A Vision of Ministry: Men and Women in the Church of God (1)

[This is the beginning of a larger project. I will set up several questions and ideas in this post that I will not complete in this post. I hope you will be interested enough to follow along…]

Who should we allow in the pulpit?

Should women be pastors?

Those of us who have a high view of the authority of scripture want to look to the Bible to guide us in our beliefs and practices. Amen!

Yet I believe that there is a problem in the way that we use the Bible at times. In my own experience at least, there is a tendency is to look at our current paradigm of ministry practice and then ask if we are living out that paradigm ‘biblically.’

But what if the New Testament has a paradigm of ministry that has been so long neglected that we can hardly see it anymore?

I want to submit to you that the Bible in general and the New Testament in particular does indeed give us a view of ministry and oversight of our collective ministry that isn’t based on hierarchy, church offices, clergy / laity distinctions and particular places for men and women in relation to one another in the life of the church in its mature expression.

How do you respond to that statement? For some it might sound exciting. For others it might be disorienting. Still others might be so wedded to a current understanding of ministry that we aren’t really willing to consider it. Others might be open yet skeptical. Some might think deeply and come to a different conclusion. In any case, I am humbly asking you to consider what I will share.

If the Bible is indeed our book and if Jesus is indeed the Lord, then our aim should be the shape of the kingdom that he announced and the Spirit empowers and the apostles he appointed guided.

We ought to ‘Seek first his kingdom’ (Matt. 6:33). How do different brothers and sisters in Christ with their varying gifts fit into expressions of his kingdom people that are the ekklesia (gathering in a particular community)?

The world has long been filled with systems and structures where some have the power and others live under that power. Empires wield power over smaller nations. Rulers wield power over their subjects. The rich use their wealth to align societies to their own advantage. One ethnicity or culture believes themselves to be superior to another. Men exert power over women.

This has been the way of the world for so long that perhaps it seems almost inevitable. And too often the ways and structures of the world have been the way in the church as well. We have even combed through the Bible to make a case for why these over/under human power dynamics are somehow good.

But they are not good. They were not God’s intent in creation and they are not God’s intent in the new creation that we are being invited into.

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28 NIV

Do you want to see something different then what we see in the world around us and too often throughout Christian history in the church itself?

I believe that we must come to the biblical story – which is really our story – with our eyes open, not to adjust or tweak our current understandings, but to imagine a different way of thinking and living. In doing so, we will see something so unlike the other dynamics around us and so beautiful that it will give us an entirely different set of questions than the ones we are currently asking.

Author: Dan Masshardt

Husband, Father, Pastor...

3 thoughts on “A Vision of Ministry: Men and Women in the Church of God (1)”

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