March 16, 2009

Women's Ministry: Part of His Story

Occasionally I receive requests on how to successfully launch a church women's ministry. Well, I'm not sure any of us know how to successfully do anything, though we are pretty good at messing things up. With all the ways the contemporary church tries to measure success, what I am confident of is that we have mastered leaving God out of the process at times. This, of course, does not mean there are no practical tips for launching or growing a women's ministry, but we need to be reminded that what we might perceive as success or failure may not be the same as what God sees. So our ministries are to be prayerfully God-centered and doctrinely sound, with a vision for glorifying God as both the purpose and goal. Ultimately, we need to remember that His story is for His glory, not our own.

What follows is some basic wisdom that comes from both research and the experience of myself and other leaders in ministry. As we all try to learn more about doing women's ministry in this 21st century context, please consider participating in a women's ministry survey at my website. Will these results yield a perfect plan for ministry? Surely not, but quite possibly we will discover some trends that can be more closely examined and praise God for all the awesome work being done through him and in him.

1. Women's ministry is vital to the life of the body. Barna has reported that 60% or more of people who attend church are women, and around 25 % of that number attend without their husbands. Many women are functionally the spiritual leaders in their homes because they are single parents, their husband is not a believer, or they are single. The importance of this cannot be over-emphasized. These women need to be equipped to understand what they believe and why, because they have a ministry and responsibility to so many others in their lives. A women's ministry that is able to come alongside and unite in purpose with a church's pastoral ministry will be able to make an impact in these women's lives.

2. Women's ministry must be cross-generational. Whatever the ethnic make-up of your church, women's ministries face what I believe is the greater challenge of how to do ministry across generations. There is no magic cure for this particular issue, but some are finding that common ground exists among most women as it relates to biblical studies rather than social events. While the mature women of the church ought to be training the young women in the things of the Lord (Titus 2), the younger women have less and less time to participate in women's ministry functions due to the demands of the era. They want to make the most of their time and many are likely to choose Bible studies and book discussion groups. The message of scripture is timeless and never goes away as a worn out fad!

3. Be deliberate about the youth and college aged women. The women in the congregation with a greater propensity to be influenced by the whims and philosophies of our culture are women between the ages of 15 and 25. This is where youth and college ministry must meet women's ministry, and relational and educational opportunities must be developed to minister to this age group.

4. Teach. Women's ministry leaders need to model for women not only how to properly interpret and apply scripture, but that the process is to be sought after and enjoyed. While our faith ought to be lived in community, understanding it is a also a matter of personal responsibility.

5. Pastors must be involved in women's ministry. Teaching materials and other resources must be held to a standard as high as what is preached by the pastor on Sunday morning. Typically, this is the case with church Sunday School materials. Because Christian publishers and resellers understand female buying power, and they also know the church population statistics, women are a target market for all kinds of resources, An example of why this is important is the controversy over a popular women's bible teacher several years ago whose theology was not closely examined until she had staked a claim in thousands of evangelical churches with her message of godly eating. The fact that she rejected the deity of Christ did not become an issue until a few years into her ministry because no one had taken the time to closely examine her beliefs up until that point. As a result, many woman and their families have abandoned biblical Christianity to join the church this woman currently leads.

No comments: