Women, Spiritual Gifts, and Ministry -- By: Ann L. Bowman

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 14:1 (Fall 1996)
Article: Women, Spiritual Gifts, and Ministry
Author: Ann L. Bowman


Women, Spiritual Gifts, and Ministry

Ann L. Bowman

Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies
International School of Theology
24600 Arrowhead Springs Road
San Bernardino, CA 92414–0001

Introduction

God has called believers, both men and women, to worship Him and to be involved in the work of His kingdom on earth. He has made every provision necessary for this life of worship and service, including the mighty power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. A wide variety of carefully crafted tools is available for ministry-tools which the New Testament calls spiritual gifts. All Christians are endowed with one or more of these Spirit-empowered abilities, and all gifts are valuable and useful.

The thesis of this article is that by looking at Christian ministry through the lens of spiritual gifts, the reader will find a much broader range of opportunities for women who serve in the body of Christ than one might expect. First, an exegetical study of the nature of ministry and of spiritual gifts will be presented. Then several practical suggestions will be offered, both for determining a person’s spiritual gifts and for cooperating with the Lord in the development of those gifts. Finally, some conclusions will be drawn regarding increasing opportunities for ministry, celebrating diversity of giftedness, and providing mentoring for those who serve.

Ministry

The Nature of Ministry

The Terminology of Ministry. All Christians have been called to minister. When the focus of ministry is God Himself, the English word “worship” comes to mind most readily. When the focus is on others, the terms “serve” and “minister” are often used. Four Greek terms are used in these contexts.

The Worship of God. When the focus of ministry is God Himself, the λατρεύω and λειτουργέω word groups are used,1 with the λατρεύω group used most commonly in the New Testament. The writer to the Hebrews exhorts his readers to “worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28)2 Again, Paul speaks of “God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of His Son.”3 By contrast, the λειτουργέω word group is rare in the New Testament. While terms from this group are usually related in some way to the ritual worship of the Old Testament, Luke uses the verb in...

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