Last November at the LifeWay Women’s Leadership Forum I had the privilege to do a short video on the changes I’ve seen over the 40+ years of working with women in and through local church. Two aspects have changed greatly, as I mention in that video: fixed structure versus organic (continually evolving) ministry and events versus Bible study as the main focus.
Structure: When I first began working with women in the church, we focused on how to structure a multifaceted ministry to reach various generations, life stages, and experiences of women. We had big org charts that showed who led the ministry. Then the next level showed leaders who focused on a specific area of ministry. Then we included who served on the teams under those leaders. It was effective and we worked long and hard as we prayed for direction from the Lord on how to put it all together.
Once we finally got everyone and every ministry in place, it often didn’t change for years. And, the thing is, IT WORKED! But, the world has changed since then. No longer do things stay the same for long periods of time, in the culture or the church. More flexible ministry had to be developed that could change much more quickly.
Even in my own church, where I serve on the women’s servant leadership team, is in constant change. Our women’s minister asks us often to reevaluate and ask how we can reach more women. Just because we’ve done a particular event or aspect to the ministry is no guarantee we will do it in the future.
There is NOTHING wrong with an organizational chart. We need to know who is on what team and what their focus is. But we must not set it in cement and focus more on the structure than we do on the movement of the Holy Spirit. The way we do ministry is constantly evolving to reach women in a continually changing world.
Events: Many years ago the biggest event of the year for many women’s ministries was the “event”. A banquet, conference or retreat. The purpose was to use this to draw as many women from our church, other churches and the community into a time of worship and learning. Often we did not try to link it back to more ongoing ministry. Success was often assessed by the attendance number.
Over time, we have seen that discipleship is the heart of the church and of the ministry to women. Discipleship that is not Bible focused is not really discipleship. We cannot grow more Christlike unless we KNOW Christ! We know Christ by looking at the Word of God. Events are great entry points for women inside and outside the church but they must link back to the study of the Word and to ongoing discipleship.
4 Things to Consider
- Am I sticking to the plan even though the Holy Spirit is saying…”do it differently”?
- Where am I seeing God at work in our women that we have not begun to even pray about.
- Do we do events mainly because we do them every year?
- How can we use an event to link to discipling women through the study and application of God’s Word to daily life?