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

 

 

 

 

Exploring Grace Together by Jessica Thompson; A Review

 

How important is it to learn about Grace at an early Age? It is of the utmost importance, in my opinion,  just as it is equally important to learn as an Adult as I am doing now. Grace colors the way we interact with others and even ourselves in all of life. Grace, simply put, the In Faith,Grace that is undeserved comes from God and is the antithesis to working to no avail to pay your for your own debts, for your own righteousness. It just doesn’t work that way. Grace is transforming and refining because it is difficult to extend Grace if you don’t understand Grace and once God’s grace is understood it can change everything that you think you know about Him and what that means for your faith.

Are we teaching our children about Grace? Are we learning about Grace? How do we bring up conversations about Grace in the everyday, ordinary moments of life? Sometimes you need a starting place. That’s what I feel Jessica Thompson’s book is, a tool for conversations about God, Grace, and remarkable Love.

It is no secret that we homeschool (Charlotte Mason style) and as a part of that we do daily bible studies, I love that time where we talk about scripture and what it means to us. We discuss Gospel things and what they mean in our day-to-day.  Emma who is six-almost-seven is not always interested to be truthful, but we do get a lot out of it and it is a great way to point to the Gospel then and later when things happen in life and she loves to listen to the stories. We also do something called Character Training, we learn about biblical character that we should embody.  Most people do more than one Character in a year and we started the year that way but since we were struggling with Obedience with the mini teenager (that’s what it’s felt like) in our home we decided to stick with Obedience as our  character for the entire year. If you ask Emma what Obedience is she will tell you that it is “doing what you are told with a happy, submissive heart”. The expectation in our home is “First-Time Obedience”, meaning that you do the previous the first time you are told. In this we are all learning about obedience al-together because I also tend toward the opposite. The apple does not fall far from the tree. We can see how teaching this way does work on hearts little by little with God’s help.

I say all of the above to say if those things are not learned along side Grace and Love then it completely defeats the purpose in my mind. Bible Stories and learning about how we should live can mean nothing if we aren’t connecting it to the Love Story we’ve been given. Without learning Grace, we will tend toward moralism or legalism. That’s why Grace is important. So, I was very excited to get the happy mail that contained my copy of “Exploring Grace Together” by Jessica Thompson. Thank you, Jessica! I treasure “Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus” written by Jessica and her Mother, Elyse Fitzpatrick. It has truly been a wonderful resource for our family. I was very excited to dive in this devotional with Emma and our family.

We have done a week’s worth of devotions from the book to date and we enjoy them very much so far. I of course have read ahead and am excited to discuss all the things inside with my daughter. My praise is that it brings to light everyday issues children and yes, adults struggle with and shines that Gospel light on them so we can see them with new eyes.

For example in Chapter 1 “The Good One” we discussed how all fall short and following the rules does not win you what is given freely. This is so important for us to discuss because Emma in most cases is a “follow the rules to the letter” and has what I like to call a high sense of justice when it comes to herself and others. She is the first to point out among friends that they aren’t following the rules so it was a really great discussion for us.

In Chapter 4 “Just Not Sure” Emma shared that sometimes she doesn’t understand Faith as well just like Sam in the story but that she still wanted to have Faith and thought it was very important. It was a great way to tell her that she is always welcome to talk with us about her thoughts and doubts and we will examine them together, because she isn’t alone in this. Then prompted from the questions we prayed for the special Gift of Faith.

Bullies are a new thing for us this year, I’m not sure if it’s because of the age of her peers or what but we had never experienced it. Emma is a very sensitive child and is really affected by “name calling” or unkindness but she also is not always aware when she is the one being unkind to others as well. Chapter 6 “I Can’t Be Nice” was a great devotion to discuss what we are to do in these scenarios, when we feel like we can’t be nice to others regardless the circumstance. We were able to bring out some situations that have happened to and by Emma and discuss what we can do about them. It is a great way for Mom as well to talk about how she struggles with this.

I really have enjoyed the devotions so far and we will continue with them with our family in hopes that the Gospel conversations continue. The only thing we have done differently in the devotions is that in our Charlotte Mason tradition Emma will narrate the story back to me before we discuss it. We do this for retention in our home and it seems to work for us. Anyone can do this as well but it isn’t necessary for the material. Here are some thoughts on Narration, if interested.

I completely recommend this book. It will become another invaluable resource for us as we raise young children’s hearts and also examine our own hearts. Do it with your families knowing both you and your children will benefit from it. I can’t wait to see what else Jessica has in store in the future, I am totally fangirling her on Instagram and Twitter and almost referred to her as @thejesslou in most of this post. Anyways, go and give her a follow https://twitter.com/Thejesslou and http://instagram.com/thejesslou.

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What are your thoughts on this book? Was this review helpful? I love posts to start a dialog for more conversation.