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For women to minister to women, Kelley advises prayer, planning

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Rhonda Kelley believes there is a place for a women’s enrichment ministry in most churches. After all, who can communicate the love of God to a woman better than another woman?
Kelley is an adjunct faculty member at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and wife of seminary President Charles “Chuck” Kelley.
Speaking at the National Conference for Church Leadership earlier this summer at Ridgecrest (N.C.) Baptist Conference Center, Kelley described steps to beginning a women’s enrichment ministry aimed at identifying and attempting to meet women’s unmet needs.
“It is not a trite answer to say, ‘pray.’ Beginning a new ministry is a divine-human process,” she said.
Kelley identified a 10-step process to starting a women’s enrichment ministry:
1) Identify a godly woman or small group of ministry-oriented women to lay the groundwork. Kelley noted the number of times she has heard testimony of how one woman began praying for a ministry, and another woman or group of women felt the Lord leading them to minister to other woman. “Be warned,” she added, “if you present a good idea, you’ve volunteered to do it!”
2) Conduct some sort of survey to identify needs and locate resources. Women in various stages of life, who comprise the majority of members in most churches, have differing needs, Kelly said. “It does not have to be a formal survey. You could do an informal poll as you chat with various women,” she said
3) Determine the purpose or philosophy for the ministry. This does not have to be in writing at first. Often the philosophy is defined as the ministry is started, Kelley said.
4) Organize and structure the ministry. “The size of your structure and the number of leaders depends upon the size of your church, the number of women and the number of needs that are not being met,” Kelley said.
5) Train leadership. “Just because they’ve been enlisted to lead doesn’t mean they know how to lead,” she said.
6) Develop programs suited to the needs of each church. “Bible study is a need for all women in our churches,” Kelley noted. “Bible study is the thread that holds it all together.”
Special events can be planned that are designed to meet specific needs identified in the survey. For example, women need to know some basics of car maintenance and repair, she said, and a special event could focus on that need.
7) Plan events and programs thoroughly. “Be committed to excellence,” Kelley said. “Don’t try to do so many things that you cannot do any of them well.”
8) Build personal relationships. “The number one reason women want to come together is fellowship,” she said.
9) Work cooperatively with staff and other church organizations. “When you have church programs going, you don’t need to duplicate them. Coordinate and cooperate with the rest of the church,” she said. One important area of cooperation is child care, “which is always a big issue for women,” Kelley pointed out. “If nursery and child care are not provided, you penalize women with children.”
10) Follow up with careful evaluation and discipleship. Register all guests and follow up with a note. Send thank you cards to everyone who helped. Build a mailing list for future events. Share prospects with the appropriate groups in the church.
The possibilities are as many as there are women in your church, Kelley said. “There is so much we can do because there are so many needs.”
The National Conference for Church Leadership was sponsored by the Baptist Sunday School Board’s church leadership services division.

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  • Carl M. White