Sermon Notes for the teaching at Christian Fellowship Church on Sunday, October 17.
Forward Together in Unifying Spirit
by Phil Schaefer
Gal.3:27-28 – this verse tells us the identity of men and women is found in Christ and in new creation.
Acts 2:17-18 – this verse tells us the HS is poured out upon men and women and together they will move in spiritual gifting.
1Cor.12:4-11 & 18 & 25 – these verses tell us God places men and women in the Body of Christ as He pleases and gives to each as He wills with the intent that there should be honor to all and no division among us.
The 2 primary positions surrounding men and women in ministry are complementarian – men and women are to complement each other in ministry, but have distinct positions in church life.
And egalitarian – men and women can hold any position within the church
Controversy comes in with verses such as these:
Now the question around these verses is how are men and women to address the church in regard to public speaking?
& Can women have any authority over men?
There are certain questions that help us to navigate the Scripture in having a proper understanding of the author’s intent.
-Are these verses to be universally applied, that is fixed for all time, or are they culturally specific?
-What is the context – the situation - for which the direction is given?
-How does one Scripture align with other Scripture?
or Scripture in light of Scripture.
These are primary questions for interpreting Scripture.
-We could ask of these verses in Corinthians can men have long hair? Can women have short hair?
-Do women need to have a head covering in order to speak in a public assembly?
-Can women pray aloud or prophecy in a public assembly?
-Are women to be silent at all times in any public assembly?
-What is the context for which Paul is giving this directive?
-What is taking place in that local setting that makes him write what he writes?
‘Men & Women in Christ’ – a critique of both complementarian & egalitarian positions - Further questions p.284
(cites one author who writes 60 pages on one verse w/o landing on a clear answer)
Scripture tells us that the husband and wife - Aquilla and Priscilla – taught Apollos the Scripture. Apollos became a leading figure in the early church.
It further indicates that Priscilla is the more influential one.
It tells us that Phoebe carried significant responsibility in the church.
It tells us that Philip had 4 daughters who prophesied.
It tells us that the Spirit is poured out on men and women and that men and women will speak God’s truth.
It tells us that we are all one in Christ.
It tells us God gives His gifts to whomever He pleases both men and women and places them in His Body as He pleases.
It may be helpful to know that there are well-respected
theologians who are serious about the Scripture yet land in opposite positions as to how to interpret what Paul has written.
Also, there are churches that are conservative yet egalitarian as well as conservative and complementarian.
As to where a church lands in these matters is not a primary doctrine but a secondary doctrine.
Primary doctrine is: God is three in one – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Jesus is fully God and man; Christ was conceived of a virgin; Christ died and rose from the dead; Christ will come again.
The primary doctrines are found in the Apostles’ Creed.
Secondary doctrines, while important, are not a cause for breaking fellowship or denouncing those who do not agree with a particular position.
Baptism is a primary doctrine.
How one gets baptized is secondary – by sprinkling or dunking; as a confessing believer or as an infant; in the name of the Father only or in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Communion is a primary doctrine.
How and when communion is taken is secondary – wine or juice, open to only members or open to outsiders, weekly or occasionally, who can serve it. These are all secondary matters.
When we come across these Scriptures about women, we must keep in mind that Paul’s instructions have been written to correct an actual problem in an actual church.
Our task in order to discern why Paul says what he says is to ask what was the problem?
We know that Paul allows women to speak in public settings – they can pray publicly, prophesy publicly, instruct others publicly.
So why does he bring up these restrictions?
The answer that is the easiest to understand from the context of the letters is Paul is bringing order to a disruption or Paul is bringing order to a false teaching.
He cannot be blanketly forbidding women to speak publicly or teach publicly because elsewhere in Scripture he gives allowance for that.
In 1Tim. the issue at hand is a false teaching that was influencing the church and causing it to be disrupted.
The issue was not women speaking in church, the issue was certain women who were asserting themselves over others and trying to sway others into a false teaching.
The problem that Paul addresses to Timothy was taking place in Ephesus. The heresy of Gnosticism was creeping into the church via certain women. Paul writes, ‘charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor fables, nor endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification.
