Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Women's Ministry in the church!

This is a post to share my learnings and thoughts from the Women's Ministry panel at the Gospel Coalition Conference.

To get a glimpse of the breadth of wisdom represented, you can read the brief bios on the 5 women who shared on the panel at the end of this post.

The panel started by Kathleen asking each of the women to share:

1 strategy/habit that they have found helpful in women's ministry or really just in life in general.

Naturally, I took notes on what they all said:
Melissa: writing out prayers every day. She said, "In ministry, (or in life), there is information I can't share with anyone, feelings I am afraid to share, and frustrations I shouldn't share.  But God is there to hear it all.  So I write out my prayers every day and it helps me put all of these things in one place before Him."

Nancy: friends.  She said, "There is a park near my house, and I have found that walking there with some close friends who I can be real with and confess my sin to, has been something that has helped me."

Gloria: audio Bible.  She said, "Right when my kids were starting to go school, I realized I was going to have a 2 hour commute to drop them off…It wasn't the distance, but the traffic…I thought my life was over.  Then someone sent us the Bible on audio cd, as well as rich lyrics in good Christian music, and we started listening to it.  Even if the kids fell asleep or weren't paying attention, at least my mind was focused on the truth and getting me through that otherwise very frustrating situation.

Nancy Guthrie
Kathleen: memorize scripture.  She said, "When I am preparing to lead a Bible study, I try and make it a point to memorize at least one verse from the passage I am going to share.  Something happens when you memorize scripture.  All of the sudden you pay attention to the prepositions… was it "of" or was it "by" -- and therefore, you gain a deeper meaning of the verse."

Mary: rest:  "Rest in Christ's adequacy."

After these hearty introductions, Kathleen asked several questions of the panel:

Q. What is the essence of women's ministry?
- Nancy: We have to ask ourselves the question, 'What is different about Women's ministry than any other women's social gathering?  What's the distinctive?  It should be that we are dependent on the Word of God making a difference in our lives
- Gloria: We are not about making women comfortable.  We are about making them disciples.
- Melissa: The main priority is inviting women to Jesus.  Bringing them in, and then sending them out to bring more.

Q. Why is the local church crucial for the context of women's ministry?  (In other words, why not just get a group of women together and study the Bible or a Christian book on our own?)
- We (as the church) are committed to each other as a body
- We are to support each other, and support the leadership of the church, not go it alone, or outside of the local church.  Other studies outside the church are not always wrong.  They could be a positive experience, but if they take the place of meeting with the women in the church, the purpose and motives should be carefully evaluated.
- Relationships are messy- even in the church…but we are to work things out and remain committed to each other.

Q. What makes women's Bible study effective?
- For a Bible study to be effective, it starts with the leader.  It has to be transformational in the leader's life if we want it to be transformational in the other women's lives.
- We need to remember that Satan wants us to focus on what we think our greatest need is ("if we just had this one tool" or "if we just could do it this way…" etc).  This is very "us focused."
- God knows what we need, and He will give it to us - whether it is a new curriculum for women's ministry or not.  He knows our needs and provides accordingly and abundantly.

Melissa Kruger
Q. How can we pass on leadership to other women?
- step back
- If we want women learning, we want women teaching.
- We need to invite women to lead and share in the teaching, even in small ways.

Q. What makes it hard?
- spiritual warfare.
- Women are natural "share-ers" - we share everything, we share about our day, about our work, about our kids, about our family, about our shopping.  But when it comes to what we've learned in the Bible, it's hard.  Why?  Satan doesn't want us to share it.  We need to help each other share.

Q. Will the Local church become too ingrown if we are focusing on the women in the church?
- No.  Not if the primary purpose is making disciples of Jesus Christ.  Making disciples implies an outward focus and motivation.

------Bios of the ladies on the panel----

Gloria Furman- author of Glimpses of Grace: Treasure Christ when your hands are full.  She lives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates with her husband and their four children.  Her blog is:

Nancy Guthrie - speaker, author: DVD's: Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series, and books: Holding on to Hope, Hearing Jesus Speak into your Sorrow, Hoping for Something Better and several others.

Melissa Kruger - author of Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in Covetous World, and Walking with God in seasons of Motherhood - her husband Mike is the president of Reformed Theological Seminary, and they have 3 children.

Kathleen Nielson - PhD, she has lead Bible studies at several churches and speaks and writes extensively…she has written several Bible studies on specific books of the Bible, and my women's Bible study hopes to do one of them this Fall!

Mary Wilson- Associate director of Women's Initiatives at the Gospel Coalition - served in several local churches, engaged in doctoral studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

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