Lifeway Research’s State of Ministry to Women report highlights some interesting findings. The data shows more than 3 in 5 (63%) female churchgoers attend a church that has an organized women’s ministry. Lifeway Research then asked these women about the value and help that women’s ministry provides.
The overwhelming majority mentioned the gift of forming and growing significant relationships with other women in their churches (68%), and specifically, the multi-generational friendships that develop in this setting (56%). Women also cite the benefit of having a dedicated space to learn, share, and discuss faith topics in a safe and authentic environment. While this data is encouraging, the fact that nearly 2 in 5 women who attend evangelical churches are missing out on these benefits is disheartening. If women truly connect better with God, His Word, and other women in a women’s ministry setting, I hope pastors and other church leaders will seriously consider what they can do to start and grow a women’s ministry in their local church.
Starting any ministry might seem daunting at first, but following these recommendations will help you begin a women’s ministry that has the potential to benefit the women in your church. I want to encourage both the pastor and church leader as well as the woman who desires this type of ministry in her own church. We will look at both perspectives as we walk through these first steps to start a women’s ministry.
Whether you are the lead pastor or a female attendee at your local church, new beginnings need to be bathed in prayer by everyone involved. While I believe the Bible speaks to the importance of ministry to women (Titus 2:3-5), your church’s women’s ministry (as with all other types of ministries) is God’s, and He will direct your steps (Proverbs 16:9).
It always amazes me how the Lord provides the right people in the right timing and works out the details when we live surrendered and sensitive to His call. Begin to pray now about this ministry opportunity and invite a group of trusted believers to join you.
If you are a woman desiring to start a women’s ministry in your church, find some like-minded women who will begin praying with you for open doors to talk to your church leadership. When God provides these opportunities, walk through them confidently.
Identify a leader
If you are a pastor or church leader, try to identify a woman in your church who you think would be interested in directing this ministry. Is there a woman who already shows godly influence in the church? Is there someone who is already teaching women effectively or who has strong relational gifts connecting women across various ages and stages of life? Have a conversation with her to see her interest and present your vision. If she is not interested, she may know of someone else who would be a good fit.
If you are a woman in a local church, consider whether you are the woman to begin the ministry or if there’s someone you know in your church who has these abilities. Begin these discussions with her or with your church leadership to see the feasibility of taking the next step.
As a side note: In my experience in women’s ministries in the local church, some pastors’ wives love to lead or be included in women’s ministry and do so effectively, while others do not want to be involved. Have an honest conversation with the pastor’s wife to find out what level of involvement she would like, if any. As a pastor’s kid, I remember the demands put on my own mother that were often outside of her giftings or abilities and the stress it caused. I never want to impose that on any staff wife.
Equip a leader
As important as choosing a ministry leader is, equipping her is equally vital. As her pastor, provide her with helpful training opportunities, clear responsibilities and expectations as well as ways to provide feedback. Will she be paid or is this a volunteer position? What is the budget for this ministry? Schedule regular times to connect with her to see how things are going and how you can work together as a brother and sister in Christ.
Over a decade ago, when I stepped into the role of women’s ministry director in my local church, it was a 10-hour-a-week, very part-time job. As the ministry grew, so did my responsibilities. Today, the position is a full-time job that allows me to have a part-time assistant. As the role grew, clear communication with my pastor and supervisor was critical for the growth of the ministry and the job.
Create a ministry mission statement
When creating a mission statement for a women’s ministry, clear and concise is best. Our church’s women’s ministry mission statement is as follows:
Connecting women to God, His Word, and each other through every season of life.
Our mission statement includes two parts. The first speaks to the ministry’s purpose, while the second identifies our target audience. This statement speaks to the importance of relationships, multi-generational and age and stage, as well as our foundation being on God and His Word.
Build a team
An effective women’s ministry will have various features that may include events, Bible studies, mentorship or discipleship times, mission or service opportunities, and small group meetings. You want your leadership team to reflect the ladies you are serving in your church. When looking for women to oversee the various aspects of the ministry, look for different-aged women with diverse skills, passions, and spiritual and natural giftings.
A woman who is a great event planner may not be a great Bible teacher. A creative personality may not be the best at putting together the details of a monthly calendar or weekly update. Someone who is especially relational may not be the best at running a meeting or keeping to a strict time schedule. Providing women with the opportunity to lead in their specific giftings will be mutually beneficial to all.
As a pastor, identify the interests and abilities of women in your church that may give them the confidence they need to step into a leadership role. The same is true if you are a woman looking to build a team for your women’s ministry. Find out women’s passions and capabilities and help inspire and encourage them to step out of their comfort zones. Help them plan and promote as they begin to walk in faith in this new adventure.
You can do this! Step up and step out in what God has called and continues to call you to do.
This piece first appeared at Lifeway Research.