I was sitting in my usual booth at Sharky's the other day talking with a bright, young Christ-follower... who happens to be a woman. In addition to possessing exceptional interpersonal skills, this young woman has a passion for teaching others about Jesus. She is a gifted evangelist.
However, as she looked me in the eye and spoke of her love for speaking about Jesus... we both knew that within our faith tradition, her gender most likely prevented her from teaching anyone but other women.
That said, let's consider the following... the Bible tells us stories about women that author Scot McKnight calls stories that answer the question: WDWD. Scot's WDWD acronym is one we should consider when we think about women in church ministries: What Did Women Do? in Bible times.
To name some of the more obvious, think of Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah; think of Esther and the woman in the Song of Songs; think of Priscilla and Phoebe. Think of Mary, mother of Jesus, whose influence on Jesus, James, and some early Christians is often overlooked.
The point is what these women did. They led, they prophesied, they taught, and they were local church mentors. These women were exceptions to the dominant cultural perception of women as inferior. They were exceptions whom God raised above the norm to do His will.
So here's the question, and join me in my booth at Sharky's as we pose it to ourselves and the young Christ-follower sitting across from us who happens to be a woman: Do we permit women to do in our churches what women did in the Bible and in the early churches?