Sunday, 15 May 2011

Is Newfrontiers abandoning it’s commitment to Male Leadership?


In 2008 Mark Driscoll addressed the Newfrontiers leaders conference and commended our movement for holding to the biblical principle of male Eldership. Following the conference a critique of Newfrontiers position by a methodist minister, Dave Warnock suggested that our understanding of scripture on this matter was incorrect and several of our newfrontiersbloggers attempted to clarify and explain the position.

To answer my principle question, I do not believe at this time that there is any credible suggestion that Newfrontiers is abandoning it’s commitment to male leadership, but in my own recent research looking at the media download sections of several UK Newfrontiers churches it is clear that our understanding of 1 Timothy 2:12 differs widely enabling nearly 40% of our churches to [occasionally] permit women to teach when the full congregation is assembled.  (Teaching is assumed to be an eldership function, and as such the preserve of men)

Among my research, I found even  Wendy Virgo addressed an assembled congregation in Horsham on Mothers day (though interestingly CCK in Brighton – until very recently the longtime home for Wendy and Terry - is not one of the congregations that has permitted a woman to take to the pulpit on a Sunday) and in the first minute of her talk she taught that  “we don’t usually make a habit of women preaching on Sunday’s but we do feel that at time’s it’s appropriate”.    I found that this statement was somewhat odd. Either, we have a ‘habit’ [Note: not a biblical principle] that prevents women from exercising their gifting to teach, preach and encourage or we believe that preaching and teaching to a congregation that includes men requires authority that is provided by church government which is exclusively male led.

However I don’t want to get into the discussion that would require greater theological mind(s) than mine to probe questions such as: what exactly is teaching, what  is someone doing when they speak from the assumed pulpit on a Sunday, can women speak formally as long as they don’t teach, is the teaching in 1 Tim 2:12 something that is in reference only to her husband, can single women then be free to teach since they have no ‘head’ in the home, can elders delegate their authority to others, can those that have been delegated to set direction and all such other questions… as these are not the subject of this post… .

The nub of my question is, since a number of our congregations draw the line of where women can teach in different places sufficient to allow some to teach the assembled church, and with many church denominations already opening governmental positions to women, does that mean it’s only a matter of time before one of our congregations elevates someone to the leadership team (beyond children’s or women’s ministry) and enables them to have a directive or authoritive role (rather than a complementarian influential one) in church governance?


For those who haven’t seen the vision and values statements or who haven’t been following Terry Virgo’s series on these statements here’s the relevant ones to this topic.

7. A church where Biblical family life is highly valued, where husband and wife embrace male servant leadership and joyful female submission, where godly parenting is taught and practised and where the special value of singleness and its unique opportunities are affirmed.

8. A church led by male elders (one of whom is clearly understood to be gifted to be lead elder) who are ordained by the Holy Spirit, recognised and confirmed through apostolic ministry. These men are to be helped in fulfilling their calling through ongoing fellowship with trans-local ministries.

2 comments: said...

Hope so. FGS get into the real world. What is this guff about male servant leadership and joyful female submission. May have suited St Paul et al, who were either unmarried or too busy elsewhere to be active husbands and fathers. It makes no sense to the rest of us, who see its potential for the kind of bullying, repression and even murder of women that happened in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints and other cults. Men, grow up, get into the real world and stop using religion to get your own way. It's pathetic.

Heavenwards said...

Surely it should not be about whether you are Male Or Female but about if you have GOD's anointing to teach.