This is part 2 of a two-part series celebrating 10 years of Women’s Ministry Toolbox.
Be sure to read Part 1, Celebrating 10 Years of Women’s Ministry Toolbox (History and Prizes). Don’t miss the chance to win the grand prize giveaway (valued at over $200) below!
Below you’ll find the show notes for episode 64, Reflections on the Evolution of Women’s Ministry and Need for Expansion from the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast.
Please note: This post contains affiliate links.
In my last post, I shared a bit of the history of Women’s Ministry Toolbox.
Today I want to:
- Discuss how women’s ministry has evolved in the last 10 years.
- Challenge us to expand our reach by highlighting two groups of women that need our support.
Evolving Women’s Ministry Programs
What did women’s ministry typically look like 10 years ago?
If we travel back in time, we may remember the emphasis on “people over programs” as many churches adapted the small group or life group model. Some pastors removed women’s ministry thinking that small groups made them unnecessary. (I, of course, disagree.)
Video-driven Bible studies were the norm. Most women’s ministry events and Bible studies were scheduled during the daytime.
Most women’s ministry calendars were driven by annual events – retreats, tea parties, banquets, and the like.
In the summer of 2014, Jen Wilkin released Women of the Word and a shift in women’s ministry began to happen. Though the tools of inductive Bible study have been around for years (Precept launched in 1970), for many God’s Word didn’t seem accessible. The Bible was often viewed as too hard for our women to understand. Jen’s gift of breaking down what appears complex resonated with hundreds of thousands of women and leaders.
Many Bible study authors sensed this shift and a large number of Bible study books shifted from spoon-feeding to teaching women how to fish. The number of expository (verse-by-verse) studies began to increase.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve witnessed a movement from events-driven women’s ministry programs to a greater emphasis on discipleship and mentoring. I believe in part, it’s due to the realization that small group models offer great community, but typically only a beginner-level Bible study with minimal accountability.
More and more leaders began utilizing events as on-ramps to plug women into Bible studies, mentoring, and discipleship relationships.
The hyper-focus of daytime moms groups lessened as it began apparent that the majority of our target audience was working part-time or full-time during the day, necessitating a shift and addition of events and activities in the evenings and on weekends increasing access to a larger number of women.
Working women have brought their skills and experience from the workplace into women’s ministry, helping to market women’s ministry events and exercising their leadership skills.
Then along came Covid.
Covid in many ways was a blessing. Leaders quickly realized they were relying too heavily on in-person studies and events to communicate with the women in their church. Leaders that didn’t have email addresses or systems to text their women saw the need and responded.
Covid shook things up and scattered women about.
- Leadership teams changed.
- Women changed churches and with them came fresh energy and ideas.
- Teams were forced to be creative and find new ways to connect.
- Covid also revealed how much women were leaning on Bible study groups and Bible study authors to feed them God’s Word rather than feasting on it for themselves.
The Biblical illiteracy that Jen Wilkin was addressing became crystal clear.
I’ve seen and sensed a definite shift over the last 10 years to events with more depth and intention.
Leaders are beginning to listen and respond to the cries from their women for deeper studies and deeper teaching.
Online ministries have multiplied and have provided discipleship and mentoring where the church has failed. Sadly digital community has replaced in-person community for many. Women are being discipled by other women they may never meet in real life. And their online teachers often hold to different biblical beliefs and don’t sit under the same teaching or fall under the authority of their local church.
Leaders, we have a great opportunity to solidify our women’s ministry programs. To lead with the gospel and emphasize the Truth found only in God’s Word.
Your women need you.
They need you to help them stand firm in a culture that opposes God’s Word.
While parties and potlucks are fun, they need you to help them view and respond to the world through the lens of a biblical worldview.
Leaders, we’ve got to step up! If your women’s ministry events and activities aren’t already focused on God and His Word, it is time!
Your women need your support. They need you to teach them. They need you to disciple them. If you don’t, they are going to find it elsewhere.
Expanding Our Ministry Reach
As I considered how to celebrate 10 years, one thing I wanted more than anything else was for all of us is to extend our efforts to reach out to women who may not typically attend our women’s ministry activities.
There are two groups of women I want to draw your attention to.
Reaching Out to Women Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy
Last month my husband and I had the opportunity to help clean a pregnancy life resource center in our local community. While our church supports several local groups in many ways, this sat differently with me. Being in the rooms where women are trying to decide what to do greatly affected me.
We were given a tour of the facility and when they opened the closet to show us the supplies they give out to every pregnant mother they serve (diapers, clothes, bottles, and so on) I was struck by how bare their shelves were.
I’d be honored if you’d join me in filling their shelves.
Here is the link to the Human Coalition’s Amazon wishlist for their clinic in Charlotte.
I also want to invite you to get involved in the local pregnancy center in your community. They need your help.
I was stunned to learn that they employ 20 people full-time in their call center. That’s a lot of women seeking help. Praise God more than 50% of the women who seek services with Human Coalition choose life. Those women need your support and they need mentoring and discipleship.
Reaching Out to Miltary Spouses
Another group that God has been drawing my attention to is military spouses.
About 5 years ago I connected with Megan Brown. She is a military spouse and the founder of the non-profit Milspo Co. and is working unbelievably hard to disciple military spouses and equip them to carry the gospel around the world. These women will make amazing missionaries!
Moving about every 2-3 years these women struggle to connect in the local church. They carry burdens beyond anything you can imagine. Did you know the suicide rate is almost the same for those who enlist as it is for military spouses?
They want to serve in their local church but are often turned away and not invested in because leaders know they’ll eventually leave.
One of the amazing things Milspo Co does is to provide discipleship boxes. Most of these women don’t have a budget for Bible study materials, so Milspo Co provides them. Women receive Bibles, sound Bible studies, and theology books and they meet in small groups on bases to study God’s Word together.
My challenge to you is this, consider how you can support military spouses.
If your church is near a base, find ways to support and disciple the women in your local military community.
- They long for mentors.
- They want older, wiser women to come alongside them.
- They need your support.
- They need a listening ear.
If you don’t have a military base nearby, please consider joining me as a supporter of MilspoCo. You can make a one-time or monthly donation. Download the Milspo Co App from the iTunes or Google app store to make a donation and to learn more. You can also visit the MilspoCo website here.
Your support will provide much-needed resources for military spouses.
Here are today’s Toolbox Tasks:
- Take time to reflect and discuss how your women’s ministry program has changed over the last 10 years.
- Make a plan to extend your ministry reach, particularly to women with unplanned pregnancies and military spouses.
God has just called us to serve the women that sit in the pews on Sunday, every woman needs Jesus.
Every woman needs encouragement and support to live a life focused on becoming more like Christ.