This article is part of the series Pursuing Partnership: Men and Women in Ministry.
Part 3: Why the Discussion Matters
I continue to be challenged, overwhelmed . . . and hopeful as the Lord takes me further into the many tentacles of what it means for God’s People to bear His Image, male and female, to showcase His beauty and design. This is why an intentional focus on the development of women in missions still matters. We are making progress, but we are still lagging in our staggering potential! Here are the top 3 most compelling reasons for me at this point:
1) Too many missionary women don’t know how God has designed them to enjoy Him deeply, and contribute to His redeeming work in the world, through their unique combination of gifts, talents, personality, passions & concerns, life experiences & circumstances. I hear these concerns A LOT:
- “I’m not sure where I fit.”
- “I’ve been serving wherever I’m needed, but I don’t really know where my best contribution is.”
- “I’m in a new season of life and wondering what’s next!”
- “How do I make choices in order to sustain for the long-term?”
Intentional development of our women allows us to better steward what God has entrusted to His Body for the sake of the gospel – for the long-run! We need all hands-on-deck! So Women’s Development Track has designed an experience (Discovering My Design and Personal Mission) to help missionary women bring themselves more fully into what God has put before them and around them. I love seeing what happens when women gain godly confidence, vision, equipping to bless their families, churches, and communities!
2) Most Evangelical Mission Agencies currently have a great interest in better developing and utilizing the leadership gifts of their staff women so that men and women as the Image of God is being more fully leveraged as we look at challenges, opportunities, and solutions. Men and women see different things – in God’s design – and together more creative thinking and solid perspective is brought to accomplishing our mission – and serving all of our most significant priorities! While many different practices exist within the inerrancy camp regarding women and ministry (and I see them all represented in the Missio Nexus membership!), everyone agrees that women with leadership gifts can be better included and envisioned in some way that is consistent with their position on this blessed issue 🙂 So WDT has designed an experience to help launch that process (Leadership Pathways for Women.)
3) In most of the fields where our North American missionaries work, women in the culture are considered sub-human, often hidden and violently mistreated (which is not illegal but rather accepted practice.) The Image of God is so terribly violated and if not addressed, the gospel becomes distorted. In these places the church begins to shine bright as people of God who have a radically different view of how men and women bear the Image of God fully together. Many agencies are wanting to do a better job of recognizing what is happening in the culture around them, how it impacts the church and who she is becoming, and how discipleship of both individual believers and pastors needs to include a clear understanding of how the Image of God in men and women both transforms us with dignity and purpose – in marriage and in every human relationship. So WDT has designed an experience to help grasp the opportunity (A Global Vision for Women.)
Bottom line, this isn’t just about women. It’s about God’s Image in Humanity, the People of God, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ. When women and men are flourishing in their redemption, everyone wins! While the world at large talks about the plight and neglect of women a LOT, we are seeing too little change overall globally. Here’s where the People of God can lead the way. It matters to us because we hold the dignity and contribution of humans, male and female, as a VALUE of and witness to our faith. Not to serve quotas, but to move toward who we are as God’s People.
As your organization seeks to develop its people, do you have a clear process for knowing who all your women are, even if they have chosen to stay home with children at this point in their family life? Of if they are faithfully executing a role for which they are really not a long-term fit (filling gaps?) Do you re-visit where they are in their personal and ministry growth regularly? So let’s keep talking . . . and actively looking for more of the many ways to fully engage our women, and so the Image of God through us!
This article is submitted by Wendy Wilson of Missio Nexus and of Women’s Development Track. Women’s Development Track is a Missio Nexus member. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.