Women in Ministry Leadership

Apr 26, 2016 | by Brad Sumner

Preamble and Overview

In the spring of 2009, our elders' team led JRCC through the constructive tension of analyzing our biblical interpretation and our present context with respect to questions of calling, giftedness, and the roles of men and women in the life of a local church. We invited all views, questions, and concerns to be expressed in healthy and respectful ways; driven not by emotion or experience, but by theological conviction. Our dialogue was called Women in Ministry Leadership (WIML). 

Our rationale for engaging in this discussion:
  • We had a unique opportunity to intentionally and prayerfully choose our governance model instead of relying on models inherited by default.
  • We understood that clear leadership polity (organizational structure) could inform and strengthen our communal mission. By engaging in the conversation, we had the opportunity to explore what leadership structures and practices would best honour God and reach people in our community. 
  • We wanted to affirm and release our church family in the discovery and practice of their gifts and calling. 
  • We anticipated that the discussion would clarify some of the defining characteristics, responsibilities, and accountabilities that all church leaders must possess. 
  • We felt that it would help us understand and appreciate the ways in which both genders add unique value and diversity to specific roles within the church.  
  • We wanted to have the opportunity to recognize and appropriately manage the influence of emotions and personal histories on our spiritual lives, our interpretation of the Bible, and our corporate discussions.
  • We desired to learn how to reason together and argue amicably. Through the process, we matured as a congregation and are well equipped to engage in other complex issues of faith, mission, and practice. 
  • We wanted to learn more about God's intent for His church - how it is to be led and the high standards to which all those engaged in ministry leadership must aspire together.
We engaged in this dialogue through:
  • Prayer: We spent concerted time praying together asking for biblical wisdom and discernment, healthy discussions, and church unity.
  • Forums – We hosted four church-wide events for teaching, dialogue, and interaction centred upon key themes and elements of the discussion.
  • Dialogue: We created eight weekly discussion groups at various times and locations to process this vibrant conversation together.
  • Decision: After listening and discerning, the elders concluded this process by formulating and distributing a position paper that outlined our policy and practice.

Teaching Forums

The forums comprised the “content’” aspect of our dialogue. They were large-group presentations on various core topics by both internal and external presenters. Here's a summary of our four forums:

  • Church Family: Understanding our polity, process, and our playbook for the WIML dialogue 
  • Missional Context: Understanding our denominational history and how our setting and culture influence decisions 
  • Biblical Understanding: Exploring the main texts in the Bible and arguments from both sides of the spectrum.
  • Listening to Each Other: Presentations from discussion groups and discerning our readiness to make a decision. 

WIML Resources

Playbook: Guidelines for Respectful Dialogue
Calendar: What's Happening
Event Details: What's Being Discussed at Each Meeting
Resource List: Book & Articles to Help You Dig Deeper

Forum #1 - On Church Leadership
Forum #2 - On Missional Context 
  1. MP3 audio recording (approx 120 minutes in length - all tracks)
Forum #3 - On Biblical Understanding
MP3 audio recording (each track is approximately 20 minutes long)
Andrew Dyck's Presentation

Andrew Dyck's Handout
Jonny Thiessen's Handout

Forum #4 - Listening to Each Other
  1. MP3 audio recording (approx 120 minutes in length - all tracks)

Survey (distributed to JRCC on June 21, 2009)

WIML Position Paper (released on January 31, 2010)


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