Below you’ll find the transcript for episode 25: Purposeful Women’s Ministry from the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast.
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EP 25: Purposeful Women’s Ministry
Welcome to the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast. I’m Cyndee Ownbey, your host and women’s ministry mentor. I’m the founder of Women’s Ministry Toolbox and the author of Rethinking Women’s Ministry. The Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast is a podcast for women’s ministry leaders and team members of all stages (from new to seasoned) serving in their local church community. If you’re looking for hope and inspiration, you’ve come to the right place! In addition to discussing the nuts and bolts of women’s ministry, I’ll be asking seasoned women’s ministry leaders to share their best tips and the lessons they’ve learned. Together we’ll learn to build a flourishing, Christ-focused women’s ministry.
Today, we are wrapping up our series on women’s ministry basics and foundations.
Purposeful women’s ministry programs can have a kingdom impact.
But too many of us lead with Pinterest and not with purpose.
We Google before we go to God.
And it affects the fruit of our ministry. We are trying to harvest things that we have not sown.
But this is not without hope! We are perfectly capable of seeking the Lord’s will and making tweaks, adjustments, and changes to our ministry program so that we are following Him and not asking Him to follow us and our plans.
The verse God led me to focus on for this post is Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV), “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
When I looked up these specific verses, I glanced at them in different translations to find the one that I thought would resonate and really capture what I wanted to communicate the most.
I landed on the NIV version in part because the chapter title over this section says “A Call to Persevere in Faith.” We are called not just to persevere in our own personal faith but to help our women to persevere in their faith.
In the passage, I saw three actions or tasks:
- We are to hold onto hope unswervingly (the ESV says without wavering), for God is faithful.
- We are to spur one another on towards love and good deeds.
- We are not to give up meeting together.
If you are feeling discouraged about our women’s ministry program, that is a verse that I hope will encourage you and that you can hold on to. It’s also a reminder that every event and every activity we offer must encourage our women in their faith.
I hope as we’ve worked through this whole series, you have been reminded that God and His Word must be the foundation of our women’s ministry. There should be no doubt that you and your team love the Lord, and you want your women to love Him too. If He is who we say that He is – who His Word says He is – we cannot but help to tell others about him.
Unless we don’t.
In the very first year of our MOPS program, we made a really big mistake.
We had the opportunity to reach a lot of unchurched moms through our church’s preschool program, so we were very outreach-focused. We prayed, and we asked God to send women who did not know Him, and He answered that prayer. But we were very concerned about coming on too strong. We didn’t want to scare any of those moms off, so we were intentionally very light on biblical content. We would pray at the beginning and the end, but to be honest, they were softball prayers. We watered them down, so we didn’t come across as too preachy. We decided that just loving our women would be enough. They would see God’s love through us.
John 13:35 says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” So we weren’t really off base, but we missed a key piece.
Romans 10:14 (NLT) says, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”
We were working from that often-used quote, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” The problem is that’s not biblical.
Our love is not powerful enough to save anyone; only God’s love is! Withholding God’s word robbed our women of Truth.
We must tell our women about God.
We can do it through the plans and details for our women’s ministry program.
- We can give away door prizes that point women to Christ.
- We can share personal testimonies.
- We can place scripture verses on our decor for our events.
- We can cover every woman and every detail in prayer.
- We can prayerfully select a scripture verse as our focus for the year and weave it throughout every event and activity.
- We can provide women opportunities to serve God and one another.
- We can anchor every event in the Word of God.
- We can select speakers that anchor their talks in scripture.
- We can encourage Titus 2 relationships through icebreakers, Bible studies, and mentoring programs.
God used women in each church we’ve attended to encourage my spiritual growth, and I am forever thankful for the impact women’s ministry has made in my life.
