Developing Your Women’s Ministry
Last month, I wrote an article about Why I Don’t Do Women’s Ministry. It sparked quite a conversation. Obviously, women have some strong feelings and opinions on how to do women’s ministry – and about their experiences in women’s ministry programs.
This conversation was so lively and challenging, I knew I had to write a follow-up post in the hope that it will generate some ideas for how we might make women’s ministries more effective.
Mostly, I’d like to hear your ideas. But in order to get this conversation started, let me share a few of my own:
1. Recognize that women are not all the same. Those who are called to women’s ministry have their work cut out for them. It’s not an easy job to minister to such a diverse group of people. But anyone who wants to appeal to women in general must recognize that women come in many different shapes and must create programs that appeal to more than one type. This is the same for any demographic group in the church, but perhaps most of all for women. Our lifestyles, circumstances, and preferences are so diverse. Not everything has to appeal to every woman – but if NOTHING about a church’s women’s ministry program appeals to a particular woman, she’ll quickly get the message that she’s not OK and not wanted.
2. Respect women’s intellectual abilities. Too often, we seem to buy into the world’s lie that we are purely emotional beings, at the whim of fantasy and hormones, and not smart enough to go deep. God created us to feel and to think. Our souls hunger not only for the presence of God, but also for knowledge of his truth. Ministries that focus only on women’s emotional needs or that stay on a shallow level are doing a disservice to their women and to the larger body of Christ. And they’re failing to reach many women, who will never be engaged by a ministry that does not challenge their intellect.
3. Recognize that women are not just wives and mothers. Women aren’t required to fill these roles in order to see God’s purpose for their lives. I’m both a wife and a mother, but if I were neither, God’s calling on my life would not go away. It’s pointless to ignore the importance of these roles in the lives of many women, but we must acknowledge that women are unmarried, childless, divorced, single, struggling with infertility, focused on their careers, and everything in between. They’re all important to God, and none of them should have the impression that God’s plans don’t include them.
4. Make it safe to talk about real life. In my experience, most topics are off the “approved” list at women’s ministry gatherings. This is a systemic problem in many churches, so I don’t think it’s fair to blame it on women’s ministries. But if a women’s ministry program were able to make it safe to talk honestly and biblically about our experiences with spiritual doubt, depression, injustice, loneliness, temptation, abuse, regrets, sex, career success, insecurities, need to achieve, perfectionism, financial worries, sexual harassment, boredom, anxiety, exhaustion, great books, compulsive eating, addictions, and things that keep us awake at night, that ministry would produce some powerful life change.
5. Affirm real women. We should not walk out feeling worse about our potential in Christ than we did when we walked in. Many women feel torn down and devalued by the church – simply because they are women or they are the sort of women God has made them to be. And while some have commented that I seem to be whining about my own experiences, or feeling sorry for myself, I’m actually not too worried about myself. My commitment to Christ and to the church is intact and independent of what I experience in women’s ministry. I am truly concerned about those women who have written off the church, and by association Christ, because of what they have heard the church telling them about their own worth. Any women’s ministry program must everyday women feel like they belong.
6. Challenge women. Besides the nursery, women’s ministry may be the only place where many of our ministries seem designed only to make us comfortable.
I realize these ideas aren’t very specific. So here are a couple more specific thoughts:
* I belonged to one church that had a sports ministry for women.
* In a response to an earlier comment, someone mentioned a book club.
* How about get-togethers that don’t require mothers to leave their children behind? Moms who work outside their homes aren’t looking for more time away from their kids, so they might be more likely to attend events that welcome their children.
* How about helping women to form intentional mentoring relationships with each other? Many women are looking for mentors but don’t know how to ask for one, get started, or keep it going.
* Hold a lunchtime Bible study for women who work outside their homes, in a location convenient to their work.
* Ask women to share their stories, or to teach each other about something they’re passionate about.
* Get women together to do some powerful service in your community – and welcome families to participate as well.
* What if interested women ran a business together and used the proceeds to help other women get on their feet?