Paul is telling Timothy to confront the false teaching.
Paul is laying down a corrective restriction. He is not directly laying down a restriction for all women over all time.
Our friend Sam Storms who is a well-respected theologian in circles that are both complementarian and egalitarian regarding women’s roles in ministry concluded this about 1Cor.11 –
‘No interpretation is without its problems. If nothing else, this should be a caution to all of us against being overly dogmatic on this controversial and often divisive subject.’
And he concludes: I have changed my view of a previously held position.
‘When Paul tells women to ‘keep silent’ he is not prohibiting them from making a verbal contribution to the meeting, whether in worship, or prayer, or prophecy, or reading Scripture, or sharing a testimony or similar activities.
‘He concludes that Paul is prohibiting women from engaging in a public interrogation of another woman’s husband.
‘While he continues to hold that a man should serve as a lead pastor and men as elders, he now holds that women are empowered by God and released to minister in every other capacity in the life of the church.
‘It is possible to be in disagreement, but these matters are not grounds for division.
So, what is our position and practice at Christian Fellowship?
First, our history.
-Women have always held various roles of influence and leadership throughout the history of our church.
-We have never held to a position nor a practice that has said women cannot teach publicly.
-We see the voice of women and men together is essential to reflect the Kingdom of God, new creation in Christ, and the undoing of the curse of the Fall of mankind.
-Servanthood has been the primary characteristic for how we have functioned in ministry.
-Whatever gifting or ministry one may have, serving others is to be the spirit of our calling.
-Men and women are called alongside one another to serve one another.
-I have observed the necessity and value of having women minister in areas pastorally where they are better suited than men.
-A number of times over the years, I have referred others to a
woman to provide pastoral care rather than having a man do that.
-Historically we have never held strongly to titles or positions.
-Our associations with various other groups both in the U.S. and abroad did not place a high priority on the titles pastor, elder, etc.
-Our emphasis was on gifting and serving in our gifting.
Scott Williams – one of our elders - made an excellent statement on the role of women in ministry in our local setting.
‘We know that we can’t build the church ourselves, that it is a work of God. It is Jesus building His church, and he does it through the power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to his people as every part supplies. Those parts include young & old, rich & poor, every race, and male & female.’
That text is available at our welcome center.
Also available at our welcome center is an explanation of our position of men and women in ministry called
‘Interdependence and the Blessed Alliance’.
Currently, we function as a Pastoral Care Team comprised of both men and women.
They are paired together so that we can be the most effective in pastoral ministry.
Pastoral Care Team
Deb Schaefer & Steve Boul
Beth Bramstedt & Scott Williams
Kaylyn Briscoe & Marc Galaske
And Tara Freeman who serves in a kind of triage role of getting people connected to one of our pastoral teams.
Jo Scott will replace Deb Schaefer in this function when Deb retires.
Cody Riggins will replace Scott Williams in this function when
Scott retires later next year.
Our Pastors are:
Mike Acock – who will also be set in as the Lead Pastor on Nov.21
Nene Peter and Jean-Claude Ntimba – who will also be set in as Pastors and elders on Nov.21
Beth Bramstedt – who will be recognized as a Pastor.
Steve Boul – who will be set in as an elder and pastor.
Marc Galaske – who will be recognized as a pastor over connections.
Deb Schaefer – who though she will be retiring when I retire, will be recognized as a pastor over the many years she has served in this capacity.
Bruce Moe – who will be set in as an elder
I will take on the title of Pastor Emeritus upon my retirement, as will Deb take on that title, as have Clay Spencer and Dan Barraco before us.
Cody Riggins who gives care to our youth, Kaylyn Briscoe who gives care to our children are on a track to develop them as pastors.
Going forward, men will continue to serve as lead pastor and as elders, but a woman can serve in all other capacities as God leads, as He gifts her, and as we recognize the gifting, & character, & maturity within that person.
Women will be recognized as pastors.
The church is to be a reflection of new creation.
It is to be a community of honor and preferring others.
It is to be a community where love guides us and holds us together in all that we do.