We have discerned God’s will not by just interpreting written-down texts in the Spirit. We also discerned God’s will by interpreting the Spirit’s living texts, women he has gifted for service in the kingdom. Gifted women in leadership right now in the church are living descriptive texts. These women are part of a great band of witnesses stretching all the way back to Priscilla. Since 1989 I have personally witnessed the Spirit raising up women in the Lake Highlands Church to teach, preach, and pastor. I give these living texts weight, but not the weight I give Scripture. However, these living texts confirm again and again our interpretation of the Scripture texts.
As the Spirit coming on the Gentiles in Acts caused the church to reread her Scripture texts, so has the Spirit’s work in women called us to reread the Scripture story to discern what is going on. In every instance the Spirit has confirmed our interpretation of the Scripture texts. The normative and descriptive texts of Scripture are perfectly consistent with what I am reading in the lives of Spirit-filled women today.
The interpretations of the past will always remain intact and even petrified without the Holy Spirit’s stimulating work in today’s church. The Scripture will be heard to say the same thing over and over again unless our hearing is renewed by the story inscribed among us even now by the finger of God. Without the narratives of these women, we cannot discern what God is telling us.
PASTORING THE LIBERATION OF WOMEN
Without a place to narrate the story of what women consider a call from God, how can the authenticity of that call be discerned by the church? We began to see the Holy Spirit energizing women and gifting women in the local church. It was reminiscent of Acts, but instead of Lydia, Priscilla, and Phoebe it was Keri, Diann, and Robin. How many other women in the last 2,000 years have heard a call to serve the Word but did not pursue it because no one took their story seriously enough to even listen? What about the narrative of those who were ministered to by women? It is inconceivable to me that the church would not even be interested in hearing what God has done among his people, men and women, through revelation that is only available through such narratives of faith.
So we became ministers of slow yet significant change for more than twenty years. It was the change that the Spirit brings. We adopted the early apostolic church’s theological model of discerning God’s patterns. I heard the witness of the church; I heard the witness of women. We reexamined the witness of scripture . We were led to use the gifts of women that were already being used among women to edify the entire church.
As we came to strong convictions about these matters, the Spirit led me to slowly do something about it. It was part of our empowering the entire church for full-time ministry in the world. To more fully embody the end-times vision, I was led to become an equipper of women. This meant I would:
- Attentively begin discerning the work of the Spirit in women.
- Begin teaching and preaching on the place of women in the True Story of the world.
- Begin using women in the church as they are gifted, not according to gender.
- Begin using women to lead home churches, teach classes, and preach sermons as they were gifted and matured to do so.
- Empower for leadership Spirit-filled and gifted men and women who were not professionally trained in “ministry.”
- Recognize that home-building and parenting may in fact be full-time work for women and even men.
- Understand that wineskins and practices in the church will change as we invite all men and women to exercise their gifts according to the common good.
- Bathe the empowerment in prayer: “Lord, reveal to us your will.”