So how about your ideas? How can we do women’s ministry differently to appeal to wider audience of women? What have you seen work well? What do you wish more churches would do in their ministries to women?
Ideas Shared by Others
It is encouraging to see how God stirs hearts and minds of people who have never spoken, have different stories, yet the same burden. Last night I wrote about the “missing women” in the church on my personal blog. If anything, it encourages me to pray…for courageous women (and men) to step forward with determination and resolve to break down some barriers.
My heart is burdened for a particular age group of women…the 20s and early 30s group, who tend to get isolated because of the situations you accurately exposed. I think it’s so important for the older group of women to empower and encourage younger women to step outside of ‘normal’ ministry roles as well as to participate in activities, dialogue and discussions that perhaps are ‘non-traditional.’
So often in the church doing things the way they’ve always been done can be so prohibiting to unity, that it doesn’t surprise me that effective ‘outreach’ (i.e., building relationships) is so stunted in particular areas…especially as it relates to women’s ministry and women involved in ministry.
We have a lot of fun ideas circulating at our church where we have a strong contingent of newlyweds who are excited about just being together and inviting ‘non-church’ friends. But I think to me, the most important thing is to pray as God continues to stir hearts about this subject that women and men will be inspired to take courageous steps forward with grace and open ears. Thanks for continuing the dialogue!
I loved this article and all the comments that are posted so far. I have also found it difficult to find my place in Women’s Ministry at churches I’ve attended in the past. One day I had an idea to ask a group of new moms & thier kids to my house and enjoy each other’s company. I felt such a need to connect with other women. I encourage you to step out when you have an idea or see a need in your community. You never know what God will do with the little you think you can give. I really love my group of ladies that still meet two years later, we “do life” together! I took the idea of connecting with other moms even further and started a monthly newsletter. A couple of good friends joined me in the effort and we now have a wonderful ministry called Mom’s Moments – www.momsmoments.ca! And so I am constantly reminded that women NEED to connect, and in order to do this we must feel comfortable with each other and get to know one another. Ideas catch on – my church fully embraces all my initiatives – women are so different, and it’s important to have either a variety of options for connecting, or forums that would allow for just about anyone, any age or background, to feel like they’re part of the group. It’s also important to remember that usually we’re trying to meet each other’s needs, even if we fall short, our intentions are usually good. So keep trying!
Story Telling Works!
You asked for ideas. Sharing our stories is a great way of learning/connecting and can give each other hope. So we want to provide a place for women to share their story. Each month, we select a different woman (range of age/circumstance/etc) to share her story.
We’ve done story-telling and refreshments for a few years, now this year we’ve revamped it by surrounding the story with art and music. Also, new this year, is the plans for ongoing conversations to happen … if any women are interested in connecting more concerning the topic(s) brought to the surface by the story, we’ll provide any support they need to continue meeting together.
This revamped event is called iHope.
iHope is one woman telling her story in a setting of creative beauty with ongoing connections with other women that are walking on a similar path.
Women’s Ministry Tea
As I was researching ideas for our women’s tea ministry, I stumbled upon your article. Excellent idea by the way. I am a pastor and I would like to say that I appreciate everyone’s honesty and concerns. During my six years of pastoring I have met and ministered to many different women of all ages. One thing that I have found to be true no matter where they are in their walk with the Lord, they (we) all have one thing in common: we want to be loved and accepted, no matter what. I do my best as a Christian woman and pastor to treat everyone the same and try to make all of the women of our church feel accepted. I have found that for our diverse group of women that they seem to show a great deal of interest in our tea ministry. It is not at all Victorian, it is simply a very relaxed atmosphere, casual dress, with some exciting games that get all of the women talking and laughing. Mixed in the fun, I minister very briefly what the Lord has given me for that event. They take with them great memories infused with a spiritual touch that they can relate to and apply to their everyday life, again, no matter what age they may be. Also, one thing I have learned over the years, is to not be too serious, sometimes as ministers we have such a passion that we think everyone should be just like us and if their not, we don’t associate with them… look at the life of Jesus…how did He treat others? Always with acceptance, love and mercy…He was “touched with the feelings of their infirmities” which means He was sensitive to everyone’s needs and ministered to them right where they were in their life…It was His love for them that led them to want to follow Him. “And these three remain, faith, hope and love…but the greatest of these IS Love”
Reaching Unchurched Women
As all of us can summarize a little with what the majority of the women are saying, “we need one another”, “we search for fellowship” and “we search for meaningful meetings” not religious ones.
