20% and Beyond
20% and Beyond
At FCC Chicago we are blessed to have those who speak English, Spanish, French, Creole, German, Albanian and tribal languages of Nigeria as part of our ministry. God can use you to reach the nations.
About 2 1/2 years ago, the Elders shared the vision of establishing a Spanish-speaking ministry as an extension of FCC Chicago’s ministry. Some of you would have been here to hear about that before. Others of you are newer, and had probably not heard that vision verbalized.
The conversation about Spanish-speaking ministry began when we discovered that 20% of the Ashburn neighborhood (that’s 8-10,000 people) are Spanish-speaking, English-isolated, meaning that we couldn’t reach them even if we wanted to with our current English-only ministry. But God loves these people too and desires for them to be part of his family. On this, our heart should match God’s heart.
This is not a political issue of whether all Americans should speak English. It is a gospel issue of reaching every ethnic group with the gospel in order to see them become disciples of Jesus.
The need to write is due to some confusion and misunderstanding of what a Spanish-speaking ministry might mean for the church body. One concern was that we will be making the current Worship Celebration environment a fully bi-lingual context. Let me assure you that that is not the plan. The current English Worship service would remain English.
Actually, beginning the conversation with talk of a Worship service is premature. What we probably would do, before arriving at a Worship plan, is begin to expand our ministry to Spanish speakers through starting Bible studies or other programs that would meet felt needs of Spanish-speaking neighbors, such as English As A Second Language. This is where some of our members become vital ministry links. If you speak Spanish, you may be that person to start a Bible study or participate in a ministry in Spanish. We are blessed to have couple Spanish speakers within our congregation, and I have to wonder if God hasn’t placed you within our body to be used to reach those our English speaking family can’t reach.
If, or shall I say, when, a core group develops through a one of these ministries we could then consider how we would like to further develop that ministry. The foremost option is to plant a “church within a church”, which would see FCC Chicago have the Spanish-speaking worship birth under the umbrella of the FCC leadership. With the building that we have we could even have two services simultaneously, one in the Worship Center and the other in the Fellowship Hall.
We have had some informal talks with Lance Hurley, the Executive Director of Ignite Churchplanting about partnering with FCC Chicago in this endeavor to start a Spanish-speaking ministry. The initial conversations have shown promise that Ignite would partner with us in this journey.
If you have further questions, I would be glad to answer them.
One of the most divisive issues in Christendom over the last century has been defining the role of women in teaching and leadership within the church. As women have risen from positions as administrative support to executives within the business community, churches have either chosen to embrace the cultural trend or further bar the doors to women in key leadership roles.
In this document, we share some observations concerning the question about whether women are given Biblical authorization or restricted from the principle teaching role (Sunday messages) within the church. Yet, actually the fuller question is “Does Scripture draw a line that limits a women’s role in the leadership of the church? And if so, where is that line?”
Those who argue that Scripture disallows women to do the principal teaching (preaching) during church worship marshal two passages of Scripture to defend their position:
As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. 1 Cor 14:33-35
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But woman will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. 1 Tim 2:11-15
From these two sets of verses, it seems clear enough that Paul is teaching that the normative practice is that women should “sit down and shut up” in the context of worship. However, if there are any other verses in scripture that do not so nicely fit into this theological package, we need to question if what these verses seem to say is really what Paul is saying.
One such verse would be 1 Cor 11:5, just three chapters prior to Paul seeming to close the door on women teaching ;
And every woman who prays or prophecies with her head uncovered dishonors her head – it is just as though her head were shaved.
An honest wrestling with this verse does create a hurdle for those who read scripture to say that women are completely barred from the worship teaching role. Paul in this verse is talking about propriety in the worship setting, and mentions women praying and prophesying. Now if the rule for women’s silence was universal and transcultural, he could have simply affirmed that women are to be silent. However, what he does is take time to instruct women on the proper manner of speaking before the church.
At this point some would give a little ground, and suggest that Paul was speaking about prophesying, not preaching the Sunday sermon, yet that position relies on a serious misunderstanding of Biblical terminology. We hear the words preaching and sermon, and think the main message during worship. We hear teach, and we think Bible school or class environment. And prophecy, well that is something that has gone the way of the do-do bird.
Biblically, preaching is the presentation of an evangelistic message to people far from Christ to persuade them to draw near to him. Teaching is the instruction of believers which informs their ongoing walk with Christ. Neither term is limited by the context in which it is performed, and leaves open whether it could be sharing a testimony, leading a Bible study or even sharing a prophetic message, which is not so much forecasting the future as it is applying God’s word and promises to the present and future. Both could occur in worship, but normally worship would entail teaching since it is principally the gathering of believers.
Well, then, is the prohibition to women teaching men? Once again this is a position that is impossible to support Biblically. Particularly in light of:
Clearly there is little to support the idea that women cannot teach the Sunday message. So, if Paul is not telling women to “sit down and shut up”, what is he teaching them?
The key to unlocking the 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2 texts is the same key that we find underlying the 1 Cor 11 text.
In 1 Cor 11, Paul’s emphasis is on the submissive role of women as determined by the created order of things. This text is not really about hair styles and hats. Those practices are cultural expressions of a transcultural principle. As God has authority over man, since man was created in God’s image and for his glory, woman is to respect the authority of male leadership.
