I wrote this article series to share in January so I gave it a wintery vibe, but it contains lots of useful information for any time of year.
Do You Want to Build a Women's Ministry?
Article Series: Part 1 - Pack it Tight!
Posted January 26, 2016
Snowmen start off as tiny little snowballs. You roll that snowball in the snow and all the rest of the snowflakes get added to the tiny snowball to make it into a big ball. From that we build our snowman. The tiny ball is the foundation for the big snowballs that become part of the snowman body.
Just like building a snowman, everything needs a good foundation for it to become something that is able to support itself and become something great. Our women's ministries in our local churches are no exception.
Women's ministry needs to be packed solid with a good foundation in order for it to become a strong and viable ministry. The wind and weather will do a number on it, so start with a good base.
I grew up in Ohio so I know all about how to pack a good snowball. I was the youngest of seven kids so believe me, it was a skill required to defend myself during the many snowball fights we had as kids.
I can remember winters where my sister, my brothers, and I would get together with all the cousins and we'd split up and each side would build a snow fort. Then the war would commence.
I was one of the youngest in the group so I was always put on snowball making duty. For the longest time they wouldn't let me be part of the battle. My brothers would keep my mission to only making snowballs.
I found that the old snow always made the start of a good snowball. You could pack it down tight without it falling apart like new snow. Then you could roll it in the new fallen snow and it would all stick together after you had a good base.
When we are building our women's ministry, we are going to have to use some of that "old" stuff too. It will make the best foundation. We need those principles and direction from the "Old" Book. We need to go back to the basics of prayer and Bible study.
Sometimes we want to run ahead and start all new programs, all new visions, and plan all new activities. We especially tend to do this at the start of a New Year. Watch out! The flakes may go flying. Everything can fall apart quickly without a good solid base.
Are there good programs, outreaches, and recurring activities that are in place already in your women's ministry? Don't be too hasty to throw out something that is already in place and working. You've heard the old adage, "If something ain't broke--don't fix it." That's great advice where women's ministry is concerned.
That's not to say that you shouldn't try new things. New things are good but just be careful and prayerful about it. You have to go about it in the right way. Be sure to strengthen the foundation you already have before adding more to it. Just like a snowball, adding too much to it too fast will make it fall apart.
When building your foundation, you will never go wrong by packing in God's Word good and tight. We need to make the Bible a priority for our ladies. We need to encourage the ladies in our women's groups to read their Bible consistently. It will help shore up your foundation if your ladies know God's Word.
Encourage your ladies to know biblical principles. Encourage them to memorize God's Word. Challenge them in the Word of God. I know there is a feeling out there that we should never do Sword drills, ask too many Bible knowledge questions, or do any challenges or testing of Bible skills because someone new or not grounded in the Word won't be able to participate.
I personally think that is wrong on so many levels. It seems everyone is always scared that they are going to embarrass someone or make them feel left out if they don't know the answer to a Bible question. It seems to me Jesus was always asking point blank questions about the law and the Scriptures.
If we can't sharpen the Bible skills and knowledge of our ladies in our women's group meetings, then where do we do it? Our job is to teach other women. Tests, drills, and challenges have always been a part of the learning process. I don't think they should be thrown out of our women's ministries altogether.
I think we need to help our ladies dig deeper into the Word. We need to teach. Sure, we are always going to have times when we want to hold some outreach activities to reach lost women. There are times when we will want to gear some Bible studies to those new Christians. However, we need to focus on our entire mission to teach as in Titus 2. We are not told to walk or eggshells, coddle, pamper, or even to protect other women. We are instructed to teach them.
That is not saying we don't want to have compassion, care, and use common sense, but we can't fail those under our tutelage either. There are appropriate times, activities, and events that we can pack in some teaching geared to making our ladies know, understand, and appreciate the Word of God. We have to give our ladies the chance to be supported with a good foundation.