One of the things that has been effective in our ministry (have pastored for 27 years, alongside my husband) is what we call “Women’s Coffee Talk”. We meet once a month and we invite any woman who wishes to come from the community. In most cases, the majority of the women are “unchurched” or women who have a home church that does not provide such a ministry. Basically what we do is we serve coffee and pastry, we play games, give out door prizes and we conclude with a short presentation about a topic that deals with women’s issues.Topics that deal from parenting, spouses’ relationships to health, education, etc. We have a great time and we learn something that we can apply to our every day life, because, after all, that’s what being a believer is all about – Applying God’s truth in our daily living as mothers, wives, neighbors, etc. It is also a witnessing too, because unchurched women may not want to come to a Sunday service or weekly Bible study, but they will come to a fellowship.
Topic For Discussion
I host a women ministry at my church and have been a pastor alongside my husband for the last
10 years. I would like to say I have enjoyed reading the post/comments. I was looking for some fresh ideals when I came across this site. I wanted to share a list of topics we have discussed during our women’s meeting.
We would meet at a 7:00 -8:00 pm @ Starbucks, or a small cafe open with pray have coffee do a introduction and then discuss one of the topic in a very relative manner. For example, I wrote a book title “Its Your Life Take Authority” I would start by asking the question in what areas in your life have you allowed situations and problems to have authority over your life. What about the struggles of loneliness or issues with your marriage or even with your children or finances. We learn how to NOT allow the problems we face take us away from God but instead we take authority over them. Taking authority is about handling everyday issues God’s way
We learn how to develop a relationship with God that is lasting without allowing the situations we face bring us to a backsliding state. I believe many women today that are in my church want to feel love and accepted. They want to belong not just to God but also to something that says I can relate to that. Therefore the key to a successful women’s ministry is to keep it relevant allow each women to contribute to the growth and success of the ministry because truly it is for the WOMEN.For example, allow them to pick the venue, or suggest they rotate the hosting of the women ministry at their home or have a different person bring the treats at each meeting. Just a few ideals pray they help. Pastor Hood
How to Have a Disciplined Life
How to Live as Godly Women
Biblical View on Money
Dealing with Issues in the Work Place
Seeds of Shame Where it Began
How to Deal with Shame as an Adult
Get Over It
Is There Any Hope?
Being Single and Happy
I’m Single and I Want to Live Saved
The Enemy’s Plan for Single Women
I’m a Single Woman With a Taunted Past
Counteracting Satan’s Attack on Single Women
I’m Saved But How Do I Stay Committed
A Woman After God’s Own Heart
Quiet Time With God
The Downfall of Pride
The Power of Prayer
Father, Why Must I Obey
Developing Godly Character/Healthy Relationship With God
Knowing the Voice of God
Effective Ways of Seeking God
Do You Know the Holy Spirit?
Why Wailing is Important
Knowing the Voice of God
Renewing Your Mind
Let’s Talk About Sex
I’m Masturbating and How Can I stop
God’s Original Plan for Sex
Satan’s Fiery Dart Called Sex
Overcoming Sexual Abuse
Leaders In Fellowship Together
In the Phoenix, Arizona area we have an organization called LIFT — Leaders in Fellowship Together, www.liftaz.org Almost 100 leaders in women’s ministry meet monthly to network, share ideas, speaker referrals, what’s happening at their church, what works, what doesn’t so well, transitions, generational differences, training, etc. We benefit from other’s experiences. We invite each other to our churches events. We share resources, including video Bible studies. I’ve also found great help at www.lifeway.com for books and ideas, including downloadable training sessions. www.group.com has good books, too, full of ideas for meetings. Mostly I feel a leader should pray and depend on the Holy Spirit for His direction for her specific group of women. Sometimes He uses others, though, to spark a thought. I had a series of 25 “Tea for Ten” meetings in my home in one year when I began our WM. Groups were small enough to get to know each other, and I could quiz ladies on what they wanted, get insight into what their spiritual gifts might be so I could call on them later for help.
