Beyond Egalitarianism and Complementarianism: The Kingdom Call for Women in Ministry

ministry doorThe NT church is not about whether women should be “over” men or men “over” women. It is about eliminating the “over” entirely. It is about abolishing the politics of anybody being over anybody and instead we all come together mutually under one Lord where the organization of authority is centered in the recognition of the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit at work regularly in the body of Christ under the one head – Lord Jesus Christ This is the new community created in Christ, a foretaste of the Kingdom.

Too often however the complementarian/egalitarian logic thwarts this dynamic. “Complementarian” approaches to leadership keeps hierarchy (and thereby patriarchy) in place. “Egalitarian” approaches to leadership often (unintentionally) become the means to ensconce “male dominant” ways/structures of leadership and then invite women into them. But the NT view of leadership starts with Jesus’ words: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Mark 10:42-43.

I suggest that what is greatly needed is an exploration of the New Testament view of women and men in leadership in light of the Kingdom, the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Church, and the already/but not yet eschatology of Scripture. Once we see church leadership and gender dynamics in these terms, we discover that the unresolved conflicts in Scripture over women in ministry resolve themselves and a wonderful Kingdom dynamic is unleashed in regard for men and women in leadership together.

I had the chance to explore this with a group of pastor at the most recent Ecclesia National Gathering, “Bringing the Word to Life.”

You can listen to it here.

All of the other talks from this conference are available here. I highly commend these sessions and the Ecclesia Network in general to “Kingdom-oriented” pastors and churches looking for opportunities to connect and join in on God’s mission together!

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