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.
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:
- It is Biblical.
- 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.