On Preaching (To Women)

This post is a sort of public critique of myself based on books I’m reading: I need to preach to the women in the congregation too!

This just hit me as I studied the Exodus sections where it says that Yahweh gave both men and women hakam(wisdom) to construct the tabernacle.  It is easy for me to focus on Moses, Aaron, the Priests, Bezalel, and such but to forget the midwives, Miriam, and the Spirit-filled-wise women who helped build the tabernacle.  It is easy for me to preach about Timothy, but I forget about his grandmother and mother.  It is easy for me to preach about Stephen, but I often forget Phoebe.  I preach on Lazarus, but forget Mary Magdalene.  In other words, I can preach about Christ’s work from Moses, Aaron, Bezalel, Timothy, and Lazarus, but due to my insufficiency/ignorance I haven’t done the same with the Miriam’s and Deborah’s and Phoebe’s of the Bible.

This also hit me when skimming through Jeram Barrs’ Through His Eyes (about which I posted earlier) and Lydia Brownback’s Legacy of Faith: From Women of the Bible to Women of Today, which have been great investments for me.  I need a few more of these types of books to use in reference for sermon prep (and teaching prep).  Here are a few that I’m looking into.  I also have enjoyed the stuff CCEF puts out by/for/about women.

Anyway, in summary, this Exodus reading along with Barrs and Brownback’s contributions have reminded me to address the women directly in preaching and teaching (and perhaps more on this blog).  Let me also encourage women to write and assist pastors like me who need tons of help preaching to and teaching women!  Feel free, anyone, to email or comment about blogs or websites along these lines that you’ve found helpful.  (Thanks again to Stephen for pointing out Tara Barthel a few days back.)

EDIT: let me clarify here – I’m mostly talking about application in the sermon, in case you were wondering.

shane lems

sunnyside, wa

4 thoughts on “On Preaching (To Women)”

  1. Charles: I preach straight through books of the Bible. I suppose I didn’t mention that clearly. Go ahead and expand on your comment, if you wish.



  2. Hi Shane,

    Sorry about the misunderstanding.

    If you are talking primarily about application, particularly from narrative, then I think that the place to begin would be to read the narrative where women are present closely. There are at least two problems with drawing applications from characters (male or female) in narratives. First, there is the problem of oversimplification. That is applying a character by simply saying “Be like David and slay your own giant.” The problem is that I think it unlikely that this is the primary point of 1 Samuel 17. Second, there is the problem overemphasis. In this case, one can make a major application from a minor character in the narrative in a way which distorts the narrative. For example, although the concubine makes a major “sacrifice” in the narrative in Judges 19, she is a minor, or flat character, in the story. Therefore, to make a major application based on her character would probably be less helpful. On the other hand, Deborah is clearly the main human character in Judges 4–5. Applications related to Deborah would thus be quite appropriate. So back to the point of my original response, when you are preaching expositionally through a book, emphasize women where women are emphasized. At the point of application I think the concerns of the text should be primary and not the concerns of men, women, children, married, singles, etc. So while I think from a communication or packaging standpoint it might be helpful to ask, how will this come across to the women in my congregation, such concerns are secondary not primary.


  3. Thanks, Charles – I think we’re on the same page here. My post had to do with the “secondary” concerns you mentioned, though we stated it in different terms (your terms perhaps are clearer). Anyway, I suppose the “secondary” point I was trying to make is as you say: “how will this come across to the women” in the congregation?

    Thanks again,


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