Women in Ministry

August 20, 2018

What Role Do Women Have in Ministry?

Women in ministry

Now That I’m Called:
A Guide for Women Discerning A Call to Ministry
By Kristen Padilla
208 pp. Zondervan. $16.99



Discussions of women in ministry are too often infused with tension and frustration. On one extreme are those whose church traditions prohibit women from any teaching or type of preaching. On the other side are those who say all women called to ministry must be ordained to properly serve the church. Honestly, I tend to avoid the topic. But I’m grateful author Kristen Padilla faces the discussion head on.

In Now That I’m Called: A Guide for Women Discerning A Call to Ministry, author and Communications Director for Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, Kristen Padilla, graciously helps women identify what it means to be called by God to ministry and how to obey.

Padilla, who is now a member of an evangelical Episcopal church in the Anglican tradition, speaks the same language as many Southern young ladies. The daughter of a minister, she was raised in mostly small, rural churches where the term “woman in ministry” was translated to mean pastor’s wife. This left her feeling conflicted as a young woman who knew the Lord was calling her into formal ministry, but which area exactly she didn’t yet know.

After retracing her personal journey into ministry, Padilla looks to the Bible to help readers better identify God’s true calling. From the start, the author’s love and respect for God’s Word are quite evident. Over half of her book is spent exploring the Old and New Testaments and how God called both men and women to serve Him. Lest readers are unsure if they are called into vocational ministry, Padilla points out major patterns, such as common motivations and external affirmations, to help us discern when God is calling us to serve or if our own desires have gotten in His way.

What I appreciate most about Padilla’s book on women and ministry is that she offers an orthodox, measured approach. In chapter five, for example, when examining the ever-controversial scriptures in Timothy 2:11-15 verse by verse, she reminds readers “this passage is the inspired Word of God. We don’t want to ignore these verses, minimize them, or write them off as irrelevant.”

Now That I’m Called is not a rallying call against the patriarchy to liberate women from their supposed place of oppression nor is it an attempt to consign us only to women and children’s ministry. No matter your background or church tradition, Padilla lays out a solid case for women being called to serve God and spread the Gospel. It’s impressive how graciously, yet solidly she persuades readers that women have perhaps neglected our responsibilities to spread God’s Word alongside men. She does not say that women must serve as pastors to be effective, but effective we must be on behalf of God.

One unique aspect of Padilla’s book is that she ends every chapter with reflection questions and a spotlight of real women currently doing real ministry. She asks every experienced woman profiled what advice they would share with her readers. My favorite piece of advice is from Ashley Gorman, who writes Bible study curriculum, is currently completing her MDiv, and serves in various ways in her local church. Gorman astutely shared:

Don’t wish away the season you are in. The Lord is charting your course, and in His great goodness over your life, His plan is custom-made for everything you need.

Now That I’m Called is not only a theological study but a guidebook meant to equip women for obeying God’s call to ministry. Among the many pieces of practical tips is an entire chapter dedicated to theological education. Whether a woman feels God calling her to missions overseas or children’s church ministry, Padilla stresses the need for formal theological training. So hands-on is the author’s guidance that she takes time to explain the difference between a seminary and divinity school and the benefits of an on-campus experience versus online programs.

Whether our mission field is overseas or rocking babies to sleep at 2:00 AM for a season, women play vital roles in ministry. Padilla takes her job as the author and guide seriously, knowing first-hand how few books are written for women trying to discern God’s calling on their lives to serve Him and others. Now That I’m Called is a needed addition to any Christian woman’s bookshelves.


4 Responses to What Role Do Women Have in Ministry?

  1. Dan says:

    You definitely “poked the bear.” The key is to frame the discussion in terms of biblical analysis, and not start out from the “but equality demands …” perspective. My wife and I disagree somewhat as to the biblical justifications, but we both agree that throughout 30+ years of UMC membership we have never encountered an orthodox woman pastor or one who was good for the congregation or annual conference she was serving, and we have personally experienced a bunch of bad ones. So from the experience and reason parts of the so-called Wesleyan quadrilateral, women pastors are not a good thing. But that’s only one role in ministry.

  2. Josh says:

    If it wasn’t for women doing all sorts of ministry in the church, there wouldn’t be a church. Women minister in churches that both affirm and deny women in “ministry.”
    The whole question about “women in ministry” is not actully about women in ministry. It’s about the “ordination” of women to paid ministry.

    But where do we find “ordained” ministry in the Bible? People are ordained to ministry tasks but not to ministry in general. It is the Spirit who bestows specific gifts to whom he decides and we use those gifts in ministry. Heck, we are all ordained to full time ministry. We are to minister everyday, everywhere, to all that we meet through the Spirit’s empowerment. That’s “full time” ministry.

    My point is that the question of women in ministry is a loaded question often containing many assumptions, some that are not rooted in proper Pneumatology or Christology. The right questions have to be asked before the right answers can be found.

  3. David says:

    The verse in Timothy comes out of Greek culture. In several ways, women then were treated in a manner not unlike that found in orthodox Muslim countries of today. From an early age, females were clothed from neck to ankle while men ran around literally naked (see your local art museum for the details). Women spent their days in the back of the house in the endless toil of weaving and preparing meals. Unlike the Romans, the Greeks did not allow the women of the household to dine with male visitors. The “ladies” you might see in depictions of parties were hired for the occasion and not respectable. This all may be summed up by a quotation that is roughly, “A virtuous woman is one whose very name is unknown outside the household.”

    Life after death for members only and a ceremonial meal are common to Christianity and the many mystery cults that flourished in the first century. I find it difficult to imagine that women were not involved at least in the meal. Of course, there were Old Testament prophets and “judges” that were female such as Miriam, the sister of Aaron and Hulda.

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