Monday, September 5, 2016
WOMEN: A KEY FOR REVIVAL AND WORLD EVANGELISM IN THIS GENERATION
This article was derived from the final chapter of Eddie Hyatt's latest book, Paul Women and Church
The issue of women being able to function in any and all roles of leadership in the church is not just a “woman issue.” It is an issue of world missions and the fulfillment of the Great Commission. It is an issue of true revival and an awakened Christianity in this generation. It is an issue of not quenching the Spirit by muzzling half the members of the body of Christ and thereby creating a weak and inept church.
A Personal Awakening
This was made very real to me in 2009 when I had an experience that awakened me to the serious implications of teaching and living the message of gender equality in Christ. Sue had completed her doctoral dissertation on this matter several years before and had published her book, In the Spirit We’re Equal. I was supportive, but not really committed.
On this particular morning I found myself suddenly wide awake around 3 a.m. Not wanting to awaken Sue, I went into an adjoining room. There I sat on a sofa enjoying the quietness and solitude as I thought on the things of God and quietly prayed.
There in the darkness and quietness of that early morning hour, I heard the Holy Spirit speak in my heart perhaps as clear as I have ever heard Him speak. He said, “I want you to be more identified with Sue in what she is doing.” There was a quiet pause in my heart and then I heard words that astounded me. I heard, “This message has the power to begin a mass movement from Islam to Christianity beginning with the women.”
As I sat and pondered what I had just heard, I recalled hearing an African woman—a former Muslim—being interviewed on TV. She told how she had run away from her home in Somalia at a very young age after her Muslim father had arranged for her to be married to a Muslim man in Canada.
She found her way to Europe and the Netherlands where she received an education and was elected to the Dutch Parliament. She also became a very vocal critic of Islam. I recalled the fact that instead of becoming a Christian, she had chosen to become a secularist.
As I thought on this, I realized the probable reason for her not becoming a Christian upon leaving Islam. Why would she exchange a hard form of patriarchy in Islam for a softer form of patriarchy in evangelical Christianity? In both cases she would be required to be under the authority of a male, and after her experience in Islam, that would hold no attraction to her.
If, however, she had heard the message of the woman’s equal acceptance in Christ, and what Paul really taught, it could have been a completely different story. If we want to reach the Muslim word, and all the world for that matter, the message of this book is of vital importance.
A Key to Church Growth
In 1988 I witnessed firsthand what can happen when the church dispenses with gender-determined roles and gives its members equal access based on their gifts and callings. I spent one week in Seoul, S. Korea observing the ministry of the largest church in the world founded by a woman, Choi Ja-shil, and her son-in-law, David Yonggi Cho.
At that time, the Yoido Full Gospel Church had over 600,000 members and was growing at the rate of 13,000 per month. Ninety per cent of those new members were entering the church through the 50,000 cell groups that met weekly in homes and offices throughout the city.
I discovered that of the 50,000 cell groups that were bringing in 90% of the growth, 48,000 were led by women. I looked at the pastoral staff of this massive congregation and discovered that of the approximate 600 pastors, two-thirds were women. I realized that without the active participation of women, this world-renowned church would shrink into a much smaller and insignificant congregation.
During this same time, a friend spent six weeks in Seoul studying the church growth methods of this church. After returning home to America, he wrote a manuscript entitled, Cho’s Secret Weapon--Women.
Cho, now retired, has said that in teaching church growth to pastors all over the world, he tells them that he could never have built such a great church without the full participation of women. In spite of this, he says there is still much resistance to this part of his message.
A Key for Revival
In her book, In the Spirit We’re Equal, Sue has shown how that revival movements in history have always lifted the status of women. This happens because in revival the criterion for ministry is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in one’s life rather than factors such as education and gender.
In the 18th century Methodist revival, John Wesley was challenged when God began to raise up and anoint women to proclaim the gospel. At first he resisted but finally yielded himself to the fact that God was calling and sending forth both men and women even though they were not graduates of Oxford or ordained with the Church of England as was he.
He came to realize that the authority to minister is rooted in one's possession of a divine call or gift, and that ordination is simply the church's recognition of that gift. When challenged as to why he gave recognition to women preachers, he replied, "Because God owns them in the conversion of sinners, and who am I that I should withstand God."
We Must Open Ourselves to the Spirit
Much of the church still refuses to recognize the gifts of its female members and has, thereby, violated Paul's command in I Thessalonians 5:19 not to quench the Spirit. As a result of this disobedience, many gifts have lain dormant while millions have perished without Christ and the church has languished in defeat.
If we want to see genuine revival and world evangelism in this generation, we must dispense with our traditions and interpretations that have served to muzzle and hobble at least half the members of Christ’s body. If we will move from gender-determined roles to an openness to the Spirit that recognizes His work in both men and women, we could well see the greatest Spiritual awakening and missionary movement the church has yet known.
Paul, I am sure, would approve!
This article was taken from the final chapter of Dr. Eddie Hyatt’s latest book, Paul, Women and Church, in which he demonstrates that Paul was, in fact, an advocate for the freedom of women and a champion for their equality in Christ. The book is currently available from Amazon in the in the Kindle format.