• A few weeks ago, our church completed the second of three classes in our women’s discipleship strategy. Our time together centered on how to study God’s Word, and I gave them practical and easily replicated Bible study tools they can use for both personal growth and discipling others. I’m a firm believer that every women’s ministry event… [Continue Reading]

    Leading your women’s ministry in a Bible reading challenge
  • Recently, I had a chance to pepper author and church planting wife Christine Hoover with questions about her latest book, From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel. The book is a resounding call for Christian women to bid adieu to “performance-based Christianity” by living in light of the freedoms of the gospel and… [Continue Reading]

    Christine Hoover: the goodness gospel & women’s ministries
  • There is nothing that makes my heart sing louder than grabbing a front row seat to watch women cultivate insatiable appetites for the Word of God. It’s a scene I’ve had the privilege of witnessing many times in our growing church plant, and it’s one I want to see replicated a hundred times over as we continue… [Continue Reading]

    A teaching event on how to study God’s Word
  • Women’s ministry has gotten some bad press lately. Millennials are calling for something new. Having grown tired of “their mother’s tea parties,” they stand ready to trade in the doilies of the 80s and the video-driven Bible studies of the 90s for something more. I’ll be honest. I don’t believe women are sick of women’s ministry simply… [Continue Reading]

    Growing a healthy women’s ministry: biblical literacy

Leading your women’s ministry in a Bible reading challenge

Challenging women to change what they crave with a reading challenge {Hive Resources}

A few weeks ago, our church completed the second of three classes in our women’s discipleship strategy. Our time together centered on how to study God’s Wordand I gave them practical and easily replicated Bible study tools they can use for both personal growth and discipling others.

I’m a firm believer that every women’s ministry event should feed into the greater discipleship strategy of its home church. So, when we concluded our weekend-long training session, I knew I needed to keep our momentum going. I also wanted to give our women some dedicated space to practice using the Bible study skills they had learned in class.

FREE Bible Reading Template from Hive Resources
So, this month the women in our church are embarking on a 31-Day Bible Reading Challenge of the book of Matthew.  Using the material I put together for our class, I sent out a downloadable Bible study template for the ladies. (You can download the PDF here). It is my hope that the more our ladies practice Bible study using this method, the easier it will be for them to teach this framework to someone else.

Previously, I’ve participated in similar challenges set up by groups like Hello Mornings. For a few seasons I enjoyed the rich accountability and prayer support that came from these online communities. The women in my group would encourage me to keep reading God’s Word when I got behind or challenged me to look deeper at a passage.

I’ve always wondered why more churches aren’t adapting this sort of ministry model to their women’s ministry. If women across the nation can partner up in small groups to read the Bible, then why can’t the women who go to the same church? Imagine how the increased community and Bible literacy could benefit a local church, not to mention the missional outgrowth of focused Bible study!

Like the Hello Mornings format, we are using a private Facebook page for our women’s ministry where the ladies can check-in as they read their passage. This format is also helpful for providing increased accountability and fostering greater community as the women post insights and discuss questions that arise from their studies.

We are only four days into our church’s 31 Day Reading Challenge and already the Spirit  is at work producing beautiful fruit! New disciples are learning how to find the main idea of a passage before skipping immediately to the application. Discipleship group leaders are coming alongside their disciples to answer questions and encourage them to crave God’s Word above all else.

This past week my heart has soared to see the ladies post summaries of a passage and even pictures displaying their Bibles open beside pages full of notes!

And while I know there will be discouragement over missed days that will threaten to squelch our appetites for God’s Word, there will be an entire church of women cheering each other on in this challenge.

How does your church’s women’s ministry help women cultivate an appetite for God’s Word? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Christine Hoover: the goodness gospel & women’s ministries

How performance based Christianity impacts womens ministries {an interview with author Christine Hoover at Hive Resources}Recently, I had a chance to pepper author and church planting wife Christine Hoover with questions about her latest book, From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel.

The book is a resounding call for Christian women to bid adieu to “performance-based Christianity” by living in light of the freedoms of the gospel and is a must-read for every woman, particularly for those in the trenches of ministry. The lessons Christine shares require believers to evaluate their understanding of the greatness of God and the way they serve him in their homes, churches, and communities.

