• 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
  • 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… [Continue Reading]

    Host your own ‘Daughters of the King’ small group
  • 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… [Continue Reading]

    The missing element of women’s ministries: the gospel & Titus 2
  • For most of my Christian life, I missed out on the best part of the Bible. I don’t mean the best story or the best character. I mean, somewhere along the way, I left out the fourth and final plot move of the Bible. I knew the entire story of the Bible, but I lived… [Continue Reading]

    Plot Move 4 in God’s Story (Don’t miss the best part of the Bible)

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.

Plot Move 4 in God’s Story (Don’t miss the best part of the Bible)

Seeing the Story of the Scriptures {A Hive Resources Series}

For most of my Christian life, I missed out on the best part of the Bible.

I don’t mean the best story or the best character. I mean, somewhere along the way, I left out the fourth and final plot move of the Bible.

I knew the entire story of the Bible, but I lived like my story stopped at the third plot move – redemption (which is no less awesome, by the way).

But simply covering sin isn’t enough. We need more than just forgiveness. That’s because sin isn’t just the bad things we do; it’s in our nature. Our sinful natures make it impossible to love and trust and “obey right away, all the way, and with a happy heart” even after we’ve been redeemed.

Do not miss out on the best part of the Bible {Hive Resources}Sin corrupted the image of God within us wholesale, so life will never be any sort of Eden until we are completely remade.

In the fourth plot move of the Bible – restoration – the King keeps his promise to fully save us from our sin. One day, the King will return and his entire kingdom – and all his subjects – will be restored.

Here’s why neglecting the fourth plot move of the Bible is a problem: I need more than a pardon for sin, I need an entirely new life. I need a new heart that actually loves. I need a new mind that thinks pure thoughts. I need a new mouth….well, for obvious reasons. And I need a new world that doesn’t suffer or sin along with me.

We need a new everything! And replacing a few parts will only get us so far. The whole world is in need of a complete overhaul.

WHAT ‘RESTORATION’ MEANS FOR MY STORY:

So, what does our restoration look like?

When the King restores us, we will be returned to his presence. If we know Christ, today, we enjoy access to the King through his Spirit. But in the day of our restoration, we will no longer see him “in a mirror dimly,” as Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 13, but “face to face.”

The King, himself, is and will be our greatest blessing and treasure. We will dwell with him in a way that Adam and Eve only tasted in Eden.

In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”(Ps. 16:11).

When the King restores us, we will be returned to his court. Finally, we will be able to fulfill the purpose for which we were created – to serve as representatives of the King without blemish or struggle or strife. He will heal his image in us, restoring us to our place and privileged role in his newly restored kingdom.

This will be possible because we are wearing Christ’s righteous robes instead of our old filthy rags.  This will be possible because the King’s kingdom will be released from all sorrow, shame, regret, and guilt. He is making all things new – even the heavens and the earth (Is. 61; Rev. 21).

In the fourth plot move of the Bible, we are returned both to the King and to his court!

The story of the Bible doesn’t stop when God rescues us from sin. It continues as he restores us to our original position and place with him. So, don’t miss the best part of the Bible. Knowing the full story of the Bible doesn’t just matter for eternity, it impacts the way you live today.

Catch up on the others posts in this series:

Plot move 1 – CREATION – A good King created a good world …

Plot move 2 – FALL – it became corrupted by sin ….

Plot move 3 – REDEMPTION – the King is at work to redeem his kingdom

Plot move 4 – RESTORATION – and restore it through his Son, Jesus Christ.

A family devotional for the New Year

Family devotions for the New Year {Hive Resources}

Looking for a new family devotional to kick off the New Year? Then check out the recently released I Can Learn the Bible: 52 Devotions and Scriptures for Kids by Holly Hawkins Shivers. Published by Tommy Nelson, this weekly devotional will help you hide God’s Word in even the smallest heart in your home.

I Can Learn the Bible

Here’s what’s inside:

– a short and relatable devotion based on 52 Scripture verses

– explanations and illustrations of each verse that children can understand

– helpful discussion questions for parents to use in prompting their children to apply the passage to their lives

A new devotional to help your kids memorize and apply God's Word {Hive Resources}

There are a number of things I enjoyed about this book, like the fill-in-the-blank statements sprinkled throughout the text that help prompt discussion.

The author also offers a sample daily schedule of simple activities for parents to help their children memorize the weekly passage. A far cry from the moralistic lessons typically found in children’s religious material, I particularly appreciated how the author embedded a biblical worldview into each devotional.

Instilling a biblical worldview in your kids {Hive Resources}

Ultimately, I love the author’s encouragement to parents feeling the pressure to raise godly children. In her introduction, she writes:

“…we can educate our children with a biblical worldview, we can enroll them in church activities and teach them principles to the best of our abilities, and we can pray for them, discipline them, and love them well. But there is nothing like the Word of God being planted in their hearts, taking root, and producing genuine spiritual growth. Ultimately, the spiritual well-being of our children rests in the hands of God – He will form and strengthen them through His Word and His Spirit.”

52 Scriptures every kid should know {Hive Resources}

Overall, this is a wonderful devotional for families just starting to carve out time together in God’s Word, as well as for families with children ages 5-12. My only criticism is the illustrations are not available as Scripture cards or printable 8×10’s for framing. Now THAT would be fun!

Thanks to Tommy Nelson for providing a copy for review. You can purchase I Can Learn the Bible at the link. And psst, the kindle version is only $1.99 right now!

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

6 elements to a successful discipleship group

Ministry Monday Women's Ministry {Hive Resources}

Our church plant is in the thick of unrolling a discipleship strategy for women.  I’m over at Missional Women sharing some of our lessons on what works, what doesn’t, and what we can do without.  

And while there is no single formula for leading a discipleship group, we’ve discovered a few elements that can determine how successful a group can be.

6 elements to a successful discipleship group {Melissa Deming for Missional Women}

Recently, I invited myself to a friend’s discipleship group comprised of three younger women, and I observed several things “worked” for them. Not all these elements have to happen at each group meeting, but when they do appear, they ensure women are edified and equipped to make more disciples.

Here are 6 elements that make for a successful discipleship group. Click to find out what they are!  

New resources for women's ministry leaders {Hive Resources}

Before you go, check out this MUST-FOLLOW Pinterest Board featuring tips, strategies and ideas for Women’s Ministry! Enjoy!

Follow Gina Duke / Churchtown Ministries’s board Must-Follow Women’s Ministry Leaders on Pinterest.