Women With a Mandate Ruth Woodrow By Ruth Woodrow September 28, 2017
Acts 29 - A diverse, global family of church-planting churches

The Quran’s voice is the voice of a man speaking to men. I spend a lot of time with Muslim women and in Muslim homes. And women in Islam are not only subject to men, they are also only relevant in terms of their relationships to men. If you’re not a wife and a mother then you’re worthless

In the West, in contrast, we live in an increasingly feminized culture. But this is not an improvement for women. Women are expected to perform in the workplace, in the home and in bed. We are pulled between our careers and our children. Anxiety about body image is widespread. Our looks and our appearance are constantly scrutinized. Women are still objects to be used for the pleasure of men.

Women have a place in church planting because women have a place in the church!

The church has to be different. It is only in the gospel that women find a place of true value and purpose. Women have a place in church planting because women have a place in the church! The church should be the place where women can flourish, where they are valued, where they find purpose.

In Genesis 1 both men and women are made in the image of God. In Genesis 2 Adam is given the job of cultivating the garden and he is given Eve as a helper. It’s not good for man to be alone. It as men and women together that we bear God’s image. So women are right there at the center of the cultural mandate. They are to live by the word of God in community in the context of everyday. Women are involved in culture cultivation at every level alongside men. This vision is beautifully embodied in the portrait of the ideal wife in Proverbs 31.

But then in Genesis 3 Eve listens to the Serpent’s lies about God and Adam joins her. They have listened to a word that isn’t God’s word, they no longer live under God’s word. As a result, their community is broken. They hide themselves from each other and from God. From now on women will experience trouble because they no longer live under God’s word. They struggle to relate well with men. They’re unhappy with the purpose God has for them. They want to go it alone. Eve thought she was buying herself freedom. In fact, she was enslaving herself to her own view of the world.

It’s only through the gospel that men and women can be put back on track. In Colossians 3:1-17 Paul explains how every Christian has died to the old humanity in Christ and then risen with Christ to be part of his new community. This passage is written to women as much as men. Though men are given specific roles in Scripture, this passage is not one of them! We are re-made in the image of Christ to be culture-creators.

Women may not lead through teaching with the authority of the church. But we do have a mandate to exhort and encourage others within the community. Colossians 3:16-17 says:

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

If you don’t see peaceable, Christ-ruled, united, thankful people in your church plant then you have a job to do. You are to equip yourself with spiritual wisdom, and then admonish and encourage others with the gospel.

If you don’t see peaceable, Christ-ruled, united, thankful people in your church plant then you have a job to do.

Are you familiar with the people around and the issues they face? Are you asking questions about how to apply the gospel? Are you campaigning for joy in Christ in everyone around you – men, women, and children alike? You want the men around you to flourish in their gospel responsibilities. You want the women around you to flourish into godly women, fulfilling the roles God has given to them.

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we become a people of the word again – a people living by the word of Christ, in community with each other, in the context of everyday life.

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Ruth Woodrow Ruth Woodrow

Ruth Woodrow is a founding member of The Crowded House, Loughborough, UK, and the mother of four children. She is married to Jonny, an Acts 29 church planter.

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