The same lesson, with a slight twist, underlies the 1 Cor 14 text. Here the women are told to respect the orderliness of worship, by not speaking out during the service, but by waiting until they are able to discuss the matter with their husbands following worship.
The normative principal in both texts is that women are to be submissive (note the italics in 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2), recognizing their position as one under the responsibility and authority of Godly men.
Does that principal extend to 1 Tim 2? As we look closely at the text on 1 Tim 2, one item of importance is that Paul uses an unusual word for authority here. This is the only time that it is used in scripture. The root of the word is “murder,” and here, as well as elsewhere in Greek literature, carries the idea of “seizing or usurping authority which belongs to someone else.” What Paul has in view, as he addresses Timothy, is women who are revolting against the authority of male leadership, and leading the church into theological error.
The problem with false teaching is why Paul emphasizes that Eve was the one deceived, and not Adam. Eve usurped Adam’s role as leader of the home and introduced sin into the world, while Adam surrendered his leadership role within the family.
It is no accident that Paul immediately proceeds to define the role of Elder in terms of male leadership (1 Tim 3:1). What Timothy is facing is a “feminist revolt” that is resulting in heretical teaching, and to combat that Paul reminds the women that they are to be subject to a clearly defined male leadership, which is the way God created things.
What then do we learn from this exploration? Can women speak during worship? Certainly. Is the door open for them to teach the principal message during the worship gathering? Yes, if they are have deep enough spiritual roots to correctly handle the word of truth, while also respecting the authority of male leadership found in the Eldership.
Does this mean then that there is no line that limits a woman’s role in ministry? On the contrary, that line is drawn by the transcultural principal of a woman’s submission to the authority of male leadership, namely the Elders. Since Elders hold the “buck stops here” responsibility and authority over individual congregations, accountable directly to the Lordship of Christ, women are excluded from that role.
As to “why” women should not serve as an Elder, I do not have an answer beyond the reasons in 1 Tim 2-3 and Titus 1:5f, as well as the practices of the early church (Acts 20:28-31). The churches of the New Testament era knew of no women Elders and the qualities of Elders are phrased in terms of men.
Doesn’t that then arbitrarily lock women out of leadership within the church? No it doesn’t. Perhaps the confusion over the role of women in leadership in ministry is due to confusion over the role Elders play in the life of the congregation. Elders are not the only leaders in the church, but they are the ones who have ultimate responsibility for the welfare of all its members. Numerous other opportunities for women to serve in leadership are present within the church body.
Adopted by the Elders – November 2012
All across FACEBOOK people are tracking us through the 30-days of Thanksgiving during the month of November. The items for which they are thankful include the predictable spouses, children, jobs, homes, etc., and some not so predictable a battle with cancer, a forced relocation and a number of other circumstances of which we could easily understand not being thankful. But I have resisted writing these lists.
Now, before you get me wrong … let me clarify … I do not have a problem with people sharing things for which they are thankful. I believe that such a list can be a nice testimony declaring the trustworthiness of God’s provision. So do not take me to say, “I don’t do thanksgiving.”
Just think: thanklessness is near epidemic in our society. It seems that the more we have been blessed with the less we have to be thankful for because we have come to presume privilege … that which we possess we deserve. As this thanklessness expands there is no thank-you granted to those who hold the door, say a kind word, or give a gift, because they should … they owe it to us.
We definitely need to reorient our thinking to include giving thanks … to God, but also to others as well.
So what am I saying? It is about putting the emphasis on the right syllable. It is not, “I don’t do thanksgiving,” but “I don’t do thanksgiving in November.”
There has been a national reservation for Thanksgiving even since our first President, George Washington, was asked by Congress to proclaim such a day dedicated to “publick thanksgiving” following his first inauguration. That first Thanksgiving was November 26 of 1789. Over the next 70 years, a day of Thanksgiving was celebrated annually on unpredictable dates in the fall, usually in November. Abraham Lincoln codified the month with the official proclamation that cemented one day of November and Thanksgiving together in his proclamation that the last Thursday of November was Thanksgiving. Then Congress officially changed the Thanksgiving Day commemoration to the fourth Thursday of November in 1941.
So what is my problem with November? I don’t have one. Great things happen in November. My birthday is in November. I started dating my wife in November (but she wasn’t my wife at the time). College basketball season gets rolling in November. Election Day is in November (okay that my be a reason to not give thanks).
Here is my point: Thanksgiving should not be restricted to one day or even one month a year. Paul instructs us to “give thanks in all circumstances.” Thanksgiving should constantly be expressed. It should ooze from our lives and flow from our lips, not according to the calendar, but according to the graciousness of God.
It seems to me that the only time of year that the necessity of giving thanks to God for the waves of blessings that we find ourselves swimming in every day occurs to us is just before we put ourselves into a turkey-induced tryptophan coma.
I don’t do thanksgiving in November because 30-days is an insufficient amount of time to catalogue the things for which God deserves my thanks. I want God to wake me to the beauty of His blessings throughout the year, and to have a heart that wells up with gratitude to such a great God.
I don’t want to restrict that to a day, or even a month. Maybe we could try a year of thanksgiving … or a lifetime would even be better.