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Bible teaches ‘spiritual mothering’ within the church, speaker says

LONGWOOD, Fla. (BP)–Older women mentoring younger women is a biblical model of discipleship that ought to characterize the ministry of the local church, Susan Hunt said during the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s “Different by Design” conference.

In Titus 2:3-5, the apostle Paul urges his young apprentice in the ministry, Titus, to be sure the older women are equipped to teach biblical womanhood to the younger women, Hunt, the Presbyterian Church of America’s consultant for its Women in the Church Ministry, noted during a “Wisdom for Women from Titus 2” workshop.

“We don’t want to take an isolationist, individualistic approach to this passage,” Hunt said. “We need to see that it is really a part of community life. And it needs to come under the protection, but also the authority and teaching, of the church.”

If the church incorporates this teaching, which Hunt called “spiritual mothering,” it will need to center on sound doctrine that includes sound teaching and preaching. She defined spiritual mothering as “when a women possessing faith and spiritual maturity enters into a nurturing relationship with a younger woman in order to encourage and equip her to live for God’s glory.”

“If this is not done in the context of sound doctrine, it will become self-serving and it will not stay focused on God’s glory,” Hunt said, noting, “We are to stay focused on God’s glory, not on our purposes. We are to stay focused on the building of his kingdom, not on the building of our kingdom.”

The consequences for not following the pattern of Titus 2 is that women will not pass biblical womanhood to each generation, which not only puts the church and women at risk but also dishonors God’s Word, Hunt said.

“We [don’t] have to look very far to see that is what is happening in our world and our times,” Hunt observed. “Somehow biblical womanhood just dropped off the face of the map within the evangelical community. For so long we didn’t think about it, we didn’t talk about it, and we let another voice sweep not only across this culture but also into the church. So we need to recapture this not just for the sake of women but for the honor of God’s Word.”

Titus 2 ministry is not optional, but should be a part of the life of the church whether it happens spontaneously or is part of a formal program of women’s ministry, Hunt said. The Titus 2 mandate should be the “driving force” of women’s ministry, she said, and should intentionally involve intimate and building relationships between spiritually mature older women and younger women that include biblical discipleship. One of the resources Hunt suggested is a series of books, “Biblical Foundations for Womanhood,” as well as “Leadership for Women in the Church.”

Teaching women life skills can flow out of sound doctrine, Hunt said, mentioning knitting, crocheting, bread baking and financial readiness.

“You are blending relational [experiences] as well as the content — teaching the studies, but relationships are being formed. … It must always be attached to our theology,” Hunt said.

To begin a Titus 2 ministry, Hunt suggested gathering resources and seeking approval of church leaders. Each ministry needs to promote the vision and fit into the ministry of each church, she said.

“Don’t ever try to start a women’s ministry that has a life of it’s own,” she cautioned. “That is not a biblical woman’s ministry. A Titus 2 ministry is going to be supportive of and integrated with the structure of the church. Psalm 144:12 tells us when we come together with the church we will be the pillars that bring both beauty and support to the life of the church collectively. That is what a women’s ministry should do. It should help the rest of the church to be the best thing going.”

The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s “Different by Design” conference was held Sept. 8 at First Baptist Church of Sweetwater in Longwood, Fla.

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  • Joni B. Hannigan