Listen in as Christine shares about the goodness gospel and how it impacts ministries to women.

HIVE RESOURCES: Your book is very personal. The beginning is largely the story of your journey of faith and how you learned to embrace the gospel over “being good.” How many other women in the church do you think resonate with your journey?

Christine Hoover: You’re right, this book is very personal. It was written on my heart through many years of wrestling with spiritual perfectionism. For so long I attempted to be good for God according to my own ability—which is what I term the “goodness gospel”—but then He taught me about His grace and that changed everything for me.

As a pastor’s wife, I’ve found that many Christian women are deeply entangled, as I was, in the bondage of “not good enough.” They live their lives solely based upon what others are saying and the loud voices of expectation in their heads. These voices correspond closely with cultural messages of “do more, try harder” and “be the change you want to see.” They’ve infiltrated our churches and have confused the simplicity and beauty of the gospel of Jesus. I wrote this book for those women, the ones who don’t even know they are living by the goodness gospel but feel the effects of it: the comparison, competition, division, people-pleasing, isolation, self-condemnation, and guilt. There are many Christian women who feel like I did: unloved by God and certain that they’ll never be enough or do enough for Him. I wrote From Good to Grace for them.

HIVE RESOURCES: How important is understanding the “goodness gospel” in women’s ministry? Does it impact what you promote, what types of events you offer, and even what you teach the women in your church?

Christine Hoover: The culture is already telling women they need to be better and try harder; we certainly don’t need women’s ministries propagating these things in relation to the gospel. If we imply we have to be good in order for God to love and use us for His glory, we only add to the burden, guilt, and condemnation women come to the church to be freed from. So it is vitally important that we look at the foundation of our women’s ministries: is everything we do, teach, and promote based upon the true gospel, which leads to life and freedom and a deeper trust of the Lord’s work in us, or is it promoting the goodness gospel, which leads to greater condemnation?

An interview with Christine Hoover on how the goodness gospel impacts women in the church {Hive Resources}HIVE RESOURCES: How did the goodness gospel impact you in your church planting journey?

Actually church planting took further crutches of self-reliance out from under me. It showed me how the goodness gospel–a reliance on myself and my own abilities–continued to ingrain itself in my heart. Church planting is tough work, but it’s also been the best thing God’s done in my life, primarily because it’s taught me that I can’t bear spiritual fruit on my own. No amount of hard work or my own goodness can change someone’s heart. It’s the Holy Spirit alone. I completely dependent upon God’s grace toward me.

HIVE RESOURCES: In what ways do traditional women’s ministries feed the addiction to the goodness gospel?

Christine Hoover: Women’s ministries must cultivate a great love of, reverence for, and dedication to the Bible while also cultivating a safe environment where women can bare their heart struggles. This is a powerful combination where the Holy Spirit can work, produce fruit, and yield lasting, redemptive change. When one is cultivated without the other, we are in danger of feeding women’s addiction to the goodness gospel. Knowledge of Scripture that we’re not urged to apply will lead to puffing up and self-reliance. Hearts laid bare without the truth of Scripture applied opens the door for worldly wisdom or self-help cliches to be thrown around. We need both Scripture and honesty about our hearts so that we’re able to encourage a deep dependence on the Lord.

HIVE RESOURCES: How can women’s ministries serve women who are paralyzed by the fears of trying to earn God’s love by being good? What are the some practical ways to reverse the addiction to goodness/perfection and help women crave the gospel in our women’s ministries?

Christine Hoover: The gospel is not innate to us. It’s an announcement of good news that we must hear and proclaim to ourselves over and over again. We must let it consistently sink down deeper into every crevice of life. We get it wrong so often because what I term the goodness gospel is innate. We tend to innately believe that external behaviors can change internal realities, so self-effort has an appearance of wisdom to us. We must, as Paul says in Galatians 5:1, “stand firm in the liberty for which Christ has set us free.”

Women’s ministries can serve their women by proclaiming the gospel over and over again. We can tell it in a variety of beautiful ways, because we can apply it to every issue that women deal with: comparison, body image, shameful and secret sin, marriage, singleness, widowhood, friendship, and more. We serve our women when we don’t just pass out tips for being “better” at roles and responsibilities but when we give them gospel truths. The gospel is life. We also serve them when we don’t cater to whims but when we dig deeper into the gospel.

