beats out John Piper.

Rachel Hollis’ self-help books have received scathing reviews, as being theologically weak. And yet she remains the leading New York Times bestselling Christian woman author. Christian women are eating this stuff up. Does anyone see a problem with how women are being taught in our churches?

So, who are the most influential women teachers influencing the women in your local church? What kind of accountability and support do they have in a local church body? How much theological background and biblical training do those women teachers actually have? How many of them are being given the theological meat of justification and sanctification, versus how many are simply learning how to improve their self-esteem, picking up tips on how to juggle career and family, or learning how to make a better casserole?

Who are the women actually teaching women in your local church?

Lest you think that I have forgotten something…. like who are the men actually teaching men in your local church…. well, we do have folks like Joel Osteen to deal with…. that whole topic of men teaching men will come up in a later blog post in this series….

The trend appears to be that local churches are themselves not investing in supporting the ministry of women teaching women, as much as they could be. Therefore, many of the ministries that seek to be about “women teaching women” are being outsourced to the marketplace instead. And that means that the quality of message being handed down to younger women is determined more by the market place, and not necessarily by adherence to doctrinal norms.

If any of this concerns you, read Hannah Anderson’s interview, by Christianity Today, from 2016. Hannah Anderson is a Virginia writer, the author of Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image, a book about what it means for men and women to look past the tired language of male and female “roles,” and instead live together in God’s image. Read Wendy Alsup’s review of Anderson’s book.

If you want to dig deeper, and connect with women bloggers and writers, who believe that the discipleship of women should be more than just tips and exhortations on how to be a good mother and a good wife, then check out the Pelican Project.

Until next time….

 

About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

3 responses to “On the Outsourcing of Women’s Ministry

  • fellowsrichard

    In two recent journal papers I argue that Euodia and Syntyche were the leaders of the church of Philippi. See my posts of Sept 21st 2018 and March 3rd 2017. http://paulandco-workers.blogspot.com

    Like

    • Clarke Morledge

      Thanks, Richard. It looks like you are doing fascinating work.

      Would you say that the strongest case for egalitarianism, or perhaps, the weakest case for complementarianism, has to deal with sexism in the NT textual tradition?

      Or do you focus on these textual critical issues mainly because this is a part of your expertise and/or calling?

      Like

  • fellowsrichard

    I would say that the strongest argument for the egalitarian position is the fact that women make good pastors and teachers. Concerning the NT, my area of expertise is in Paul’s co-workers and I have only recently started to take an interest in text critical issues. The data on Euodia, Lydia, Phoebe, Prisca, and Junia strongly indicate that women played the same roles as men in Paul’s churches (except that in the ancient world women did not travel except in the company of male members of their households (for practical reasons)). This contradicts 1 Cor 14:34-35 and passages in the disputed letters. How to explain those contradictions? This is where textual criticism can help. If the early copyists altered the texts in sexist ways, then it seems plausible that sexist passages and letters, such as 1 Cor 14:34-35 and 1 Tim, could have been forged by the same communities. Those who did things like add a sigma to Prisca’s name to make her male could also have forged 1 Tim. More work needs to be done on the sexism of the early scribes. Unfortunately there are very few people who have expertise in textual criticism. Most NT specialists are very week at statistics and probability theory, and I wonder whether this explains why NT textual criticism is such a neglected field. I have written a paper on the sexism of the early scribes, which goes beyond the material on my blog, but there is no guarantee that it will be published.

    Liked by 1 person

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