SEBTS hosts first Ministry to Women layered hybrid featuring Jen Wilkin, Nancy Guthrie and Kelly King
Lauren Pratt | November 11, 2019
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (SEBTS) Master of Arts in ministry to women (MAMW) made an idea a reality as women gathered together for the program’s first layered hybrid intensive on Oct. 2-6.
“My desire for our Ministry to Women intensive week is to expose our students to faithful women who serve the church through Bible exposition and godly leadership, as well as to pastors who view women as co-laborers in doing the work of the Great Commission,” said Julia Higgins, associate dean of graduate program administration and associate professor of ministry to women.
On Oct. 3, women participated in Bible Exposition for Ministry to Women taught by Jen Wilkin, who serves as director of classes and curriculum at The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. Wilkin told students how from an early age God cultivated in her a love for teaching. She received her bachelor’s degree in English and communication and then an MBA in five years and thought she would go into business as it seemed more viable than a teaching career. However, the Lord gradually redirected her plans and allowed her to use her gift of teaching to serve the churches of which she was a part. She recalled watching a Beth Moore Bible study and thinking, “I didn’t know I could do that. I did not know that was an option.”
Wilkin saw the need for churches to have women’s ministries that did more than have pseudo-Bible studies. She wanted to give women the tools they needed to study the Bible for themselves.
“When we call something a Bible study, and what’s happening in there has little to nothing to do with studying the Bible, we are not just not teaching our women the Bible; we are telling them they are learning it when they’re not.”
Wilkin, author of “In His Image” and “None Like Him,” highlighted the importance of teaching women to see the communicable and incommunicable attributes of God. The communicable attributes speak of God’s characteristics that can be seen in his image-bearers while the incommunicable attributes of God focus on characteristics that belong solely to God.
Wilkin also participated in a panel discussion during chapel with SEBTS President Danny Akin and Keith Whitfield, dean of graduate studies and vice president for academic administration at SEBTS as part of Southeastern’s “Casual Conversations” chapel series. The Casual Conversations are wide-ranging in their topics and more conversational in tone than a typical chapel service. In this conversation, they discussed topics ranging from lesson preparation, how women’s roles in the church are vital to the congregation’s overall health and how God led Wilkin to begin serving in women’s ministry.
One of the biggest challenges to developing female leader in the local church, said Wilkin, comes with the “misunderstanding that the gifts that God gives to women are nice but not necessary. God does not give needless gifts, so if a woman has the gift of teaching and she’s in your church and there’s nowhere to utilize it, that is a wastefulness the church cannot afford.”
Bible teachers need to put considerable thought into their lesson preparation and vocal delivery as the two are equally important in teaching God’s Word to others. Wilkin discussed these topics and how to best implement these practices during the afternoon session of Bible Exposition on Thursday.
Thursday evening concluded with a dinner featuring a panel with Dean and Krissie Inserra, Micah and Tracy Fries, Keith Whitfield and Julia Higgins. The Inserras are the pastor and pastor’s wife at City Church in Tallahassee, Florida, and the Fries are the pastor and pastor’s wife at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
On Oct. 5, students taking Biblical Theology of Womanhood heard from author and Bible study teacher Nancy Guthrie. Guthrie gave a comprehensive study on the grand narrative of Scripture. She explained that the sequence of events in Scripture better inform the reader’s comprehension of the biblical narrative. Likewise, the themes in Scripture provide a lens into the author’s original intent.
Guthrie spent a significant portion of her morning session looking at the theme of “kingdom” in the Bible. The theme of kingdom is seen from creation to redemption as God establishes his kingship over creation in Genesis and will one day bring all things on earth back under his rule in Revelation. Nineteen other themes exist throughout books of the Bible, which ultimately point people to love and long for Jesus, she explained. Some of these themes include blessing and curses, salvation and judgment and priest and priesthood.
“What I learn from studying these themes over and over is that they show me how essential Jesus is,” said Guthrie, explaining that the biblical narrative points people to Christ.
On Sunday morning, students also heard teaching from Kelly King, women’s ministry specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources. King taught the women in attendance the essentials for building a healthy team, including women who are servant-hearted, visionary and evangelistic. Along with building teams to reach women, it is vital to develop and call out leaders from among these teams. Prayer and seeking out the “unlikely” are a couple of key considerations to this process of finding team leaders.
Investing in the next generation is another critical aspect of women’s ministry, and this includes various types of mentorship. Mentorship can take on many forms, King noted, such as a teacher, discipler or counselor. Women can be mentored through more non-traditional ways like reading biographies and through divine appointments with other believers who provide godly wisdom.
Students participating in Biblical Theology of Womanhood also attended a Sunday morning service at The Summit Church and heard a message from pastor and president of the Southern Baptist Convention J.D. Greear.
“A number of students expressed how meaningful it was to learn from leaders in the field of women’s ministry, and for the opportunity to do so in a hybrid format that allows them to get their degree without having to move to Wake Forest,” said Higgins. “We are already looking forward to fall 2020 and the speakers who will join us to teach about various foundations for ministry to women and how to counsel women well.”
SEBTS offers a number of other degrees in the area of ministry to women, including the MAMW and biblical counseling, Th.M. program and D.Min.in ministry to women. For more information about Southeastern’s degree programs, visit sebts.edu/academics.