Building Your Women’s Ministry in a Small Church
Kelley Mathew & Sue Edward
Women’s ministry seeks to transform women into mature, productive, joyful daughters of the King. For a woman to be transformed, she must have opportunities to see how God can use her. She must know her gifts and step out in faith expecting God to work through her. When she does, she experiences profound pleasure and usually surprise.
The feelings we experience when God works through us to teach and minister to women can’t be described – only experienced. God wants every believer to know that joy! God expects leaders to offer multiple opportunities for women to serve.
Offer multiple levels of opportunity in any size ministry
1. Entry-level opportunities
In churches of all sizes, new believers and newcomers need entry-level opportunities to serve. These jobs will not sink your ministry if neglected. They don’t require training, maturity, or expertise. Divide your ministry tasks in such a way that even new believers and women without experience can participate.
Why? These positions offer women a chance to show you who they are and what they can do. They are nurtured by trained coordinators who will shepherd and instruct them so that they will enjoy themselves and grow from their experience. And from these entry-level opportunities will bubble up women with leadership gifts. Women will emerge who are diligent, punctual, gifted, and personable. You will identify those who work well with others, those you can count on, and those who love people. One day, these women will lead the ministry. One day, one of them will sit where you sit.
2. Middle Management Positions
Once you have identified a woman who works well on a team and has the attitudes and gifts for overseeing others, give her a chance. For example, if you chair an event, let her be your registration coordinator. Find a woman with computer expertise and the gift of administration. Let her register women and oversee making nametags. See how well she delegates. She might replace the coordinator next year.
3. Major Leadership Roles
The coordinator oversees the major facets of your ministry. She usually emerges by serving first at the entry and support levels. She may be young in years but is spiritually mature, well grounded, and shows promise. She works well in a team and is passionate about her ministry. She knows that her work is more than accomplishing a task, putting on an event, or serving in a support capacity.
To transform women of all generations, we must embrace them one by one. You don’t have enough arms or enough time to do that alone. Refusing to work with others is often a sign that you fear losing control. Women’s ministry is messy. It has been compared to herding cats! You may fear the conflict that might erupt when women work together. Maybe you’ve had a negative experience in the past and it is coloring your perspective. Maybe you think you can do it better yourself. But transforming women requires multiple arms, hearts, and minds – and it’s a lot more fun!
Structure in small churches
Since the majority of churches in America average less than 200 members, most women’s ministries won’t need a large leadership team. But you will need a team. Guard against the tendency to do it all yourself because it is more expedient. However few women you have, a transforming women’s ministry model provides them opportunities to get involved and to develop their own potential for leadership in God’s family.
A small church can have a women’s ministry with active participants numbering from five to fifty-five. Your numbers will affect the size of your leadership team. Hopefully your church leadership has provided the women with a director on staff. Whether she is paid or volunteer, a director cannot lead a ministry without a team. She should gather around her at least three leaders who jointly guide the ministry while dividing major responsibilities among themselves.
The women’s director might begin by delegating some Bible study responsibilities. She may recruit a teacher for the evening Bible study, a worship leader, someone to oversee childcare for the morning study, and someone to do hospitality. It is in the director’s best interest to allot as much of the detail work as possible to other women. In doing so, she creates a sense of ownership and excitement in them as they serve their fellow women.
The second team leader – let’s call her the administrator – might manage the finances, publicity, annual retreat, and various other tasks. With so many day-to-day responsibilities, the administrator is in a perfect position to form a small sub-team.
She might find someone who understands computer graphics to help with publicity. She definitely wants to recruit a retreat coordinator, hopefully someone who has experience with past retreats. Socials, prayer functions, special events – all of these require detailed oversight, and one person cannot perform those duties without help.
The third leader can serve as a shepherd to the women. This means practical as well as spiritual help: discipleship, following up with the hurting or visiting or needy, arranging visits to the sick and meals for new moms. This leader builds relationships through the Bible study ministry so that she can more accurately assess where the women are spiritually. It can be a very pastoral role.
Each church has its unique dynamic. Be flexible, pray constantly, and work together. Experiment with the details, but establish a leadership team to ground your ministry. You’ll have a lot more fun, and more women will grow in Christ as a result!
Kelley Mathew, Th.M. (Dallas Theological Seminary), married and blessed with three young children, spends her spare time freelancing as a writer and editor. She served several years as the Women’s Ministry Director at Rowlett Bible Fellowship.
This article “Building Your Women’s Ministry in a Small Church” by Kelley Mathew & Sue Edward is an adaptation from the authors’ book, New Doors in Ministry to Women, Kregel, 2002. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”