Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review - No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God

No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God Aimee Byrd, P&R Publishing,  2016, 288 pages.

When it comes to women's discipleship, there is no shortage of ideas. Most people have an opinion about what it is, what should be taught, and even whether it is necessary or not. There is also no shortage of material that is marketed for this purpose. Some is good but much is not very good at all. What is the average Christian woman to do?

Thankfully, Aimee Byrd has tackled this often sensitive topic in her latest book, No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of GodIf you are looking for tips on how to do women's ministry "right," there is helpful and practical advice to be gleaned, but this book is much more than that.

Part One - Pinpointing a Real Problem
Right off the bat, Aimee points out the problem of error creeping into the church through the backdoor of women's books. This is nothing new. Satan deceived Eve. Paul warned Timothy of false teachers creeping into households and leading silly or little women astray. This does not imply that women are spiritually incompetent and should be shunted to the sidelines but rather that women are targeted because they play a vital role. Thus the work of God is hampered when half the church is ill-equipped and doctrinally weak. Theology is necessary and practical for every woman. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

Part Two - Examining Our Context

In our individualistic culture, it is easy to get the idea that spiritual growth is for me, myself, and I, but what if the context is bigger than that? Aimee goes back to Genesis and unfolds the concept of the household of God. Adam and Eve were created to work together and fulfill God's mandate to keep the garden. Sin entered the world, but the mandate has not changed. Jesus commanded the disciples to preach the gospel and make disciples of all the nations. While we are members of individual households, we are part of the church universal and local. Thus for God's household to thrive and function well, every member needs to be equipped for the common mission of the whole.

Part Three - Working Toward a Solution
Drawing from Biblical examples, Aimee unpacks the idea of women being necessary allies to men in the household and mission of God. She clearly affirms male church officers, but this does not exclude sisters from admonishing, encouraging, and serving alongside brothers in the local church. We are in this together.

Part Four - Honing Our Skills
In the last section, Aimee provides guidance in how to be a better reader in general. She then gives criteria to help us discern the quality of our spiritual intake, which I previously shared here. We then have the chance to put these tools into practice with excerpts from popular books that are marketed for Christian women. There may be a few raised eyebrows at the selections, but we need to be wise in discerning truth from error even if it is a bestseller and written by a likable author. (I would personally consider bestseller status a caveat, not a recommendation.)

I've greatly benefited from Aimee's posts on the topic of women in the church, so I loved No Little Women. But what caused me to write "Amen!" all over the margins was her emphasis on the greater context of women's initiatives. I think we miss out when we believe the main source for discipleship falls outside of the the local church and apart from the ordinary means of grace. The preached Word isn't just a supplement to our spiritual nutrition but the main course. Spiritual take-out may be a treat every now and then, but God feeds His people Sunday after Sunday through faithful ministers. Throughout the book, Aimee specifically addresses pastors/elders to encourage them to take an active part in equipping the women in their congregations, which can only benefit the church in the long run. She also provides suggestions to pastors so they can better engage their female hearers and ways we can be better listeners. Also our growth in grace isn't just to fulfill our personal felt needs for spirituality. The gospel comes in and "reorients our lives now so that we live for the life to come." (pg. 194) Thus our lives have purpose in the bigger picture of the kingdom of God.

No Little Women is a great book for women and women's ministry leaders, but it's not just for us. If you are a pastor/elder or a brother who cares about the women in your church, please read this book. It provides very practical guidance but also sound biblical reasons why well-equipped women are necessary allies in the mission of God. Let's work together side by side toward that end.

I received a copy of this book from P&R Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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