Elders' Policy Statement on the Roles of Men & Women, August 7, 2016
After much prayer, study & conversation as one body, the elders have concluded that the Bible teaches that God created us all men and women equally, in status, giftedness, and opportunity for ministry and that the church is best served when men and women share responsibilities and serve together as complementary partners.
The elders affirm that in our public gatherings as a family, women, and men may participate and serve together for the good of the body and with the leading of the Spirit in all of the functions and roles of a servant except for elder and preaching minister.
We have no plan or schedule for when any new practices would occur; however, we commit that any such changes would be conducted prayerfully and respectfully and based on the leading of God’s Holy Spirit.
ELDERS’ Position statement posted in mid-May, 2016
Over the past two years - and following nearly two decades of discussions, study, prayer and discernment at Meadowbrook, the elders have led our church family in study and conversation regarding the role of women in the life of the church. Specifically, we have sought to address the following question: “Based on our shared study of Scripture, what opportunities will women have to use their gifts at the Meadowbrook Church of Christ?” There is a diversity of viewpoints and opinions within our church family and even within the elder group in response to this question. Yet through much prayer we have arrived at a perspective regarding how we recommend we move forward as a church at this time.
Since 1998, the Meadowbrook church has been guided by a position that has restricted women from certain roles in the church. Based on information from the congregational survey, special teams working to review the key findings and insights of the survey, and a clear leading of the Holy Spirit in the deliberations of the leadership team, the elder group decided to review this position and a process was established that included significant prayer and study of Scripture by the elder group, the provision of resources for our church family to read and study, the collective study of Scripture in our Sunday morning Bible class period, the opportunity for all members to express their thoughts and opinions in small group settings, and extensive time spent by the elder group in prayer and discernment. The model of Acts 15 describes a very similar, deliberative, prayerful process in which the leaders of the early church in Jerusalem addressed a significant issue after input from the church and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
As one body, the elder group concluded that the Bible teaches full equality of men and women in status, giftedness, and opportunity for ministry and that the church is best served when men and women share responsibilities and serve together as complementary partners.
This change, however, comes with great responsibility and discernment. Although we affirm full equality of men and women, we are also mindful of the flock. As such, the elders have agreed that 1) those who serve as elders and 2) the preaching minister are to be male only. Following the model of Acts 15, we have deferentially chosen to withhold these two roles for the sake of unity in our church family. We believe this decision does not lessen the power or reality of proclaiming full equality of men and women in Jesus Christ. Rather, we value highly our common life together.
We recognize that not everyone will be in agreement with this change; however, we pray and request that you follow the leadership of the elders on this decision so that we may focus on the larger work of together serving our fellow men and women and leading them to Jesus.
RESOURCE LISTING & BIBLIOGRAPHY
Below are various resources, references and materials That have been used in our study along with other relevant reference material provided for deeper engagement on this topic.
These resources are certainly not meant to be exhaustive, but rather provide a sample of a variety of sources that reflect various perspectives on this topic. We have attempted to be balanced in submitting resources with differing viewpoints.
Don’t feel as if you are obligated to read and study everything, but we do encourage you to read as broadly as you are able. Although you might be inclined to gravitate only to those resources with which you already agree, we encourage you to read and study all of the perspectives reflected in these materials with an objective mind and a seeking heart.
Open your Bibles and read the words of Scripture along with these resources.
Grasham, Bill. “The Role of Women in the American Restoration Movement”
Ferguson, Everett. Two papers delivered at the 2012 ACU Summit
“Women in the Church: Doctrinal Considerations”
“Women in the Church: New Testament Texts”
Lewis, Jack P. A paper delivered in Malibu, California in 1992. “Women’s Role in Worship”
Lightfoot, Neil R. A paper delivered in 1993. “Wives, Be Subject To Your Husbands”
Pulley, Kathy J. An article in Leaven, Spring 1996. “Change Factors Affecting Women in the Local Church”
Expanded Study Guides
Piper, John and Grudem, Wayne. Fifty Crucial Questions: An Overview of Central Concerns about Manhood and Womanhood. Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 1992.
Robinson, Thomas. A Community Without Barriers: Women in the New Testament and the Church Today.Manhattan Church of Christ, 2010.
Barton, Sara, A Woman Called: Piecing Together the Ministry Puzzle. Leafwood Publishers, Abilene, TX, 2012.
Grudem, Wayne, Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: An Analysis of More Than 100 Disputed Questions. Crossway, Wheaton, IL, 2012.