How Men Can Support Women’s Discipleship

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Male clergy and laity who want to enable women’s ministry often don’t know how to get involved or what to do.

#AmplifyWomen is a two-month-long series running on CT Women, designed to generate a new conversation about women’s leadership and discipleship. In the last four weeks, we’ve addressed ecclesial accountability, mentorship, platform, and hospitable orthodoxy. Today, Trillia Newbell invites men in the church to support women’s discipleship.

When I first became a Christian at the age of 22, there were two things that I couldn’t wait to do: learn about the Lord and share about him with others. As I dreamed about my future, I determined that I wanted to become a biblical counselor. I told a pastor about this desire, knowing that it would require more education through a counseling program, most likely at a seminary. His response to me was, “Well, you are probably going to be a mom.”

He was right. I did become a mom, one of my greatest joys and gifts in my life. Still, his statement deterred me from pursuing a counseling degree. Although I don’t hold any grudge against that pastor—he was doing the best to counsel me at the time—nonetheless his initial response was ill-advised and unhelpful.

My experience reflects a larger, more widespread challenge inside the church: Male clergy and lay leaders have the power to impact and support women’s discipleship, but many of them (by their own account) fall short. “When you consider how many ministries and committees depend upon the genius, generosity and sweat of our sisters,” writes pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, “it’s almost criminal that most any pastor you meet has no plan for discipling the women of his church apart from outsourcing to a women’s ministry staff person or committee.”

When men don’t engage in ministry to and for women, women tend to function as a parachurch ministry within the confines of a local church. And if they don’t find discipleship in their own churches, they go elsewhere. “Christian women increasingly look to nationally known figures for spiritual formation and inspiration,” writes Kate Shellnutt, “especially when they don’t see leaders who look like them stepping up in their own churches.”

For men who want to remedy the problem by actively encouraging, supporting, and participating in women’s discipleship, they often don’t know how to get involved or what to do. My female ministry friends and I hear frequently from men who ask us, “How can we support women’s discipleship?”

According to Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, we need to encourage both sexes to think beyond the stereotypes. “Men are not defined, in their totality, by what it means to be husbands and fathers. Women should not be taught only on their callings as wives and mothers,” says Moore. “That’s certainly the case when it comes to cultural stereotypes of ‘what women want.’ Women, like men, need doctrinal truth and practical wisdom. There are many kinds of women represented in Scripture, and we should equip both the Marys and the Marthas, the Jaels and the Lydias.”

After speaking with close to half a dozen pastors and even more women’s ministry leaders, I offer the following invitations to male clergy and laity:

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Trillia Newbell

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