Wonderful to see this post has been running for 3 years! I have enjoyed reading all the posts.
I have been on our Women’s ministry team for over 3 years and for a better part of 2 years have felt the pressure from those older than me to “do things the way it’s always been done”. I have struggled in my spirit about this way of thinking and know that God designed this women to be an “out side of the box” thinker. With much resistance and even caddy conduct from my fellow women’s group. I had wrestled with the thought of just stepping down because the pressure of being part of this group and seeing the personalities of some of these ladies made me deeply saddened. With tons and tons of pray, journaling and guidance from friends, I pressed on and held on tight to the confidence that I know Christ is the one driving this vessel. All my efforts are not in vein and I will not give in to the power that ultimately was trying to drive me away. I know now that before all planning, preparing and discussing happens, I take it to God and allow him to weed out all that I do for the ladies at our church.
Last summer that I heard someone say, “if all our efforts, resources and events do is reach the heart of one person, then we have done exactly what God has placed us here to do”. Our pastor every once in a while will remind us that Church is not about the 3 B’s (bodies, buildings and bucks). It’s not the numbers that we should be seeking out but rather that lives that will be touched as a result of our obedience to Him. God’s love for all mankind is obvious. He desires the heart to be changed. For each and every person regardless of their past to know a freedom like no other through Christ. Gods blessed our bible study group which has tripled in size in the past 2 years. However, our outreach ministry is desperately lacking. God placed it on my heart to provide an entryway where all ladies, young, old, mothers, childless, believers, unbelievers and all the other people who are out there among us desperate and lonely for solid, genuine connections with other women. Not a place to be preached at and scared into salvation either. A safe and un-intimidating venue. In this effort to seek an entryway ministry that would be fun, creative and open to all walks of life, I have taken on the events ministry (minus a team backing me up). I have called on my friends to help support this movement and in two weeks will be throwing our very first Get Connected event. Two hours of fun, prizes, funny skit and song.
Along with opportunity to meet new friends and say hello to old ones. If would, please be praying for this event that is on August 31st, 2010 6:30-8:30. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.
I was so encouraged to kick off this event after reading a book I recently purchased by Diana Davis called Fresh Ideas for Women’s Ministry. It was a real shot in the dark as I had not read anything about the author or the main focus of her book. It was the title that intrigued me. I have read the book and all I can say is WOW, Thank you Lord for the wisdom and insight this author has brought together. As I read her book I found myself saying, “yes, me too, I know that feeling, great idea” and then even started to wonder whether this lady was a member of my own church. LOL If you are currently on a leadership team, looking to start one up or even just wanting to think about a future goal for the ladies of your church, I recommend this book to you!
Pray For The Ladies Ministry
1. Pray for the financial need of the mission that the Lord may provide all the needs and necessities for the extension of His Kingdom.
2. Pray for the staffs, missionaries and evangelist that the Lord may bring them from Nepal, India, and from all over the world.
3. Pray for the Nepalese intellectuals that the Lord may prepare their hearts and minds to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
4. Pray for the material need of the mission like Building, Land, Furniture, Books, Vehicles (Cars, Motorbikes, and Bicycles) Kitchen materials utensils, and vessels for the staffs, evangelist, missionaries and guest to operate the ministry in smooth manner.
5. Pray for the proposed mission THE BIBLE University that it may touch the hearts and minds of the high class people for Jesus Christ the Lord.
6. Pray for Nepal that the Lord may change our land to be the center for World Christian Mission.
7. Give thanks to the Lord who has done a miracle that only one Hindu Nation has been turned into a secular country.
8. Pray that the Lord may bring WORLD CHRISTIAN MISSION to Nepal.
9. Pray that the Lord’s spirit may move to the entire world from Nepal.
10. Pray for us that we may declare Jesus Christ as the prince of peace in the land of angel of peace.
(8.) Pray for us that we may show God as care taker for the people of
all over the world.