I think in our churches we often focus on what the gospel says about salvation, but we aren’t always talking about how the gospel applies to our sanctification. How do we grow? How does the Holy Spirit work in our daily lives? What does it mean to walk by faith? Without understanding these concepts, we naturally revert back to the goodness gospel.

how to encourage women to flee from performance based Christianity {Interview with author and church planter Christine Hoover at Hive Resources}HIVE RESOURCES: How has the goodness gospel impacted how we disciple women?

Christine Hoover: In From Good to Grace, I talk about the type of counsel we give other women. We can give women the goodness gospel (do better, try harder) or we can give them the gospel of grace, which is that God has provided not only for salvation but has given us everything we need for life and godliness. We want to disciple women in a way that pushes them to seek God’s voice, know God’s voice, and obey God’s voice. The goodness gospel, however, puts the burden for discipleship on the discipler. I have to give perfect wisdom. I have to tell them what to do. It is my responsibility to make sure they do the right thing. It’s my responsibility to discipline them and be their Holy Spirit. Ultimately, if I disciple according to the goodness gospel, I have to be good. I am not a fellow learner or a fellow sojourner in need of grace.

HIVE RESOURCES: In your book you talk about how the goodness gospel impacts the way women relate to one another. What advice would you offer a women’s ministry leader who is battling unhealthy relationships and trying to implement some of these measures?

Christine Hoover: Have conversations about it. Our church recently held a women’s retreat where we talked about these exact issues. We looked at the root beliefs of comparison, competition, and disunity among women and then we looked at what the gospel says about these things. We had very honest conversations about broken relationships in the church; in fact, I shared with one of my friends about how our friendship had deteriorated and how God had restored it. We wanted to model how we fight for unity, how the gospel gives us the power to do that, and how we confess and repent in community.

Special thanks to Baker Books and Christine Hoover for providing me with a review copy of From Good to Grace. This post contains affiliate links. To find out more, click here.

A teaching event on how to study God’s Word

Teaching women to study the Bible {Hive Resources}

There is nothing that makes my heart sing louder than grabbing a front row seat to watch women cultivate insatiable appetites for the Word of God.

It’s a scene I’ve had the privilege of witnessing many times in our growing church plant, and it’s one I want to see replicated a hundred times over as we continue in a women’s discipleship strategy anchored in biblical literacy.

Recently, we hosted a special discipleship weekend that was made sweet for several reasons.

Sweet Purpose

If you know my heart, you know I believe every women’s ministry event should feed into the greater discipleship strategy of the church. The mission of our church is to become a church planting church, but in order for that to happen, the women in our church must become disciple-making women.

Teaching women to crave the sweetness of Gods Word {Hive Resources}

Because God’s Word is foundational to the discipleship process, our event served as a training weekend on studying the Bible and using Bible study as a discipleship tool.

Helpin women cultivate an appetite for Gods Word {Hive Resources}

Our theme for the weekend was “God’s Word is Sweeter than Honey” taken from Psalm 19:10. From this rich Psalm, we spent two sessions on why we should crave God’s Word above all else.

These lessons were important for new believers as they grapple with questions concerning the trustworthiness of God’s Word, but they also served mature Christians well who easily forget the importance of cultivating an appetite for the Scriptures.

Discipleship tools from Psalm 19 {Hive Resources}

In our time together, we dug deep and asked some hard questions of the women. How often do they feed on the Bible? Are they capable of self-feeding or are they lazy eaters enjoying the table scraps from someone else’s Bible study? What are some key obstacles keeping them from consistently craving God’s Word?

Bee-ing Honest about Biblical Literacy in Womens Ministries {Hive Resources}

On Saturday, we moved from the feast to the hands-on cooking lesson with three sessions dedicated to Howard Hendricks’ three-fold Bible study method: observation, interpretation, application. He outlines this method in his book, Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible.

Gods Word is Sweeter Than Honey Event Ideas {Hive Resources}

At the end of each session, the ladies worked through a specified passage, putting their new skills to the test. A discipleship leader sat at each table to guide new believers through the process.

While there are many fruitful Bible study methods, I chose to teach Hendricks’ method for our weekend event because its three steps are easy to replicate. Disciplers can take those three steps and teach them to another disciple.

