Identity in Christ as Disciples
First, church elders must equip the older women to teach the young women about their identity in Christ as disciples. Foundationally, young women need to develop an understanding of all that is eternally true and significant of their identity because of the person and work of Jesus Christ. As adopted children of God and full heirs with Christ, there are abundant promises in Scripture that are true regardless of any season of life women will pass through.
Young women must be taught how to love God with everything they have, and to love and serve others. They must be trained in the spiritual disciplines so they can know God and understand who He has created them to be. Of prime importance is a love for the Scriptures. “We must help women develop a strong interest in Bible study. For a woman to be rightly related to God, her husband, children, and others, she must get into the Word.”
In addition, young women must develop a biblical understanding of prayer and how to practice it continually. They should be trained in additional spiritual disciplines, the importance of fellowship and hospitality, spiritual gifts and servanthood, as well as evangelism and discipleship of others.
Identity in Christ as Women
Second, church elders must equip the older women to teach the young women about their identity in Christ as women. A biblical theology of womanhood is foundational to the discipleship of young women. Throughout God’s Word, there is a consistent pattern of role distinctions for men and women.
Both male and female were created in the image of God, with ontological equality and functional difference. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26a). Within the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are equal in their divine nature, yet distinct in their personhood and function. Likewise, male and female share ontological equality, yet functional difference. At creation, man and woman were given distinct roles: man was created to work and keep the garden, and he was entrusted with the law (Gen. 2:15-16), while woman was created as a suitable helper to be in relationship with man and to assist by supporting him in his responsibilities (Gen. 2:18-23).
The Bible teaches that men and women are equal image-bearers and equal recipients of salvation through Christ, but have distinct roles in their relationships in the home and church. Scripture demonstrates that in both the home and the church, men are to practice Christ-like headship as they lead, while women are to practice Christ-like submission as they help and support.
Within the home, young women must be taught about the marriage relationship and how it was intended to reflect Christ and the Church, according to Ephesians 5:21-33. There are many practical implications of these biblical exhortations. Rainey explained the importance of ministering to newlyweds: “The habits and disciplines formed in these early years will determine what the marriage will become. Patterns of communicating, dealing with conflict, and handling money are all hammered out during this critical period.” He further identified six major areas where newlyweds need help: (1) their walk with God; (2) an outside mentoring relationship; (3) biblical instruction; (4) accountability; (5) communication skills; and (6) assistance with in-laws. Young women must be taught both the biblical and practical priorities of marriage.
In addition, an essential aspect of womanhood is to embrace the joy of homemaking. Older women can instruct and encourage the young women to prioritize the work of the home according to Titus 2:5. Mabery-Foster identified, “many young women today don’t know some of the basic skills necessary to accomplish simple tasks in their homes.” Older women have the life experience to share with the next generation practical ways to manage and care for the home.
Identity in Christ as Mothers
Third, church elders must equip the older women to teach the young women about their identity in Christ as mothers. A biblical theology of motherhood is foundational to the discipleship of young women. Like womanhood, motherhood is presented throughout Scripture as a beautiful gift of God to women. Motherhood was distorted by sin, but remains an essential aspect of salvation history and of womanhood.
James M. Hamilton Jr. provided an extremely helpful resource, “A Biblical Theology of Motherhood.” He explained how motherhood is essential, right from the point of creation, for humanity to fill, subdue, and rule the earth. Hamilton argued, “If the woman does not become a mother, the serpent will not have his head crushed. God’s justice against the woman, pain in childbearing (Gen 3:16), makes triumph difficult but not impossible. Motherhood makes the world’s salvation possible. Indeed, the world’s salvation will only come through motherhood.” That God chose motherhood to fulfil His purpose for humanity and salvation through Christ is an amazing and humbling truth that older women can use to encourage the young women in embracing their roles.
In summary, in order to effectively minister to young women through the local church, elders should train the older women in three major areas: (1) Identity in Christ as Disciples; (2) Identity in Christ as Women; and (3) Identity in Christ as Mothers. According to Titus 2:3-5, the older women are to teach and encourage the young women in these three areas of emphasis. There are practical ways that elders can equip the older women to teach the young women in three types of settings: large groups, small groups, and one-to-one ministry.
Mabery-Foster, Women and the Church, 210.