Ministry partnerships are the backbone of the church. If people didn’t work together, the church could not survive. In women’s ministry, women work together to create wonderful events for women to help them grow spiritually. In men’s ministry, men work together to provide opportunities for men to grow deeper in their faith. In the church as a whole, who leads most of the ministries? Who works behind the scenes to carry out the work of the church as a whole? Who is seen up front in leadership roles most often in your church? Why does that matter?
It matters because what people see others doing is what they are able to imagine they can do. If boys never saw a man in a leadership role at church, what would they grow up thinking? If boys only saw men taking out the trash at church, what would they think a man’s role was at church? If boys only heard women pray, read scripture, or lead music at church, what would they think? If boys only heard women preach and never saw a man in the pulpit, what would they imagine a man’s role could not be in the church?
Now turn that around. What message is being communicated to girls and women by what they see girls and women doing–and NOT doing–at your church?
Priscilla and Aquila, the wife and husband team in the New Testament, are a wonderful example of a ministry partnership that was productive, healthy, and far-reaching. I encourage you to read their story in the following passages: Acts 18:1-26, Romans 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19.
One of the significant aspects of the Priscilla and Aquila story is how every time they are mentioned in scripture, both their names are there. Half the time, Priscilla’s name is listed first and half the time, Aquila’s name is listed first. The placement of names is significant in scripture and often indicates the prominent leader of a group. Since they are both listed as first alternating times, it is an indication that they were truly equal partners in ministry.
They were tentmakers in Corinth when we’re introduced to them in scripture in Acts 18. The Apostle Paul worked and lived with them for a year and a half. Can you imagine those late-night conversations? Then they went with him to Ephesus and started a church in their home. He commended them in Romans 16 for their ministry and for risking their lives for him.
Their story also includes a great myth-buster about women not teaching men. The traveling preacher Apollos was taught by both Priscilla and Aquila the details of the gospel that he had not yet learned. As a result, his far-reaching ministry took the truths he had learned from them to places they would never be able to reach.
Their equal partnership in ministry is a wonderful example that we should be striving for today. We should demonstrate to all ages in our churches the giftedness of women and men for growing the Kingdom of God. So, my challenge to you is to think seriously about the messages your church is sending to the children and adults in the pews about who can lead in church. Consider what they are seeing and not seeing as worthy examples of Kingdom-building church leaders.
Join in the conversation: What kind of ministry partnerships and leadership role models are visible at your church?