Sweet Partners

Pulling off a weekend-long discipleship event is no small task, particularly for a new church. But we were blessed by a number of sweet partners in this endeavor, namely the women of one of our sponsoring churches, Hickory Grove Baptist Church.

Cultivating partnerships with other churches {Hive Resources}

HGBC sent a mission team to provide childcare so all our ladies could spend time being equipped. They donated door prizes and personalized gift bags filled with all sorts of goodies – a treat our church could not have afforded otherwise. When we gathered with them to stuff our goody bags, they told us how they had prayed for us by name in the months leading up to our event. Their investment was both intentional and eternal.

If your women’s ministry is part of a larger church, consider partnering with the women’s ministry of a nearby church plant. You have an incredible opportunity to pour into the lives of other women for kingdom purposes.

Ideas for a weekend teaching event on the sweetness of Gods Word {Hive Resources]
And while I led in teaching, this discipleship event was not a one-woman show. The women who comprise the women’s ministry at our church took the lead in promotion, decoration, and food preparation. Since Christmas, they have planned and prayed and prepared for our time together. They are my sweet partners in the gospel, and I am so thankful for them.

Sweeter Than Honey Photobooth Ideas {Hive Resources}

Who knew discipleship could be so fun!?!? Thank you ladies of Hickory Grove and Living Faith! I love ya!

In coming posts, I’ll be sharing some of my teaching material and the how-to’s of putting a weekend teaching event together. So stay tuned!

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Growing a healthy women’s ministry: biblical literacy

Growing a healthy womens ministry through bibilical literacy

Women’s ministry has gotten some bad press lately. Millennials are calling for something new. Having grown tired of “their mother’s tea parties,” they stand ready to trade in the doilies of the 80s and the video-driven Bible studies of the 90s for something more.

I’ll be honest. I don’t believe women are sick of women’s ministry simply because it seems tired or fake, but because women’s ministry is often disconnected from biblical discipleship.

Recently, I’ve started strategizing ways for our church plant to minister to the growing number of new believing and seeking women coming through our doors. We’ve returned to the drawing board multiple times to tweak our strategy, yet this central truth rings clear. Women benefit the most from a women’s ministry that connects the dots to true New Testament discipleship.

This is the underlying message I hear echoed in blog posts bemoaning the current state of women’s ministry. True New Testament discipleship is about making replicating disciples, not simply attending a Bible study, enjoying fellowship with other women, or meeting up with a mentor for coffee.

Usually, discipleship doesn’t happen without any of those things, but it doesn’t mean biblical discipleship exists when those elements are present either. An effective and powerful ministry to women can only happen when the church intentionally trains women to intentionally reproduce themselves as a Christ follower by taking another woman along with her as she lives out her faith in her everyday calling and activities.

Today, I’ll share one element our church is pursuing to connect women’s ministry and discipleship: biblical literacy.

Teach women to read the Bible

Growing and encouraging women through Bible study is the most important component of any women’s ministry.  Souls, hearts, minds, and eyes are transformed when the Spirit illuminates God’s Word in the human heart, helping us apply it to our everyday lives (Ps. 19).

And from video-driven studies to great new books, the American church has never had wealthier resources from which to draw to equip and disciple women in the Scriptures. Yet, spiritual poverty seems to abound. Because God’s Word is sufficient for every need and circumstance, the healthiest and most relevant woman’s ministries will encourage women to cultivate an insatiable appetite for the sweetness of God’s Word (Ps. 19:10-11).

I know that not all women are gifted in Bible study, but all are expected to endeavor in the task of becoming biblically literate. Women’s ministries would do well to evaluate if the women in their midst are equipped to read and study the Bible unaided.

survey questions for determining if the women in your church are biblically literate

So, here are some survey questions to help you evaluate the level of biblically literacy among the women in your ministry:

–Can you articulate the big picture of Scripture and identify it in any given Bible passage?

–Can you read a passage looking for the author’s intent in writing and overall context?

–Do you know how to do a basic word study using a concordance and/or lexicon (or utilize a Bible software)?

–Do you know the different biblical genres (literary types) and the different hermeneutics (interpretative methods) they require?

–Do you have a process for studying a passage or do you start by looking for the application? (“What does this passage mean to me?”)

