Wendy Virgo on women as leaders:
Within evangelical circles Newfrontiers is often labelled as being the movement who won’t let women be leaders. How would you respond to that label?
We have always been very diligent to discern what is a biblical way of conducting life in our churches. It has not always been comfortable, and this particular issue has often been completely misunderstood. The reality is that we probably have more women active in our churches, and also involved in leadership, than in most others. Other churches can have a very limited idea of leadership. They may have one pastor or a small team of deacons or leaders who do everything. From very early on, we discovered that the church is the Body of Christ with every member finding their gift and playing their part. So we encouraged everyone, men and women, to pray, prophesy, lead in singing, read scripture, share a testimony or vision and heal the sick when we came together on a Sunday or midweek.
Women in Newfrontiers churches lead worship, baptise new Christians, hand round communion, pray publicly, prophesy, teach, train counsellors, preach, run Alpha, steward, heal the sick, cast out demons, witness in the streets, administrate conferences…in fact everything men can do, so do they! But because we see in the Bible that overall responsibility both in the church and in the home has been designated by God to men, we do not have women elders.
The Bible shows that men and women are made in the image of God. That means that masculinity and femininity came out from God. Both express something of God, and have equal value. There is also order in the Godhead; the Son eternally submits to the Father, but is of equal worth. So also wives are of equal worth to their husbands, but honour them by godly submission. In turn, husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives, as Christ did for the church.