SIDEBAR: Essential Resources Supporting Women in Credentialed Ministry
by George P. Wood
Women have served in credentialed ministry in the Assemblies of God since the founding of the Fellowship in 1914. Since then, credentialed women ministers have become more common, and their ministries more accepted, within the Pentecostal and evangelical communities. In the past two decades, however, there has been a noticeable revival among evangelicals of complementarianism, the belief that while men and women are equal in Christ, only men can lead the church.
The leading institutional proponent of this outlook is The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which published Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in 1991.
Although the Assemblies of God agrees with complementarian evangelicals on a wide range of doctrines (e.g., Scripture, Trinity, Incarnation, Atonement), we believe that God calls and empowers both men and women to all levels of credentialed ministry. The following is a list of recommended readings (print and online) that support an egalitarian understanding of credentialed ministry.
• Assemblies of God General Presbytery, “The Role of Women in Ministry As Described in Holy Scripture” (http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_downloads/PP_The_Role_of_Women_in_Ministry.pdf). This position paper is a succinct presentation of what Scripture teaches about women in credentialed ministry. “The Bible repeatedly affirms that God pours out His Spirit upon both men and women and thereby gifts both sexes for ministry in His Church. Therefore, we must continue to affirm the gifts of women in ministry and spiritual leadership.”
• Assemblies of God Network for Women in Ministry (http://womeninministry.ag.org). This ministry of the AG national office is committed to “developing, mentoring and resourcing vocational women ministers and women preparing for ministry.”
• Christians for Biblical Equality (http://www.cbeinternational.org). The mission of this nondenominational parachurch ministry is to affirm and promote “the biblical truth that all believers — without regard to gender, ethnicity, or class — must exercise their God-given gifts with equal authority and equal responsibility in church, home, and world.” CBE publishes both Mutuality (a magazine for a popular readership) and Priscilla Papers (an academic journal).
• Enrichment, spring 2001, “Women: Embracing the Ministry Call” (http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200102/index.cfm). This issue of the Assemblies of God’s professional journal for ministers includes numerous articles on the topic of women in credentialed ministry.
• Deborah M. Gill and Barbara Cavaness, God’s Women Then and Now, rev. ed. (Hyderbad: Authentic Media, 2009). A short, readable introduction to what the Bible teaches about the role of women in home, church, and society. The authors are both Assemblies of God ordained ministers and respected Pentecostal academics.
• Ronald W. Pierce, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, and Gordon D. Fee, eds., Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2004). The egalitarian counterpart to Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, this book examines what the Bible teaches about male-female relationships and roles from historical, biblical, theological, philosophical, and cultural perspectives.
• Ruth A. Tucker and Walter L. Liefeld, Daughters of the Church: Women and Ministry from New Testament Times to the Present (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1987). This book is both “a history of women in the church” as well as “a history of changing perspectives about women.” Among other things, it concludes that “women were very prominent in church history.”
For a more extensive list of resources on women in credentialed ministry, please visit the Network of Women in Ministry website (http://ag.org/wim/resources/).
GEORGE PAUL WOOD, Springfield, Missouri