–Can you explain how a particular passage points to or exalts Christ?

Some of those questions are technical, but they will provide insight if the women in your church are truly capable of studying God’s Word on their own.

A women’s ministry that doesn’t teach women to understand and apply the Bible for themselves will fail to make effective disciples. The women who walk out of our doors each week might be well-fed, but they will also be lazy, ineffective. and ultimately irrelevant in an ever-changing culture. (Ouch. I know.)

Teaching your women to study God’s Word may take some creativity, as women today seem to be busier than ever before.  I’ve heard many women’s ministry leaders complain that the women they serve do not want to participate in Bible studies that have “homework.”

Consider these ideas for motivating others to study God’s Word:

–Start with a small number of women who show an interest in learning God’s Word.

–Instead of a 10-week class, consider hosting a special retreat or “crash-course” on how to study God’s Word. (Our church is hosting one such event in April centered on Ps. 19).

–Start a book club using one of the resources on studying God’s Word listed below. If you can’t meet regularly, work through the chapters on a private Facebook group or Google hangout, that way business trips and sickness won’t keep women from learning how to study God’s Word.

One of the lessons I’ve learned in women’s ministry is accountability is key. In the same way that having an exercise partner can motivate one to stick to a work-out plan, many women need accountability to study God’s Word. For this reason, our church doesn’t just offer discipleship classes or Bible studies, discipleship groups are also a part of our overall discipleship strategy. We want to see Titus 2 played out, but we also know, practically, that women need accountability to continue to read and grow in God’s Word.

Teach women to teach the Bible

A women’s ministry that doesn’t teach women to understand and apply the Bible for themselves will not only fail to make effective disciples, it will fail to make replicating disciples as well. Replicating discipleship is at its heart New Testament discipleship. And unless our women’s ministries are producing women who can teach other women how to read and study their Bibles, then we are truly failing to make disciples at all.

So, how do we change that? Again, here are a few ideas:

–Offer a better variety of Bible studies than simply video-driven studies or books written by the most popular teachers and authors. In this way, we’ll avoid the bandwagon of promoting personalities over God’s Word.

–Help the women in your church discover their spiritual gifts, keeping an eye out for individuals with the gift of teaching. Don’t assume you know someone’s gifting or area of interests. Ask regularly! You don’t need to identify the next Beth Moore, simply women who will faithfully handle God’s Word and lead others to do the same.

–Educate the women in your church about the cycle of discipleship. A disciple does not simply remain a student only. To become a fully-formed disciple, she will need to step into the role of teacher as well. Replicating oneself does not require a woman possess the spiritual gift of teaching; she only needs to be willing to demonstrate to others how to live out their faith in simple ways and rightly handle God’s Word.

–Intentionally challenge specific women to work through the same material with someone else they know – either one person or in a small group. In this way, studying the Bible becomes a form of replicating discipleship.

–Select material that is easily reproducible so women can lead other women through similar studies (see the material listed below).

–If a woman seems unsure if she is capable of teaching, ask her to serve as your co-teacher. In this way, she can practice teaching in small segments with you standing ready to step in if she needs your help. The co-teacher system is also a great way teach women how to facilitate discussion, encourage questions, and unpack God’s Word in a group setting.

3 resources for learning God’s Word

Looking for some good resources for teaching your women to study and teach Scripture? Here are three resources on teaching women to study God’s Word:

Teaching women to study the Bible for themselves {Hive Resources}Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible by Howard and William Hendricks is my all-time favorite book for learning how to study the Bible. Complete with pictures, graphs, and illustrations, this book is easy to read and offers easy-to-remember tools at the same time. Any Bible study on the market utilizes or mirrors Hendricks’ three-fold Bible study method (observation, interpretation, application) to some degree. It is a mainstay and a must-have for any believer.

Teaching women to replicate themselves through Bible study {Hive Resources}I just finished reading From the Mouth of God: Trusting, Reading, and Applying the Bible by Sinclair Ferguson. This book is a wealth of information for studying God’s Word. And although it is not as easy to read as Howard Hendricks’ book, it offers helpful “keys” for understanding the larger context of Scripture such as its redemptive story line.

A must-have book to disciple women in the Word {Hive Resources}Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin encourages women’s ministries to pursue the training of competent female Bible study teachers.

