Question & Answer Forum

How extensively can a woman serve God in an assembly?

Some scriptural boundaries surround the service any of us contribute to the assembly: maintaining order (1 Corinthians 14:40), showing consideration (14:32), and edifying others (14:31). God ordains three additional protective boundaries for sisters: silence in the assembly’s praying and speaking (1 Corinthians 14:34, 35); not teaching publicly (1 Timothy 2:12); and not usurping authority over men (2:12b), meaning not taking leadership. Within those boundaries, sisters have a significant service in the assembly.

Prayer is the most important service.

Older women have the responsibility of teaching younger woman (Titus 2:4). Younger believers

may be able to relate better to godly sisters who have retained a youthful outlook combined with spiritual wisdom. This relationship opens the door for giving spiritual help. Sisters are effective in communicating Bible truth to children (2 Timothy 3:15; 1:5), whether at home or in the assembly’s children’s work. Phebe had spiritual service entrusted to her (Romans 16:1) as a “deaconess” of the assembly. That may include something so sacred as delivering the Roman letter to Roman believers.

Hospitality is a means of cultivating social and spiritual relationships that give a couple greater opportunities for spiritual service. Single sisters can serve the Lord in this way, as well. The Lord fed His disciples before dealing with the failure of their hearts (John 21:12-15).

Other areas that do not undermine male leadership are planning and providing meals for assembly functions, helping to decorate the assembly’s meeting place, and doing personal work in evangelizing. An assembly could utilize a woman’s abilities in accounting. Elders could wisely encourage a trusted sister to advise a young sister regarding modest clothing. A sister’s handling such issues avoids the potential appearance of impropriety were a man to deal with this subject.

Confidentiality may required elders to keep some information from their wives, but God gave men wives to complete their ability in serving as God intended. A godly wife won’t tell her husband what to do in guiding the assembly, but her counsel will save him from many mistakes. Adam was accountable for ruling the earth (Psalm 8:6), but God gave the responsibility to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28).

D. Oliver

What does an assembly lose when its sisters fall short of the involvement God intends for them?

Failing to properly enfranchise our sisters will have several deleterious effects. An assembly will lack warmth without the development of godly women. A generation of younger believers may be lost to the assembly because they have missed the gentle touch and advice of godly sisters. Women who view themselves as second-class Christians weaken the homes and the coming generation, their own children.

“In like manner” (1 Timothy 2:9) places the effective public prayers of the men (v. 8) beside the value of the modest godliness of the women (v. 9). An assembly cannot survive without effective prayer meetings or without godly sisters who adorn themselves with good works (v. 10). What an asset to testimony is lost when women fail to realize their value to the assembly!

Sisters’ failure to contribute to the assembly as the Lord intended hinders their spiritual development. All in the assembly suffer loss from this. In addition, sisters whose spiritual growth is stunted will likely rob the Lord of the glory He receives when headship is displayed as taught in 1 Cor. 11: 3-16.

D. Oliver

Can a sister shepherd or teach a brother?

Guidance for this answer comes from Acts 18:26. Priscilla’s care for Apollo was not in the context of assembly meetings. Several translators indicate that the expression, “they took him unto them,” suggests receiving him to their home. In addition, Priscilla acted in concert with her husband. She didn’t assign Aquila the job of getting Apollos to their home. They moved together and worked together for his spiritual benefit.

It seems abundantly clear that as Apollos learned “the way of God more perfectly,” Priscilla didn’t sit demurely in the corner while Apollos and Aquila engaged in “men talk.”

Our society’s laxness underlines the need for all female and male interactions to be “with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:2).

Keeping these things in mind, a sister can be used by Lord in trying to help a brother spiritually.

D. Oliver

Do sisters have a responsibility in reception into the fellowship?

The assembly, brothers and sisters alike, receive to the assembly. If a sister is aware of any reason why an individual cannot be received to the assembly, she fails in her responsibility by not mentioning that to the elders. Sisters and brothers alike should have a spiritual concern for the welfare of the assembly and for those who are added to the fellowship. Elders guide the flock in assembly reception, but input to the elders from sisters is just as appropriate and valued as input from brothers in the assembly.

D. Oliver