Word-Filled Women’s Ministry

WFWM     There used to be this feeling of uneasiness wash over me when I heard the phrase ‘Women’s Ministry’, because what I was accustomed to was very fluffy and completely lacking depth. Opinions I have heard range from, “women don’t need to study the word because the men in our lives (Husband, Pastors etc.) do and they relay the Bible to us”; to the often heard, “Theology and deep Bible knowledge is too hard for us so we just aren’t going to go there.” Well, I feel we’ve lost something big as women if we expect others to work out our salvation for us:

2Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. -Phillipians 2:12-13

and we also can deduce that through His Word is how we are working out our salvation, because the fear and trembling that Phillipians speaks of is the beginning of wisdom:

10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. – Proverbs 9:10

 

So, we, as Women are not excused, nor shall we be, from study and archaeology of the word. We don’t need and many of us don’t want Women’s Ministry bereft of the Gospel. But many Women’s Ministries are paper tigers of what they should be. Women are left with groups that may soothe their emotions and their egos but do not address the brokenness in their hearts. This isn’t acceptable.

 

Now, many years later, I do not shudder at the term “Women’s Ministry” because I am involved in a lovely Women’s Ministry that uses the Word as a Basis for everything. As we were forming this brand new Women’s Ministry for our church, we looked at a lot of resources, books and articles and plans and also thoughts from successful Women’s Ministries. Our main goal was to make this ministry as Gospel-Centered as possible. We knew that a Women’s Ministry without the Word, without the transforming Gospel, is nothing more than a social club aimed to put band-aids on brokenness but never set the bones. Our hearts deeply longed for a Women’s Ministry where we could live and learn the Gospel together. So, one resource we immediately were drawn to was Word-Filled Women’s Ministry, among others.

9781433545238

I encourage all involved in a Women’s Ministry or are in the planning stages to please read Word-Filled Women’s Ministry by Gloria Furman and Kathleen Nielson for two reasons:

 

  1. It is Biblical.
  2. It is Practical.

 

          Firstly, It is Biblical and much needed:

“If we are thinking about Word-based ministry, that opens up for people the big story of the Scriptures with Jesus at the center, so that they can understand the stories of their own lives as centered in the story and the Glory of Jesus.” -Word-Filled Women’s Ministry

Women’s Ministry without the Gospel is meaningless.  We cannot possibly now how to live out the Gospel if we have never learned the Gospel:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction,and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. -2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

This is why when making plans for the Women’s Ministry at Crawford Ave. we wanted to make sure that we were making the Word primary and also providing opportunities for Women to learn the word and grow in that. For us it looks like bible studies and Women’s Leadership Training (teaching Women how to serve well) and various other opportunities to saturate in the Gospel.

Secondly, this book displays practical applications of the scriptures. Our goal in formulating a Women’s Ministry was not only to allow for space and intent to learn the Gospel but to instill ways we can practically serve the church and others. Whether through immediate needs like mercy meals or diapers for Mothers, prayer when needed and encouragement or through for longer end goals of the mentoring of young women, coming beside others through long-term crisis or training Women to serve in the church.  We cannot have the learning without the living.

“Just like every ministry in the church, women’s ministries must guard the good deposit and keep the gospel of first import. The gospel should be the bright red thread that runs through all teaching, hospitality, and fellowship. This thread not only should stand out and decorate every church activity and good work but should hold everything together. Without it, ministry falls apart and becomes fruitless.” -Word-Filled Women’s Ministry

So, part of our goals in planning for a Women’s Ministry was to encourage fruitful ministry  and to guard against fruitlessness. We then have to ask ourselves, does this specific permeation of Women’s Ministry seek to advance the Gospel or bear it’s fruit. In some cases, it does not, and you must choose wisdom and throw it in the fire.

17So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. -Matthew 7:17-20

 

We will periodically assess the health of our ministry to make sure living and learning and fruitfulness is actually happening. I am thankful for the wisdom that we gleaned from Word-Filled Women’s Ministry and believe it is an excellent read for those that desire a rich Women’s Ministry that teaches Women to love and serve the church.