This book offers practical study tips and identifies some of the pitfalls into which women commonly fall when studying God’s Word. And although I wish she gave greater credence the role of learning the original languages in studying the Bible, I love that the author encourages women to keep the big picture of the Scriptures in mind when interpreting it. Every Christian woman should own this book.

If women’s ministries have any hope of becoming effective and relevant once again (and I think they do!), they must become more than simply a filling station to fuel up on God’s Word. Women’s ministries  must also intentionally train women to pour themselves out for others and into others.

One of the best places to help women connect the dots to her role in the church and the kingdom is by teaching her to replicate herself through God’s Word.

What is your favorite tool or book that helped you learn how to study God’s Word? Share your resource in the comments so I can see what’s on your bookshelf! 

This post contains affiliate links. For more info, click here.

Host your own ‘Daughters of the King’ small group

tips and ideas for hosting your own Daughters of the King Bible study or book club {Hive Resources}

Today I’m excited to share with you some ideas for hosting your own small group or book club using my Bible study, Daughters of the King: Finding Your Place in the Biblical Story.

Longtime friend and international missions advocate Debi Pruitt is leading some friends and college students through the book. Because some of her students are bound for the mission field, Debi thought the book’s emphasis on discipleship using the whole story of Scripture would be helpful for them.

And since the roots for this book were born out of my days living in Southeast Asia, I couldn’t agree with her more!

Kick of your study of the Daughters of the King with these ideas {Hive Resources}

At the kick-off for the Bible study, Debi set up a spread of refreshments fit for a queen (chocolate covered strawberries? Yum-o!) She decorated with fun crowns and a globe a reminder of God’s story for the nations. How cute are these gals wearing their crowns?

host your own Daughters of the King Bible study {Hive Resources}

I love how she made use of the free printable pack I offered a while back and customized one of the ready-made invites. She even used copies of the book as decorations.

Here’s what Debi had to say about the time with her small group:

Ideas for leading Daughters of the King Bible study {Hive Resources}

Thanks, Debi, for all the feedback and pictures!

Is your small group reading Daughters of the King? I’d love to hear from you! Send your ideas and pictures to me at info@hiveresources.com or  post them to your social media sites with #DaughtersoftheKingbook.

This post contains affiliate links. For more info, click here.

The missing element of women’s ministries: the gospel & Titus 2

Growing a healthy womens ministry {a discipleship series at Hive Resources}

When she said the words, I cringed.

“I stayed in youth ministry for 15 years full-time, because I never wanted to graduate to women’s miseries,” joked popular Bible teacher Christine Caine during the launch of Liberty University’s new leadership initiative called Propel Women.

It’s a sentiment shared by many women these days. As an increasing number of women spend the majority of their day outside the home, traditional women’s ministries framed solely around home and hearth can miss the mark.

“We are hemorrhaging a generation of women,” lamented Caine, quoting a study that has been circulating my Facebook feed recently outlining the reasons women are “unplugging” from church.

“Women are underutilized at church because their gifts are not recognized or respected,” she surmised. “So…some of these women can run Fortune 500 companies, but the most [they] can do at church is bake a casserole.”

The message of Caine’s speech was clear. For the next generation of women in the church, casseroles and children are out. Leadership and spiritual gifts are in.

Leading in Titus 2 ways

While I worry about establishing a false dichotomy between working in a nursery and being a leader, I agree with Caine to some degree. A woman’s role in the church should include more than potlucks and nursery duty. God gives each believer vast opportunities in which to use their gifts to serve his church.

I also believe that Titus 2 is not and should not be the exhaustive passage on women’s ministry in the church. In the New Testament church, women prophesied (Acts 21:7-9; 1 Cor. 11:5), taught alongside their husbands (Acts 18:26-27), provided gifts out of their own financial resources (Luke 8:1-3), and served in other notable and important ways (Rom. 16:1; Acts 16:13-15).

