Irving Bible Church releases women to serve

Irving Bible Church releases women to serve

In the news is Irving Bible Church who recently took 18 months to study the issue of women in ministry from the scriptures, and now they have implemented a clarification of their position on women regarding the use of their God-given gifts for the common good.  They have produced a 24 page paper on Women in Ministry that documents the findings from their study.  It is at this link on the right hand side, the PDF document.  Although at this point they are still holding to the teaching that only men should become elders, their renewed view coming from the scriptures allows them to release women to teach and preach and use all of their gifts for the benefit of the body of Christ.  It is very encouraging to see another church freeing women to serve with their gifts for the benefit of both men and women.

Below is the brief description of their journey from the front page of the above web site:

Women’s Role in the Church

The May 2008 issue of Chatter, a publication of Irving Bible Church, contained several stories, interviews, and research resources based on Women’s Role in the Church. This web section contains those stories as well as additional resources for your reading and exploration.

Unleashing God’s People

When the issue of women’s role in the Church specific to practicing the spiritual gifts of teaching, leading and preaching was raised, the IBC Elder Board embarked on a journey to discover what God had for all of his people and how he might unleash them to glorify his kingdom. Chatter listened to the Elder Board to learn about that journey, what it involved and where we’ve landed today.

When did the Elder Board begin to look at the role of women?
In 2006, people began asking questions about the role of women in the Church specific to teaching and preaching. For example, could they teach adult Bible Communities? Why didn’t we have a woman on our teaching team? There was also a healthy discussion taking place on Table and Fire. We realized as a board how important it was for us to clarify IBC’s position on this, and thus began an 18-month journey of prayer, study and discussion.

Was there any trepidation on the part of the board?
We knew that once we began, we would need to devote a considerable amount of time and prayer toward it. Each of us had wrestled with this issue on some level, and we came at it from different experiences and with varying perspectives. As a group, we were committed to moving forward with spiritual, biblical and intellectual integrity.

Specifically, what steps did the board take?
We held more than 12 meetings in which the ministry role of women was the primary topic for discussion, study and prayer. We looked at likeminded churches that walked this journey before us and read several books and commentaries that held varying viewpoints. In addition, we dialogued with women both in ministry here at IBC and from other churches. We sought godly counsel, and invited three professors from Dallas Theological Seminary—Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, Dr. Scott Horrell, and Dr. Bob Pyne—representing different positions on the issue to present their studies and insights to us.

What were the most enlightening things you learned?
Jesus was completely radical in how he elevated women in his day. He ignored cultural barriers and invited women to be part of his ministry. Throughout the Bible we found God using women as leaders, prophets and teachers to further his kingdom. We also looked at how God effectively uses women in ministry today. The fact is, he’s used women throughout history and today in powerful ways—in teaching, leading and preaching roles—and there’s fruit. We’ve seen it, and we can’t deny it.

Did this lead the board to feel as though the issue is truly black and white?
Not at all. We quickly learned that there are many God-honoring, spiritually mature, biblically astute Christians who have different views on this topic. We realized that, instead of presuming to determine what is “right” for all times and places, we were called to define “what seems to be good to us and the Holy Spirit” for IBC in the spirit of Acts 15:28.

With that in mind, how does IBC plan to move forward?
We are going forward with the strong belief that God wants to unleash all of His children using all of their spiritual gifts to further His kingdom. Women represent 50% or more of the body of Christ, and having them fully unleashed to use all of their giftedness makes us 50% more effective and powerful for Christ. We need the whole body of Christ fully engaged for the kingdom. So we’re not just saying, “It’s OK.” We’re saying, “Come on!”

How do you expect the IBC community to respond?
We hope that people will be excited about women being unleashed for Christ’s kingdom. For those who are surprised by or unfamiliar with this approach, we hope they will interact with the scriptures and prayerfully consider the validity of our position. After 18 months of committed prayer, godly counsel, reading God’s word, and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak, we believe this is the right and best course for IBC.

How will this change what IBC is currently doing?
Truly, it doesn’t change very much. We’re really looking to provide clarity as to what, in many ways, we’ve already been practicing. A noticeable change may include an occasional woman preacher at IBC as God raises up gifted and qualified individuals for that task.

12 thoughts on “Irving Bible Church releases women to serve

  1. Yep. From now on, any time a self-important imam of what used to be Christianity issues another ruling over their perceived subjects, I’m calling it what it is: a fatwa.

    The situation in Christendumb is so pathetic now. There is no love, no grace, no genuine concern about either the lost or the alleged backslidden. They shoot their wounded and make their fellow servants their enemies. They hide their own grievous sins under cloaks of deceit and conceit. They put out “hits” on anyone who crosses them and treat them worse than the old Soviet Union treated political dissidents.

    This is the “Christianity” the world is seeing. No wonder they say it’s like the Taliban; it’s true! And it’s just like Malachi said:

    15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’ ” 16 Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. 17 “On the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

    We don’t get justice now, or see God punish the hired hands, but that Day is fast approaching.

  2. It does concern me about the seemingly vociferous response by some of the non-egals to this “defection” in their ranks.

    My take is part of the non-egal’s argument (see Grudem) is that the words of God about “no women teaching men” are clear and just need to be obeyed.  When someone deviates in just a slight amount from the supposed orthodoxy of CBMW and co., it calls into question their argument based on clarity.  The more they respond with paper after paper, the more they self-repudiate their claim of supposed clarity.

    This means they are in a no-win position from their viewpoint and they do not like that, so they wish all who think like them would quit making waves and just agree with them.  When some do not, it invokes their fear response, so they think it is entirely justified to respond in ways to try to create doubt and fear in the “defector”.

