It's a waste of time for women to train for full-time ministry... is a ministry myth worth busting!
And I'm not just saying that because I am a woman, helping to train the associates here in St Helen's - of whom, plenty are women.
Putting it positively, why should women train for full-time ministry, if they have the suitable gifts, godly character and desire?
It's true that the church's greatest need is more trained gifted, godly and willing men to lead churches. But there is plenty of ministry to be done by women - alongside men, with women, students, children and young people. Most of this ministry will be done by women who are not ‘employed' or paid. But there are a growing number of opportunities at the moment for some women to be set aside to use most of their day for bible-teaching ministry, precisely to help equip and mobilise many other women for their everyday ministry. Full-time ministry posts are there to make more ministry happen. What a great thing to be trained for!
But how many opportunities are there? The need is enormous. Even the most conservative estimate would say that over two-thirds of the church in the UK consists of women and children. There is so much ministry to be done, discipling women, reaching out to women and supporting women as they engage in ministry - that's before we get to the students, young people and children. Not every church can afford to pay for a full-time worker to serve these different groups. But if as a woman you've had good training (and could in another setting be full-time) and could give some time each week unpaid to be one of those people, you would be gold-dust.
How many women can go full-time? Here are some facts you may not know. All of the female associates who've trained at St Helen's over the years - who have been suited to and have wanted to be in full-time ministry - have found paid ministry jobs. Many are now married and, although not paid, are well-equipped wives of men who are committed to serving their churches, or are either training for or in full-time ministry themselves. They are invaluable helpers and workers.
At the moment, the paid opportunities seem, if anything, to be increasing - especially if you're free to move. We've had more enquiries from churches looking for workers this year than I can ever remember. Few ministry posts are guaranteed for the long-term - but that's no different from the employment scene more generally.
Are you a godly woman, appropriately gifted for full time ministry? Why not be trained and see what opportunities the Lord opens up for you?
Leonie Mason helps run the St Helen's associate scheme, a scheme training men and women for Bible teaching ministry.