Prayer is part of that foundation too. We have to encourage that as well. We have to learn to pray ourselves and we need to learn to pray for our women in our groups. We also have to teach our women to pray. It might be through studying prayer. It might be that you will want to encourage prayer journaling. It might be that you want to start some prayer partners or prayer groups.
We have to give our ladies opportunities to pray. Maybe you have ladies who are scared to pray out loud in a group. That's understandable, but sometimes they just need some encouragement.
Years ago I had a lady tell me it wasn't that she didn't like to pray out loud at women's meetings; it was that no one had ever asked her to. I have always remembered that. We can't just assume.
Of course you always want to know ahead of time if someone is willing to pray in public. I know I've mentioned this a few times on the website, but you always want to ask someone privately ahead of time before you call on them during a meeting or activity if they are ladies that are not called on regularly to pray in public.
Our foundation is important. It's so essential that we pack it tight with prayer and God's Word. I urge you not to leave any wriggle room where God's Word is concerned.
Be careful to use God's Word correctly and in context. Be careful about choosing Bible studies. Be careful about putting Bible study teachers in place. Pack it down and pat it hard to give your women's ministry a chance to be formed correctly and have a stable foundation.
Next I think our foundation needs some ground rules. I mentioned the need for some type of conduct guidelines back during the Online Leadership Conference I held at the beginning of March 2015.
We have to let our ladies know what is expected of them whether in team meetings, monthly fellowships, Bible studies, and any event we hold. It helps set the tone of how things will run.
It is kind of like at the beginning of the school year when the teacher sets down the classroom rules. It's important for the kids to know how the classroom will be run. It's important that they know when they can speak and when not to. It's important they know what is expected of them when they arrive each day.
Several years ago I wrote an article on The First Day of School (for Women's Ministry) and went over some of the things you need to do to get started on the right foot.
As adult women, we tend to like to talk and chatter just like when we were kids. We need to know when it is okay to talk and what is appropriate for our behavior where our women's ministry Bible studies and activities are concerned. Having things like this settled will make going forward in your women's ministry so much easier.
Just to show you what I'm talking about, here are some of the guidelines for our Bible Studies that I suggested during that 2015 Leadership Conference. You can use them as an example but gear yours toward your group specifically.
- Arrive on time.
- Read the passage ahead of time.
- Answer the “homework” before the next study time.
- Be courteous to others in the group.
- Keep your comments concise (no long winded speeches)
- Keep your comments on the topic.
- Everything said in the group is confidential.
I know some of us get carried away with the events and all the work that is involved in women's ministry. We have to slow down and reflect on what is important. We have to pack in that prayer and emphasis on the Bible. We also have to let our ladies know how things will be run and what kind of conduct is expected of them to participate.
Evaluate what you are doing by going back to the basics of the Bible and prayer. Go back to the ground rules. You can't move forward until that foundation is laid. Like rolling a snowball to build a snowman, we will want to add more layers as we roll along. Our foundation has to be packed tight before we can accomplish anything.
Ask yourself some questions about the meetings and activities you have planned for your women's ministry.
- Is it shoring up your foundation?
- Is it God centered?
- Is it biblically sound?
- Is it feeding your ladies with God's Word?
- Is it encouraging prayer?
- Is it bathed in prayer?
- Is it encouraging others in the body of Christ?
- Is it a tool to spread the Gospel?
- Is it contributing to spiritual growth in your ladies?
- Do your ladies know what is expected of them?
- Is everything being run decently and in order?
What we pack into our women's ministry has to be strong. It has to mesh with God's Word. We have to think about what our women's ministry is going to turn into when we start rolling it and adding more people, more activities, and more outreach.
We want our women's ministry to roll along with ease. We want things to stick to it. We want more ladies to attend. We want it to have more of an outreach. We want it to be solid and stick together. We want it to stand up and support itself.
When we work on our foundation we don't want those flakes to go flying so we need to pack it tight.
Copyright ©2016 Julia Bettencourt
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