I get asked all the time about what aspects of ministry can be improved in Reformed denominations in America (e.g., PCA, ARP, EPC, OPC). While there are many answers to that question, there is one that stands out: more Reformed churches need to include staff positions for women’s ministry. While the public preaching of the Word, done by ordained ministers, will always be the core ministry of any church, there are many other critical ministries that should not be ignored. And women’s ministry is one of them.
Paul explicitly gives the command that certain women in the church are to “teach what is good, and so train the young women” (Titus 2:3-4). Although a formal staff position is not necessary to carry out this command, churches with the resources to do so ought to give it serious consideration. Churches have staff positions for children, youth, music, and more. And there is nothing in appropriate about this. But, I would argue women’s ministry, based on Paul’s on exhortation, should be a high priority.
For this reason, I am pleased that this installment of the Where Are They Now? alumni series highlights Alyson Averitt (class of 2005), who is serving Christ in women’s ministry at Providence PCA in Dallas, TX. We at RTS Charlotte hope to send out many more women like Alyson into women’s ministry.
1. What are you currently doing?
I am the Women’s Ministry Coordinator for Providence Presbyterian Church, a PCA church in Dallas, Texas. In that role, I am blessed to be able to teach Bible study, meet with women, and participate in the overall ministry of the church.
2. Why did you originally come to RTS Charlotte?
I came to RTS-Charlotte because of its deep commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture, to being biblically balanced in its doctrine, to being winsomely Reformed, and to fostering in students a deep love for the Lord.
3. Is there one thing that you learned at RTS that has come back to you as you have ministered to others? A phrase, encouragement or advice?
Definitely—it’s hard to narrow them down! When teaching and reading the Bible, I am always recalling Dr. Cara’s phrase, “Be balanced as the Bible is balanced!” It can be such a temptation in teaching to harp on a pet-peeve or take a new and exciting spin on something. But, it has been such a help to me to remember that we are called to simply be balanced in our teaching—balanced as the Bible is balanced.
An encouragement to me that I have shared with others many times is a quote that Dr. Kelly shared in his “Theology of the Puritans” class. He quoted Samuel Rutherford’s “Come all crosses, welcome, welcome so I may get my heart full of my Lord Jesus,” as he encouraged us and spoke of his own experience of the nearness of Christ in the midst of dark trials. It had such an impact on me. That phrase has brought me great hope in the midst of many a trial or ministry struggle and has encouraged me to press on so that I may get my heart full of my Lord Jesus.
4. What do you enjoy most about your current ministry?
I love the simple privilege of sharing the Word of God, both through teaching and meeting with women, and watching the Lord work. It is truly awe-inspiring and faith-bolstering to get to see up-close the way that God’s Word changes lives, encourages people, and gives hope.
5. What has been a struggle in your ministry?
Experiencing that the Lord, and the Lord alone, controls the effectiveness of His Word in each situation has been a surprising struggle. I was prepared mentally to speak truth and to trust the Lord with the outcome, but I was not prepared emotionally for how heart-breaking it is when people that you love do not respond to the Word. I think I had the expectation going into ministry that if people simply see the truth, they will love it, long for it, and be changed by it. Sometimes that is true, and sometimes it’s not. When it is not, it is very painful. It has caused me to struggle honestly and deeply with my own inadequacies as a teacher and encourager. But it has also reminded me again and again that the Lord is in control in every situation and that I must trust Him. That struggle has drawn me nearer to the Lord as I learn to trust His heart even in times when I don’t understand His ways.
6. If you could give any encouragement to a current student in seminary, what would it be?
It is so easy to become numb to the blessing of seminary while you are in the midst of it. It can be tempting to think of it as a hoop to jump through or a box to check in order to be able to do ministry. But, it is such an extraordinary time of preparation! Due to life circumstances and the varied pressures and responsibilities of your future ministry, you will likely never again have this kind of time to really delve into the Scriptures and chase down all of your questions. Spend time with those gracious RTS professors and glean all you can from them. Take the time to really think through the implications of what you are learning and ask questions, questions and more questions. Purpose to use what you are learning to truly grow in the Lord by being constant in prayer as you learn. Standing on the other side, I so often long to go back and pursue more deeply all of the blessings that were available to me during that time. Squeeze every last drop out of each opportunity—you will truly reap the fruit of your seminary efforts in your future ministry.