I’ll never forget the Bible study session that left me feeling like we’d spent more time in our Bible study book than in God’s Word. I knew there had to be a better way to do Bible study. Many months of research and study led me to create the READ Bible study method. As you and your women learn how to read, record, explore, apply, and do, your confidence to study God’s Word with the Holy Spirit as your guide will grow. You’ll discover how scripture supports scripture by examining similar and connecting Bible passages. You’ll learn how to dig deep to uncover historical and cultural context that will shed new light and understanding on the verses you’ve read. More than just a worksheet, READ will lead you step-by-step through your study of any book of the Bible in less than 20 minutes a day. The READ Bible study method is available in three formats, a kit for groups, a printable workbook, and a paperback book. Join with the thousands of others who’ve transformed their quiet time by learning how to READ – record, explore, apply, and do. You’ll find more information at www.readbiblestudy.com.
I grew up going to church.
I was sprinkled as a baby and our family as what I would call Sunday faithful – we were there unless we were sick or on vacation. I attended Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, youth group. I even went through confirmation class in my early teen years. But my memory of that class wasn’t a public confession of my sins. I remember having to take a test to prove my knowledge of the Bible. I’m still not really sure how I passed, but I did have down the books of the Bible in order. I was a good girl up until my college years where it got a little off track. Looking back at that girl I was, I understand why she didn’t see a need for a Savior.
In my memory, the gospel message if, and when, it was shared (it wasn’t often) it never permeated my heart.
I understood the basics. Jesus came to earth through the virgin birth, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross for my sins so I could be in Heaven. There were many problems with my theology, but these two stand out:
- I categorized my sins as small and easily forgivable. I was a straight-A student known as a goody-two-shoes, other than a couple of minor rebellious acts and sometimes a surly attitude towards my sisters. There was little need for repentance – in my mind anyway.
- I believed my reward was in Heaven, but I missed that God wanted a relationship with me while I was here on this earth.
It wasn’t until 2002, when I was 29, that my eyes were opened. The youth pastor (who was serving as interim pastor) put a big screen up during the worship service and played a music video. In that sweet little country church, it ruffled a few feathers, but God had ordained that moment, I believe, for me (and I’m sure other people sitting there as well). He played the song “I Can Only Imagine.” It was as if God flipped a switch in my heart and my mind. Until that moment, Heaven had been about reuniting with loved ones, especially my grandma, who had passed away when I was 13, but no more.
Will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing Hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all?
I was overwhelmed by the thought of being in God’s presence and His great love for us. It was no longer about seeing my grandma, but it was about throwing myself at the feet of the Lord God almighty.
My faith became real that day.
I wanted to know God – KNOW HIM – and I had a hunger to learn more about Him. It is what I want every woman (every person, really) to experience.
God’s given me a passion for serving, reaching, loving, and teaching women, and I suspect that He has you too.
Women’s ministry programs can make a great impact on the women in our church and our community if we are intentional.
I want to bring you back to that passage in Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV), “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Ladies, God has given us what may seem like an insurmountable task many days. We may be discouraged by the lack of response in our churches, apathy in our women.
We can take steps to be intentional with our women’s ministry programs – to always have our eyes open for ways that we can point our women to Christ. We can trust that His Word is not returning void, that it is permeating the hearts and the minds of the women that we serve.
It is not without heartache and hard days, but it is a privilege. It is a privilege to be able to serve the Lord in this way.
My Prayer for You
Lord, women’s ministry can be so hard sometimes. Sometimes it can be so fruitful. Father, I pray that we would persevere, that we would press on, that we would not give up meeting together. Lord, I pray that our focus would be on faith in You. Lord, help us to make ministry decisions that encouraged the spiritual growth of our women. Help us to love and serve them well. It’s in Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Women’s Ministry Toolbox podcast. Leading in women’s ministry can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be! You’ll find support and ideas you can use in the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Community Facebook Group. We’d love for you to join us! Search for us on Facebook or visit womensministrytoolbox.com/groups to access the link. May the grace of God carry you through difficult ministry seasons, may He direct your steps as you seek to make Him known, and may your love for the LORD be apparent to every woman you serve.
Want to check out all of the podcasts in this series of women’s ministry basics?
You’ll find the list with links to listen to or read on this podcast page.