Women's Ministry: A Better Way

I want to dispel the myth that women’s ministry has to be relevant or biblical, but it cannot be both.  It seems that many authors, bloggers, speakers, and church leaders think that in order to attract women, their programs must be cutting edge with minimal mention of the Word of God or God Himself.  The theory is that by muffling Christianity, those who are not Christians will be more likely to attend a Christian event. 

This approach troubles me for several reasons, but I’ll list two here: 

  1. It feels disingenuous.  It feels like the leaders don’t really believe what they say in private that they believe.  If they really believe, then why do they drastically change their message for their audience?  I am not talking about toning down the Christianese so that the conversation is accessible to everyone—I am ALL FOR that.  I am talking about ignoring Jesus all together.  I’m talking about purposefully skirting around the crux of your faith so that you can carefully manage everyone’s impression of your event. 
  2. If the leaders really do believe what they say in private they believe, but they lack the courage to speak the truth plainly in the presence of non-believers, then the non-believing attendees will never hear about the leaders’ faith.  And no one will leave with new information.  What’s the point of the event in the first place? 

Those who are in Christ believe that the Bible is the Word of God. Let us not forget what it says: 

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?…Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” - Romans 10:13-14, 17

You all already know how I feel about the Belong Tour, but I am seeing this same approach in churches, books, and blogs across America.  We’ve been back in the US—where Christianity is legal and relatively accepted—for 10 months and I have been routinely dismayed by the relative lack of rich theological and Christ-centered opportunities for women.  Girlfriends, we need to crave more, seek more, write more—Jesus is not on display enough around here! 

Women’s ministry has been a deep joy of mine for 17 years.  Here are some of the things I have learned from faithful women before me on how to set the table for everyone: 

  1. The best way to get people attending a group or event is by personal invitation.  Personal relationships, hands-down, will always trump glittery events in terms of women reaching women. Sharing your life and the gospel with your neighbors is exceedingly more powerful than taking them to a 5-star event with all the right swag. 
  2. Create intimacy at your event by sharing food or coffee, starting with plenty of time for people to release whatever is going on in their lives, and make sure the hostess meets and chats meaningfully with everyone before it begins—if the event is too big, then have many hostesses play this role.  Feeling a personal connection is key. 
  3. As I said above, I am strongly in favor of toning down the Christianese.  This doesn’t mean that leaders should shy away from deep or difficult topics—pursue them, by all means.  But do so with a vocabulary and a posture of heart that seeks to serve every woman there. 
  4. I have found that women want substance and truth over feel-good messages.  They really do.  Sharing the substance of your life—which is Christ in you the Hope of Glory (Colossians1:27) if you are in Him—will go far in blessing another woman.  It doesn’t have to be weird.  But it does need to point to Jesus, His power, His supremacy, or it’s just another mortal self-help message.  Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).  Serve up what will last. 
  5. God’s word is sufficient.  God can handle Himself. You don't have to be His agent or publicist.  He’s been handling everything since before time.  He can handle the women that come to your event. 
  6. Remember how God reached you?  I bet every reader was reached through a relationship with a person who shared the Word.  Someone had to actually SAY THE GOSPEL TO YOU in order for you to believe. “Preach the Gospel always and when necessary use words” is not helpful—no one can know the Gospel without words.  Gospel means “good news”—news is a proclamation to be said, but cannot be lived.  You live in light of news, but you don’t live it (Side note: I hope to write a blog tomorrow on the importance of the actual meaning of words—have you noticed the trend of authors/speakers pouring their own meanings into traditional words?  Words everywhere are getting hijacked.). 
  7. Bring humility to the table.  The leadership must be humble. If we forget that we are also sinners in need of a Savior then our event is useless.  Our brokenness is truth too and it needs to be shared.  The women’s Bible studies that I have led over the years have included women confessing adultery, anger, addiction, abortion, and more—women have been real.  The setting must invite confession, as well as an opportunity to receive the all-powerful Grace of God. 

I could go on. But you get the idea.  Authenticity. Truth. Grace. Jesus.  We’ve all been to such events and know they are possible!  Do them too.  “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of this world, and not according to Christ.” - Colossians 2:8

My favorite place to host women's Bible study: the Upper Room at the Harbor, where we used to serve in Okinawa, Japan. (photo credit: Kristie Coia) 

My favorite place to host women's Bible study: the Upper Room at the Harbor, where we used to serve in Okinawa, Japan. (photo credit: Kristie Coia)