Churches Of Christ/evangelism
QUESTION: I am a member of the church of Christ and am thankful for salvation. In regard to teaching the gospel to the lost and saving souls I have some questions. Jesus chose 12 men to help him in his ministry. It seems that some people in the church, even some leaders expect women to do the evangelism. I do not see evidence in scripture of this. I see how some apostles took with them believing wives. I see Priscilla with her husband evangelizing Apollos. She was not by herself or with a group of women. I see some sisters mentioned by Paul who assisted, but it does not say they were out there teaching unsaved men by themselves. The scriptures speak of Philip's four daughters who prophesied, but it doesn't specify in what forum or capacity. The scriptures also speak of Anna the prophetess who stayed in the temple and spoke. The scriptures doesn't say she went from house to house teaching unbelieving men. The woman at the well told people of her city that Jesus told her everything she had ever done, but she is not dictating scriptures to unbelieving men. None of these examples show women going out the way Jesus sent his 12 out and commissioned them. Jesus' last words on earth before his ascension were to 11 apostles, who were men. I believe that when women are expected to do most of the footwork for the gospel, we are not doing God's will. Also, even in bible class, the women are speaking more than the men. Based on your knowledge of scripture, how are we as Christians to evangelize the world?
You make some good observations.
Looking for Scripture to support our behaviors is a good thing, but we must be sure to apply Scripture correctly. One of our mistakes is building an institutional view of "church," when what God is after is a people of God. In fact, the desired goal is a world full of God followers who live their lives in accordance with God. Our Christianity then is actually descriptive of our Monday through Friday lives more than Sunday. What might modify our public behavior are the expectations of those around us, and so we have Paul's statements about his behavior depending on who he was around, or conducting "church services" so that visitors wouldn't get the wrong ideas.
The over-arching, controlling concern though is our character of life, more than any specific behavior.
As a result, we cannot limit evangelization to men, precisely because of the prophetesses you mentioned. Women do prophecy and they may do so in any setting, as long as that setting does not cause offense. The church should be most open to hearing prophetesses than anyone, but if your particular social setting would result in offense to those around you, then women should not prophecy. The same is true of evangelism and any other task we might assume.
Evangelism is at its core the telling of the Good News, and all Christians are encouraged to tell others about the "hope that lies within" them. That includes women.
And so, my understanding of who should do evangelism is that we all should within the expectations of those we are trying to reach.
Does that help at all?
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
Thank you for your reply. One of the experts would not give me a reply, but instead said, "I do not do homework assignments." I do not even know what that means. Anyhow, I pray that brother communicates more considerately and humbly in the future. We must all give an account for every idle word we speak. Bear with me for a moment and consider these examples:
1.) Anna was in the shelter and protection of a temple (Luke 2:35-37).
2.) Phillip had four daughters (virgins) who prophesied in the protection of their father's home..no mention that they were out in the city square(Acts 21:8-10).
3.)Priscilla evangelized under the protection of her husband(Acts 18:25-27).
These are only a few examples of what I am talking about. I do not see women outside of the protection of a man teaching the gospel to masses as Jesus and his apostles did. This type of evangelism is clearly reserved for men. Unfortunately, some men are expecting women to do this...Paul, a man who was physically persecuted for the cross of Christ, knew that this type of evangelism that often times involves such violence, was for men. I never read where he tells women to go out as he did...
1.)God himself says that women are the weaker vessel (I Peter 3:7).
2.)Jesus told John to take care of his mother when he was being crucified(John 19:26-27).
3.)The head of woman is man (I Corinthians 11:3)
I am convinced by Scriptures that when women and men are expected to do the same type of evangelizing, we are not reasoning according to what is modeled and taught in scripture and this has an effect on the fruitfulness of the church. Jesus' choice of apostles and disciples shows that even God Himself did not require women to "go their way, carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road."
When Jesus was in the dark garden of Gethsemane, the scriptures say that his men disciples were with him, not the women. I feel sadness over this issue, because I see women being more manly and being treated more like men in the church and men being more womanly and treated like women in the church.
In most of my observations, a man can barely teach a bible class without a woman advancing the lesson or completing a scripture for him before he has a chance to finish uttering it. Hoyt, please pray for me on this issue, because I am not the judge. When I teach women's lessons, I teach them to heed the scriptures for their purpose in the church, because I can only teach what God has taught and interpret as God has already interpreted, may He be blessed for giving context. I have unfortunately been to the homes of women who are so busy "evangelizing" that their homes are not well-kept, their children are not being spiritually nurtured, and their marriages are falling apart..."
In closing, yes your post helped in that it reminded me that we all need to be able to supply a reason for the hope that is within us with gentleness (I Peter 3:15). My prayer is that the men lift up holy hands everywhere and that women continue in childbearing with faith, love, holiness, and self-control...May the Lord's church keep Christ as the head and obey His commands. Anyhow, God bless you.
I don't know that "protection" is in the text, or that it is appropriately applied in these cases. Given the first century's culture differences with ours, we need to read Scripture with that those differences in mind.
Women in the first century had little social standing, were often considered property, and had little if any social and economic protection. In that culture, men took the lead. It would have been unseemly for women to take the lead because that wasn't their place.
In our culture, women couldn't vote, or join the military for a considerable time. Now, the expectations of women's behavior and their standing in society have changed. Therefore, if our restrictions on women are based on social expectations, then we may be well within our boundaries to consider modifying those restrictions.
However, there have been exceptions to the "women aren't supposed to speak" social norms. Many Christian women have been encouraged to be Proverbs 31 Women. It is interesting that that woman ran a considerable part of the family business - buying and selling, and making sure that what needed to happen, happened. She was in the square cutting deals and making money, on her own.
We see men doing most of the public work in Scripture because that was the way the first century operated. Jesus had men with him in the garden because they were the Apostles, and he had chosen only men to be Apostles.
On the other hand, it was women Jesus told after his resurrection to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee. Women actually presented the first Gospel message that included a resurrected savior, and it was they who delivered instructions to the rest of the disciples.
It was also Deborah who took the lead in Israel - she didn't pass the message through her husband. As you observed, Anna spent time in the Temple - and she was the first evangelist. Scripture tells us that she told people about the baby. She did. On her own.
Evangelism is essentially telling a story - your story preferably. The only one who can do that is you. Whether women should engage in public preaching is dependent on the situation, as is whether or not a man would listen to you across the kitchen table. If he would, then by all means tell him the Good News.
And, if you can do it across the kitchen table, you can do it at other times.
I am not arguing that women should let other things drop to do evangelism. In fact, I would argue that men should not let things drop either to do evangelism. One of the most frequently voiced concerns about preachers is that their families suffer because dad spends too much time and effort on church business.
My view is that if a woman might teach a man how to work calculus, she could just as well lead him to Christ.
At least, that's how I see it. I will pray for you, as you requested. If there any other things you'd like me to pray about for you, please let me know.