This is a lesson I’ve learned 10 times over as the core member of a Southern Baptist church plant in what is considered a pioneer area of the United States. Of Pittsburgh’s 2.5 million residents, 42.3 percent claim no religious affiliation according to the North American Mission Board. Our church currently averages 50 adults and 30 children on Sundays, further illuminating Jesus’ Matthew 9:37-38 statement that the “harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”

Effective and healthy church plants rely on the service and investment of both men and women. And while this is true of any church old or new, personally, I have discovered more ways to serve and utilize my spiritual gifts in our church plant than in any church I’ve previously attended.

a healthy womens ministry connects the gospel to titus 2 {Hive Resources}

And while we bake our fair share of casseroles (everyone’s got to eat!) and crawl on the floor with the preschoolers, the women in our church plant are a stout group. They teach youth, care for babies, disciple other women. They open their homes, share meals with visitors, and foster discussion alongside their husbands in small groups.

They are idea-makers, servants, strategizers, evangelists, theologians, and teachers. They are administrators, encouragers, mentors, and wisdom sharers. For this reason, I look forward to what Liberty’s Propel Women initiative offers members of my gender who truly desire to integrate their faith, work, and church life.

Discipling in new ways

But here’s where I’d like to offer a word of caution.

I don’t believe women are leaving the church simply because they can’t find adequate ways to use their unique spiritual gifts. I believe women are leaving the church because the church isn’t fully discipling them.

Across the board, women’s ministries must implement better discipleship strategies that help women perceive needs around them with missional eyes and then train them how to employ their spiritual gifts in those areas.

Considering there are no “children’s ministry” spiritual gifts or “casserole maven” gifts (although, hello, that would be amazing), a true disciple will find a way to utilize her spiritual gift in any context.  This is where my church planting context kicks into over drive, because a younger congregation typically has more needs and service opportunities than workers willing to serve. And no place is this reality more reticent than in church nursery and preschool rooms.

Women’s ministries, then, must help women connect the dots between the gospel and the Titus 2 activities that typically appear in women’s ministries. What is gospel activity about hospitality? How does the gospel underscore the importance of smart, gifted women serving in the children’s department or any area of the church for that matter?

Our church plant is only one of 68 other SBC churches serving a city of 2.5 million people. That means there is only one church in my city for every 43,754 residents. So, when I serve in our children’s department, I’m giving lost Moms and Dads a chance to hear about Jesus in the worship service. On numerous occasions, the children who hear our Bible stories go home to “teach” the truth to their parents.  That’s important stuff.

Often, the first place we ask new believers to serve (after receiving a background checked) is the preschool class. Why do we do that? Because we aren’t just discipling children, we’re discipling new believers who serve in this capacity as they learn Bible stories in simple ways and then learn how to teach them for themselves.

Serving in the nursery is a gospel activity. Teaching women to see the missional aspect of serving children and how to utilize their spiritual gift in that capacity takes intentional discipleship.

Now, let’s talk casseroles and the gospel.

In the first year of our launch, our plant met in a two-room office building. Our homes became the central hub of our church’s gospel activity. The homes of Living Faith Community Church have welcomed lost neighbors, hurting community members, and even international students who had never heard the name of Jesus. And whether casseroles actually made an appearance or not, the point is food and the preparation it requires forms a bridge over which the body of Christ is strengthened and its mission more easily achieved.

Recently, a family in our church was struggling. Our church family surrounded them by delivering meals to their home. It was a living picture of the gospel nourishing the body of Christ.  Last week, I attended a discipleship group where a Muslim woman attended for the first time. We dug into God’s Word and prayed together over sandwiches. That’s gospel stuff, but it took an older woman demonstrating to the young women around her table how Titus 2 intersects with the gospel as she orchestrated the meeting, opened her home, prepared the food, and led in Bible study.

So, here’s my point. Can women do other things in the church besides care for children and cook? Of course! However, in a day when our culture is already hard at work whispering in the ears our women that activities like serving a meal and teaching children are trivial exercises, let’s not fuel the fire by suggesting Titus 2 activities can be executed with the least amount of spiritual giftedness. 

The missing element of most women’s ministries isn’t an adequate place to serve – it’s communicating what is gospel work about Titus 2.

When women’s ministries clearly connects the gospel to some of these very important, yet often under-valued ministries, discipleship happens and true leaders emerge.  In this way, women’s ministry will cease to be a “miserable” or irrelevant experience and become a place of gospel empowerment.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be unpacking some ideas for getting women’s ministries realigned with its true goal – discipleship. Subscribe to follow the conversation.