A Woman’s Contribution to the Local Congregation
by Carey Scott
from several sources
More often than not, women are the lifeblood of the congregation. Attention is often given to the limitations placed on women in the assemblies of the church because of what is written in I Corinthians 14:34-37 and because of what is written in I Timothy 2:11-12. Such limitations notwithstanding, the early church benefited greatly from the contributions of many women. Let us see just how valuable the women are to this congregation.
The Role of Women in the Church
In just the church at Rome, we read of...
- The service of Phoebe, a helper of Paul and many others (Romans 16: 1-2)
- The help of Priscilla, even risking her life for Paul (Romans 16:3-4)
- One named Mary, who bestowed "much labor" (Romans 16:6)
- Twin sisters, Tryphena and Tryphosa (Romans 16:12)
- The beloved Persis (Romans 16:12)
Even today, the growth of many churches is the result of "much labor" by women. How can that be, if women are limited in what they can do in the public assemblies? Public assemblies are actually a small part of the overall work of a congregation. There is much work outside the assembly that must be done if a church is to grow. Women are often in a position to provide much of this needed work!
What can a woman do? How can she contribute to the growth and success of a local church? Let's answer such questions as we review the work of a local church.
Benevolence Is an Important Work
It is a mark of pure and undefiled religion (James 1:27). Ministering to brethren who are sick, poor, imprisoned, etc., is a service rendered to the Lord Himself (Matthew 25:34-40). All Christians, women no less than men, are to be involved in this work (James 2:14-16; I John 3:17).
Women Are Well-Suited for Benevolence
They bring grace and beauty of which men are normally not capable. The unique attributes of femininity lend themselves well to this work. Mercy and compassion are almost second-nature to women. And mercy is one of the gifts the Lord has given to His church (Romans 12:6-8). They often possess skills through which benevolence can be rendered: making clothes, as Dorcas did for needy widows (Acts 9:36-39), cooking, babysitting, ministering to the sick, extending hospitality, etc. Indeed, women who might later be "taken into the number" were to be known or "well-reported" for the good works she had done in this area (I Timothy 5:9-10). Any work that a woman does in the area of benevolence is a powerful contribution to the work and reputation of a local church! Now let's consider...
Edification Is an Essential Work
It involves building up the body of Christ, through the work of every member (Ephesians 4:15-16). It entails following such instructions like:
- "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).
- "Comfort each other and edify one another" (I Thessalonians 5:11).
- "Comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak" (I Thessalonians 5:14).
Some men were known for their work in this area; e.g., Barnabas (Acts 4:36). Through formal teaching of others are also involved in edification. Grandmothers and mothers can teach children, as Lois and Eunice did in II Timothy 1:5 and II Timothy 3:14-15. Older women can and should teach younger women (Titus 2:3-5).
Especially where there are people who come into the church without the benefit of godly mothers and grandmothers, in which Christian women can be surrogates through informal words of encouragement. Sometimes in trying to teach a woman, a woman would have a much closer relationship to her and she would be more open to a woman than a man. With so many dysfunctional families and emotional problems today, the gift of encouragement and nurturing possessed by many women is essential. Many teachers and preachers have been helped by godly women encouraging them in their work. There is a special need for women to see themselves as teachers of young people and other women and as encouragers of men in their work of preaching the gospel. When women are involved in the work of edification, their contribution to the work of the local church does not go unnoticed. Finally, let's take a look at a woman’s contribution to evangelism.
Evangelism Is an Imperative Work
It is the "Great Commission" given by the Lord to His church (Matthew 28:19-20). The gospel is God's power to save, so it must be shared with everyone (Romans 1:16; Mark 16:15-16). This is a work that can be done by everyone (Acts 8:1,4).
Women Can Do Much in the Area of Evangelism
They can help support those who preach the gospel. As did Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna (Luke 8:1-3). Providing much-needed hospitality, as did Lydia (Acts 16:15). They can tell others about Christ. Consider the example of the Samaritan woman, who was instrumental in converting many people to Christ (John 4: 28-31,39-42). Then there was Priscilla, who with her husband provided a place for Paul to stay during his ministry at Corinth (Acts 18:1-4). They converted Apollos at Ephesus (Acts 18:24-26) and hosted a church in their home (I Corinthians 16:19; Romans 16:3-5).
Even without a word, godly women can lead others to Christ, including unbelieving husbands (I Peter 3:1-2). Many souls have been saved, and churches started, through the evangelistic efforts of godly women!
There is certainly much that a woman can contribute to the work of the local church, such as the very act of praying, which is no small thing. Beyond that, there is a wide range of activities women can engage in without going beyond the limitations placed on them in the public assemblies. Getting together for the Ladies Bible Study is to be commended. The true measure of a local church is not defined only by what occurs in the assembly. It includes what the members do day-by-day, in the home, at work, in the world. It involves what benevolence, edification, and evangelism take place on a daily, personal basis.
When godly women are active in the service of the Lord, using the unique talents and opportunities given to them, souls are saved, they are strengthened in the Lord, and cared for in times of need. The Lord's church is made stronger, and the kingdom of God is expanded in the world.
May there always be a surplus of women in the Lord's church like Mary Magdalene, Dorcas, Lydia, Priscilla, Lois, Eunice, and of course, Phoebe.
"I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also" (Romans 16:1-2).
May we never take for granted nor denigrate the valuable service rendered by our sisters in Christ, but receive and encourage them in a way worthy of the saints!