Word Filled Women's Ministry edited by Gloria Furman & Kathleen B NelsonI must confess that I had mixed feelings about this book when I volunteered to review it. I'd been working through it with a friend, meeting every couple of months in a cafe to pray together and encourage each other in our ministry roles. We'd initially been underwhelmed. The book came highly recommended by various respected women's ministry groups, so I guess we had huge expectations. I'll also confess that we'd been a bit sporadic in our chapter choices - picking the ones that related to issues we were thinking about, and we were impatient with the theory and wanted to get to the practical advice (a luxury of our well taught context and a dangerous attitude perhaps?) As I reread the chapters, in order this time, I appreciated the book much more fully. Its three sections are arranged in a careful progression of thought, and what had initially been an irritating practice of self-referencing among the chapters became well worked integration.
There are so many things to appreciate about this book: The total commitment to the authority of the Word of God, demonstrated in practice not just ascribed to in theory, the incisive critiques of many views and practices that so often derail biblical ministry, and the deep commitment to the importance of the church (as flagged in the subtitle) - to name just three. Its broad range of subject matter was also impressive, for example the call to minister to women properly in the area of sexuality was so helpful, and challenging. Ok, some chapters didn't entirely grab me. I suspect that our different cultural contexts made the authors' testimonies in chapter seven (on Titus 2) harder to relate to, but that only demonstrates more clearly the universality of God's Word, as seen in section one, versus the different applications required in the varied situations we serve in.
My final thoughts? How helpful I would have found this book twenty years ago when I had so many questions about women's ministry! Of course it isn't the perfect book that I'd initially assumed it would be, but it is the most comprehensive, practical and positive work on this topic that I've read yet.
About this EQUIP Shorts contributor, Alison Napier
Alison has been working in full-time ministry for over a decade now, serving firstly with City Bible Forum, and then at St Andrew’s Cathedral. She has recently started in a new role at the University of New South Wales serving with overseas students as part of the chaplaincy team, while also working as a consultant with Two Ways Ministries. Her favorite thing to do in ministry is to read the Bible with women who've never read it before, it's just so exciting to see them discover the wonderful things it says. Her current new interest is learning the joy of cycling to work - the combination of commuting and exercise appeals to her love of multi-tasking.