God calls us to join him in making disciples in our churches, families and neighborhoods here in the United States and around the world. This call to serve does not depend on whether we live in the inner city, the suburbs or on a farm or ranch. It doesn’t depend on the size of our bank account, our profession, our age or our gender. It does not depend on our ethnicity, the level of education we’ve achieved or our political affiliation.
In the church, God intends us to use our talents and interests in building his kingdom as Sunday school teachers, ushers or committee members, when we make coffee for the Sunday morning fellowship time, clear the snow from the church parking lot, sit in the tech booth at the back of the sanctuary or stand on stage leading worship. Fulfilling God’s command—and the church’s mission—requires that all of us be involved in the process of making disciples.
Let’s not lose sight of this big-picture understanding of the church and its mission when we U.S. Mennonite Brethren gather in January 2019 for a study conference on women in vocational ministry. Whether we hold an egalitarian or complementarian view—or something in between—let’s commit to an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to nurturing believers and making disciples. Let’s affirm the work of women serving our USMB congregations in a variety of roles and encourage others to actively join in local church ministries. In this issue, you can read essays by 12 of the 91 women who are listed as ministry staff members on USMB English-language church websites. The essays reflect on how God has led the authors into ministry. We have also posted the results of a short questionnaire that 24 of these 91 women completed.
Regardless of our views on the role of women in the home and the church, we can celebrate the ways in which God is building his kingdom thanks to the ministry of women. A blog post published this summer by Beth Moore, a best-selling Bible study writer and speaker who supports the complementarian view of her Southern Baptist denomination, reminds us of how vital it is to affirm women who are using their gifts in God’s kingdom. In her “A letter to my brothers,” Moore points out the sinful root at the bottom of many male attitudes toward women and calls for male ministry leaders to have “no tolerance for misogyny and dismissiveness toward women in your spheres of influence.”
God’s call to all of us to follow Jesus and to help others to be disciples is real. In January, we as U.S. Mennonite Brethren will continue to work out with fear and trembling how we understand that call with respect to women in our congregations. In the meantime, let’s remember and thank God for all the ways that God is already using Mennonite Brethren women to help us all to live out our kingdom calling.