Miriam. Ruth. Rahab. Deborah. Lydia. Susannah. Lois. Eunice. Mary. Martha. Priscilla. These are all names of individuals God used in various capacities to bring glory to himself through the building of his kingdom. They also all happen to be female.
Training women in God’s Word is vital for the health of every local church because solid theology strengthens both the church at present and the next generation.
Solid Theology Strengthens the Church
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)
Scripture should be the foundation of our spiritual lives. Dwelling richly in God’s Word implies that we have a deep and thorough knowledge of it.
Paul expected that women would grow in the knowledge of God just as men would. After all, he wrote Colossians to both men and women. He instructs women as well as men to teach and admonish one another—and we cannot teach what we do not know. So it’s imperative that women learn God’s Word and study sound doctrine. It’s vital sustenance for us as believers.
Sound doctrine is for all women, no matter their role in the church. We should encourage women serving in the church nursery to pore over God’s Word in the same way that we encourage women involved in discipling and counseling. Our mouths should be overflowing with the Word of God as we greet guests, lead women’s Bible studies, and evangelize our coworkers.
What’s more, both men and women as church members are responsible for holding fast to the Word of God and discerning whether it’s being preached faithfully from the pulpit. We’re all responsible for holding each other accountable to live out what God’s Word says. The better we know God’s Word, the better we’ll be able to build up the church.
Solid Theology Strengthens the Next Generation
A church filled with women who love sound doctrine will be a blessing today. But it also shapes the church of tomorrow. According to a 2019 Barna poll, “Mothers are the go-to person [for practicing Christian teens] for all kinds of support: advice (78%), encouragement (75%) and sympathy (72%).”
This idea isn’t new. Paul mentions Timothy’s mother and grandmother in his opening to 2 Timothy: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5). Surely, we’ve seen similar situations in our own churches.
And Yet . . .
And yet, the majority of women around the world receive very little theological training. Why?
A few reasons stand out. Seminary training for women takes a lot of time and money, and while it is incredibly valuable, many do not have the resources.
There are also fewer full-time ministry roles available to women, so it doesn’t seem like a good fit practically speaking. Wives in ministry often find themselves homeschooling and holding down part-time job roles while their husbands are in seminary and serving full-time. So where’s the time for formal training? Single women seemingly have more capacity, but their need to support themselves financially often leaves them working long hours and, thus, unable to dive into formal training.
Sadly, in some places around the world, women are still seen as “second-class citizens,” unworthy of education and not valuable enough to deserve deeper access to God’s Word. We have found, however, that while access may be limited, their hunger for the Word and growth in their faith abounds!
Where the Reaching & Teaching Women’s Institute Fits In
Since many women around the world have less access to biblical tools and theological education than men in their churches, Reaching & Teaching developed the Women’s Institute in 2018. Over a span of three years, individuals in the Women’s Institute study six courses: Overview of the Bible, Expository Bible Study, Christian Doctrine, Biblical Counseling and Womanhood, Healthy Church Membership, and Women of the Word. Through the Institute, Reaching & Teaching staff and North American volunteers partner together to provide deep discipleship and a holistic preparation for mentorship roles within the local church. We want to see women developed into scholars of God’s Word, who know the Lord deeply and richly, and who serve and encourage one another in love.
Women who are trained well in sound doctrine are better equipped to train their children and other young people in the community. Such women will go into the workplace and wisely apply a biblical worldview as they go about their day.
At Reaching & Teaching, we want to see women teaching and training other women how to have a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. When women are equipped to do this, the light of Christ will shine more brightly around the world.
Of course, none of the above is meant to downplay the vital role of men in the church. Nor is it an argument that women should be pastors. They shouldn’t. Scripture is clear on that. Nevertheless, Scripture is also clear that both women and men play a tremendous role in evangelizing and discipling, so both parties should be equipped with the tools to do so. Training women up theologically strengthens the body so that it is able to function in the way God intended.
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