(9.) Pray for the volunteer Pastors, Bible Teachers, Evangelists,
Missionaries and Theologians that the Lord may bring in our country
Nepal to serve the master and savior Jesus Christ.
(10.) Pray for the proposed executive committee and advisor of THE
BIBLE University that they may be useful for extension of the Kingdom
Please Contact me- firstname.lastname@example.org
Start A Facebook Page
What about a face book page to answer questions ladies in your church might have? Several women in your church could volunteer answers. I am going to try to get that going. That is where young women are today!!! Older ones, too.
Here Are Some Insights
Thanks for the insight and thoughts.
I have been responsible for building community at a university and I don’t think it’s that different than building community for women in the church.
1. Advertise a planning meeting for all women.
2. At the planning meeting have large paper on the wall and many markers (make sure they don’t mark the wall)
3. On the top of the paper write: Women’s ministry would be perfect if… and let others finish the sentence (have as many papers so that people can get their opinions down)
4. on top of another paper or two write: Frequency of meetings
5. Tell women there is no wrong answer- to write down their opinions
6. Take everything written on the ‘perfect’ page and take out themes (outreach, community, whatever they might be)
7. Summarize these themes under different headings.
8. Have another meeting and report back, then Ask for some volunteers to help.
9. Set some goals, (measurable) and start small
10. Set up a calendar of implementation.
11. Get women to volunteer to help with various areas
12. PRAY PRAY PRAY
Blessings as you create community and a safe place for various personalities!!!
Women Need Friendship
In support of Women’s Ministry in the church, I often think of Jephthah’s daughter in the book of Judges. When faced with the cnsequences of her Father’s fool hardy bargain iwth God, she asked for an opportunity to go into the mountains with the women for two months. I say, there are times in our lives, ” When Only a Sister Will Do.” I just imagine the power of that prayer meeting, but his daughter came back with the strength to face her challenge.
Women need the friendship, fellowship, nurture, prayer of other women. There are just times in you life where ” Only a Sister Will Do.” We can relate to situations and circumstances. We can draw strength from the women in scripture and learn that God has always found the feminie power, useful in accomplisheing His plan for mankind. God himself recgonized, there are times when only a sister will do, hence Deborah, Ester, Jael, Daughters or Zelophedad and others who brought victory to the people of God.
Rich, poor; educated, uneducated; married, single, our commanality is our womanhood, and we all have something to offer each other.
Mother’s Day Idea
I am the women’s ministry co ordinator at my church. Something we did at the start of our church (about 11 years ago) was to divide the women in to 4 groups and have a team leader for each group. The team leaders and myself would get together regularly and plan upcoming events.
I would then ask the the team whose turn it was to put the event together with their team. We have had a Mother’s Day dinner, with the men doing the cooking and serving and cleaning, followed by a program, changes each year, last year was a fashion show, with our own girls being the models. We are having a 1 day retreat next month, and the team will do all the work for it. When new people come to the church we ask them if they would like to help on a team. It is only 1 or 2 events a year that a team would host. We try to keep any event seeker friendly.
I hope this might help someone looking how to start a women’s ministry.
Posted By: Gloria | January 1, 2012 9:34 PM
My husband and I recently started attending a very small church. We have around 30 members coming faithfully!! I really would like to start something for our ladies!! God has put the younger ladies on my heart. I’ve started by inviting each one, individually, out to get to know them. I need suggestions for this and the church is on a tight budget!! The families are also struggling financially. I know God has blessed my husband and me. Our children are grown, NOW there are young couples we can reach, just not sure how. Please help!!
Here’s What We Do
I am the event coordinator of our Women’s Ministry in Florida.
We have well over 3,000 members in our church. We have leaders on our leadership team such as: Coordinator, Co-Coordinator, secretary (2) event coord/co-coord., (2)treasure, (2)Chaplains, (2) Hospitality coord./co-coord and a book study facilitator. We pray, pray and pray!!! Here are a few of our ideas.