You can purchase Word-Filled Women’s Ministry through Crossway and online

 

 

 

 

Women of the Word

There are many books I am reading right now, I won’t go into the whole list, it makes me anxious just thinking about it. I have more books than time or mental capacity some days. Some books stay with you for quite a long time though and hopefully forever. I used to think fiction was the only type of book that had staying power. I remember vividly beautiful words from Narnia that never left. As I grow older and I read more religious non-fiction in hopes of gleaning wisdom I realize there are certain truths written by wiser people than myself that have that staying power.

Two books right now that I am reading/ or have read, Praying with Paul  by D.A. Carson and Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin have been added high on that internal list of books I will recommend to others. I am so glad that I was able to read both of them simultaneously, God is teaching me a lot about Prayer and delighting in the Word recently and it’s been a very harmonious pairing. I’ll talk more about that Praying with Paul in a different post.

I started reading a review copy of Women of the Word independently and by happy fate our church began a Women’s Bible study of the Minor Prophets, using Women of the Word as a spine to further our understanding of how to study the Minor Prophets. So, I was excited that I was already ahead in my reading and have loved learning with other women through this book.

To be honest, I don’t think I understood how to read the Bible and hadn’t grown in the process of doing so, well, since ever. I suppose I wasn’t reading it properly. Maybe I should say “thoroughly” instead, because some might not enjoy the use of proper. I did do bible study, I would usually do a book or guided study of scripture and then I would just have some type of bible reading plan as well. It was a food fight in the hopes that something would stick. The habit is being slowly worn down as well. Jen Wilkin outlines some misguided approaches early on and I identified with a lot of them. I think it was a form of rule following for me, to read the word rather than taking pleasure in the scriptures and even though there were small pleasures to be had when something stood out I was not as intentional about seeking it out. Truly, I didn’t understand what it meant to be Bible Literate. I am happy to be making small steps toward Bible Literacy because I do love seeing those red strings that intertwine throughout all of the Bible and point us to Christ. This book has helped immensely. I want that “Delight” that the Psalmist speaks of in Psalm 1.

Everything is outlined very clearly as Jen Wilkin walks us through the 5 P’s she uses to study the word; purpose, perspective, patience, process, prayer. I really liked having a guide to lead me through all these steps. How much will your bible study change if you are identifying your purpose to study the word and digging for the truths while praying diligently that it will transform you and being patient through that process? Every “P” mentioned in Women in the Word has been helpful for me to see the larger picture. Jen Wilkin says this in regard to perspective but I think you can connect it to all of the P’s:

“It is not surprising that the Bible compares the acquisition of wisdom to the finding of gold, silver, and hidden treasure; all three require digging to obtain. And digging is hard work, especially when it must be done with respect to historical and cultural context. We live in a time when the Bible is largely regarded as a book for our own edification, through which the Holy Spirit will simply reveal truth to those willing to give it a few minutes’ attention a day. The intellectual muscles that our faith ancestors once used for digging have grown atrophied in the modern mind. Not many of us are willing to do the hard work of digging, preferring to inhabit a modern-day understanding of the Bible with no regard for its original audience or purpose, tailoring our modern reading to suit our own ends. Because we lack a sense of how small we are in the grand scheme of history, we are quick to circumvent the sound practice of “calling in the archaeologists” to help us dig responsibly when we read and study.

The digging and drawing out the treasures, the “Exegesis” is my personal desire when I study the word. I don’t want to make so much of myself that I forget that there is a much larger story and I should desire to see it and be a part of it and I must enter into that process and prayerfully consider it and be patient that God will use it. I want to not only be a reader of the word but I want to be literate in it.

I definitely think that women that have a strong theological background or not and desire the knowledge that comes from diligent study might really benefit from Women of the Word. The Process chapter alone highlights steps of comprehending, interpreting and applying the word that have already drastically changed my studying. I am now studying Romans and doing so more methodically than I ever have. I am writing in my Bible, making a ton of notes and outlines and I am chasing after those beautiful cross references. Basically, just dwelling awhile with the Word and the process is just tiny piece of the puzzle.

I don’t believe that Women’s Bible study needs to be flowery, low on gospel and high on feelings and full of anecdote after anecdote. I shudder at many items geared toward Women of Faith. Bible Literacy is attainable even in my daily circumstances. I think we can delight in the Word as it is written when we see that the Bible is for everyone and it applies to me as well, where I am, in the pile of unfolded laundry and whiny kids.

This book was a complimentary copy from Crossway.