Saturday, June 24, 2006

Book Review: Women’s Ministry in the Local Church

Book Review: Women’s Ministry in the Local Church

(by J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt, Crossway, 2006)

This book was one of the volumes given to us at the Together for the Gospel Conference and I have been looking forward to reading it since then. Let me be clear from the top that it was a gift from Lig Duncan, the co-author.

I suppose in light of that I will begin with a few shortcomings. First, I found the format of the book very difficult to follow. I am not sure if it was supposed to read as a conversation between Hunt and Duncan or what, but the flipping back and forth and the overall flow was confusing to me. This was almost enough to make me give up on it, but I was so impressed with Duncan at T4G that I knew there had to be some gold in there!

I was not disappointed. I thought the best part of the book came in chapter two in the section where Duncan defends the need for a woman’s ministry. It culminates with this thought:

“The crisis of womanhood is too critical for the church to be passive. Scores of evangelical women are functional feminists, because the world’s paradigm for womanhood is the only one they have heard. The church should lead the way in equipping God’s people to think biblically about all of life, including a biblical perspective of gender roles and relationships.

It is not sufficient for churches that hold to male headship simply to compile a list of things that are permissible for women to do. We must go to the Scriptures and determine what is needful for women to do” (42).

The rest of the book essentially attempts to flesh out a workable example of women ministering to women. I think elders and women beginning this type of ministry will certainly find some helpful material here – but don’t count on just this book. One should also perhaps be a little wary of the dominant covenant theology that shapes some of the practical ideas suggested. I did not find any of these suggestions unbiblical or wrongheaded, I just did not like with how they were reached.

Overall, Women’s Ministry is worth taking a look at along with other books that are written on this topic. The emphasis on getting more mature women to actively train younger-in-the-faith women is worth the price of the book alone. Which means even if I had paid for it, I would have been glad I bought it!