1. Meet and Greet after Sunday service:serve cupcakes and punch have all coordinator give a brief description of their roles in the ministry, open the floor for ministry suggestions have the secretary taking notes.
2. Pass out a color brochure of your leadership team.
3. Mother’ Day Luncheon
4. The Goldy Women and Her Many Hats (luncheon theme, every one wears a hat)
5. Bake Off
6. PMS Night out (Popcorn, Movie and Sodas) show a chick flick.
7. Prayer Breakfast have your pastor be your keynote speaker.
8. Community Service project: clean humane society, pet shelter, homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters.
9. Volunteer in the church nursery once a month.
10. Bible study of learning the Women of the Bible,
11. Dinner and a Movie
12. Christmas Fellowship
13. Secret Sisters
14. Spring Retreat
15. Women’s Conference (get a dynamite speaker who speaks for free)
16. Prepare thanksgiving baskets for a needy family or two.
17. Prayer Partners
18. Pray, Pray, Pray God will bless your ministry. TRUST ME if your trust him he will deliver!!!!!
19. Lunch and Learn ask your pastor or assoc. pastor to speak on your theme. (Finances, Marriage, Faith in God)
20. Tea Party
21. Lemon Ade Party w/ 2 or 3 icebreakers before the game.
Work on Heart as well as Head
It is 2013…and this problem STILL exists in the church. I agree that until women are courageous enough to step forward to not just “step outside of the box,” but CUT the box…this problem will continue. Unfortunately, the church has lost and continues to lose a whole generation because of an unwillingness to let go of religion and tradition. Other people like me, who have been raised in church and grew up “ministering” as adults, have seen A LOT of hypocrisy, self righteousness, control, manipulation and personal issues of leaders. Honestly…what we desire is someone to step forward and teach what is RELEVANT to life. We are a generation who can see someone fake a mile away. We don’t want perfection or religion, just authenticity. We want God!!!!!!!!!!!!
As stated previously, I was raised in a VERY strict, Pentecostal household. I’ve always been the child who questioned my leaders reasons behind the “do this” and “do that.” Not out of disrespect…but because I wanted to know the benefit to me behind an instruction to do something. I am still that way to this day. I have stepped out and decided to be obedient to God and reach those people I have been called to reach. I understand I have a calling…and it is NOT in the church. My desire is to get people to understand that a church building is NOT the only place to commune and have a relationship with God. Yes…it is possible to have a relationship outside of the church. My mission is to truly minister to the hurt of women who, for various reasons, will never again step foot in an organized church building. Whether hurt, drugged addicted, homosexual…it’s not my job to judge them. My job is to show them the love of God…and help them realize that they too, must still fulfill God’s purpose for their life. Women’s ministry, in a nutshell, is not just about doing programs, seminars, etc. to reach others externally…but doing the hard work INTERNALLY first. My opinion, this is why many ministries fail – more external work than internal.
I had soooo much going on in my head that I rambled a bit. My apologies. I hope you are able to comprehend my thoughts. Wishing you all the best that God has to offer.
Another Great Idea
Every one has such great ideas. Ideally when you have your first women’s ministry it should be about asking each women what activities they would like to do and what themes they would like to concentrate on.
One way for example is have the women right down a list of activities and themes and encourage each person in the group to organise the session. (with assistance from the group leader)
For example: I like indoor rock climbing. The theme could be “trust” You team people up with other women they don’t know as well for the rock climbing session. Afterwards you debrief on what it is like to trust someone you don’t know that well and how trust can transform your relationships. Have people tell personal stories about their issues with trust and then relate it back to the bible…
At the end of the year, everyone has planned and organised an activity to do.It is important to have assistance from the group leader. But the group leader is their to assist them not overtake the session or say no to what their doing. (as long as it is not hurting anyone)
Just an idea.
The above article, “Developing Your Women’s Ministry” is written by Amy Simpson. The article was excerpted from: www.giftedforleadership.com web site. June 2014.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.