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Women and Impact Sundays
For several years we have been intentionally seeking to be more inclusive of women in our Sunday assemblies. Our desire is for our practices to be God honoring by allowing women to utilize their Spirit-gifts in serving the body and to be faithful to God’s Word, the Bible, which gives us direction and guidance in such matters. Some of our traditional practices have been unnecessarily restrictive on women and neither honor God nor show us to be faithful to His Word.
Those new to the congregation may not be aware of the significant amount of study and communication that has been done to help us all grow together in our understanding of God’s will in this matter. In the summer of 2012 I presented a series of five lessons entitled, “Women in the Life of the Church.” Three of these were hour long presentations on Sunday evenings and two were normal length Sunday morning sermons. You can listen or download the sermons here. On this page you will also find a link to “sermon notes”. These are transcripts of the sermons with significant Power Point slides included.
The elders and ministers continued to discuss and study this issue for the next couple of years and eventually this letter was sent to the congregation to explain how we planned to begin utilizing women in our Sunday morning assemblies. This cover letter was also sent to enable those with questions or concerns to be heard.
We have been slowly implementing changes since those letters were sent when we felt such changes were appropriate and helpful. In the two most recent Sundays of Impact Week we saw a great increase in the use of girls and women over our normal Sunday practices. During Impact Sundays the Refuge Teen ministry is given the task of organizing the worship services to highlight our efforts in reaching out to our neighbors with the love of God in an intentional manner. Since women make up at least 50% of our youth ministry it seemed appropriate that they would have a greater presence in the Impact Sunday services.
Thus, communion was served by teen families on the first Sunday. Since our church is composed of many different types of families this communicated in a subtle manner the beauty of our unity in diversity. We had a singe mom serving with her children alongside a Hispanic family. We had a blended family serving alongside a traditional family. On the second Sunday we were served by the teens themselves. All week they had been serving our neighbors and on that day they served their church family.
We also had some women addressing the congregation at both services. One of our youth ministers Donna Stone made some announcements concerning Impact Week because she was the best one qualified to make the announcements. She also gave the benediction at the conclusion of each service. Courtney Tee addressed the congregation since she is one of our former teenagers who spent a year in Dallas serving the needy. She was asked to give a testimonial of how God had been at work through that ministry. Similarly two of our teenager girls also gave testimonies of the impact God had made on their lives as they shared his love with our neighbors the previous week.
Of course, men and boys were also included in both of those services but since traditionally all speaking and serving during a Sunday worship service is done by males their participation was not unusual. As we move forward as a congregation we continue to be committed to honoring God through the utilizing of the Spirit-gifts he has given the congregation (both to men and women) and to be faithful to His Word. We do not see these things as being mutually exclusive, rather they work together in harmony. May we do so as well.
As always, I am available to listen to any concerns or help answer questions you may have. Your elders are also always interested in hearing from you.