Wednesday, June 28

Book Review: Women's Ministry in the Local Church

by J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt

This is a book about women's ministry--why a church needs it and how it ought to work. Just now I perused the blurbs at the start of this book, and most of them praise Women's Ministry in the Local Church for being so practical. It is practical, and practical is good, but it isn't the book's practicality that I appreciated most. The best thing about this book, as I see it, is the theological defense it makes for the existence women's ministry.

Let me say right up front that women and women's ministry is not one of my favorite subjects. For one thing, groups of women scare me just a little. I'm not all that interested in many of the things most women tend to be interested in, and making conversation in a group of women can sometimes be a real chore for me. The reason I'm telling you this is to help explain why the theological defense of women's ministry was so important to me. Wanting to join in a ministry specifically for women doesn't come naturally to me (In fact, naturally, it's something I'd rather avoid.), so I need to understand the reasons why it's needed.

This book comes from a complementarian view on gender issues, which means it is grounded in the idea that women and men have different roles in the family and in the church, and it is this uniqueness of women's roles in the family and church that undergirds a specific women's ministry. What better reason for a women's ministry than helping women fulfill their God-given roles in God honoring ways, and who better to help women do that than other women?

If I have one criticism of Women's Ministry in the Local Church it's in its organization. There were places where it didn't seem clear to me exactly how the material all fit together. It may be that a looser structure comes naturally in a book authored by two people. In the same vein, each chapter ends with a little piece written on the subject of women's ministry by someone other than the two authors of the book, including, for instance, a piece by George Grant on the mission of James and Mina Stewart in South Africa. While each of these pieces is interesting to read, I'm not sure they add enough to the substance of the book to make up for adding to it's disjointedness. Perhaps they would have been better included at the end of the book in another appendix.

Despite this small problem I had with this book, I found it to be a good blue print for a lively, fulfilling, purposeful ministry by women for women in the church, and if you are in any way involved in women's ministry--either in oversight or leadership--Women's Ministry in the Local Church is a must-read book for you. Or maybe you're a woman like me, and the subject of women's ministry is one you'd rather avoid if possible. If so, I'd recommend this book as a reminder to you that women's ministry really is important, and why you should be interested in it.

For another review of this book, see this one at Discerning Reader.

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