As men and women of Tenth, let us “Glorify the Lord with me: let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3). This past November Session meeting, a motion was passed to establish a women’s ministry upon the recommendation of a Special Session Committee on Women’s Ministry, in partnership with an ad hoc Committee for Women’s Ministry. The purpose was to establish a visible, accessible, effective committee to serve women of our congregation, called the Tenth Women’s Committee. The scope of the committee will include:
- Working in coordination with existing governance entities and ministries such as Session and its commissions and committees, the Diaconate and its committees, and other appropriate Tenth entities.
- Responding to Teaching Elders’ and Ruling Elders’ request, along with needs identified through the Diaconate, to assist in matters pertaining to women in the congregation such as encouraging, advocating, mentoring, and supporting access to biblical counseling
- Assisting in establishing procedures and policies at Tenth to address women’s needs or issues
- Being visible and accessible to the women of the congregation for prayer and listening.
- Encouraging the spiritual growth and increase of faith by facilitating access to resources for women in the church
It is the intent of the committee to serve in four main ways:
- Wisdom, Insight, and Initiative—Assisting church leadership with wisdom, discernment, and counsel from the perspective of women. Recommending ministry initiatives to foster the particular mission of discipling and caring for the women in the Tenth community
- Communication—Working to centralize women’s ministry efforts by establishing a hub for information concerning women’s interests and needs
- Discipleship Training and Recruitment—Developing and identifying available resources to disciple and mentor women of the church and encourage the biblical relationship and responsibilities between older and younger women (Titus 2:3–5)
- Session Resource and Advocacy—Serving as a resource to Session when asked to help with a woman who may be in crisis, may require strategic friendship in times of need, or may need an advocate for a woman
The Lord brought this need to our attention through several circumstances, including a conference in June 2018 hosted by Tenth, featuring Dr. Diane Langberg speaking on “The Church as a Refuge.” She offered insights on the topic of abuse and outlined the means of how a church could become a place of sanctuary and refuge. One of her recommendations was to establish a women’s ministry group within the church to come alongside the elders to help address these concerns. Such a formalized ministry did not yet exist at Tenth. This led to an effort to establish a women’s ministry to serve in a complementarian role to the Session and Diaconate.
How should we understand this complementarian role? The role of Eve as helper to Adam was established early in creation when in Genesis 2:18, “The Lord God said, it is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.” God created men and women complementary for their benefit and that order is reflected in two institutions: the family and the church. Paul clarifies men’s roles in Ephesians 5:22 and 1 Timothy 2:12 as spiritual leaders in their homes and spiritual authority in the church, both determined by God’s ordained order and by man being created first.
We acknowledge and embrace that ordained order. While at the same time, we ackowledge biblical examples of women serving in the church alongside leadership including: Miriam (Exodus 15), Huldah (2 Kings 22), Deborah (Judges 4), Esther (Esther 4), Priscilla (Acts 18), and Phoebe (Romans 16) to name a few.
Women held a vital role in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was ministered to by Mary when she anointed him with nard in preparation for his death and burial (John 12:3). After his death, women went home to prepare spices and perfumes (Luke 23:56). After his burial, women were the first to seek Jesus, and a woman was the first to speak to him (Mark 16:9).
These examples of complementarity of men and women in Bible history serve as reminders of how God intended the church to function “by equipping his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–13).
A key fact acknowledged by our elders is that there is a great benefit to women of the church to live out their spiritual lives with an emphasis on discipleship to and by other women. Establishing a Tenth Women’s Committee demonstrates the commitment and priority to the spiritual well-being of women in order to foster a culture for women to excel in the exercise of their spiritual gifts and leadership skills within the church. Through discipling, teaching, advocating, providing hospitality, organizing, assisting in worship, praying, mentoring, and providing mercy to women in the congregation, we hope women of all generations will find encouragement by sharpening one another in faith, word, and deed.
Pray with me concerning the establishment of this ministry. Specifically, I ask you to pray for the assignment of the Ruling Elder overseeing this work. Second, pray that the Spirit would provide wisdom to the members of the committee in prioritizing their work. Third, our work will be in vain if we don’t focus our eyes and efforts for the sole purpose of giving glory to our Lord, increasing our faith in him alone as we are perfected for his kingdom through discipleship and mentorship and by serving and fostering opportunities for women to use their gifts to serve his church today.