    As Wade Burleson points out on his blog, there was SUPPOSED to be agreement on the (Southern) Baptist Faith and Message that said (in effect) no women  pastors, but left it up to churches whether women could teach. 

    But that is not good enough for some non-egals, the “evil virus” of women teaching men needs to be eradicated or else the bogeyman (liberalism) will come and the Bible will mean anything you want.

  3. Don,

    I like what you said here:

    The more they respond with paper after paper, the more they self-repudiate their claim of supposed clarity.

    This is so true.  If it was so “clear” then how come churches don’t know how to implement it without a whole set of additional “rules”?  How come churches have to write to CBMW to find out if they can have women ushers and women serving communion?  If women are not allowed, then where is the dividing line?  This position only says that no one really knows.  Where is a set rule and where does conscience play into it?  But if we see scripture as allowing women to follow Jesus in using their gifts in the way that men can follow Jesus, then we don’t need organizations like CBMW.  We can now decide for ourselves and allow the scriptural position that men and women are spiritually equal before God and as spiritual equals they can both use their gifts for the benefit of the common good.

    Irving church also stands out as a perfect example of an egalitarian view being upheld because of scripture.  I noticed that during their 18 month study of the scriptures they also studied both sides from both CBMW books and egalitarian books.  If the issue was so “clear” as CBMW says, then why didn’t their “clear” view convince those who were clearly very open to scripture and who only wanted to hold tightly to the scriptures.

  4. Paula,

    I am very saddened by the fight that goes on in the church over secondary issues.  Those who devour their brother or sister in Christ over a secondary issue are in danger of producing bad fruit.  Jesus said that only good fruit comes from a good tree.  A bad tree cannot bear good fruit and a good tree cannot bear bad fruit.   This doesn’t mean that we don’t ever sin.  But our attitude towards sin is different than the one who bears bad fruit.  One who sins and repents and turns from their sin will be forgiven.  The one who covers over their sin will not prosper.  While we may not see the judgment right now, God has promised to be call to account.  When we have God on our side as our Advocate, we will come through the battle.  I would hope that all of us would like to have good fruit no matter which side of the fence we sit on regarding women in ministry.

  5. I cant’ help but recall Ken Burns’ film “The Civil War”.
    I remember Shelby Foote reading some old letters by a slave owner who in his inner conscience wished it wasn’t so.

    Ironically, the opening salvos of a war that will split much of Southern protestantism as well as Northern, have begun at Irving Bible Church.

  6. I say, let the Pharisees have their own religion and club. Who needs them? They would literally have to confiscate our computers to silence us, and then we’d just go underground. Then they’d have to hunt and kill, like the popes of old, like the ancient Roman emperors. And this, they say with a straight face, is orthodox Christianity.

  7. “The more they respond with paper after paper, the more they self-repudiate their claim of supposed clarity.”

    yes, Don, very good point. Years ago these many ‘papers’ were not needed. No one questioned the teaching except a few unknown scholars who had no big platform. But now with so many resources to study and instant communication it is hard for those like CBMW to control people anymore. That is why they use shame,  insults and many papers with big words to promote their position. They also use insults calling people liberals, radical feminists, etc.

    They have been somewhat successful in using an old advertising trick of connecting unrelated thoughts into people’s minds to create a belief. They have connected two completely unrelated positions of women teaching men to homosexuality being accepted by the church. It is amazing how many people actually believe this and do even question the premise! They even have a fancy term for it: Trajectory hermeneutics.

    So the thought is implanted: If a woman teaches a man we WILL have homosexual preachers. This successful tactic would make Goebbels proud.

  8. I hate to say it, but progress is slow. IBC took a really well-thought move. If anything is going to change in the South, we have to put aside our anger and be the harbingers of grace. Its not fair, its not right, and it sucks for those who it squashes. I say this as one who feels continually squashed underfoot by the church. We, as a movement, have to move like water, moving through whatever crevice will allow us and breaking down the hardness however we can. We have to persist in what we know is right and trust that God will bring down the mighty and the proud.
    The beginning of wisdom is fear of God, and while approaching the Scriptures we need to be careful to not judge another’s servant. Their feelings are to be regarded as importantant and as valid as our own. If we demonize them and disregard their faith, then we are the proud that will fall to our own destruction. Let them be the babbling idiots, who will reveal their true character in time.
    I am a part of a church that considers itself progressive, that ordains women as far as children’s ministry goes but quietly dismisses women to their “roles” in its complimentarianism. I struggle everyday because I want to work in ministry, but I need cultivation and mentorship first. This has been very hard to come by and so far I have not been successful. I’ve spoken to Jackie Roese on the subject and she has simply kept her resolve, aknowledging the situation and perfecting her craft. Now IBC has opened this door. IBC is really influential in our area. I hope this opens doors everywhere.

  9. April,

    Very well said! In fact I believe your words are prophetic.

    We, as a movement, have to move like water, moving through whatever crevice will allow us and breaking down the hardness however we can. We have to persist in what we know is right and trust that God will bring down the mighty and the proud.

    God has said that He will resist the proud and give grace to the humble. I love the analogy to water. I used to think that I could work hard to remove the barriers that stop the strong complementarians from giving grace to women, but I have come to understand that it isn’t arguments that keep many of them as strong complementarians. It is things other than arguments. One of the strongest “things” is pride and may I even say arrogance. This is the realm of God’s intervention as he will resist the proud and when they have walked the full pathway of their pride, they will be brought low through the fruit of their own actions. God will then get the glory, not us.

    Thank you for coming here and blessing us with such profound words. Your words resonate in my heart as being the godly way of grace in action and yet not turning one iota from the pathway that God has set before us.

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