Published by Good Book Company on October 1, 2022
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Leadership
A biblical vision for the roles of men and women in the church—and how to put them into practice.
It can be tempting to shy away from addressing the issue of gender roles in church because it’s often controversial. But this can result in churches either being increasingly influenced by secular culture or simply sticking with the status quo when it comes to what men and women do in church.
Building on the belief that complementarianism is both biblical and positive, this book focuses on what these convictions look like in practice. Moving beyond the familiar discussions around "gender roles", and leaving room for variety in how readers implement these ideas, it will encourage a church culture where men and women truly partner together—embracing their privileges and responsibilities, and maximizing their gifts, in joyful service of God’s kingdom.
In this book, Graham Beynon and Jane Tooher share insight into how churches can help men and women flourish in ministry together while still holding to a complementarian view of gender. They argue that since men and women are both equal and distinct, their differences should enrich the church, and that tight boundaries that disregard women during decision-making processes and bar them from ministry hurt the church. They address many different dynamics with thought and care, and write respectfully about people whose views fall to the left or the right of their own. They also avoid being prescriptive, and their open-ended discussion questions for individuals and groups will foster additional reflection.
Thoughtful and Practical
Beynon and Tooher address a variety of different ways that churches may fail to adequately include and honor women, and they show how a conviction for male-only pastoral ordination should never prevent churches from equipping and encouraging women to minister in other ways. They include a number of practical suggestions, such as having a mixed-gender leadership team that the elders discuss different plans and ideas with, and they encourage churches to create a testimony time or other opportunity where women can share their wisdom with the church without being in an explicit preaching role. Embracing Complementarianism: Turning Biblical Convictions into Positive Church Culture also leans into the church culture aspect well, showing how churches can apply similar convictions in different ways based on their ministry context.
The authors make it clear from the beginning that they will be focusing on practical applications, not on arguing for the complementarian position as a whole. They anticipate that their readers will already be familiar with the debate and various forms of drama around it, and that they have invested significant study and prayer into coming to their conclusions. However, even though I didn’t expect the authors to go through every point of debate or break down every relevant Bible passage, it would have been helpful for them to share more historical and cultural context for women’s leadership in the church. On a positive note, because the authors are from the U.K. and Australia, their own cultural differences give fresh light and life to American churches by casting a bigger picture beyond specific controversies that American authors focus on.
Embracing Complementarianism will be a helpful resource for church leaders and laypersons who want to live out their convictions without setting legalistic boundaries or sticking to status quo policies that unnecessarily restrict women “just in case” or because it is easier. I appreciate how graciously these authors addressed a contentious and emotional topic, and I admire how they expressed their own views and convictions without binding others’ consciences or telling them what they must do. Because this book is balanced, practical, and filled with questions for further contemplation, this would make an excellent resource for church leadership or book discussion groups to work through together, and I hope that it will lead to positive change in many churches.