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.


Melissa Deming is the creator of Hive Resources — a site to help women sweeten their walk with Christ through Bible study, ministry and missions resources, and more. She is the author of "Daughters of the King: Finding Your Place in the Biblical Story." Melissa has an M.Div. in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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 or  post them to your social media sites with #DaughtersoftheKingbook.

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


Melissa Deming is the creator of Hive Resources — a site to help women sweeten their walk with Christ through Bible study, ministry and missions resources, and more. She is the author of "Daughters of the King: Finding Your Place in the Biblical Story." Melissa has an M.Div. in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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.


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.


Melissa Deming is the creator of Hive Resources — a site to help women sweeten their walk with Christ through Bible study, ministry and missions resources, and more. She is the author of "Daughters of the King: Finding Your Place in the Biblical Story." Melissa has an M.Div. in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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.


Melissa Deming is the creator of Hive Resources — a site to help women sweeten their walk with Christ through Bible study, ministry and missions resources, and more. She is the author of "Daughters of the King: Finding Your Place in the Biblical Story." Melissa has an M.Div. in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Meaningful Christmas gifts: 7 ESV Bibles for Kids

Making Christmas Meaningful {A Christmas Series at Hive Resources}

With Black Friday looming, the gift-buying frenzy is upon us! But this Christmas, considering making some of your presents to your children reflect the full meaning of the season.

During a time when we celebrate the Word becoming flesh, what better gift can you give your child than the written Word of God?

Give your child the World this Christmas - here are 7 ESV Bibles for beginning readers through teens {Hive Resources}

Give your child a Bible this Christmas, especially if they are just beginning to read or they are transitioning into a new stage of life.

Here are 7 ESV Bibles from Crossway for pre-readers through teens. Any one of these Bibles would make a meaningful Christmas gift.

Kid’s Compact Bible

ESV KIDS compact Bible {Hive Resources}

Recommended ages: 7-12

Price point: $18-32

Features: full ESV text, glossary, maps, OT & NT timeline art, dictionary, words of Christ in red.

The ESV Kid’s Compact Bible works for both boys and girls. Its slim body is easy enough for little hands to carry and slip into a backpack.

This is a no-frills Bible. There are very few textual notes and added information in the body of text, but it does include a helpful index for subjects like “God’s Word for Me When…” and “God’s Word for Me About…”

The Kid’s Compact Bible comes in a variety of colored leathers with embossed designs like owls, swords and shields. My six-year-olds loved the swords!

Overall, the size and simplicity of this Bible would make it an excellent first Bible for readers as they learn to discover and navigate God’s Word by looking up verses – even if the text is a little small!


ESV Seek and Find Bible

ESV Seek and Find Bible {Hive Resources}Recommended ages: 5-9

Price point: $20-28 (hard and soft cover)

Features: full ESV text, 130 full-color illustrations with accompanying Bible story summaries, short book introductions, over 50 character profiles, fun and colorful facts highlighted throughout the text.

The ESV Seek and Find Bible was my son’s (Jonah) favorite because he loved the illustrations and colorful graphics. Because he’s just beginning to read, the illustrated Bible objects, structures, and places really captured his imagination.

But here’s what I loved.

Each illustration is paired with a story, key memory verse, additional readings, and reflection questions giving parents lots of tools at their fingertips to help their child understand and apply God’s Word.

It is ideal as a first “study” Bible and very usable for homeschool, family Bible study, or fun interactive activities involving Scripture.


ESV Holy Bible for Kids

Holy Bible for Kids {Hive Resources}

Recommended ages: 9-12

Price point: $13-15

Features: full ESV text, 24 pages of special content, illustrations of major scenes in the redemptive story, and maps.

If you’re looking for an illustrated Bible without all the bells and whistles of other Bibles (and within a great price point), then the ESV Holy Bible for Kids might be your best bet.

Some of the full-page pictures are the same as those found in the Seek and Find Bible, and it has a clean double-column design.

Overall, I think the cover artwork might appeal to a younger age range than the publisher’s recommendation (ages 9-12).

But out of the seven Bibles reviewed in this post, my 6-yr-old son (Zach) picked this Bible as his favorite. The lack of extra notes or artwork in the body of the text made it easy to find a verse or passage. My only complaint is that the text is a bit small.

ESV Grow! Bible

Grow ESV Bible {Hive Resources}

Recommended ages: 8-12

Price point: $20-30

Features: full ESV text, key comprehension questions, application sections, charts, maps, short book introductions, and articles on Christian doctrine.

Out of all the seven Bibles in this post, the ESV Grow! Bible was my favorite because of its rich content and emphasis on understanding and applying God’s Word.

Almost every page contains a “W” question (who, what, when, where, why) helping children frame the central theme of a passage or story as well as understand the significance of God’s Word for daily life.

Also included are 45 “Cross Connections” to help children connect-the-dots between Christ and the rest of Scripture.

The Grow! Bible also contains 90 “4U” sections geared toward textual application as well as helpful articles on Christian doctrine and practice. Subjects include: the sacraments, What is the Apostle’s Creed, and The Whole Bible is Really About Jesus.

It also breaks the Old and New Testaments by division (Law, History, Wisdom, Gospels, etc) and outlines each genre in simple terms. (Can you tell I really like this one?)

Because the publisher recommends the ESV Grow! Bible as a second step after the Seek and Find Bible, we will definitely be hanging onto this Bible as the twins grow in their reading comprehension skills.

God Guy Bible

God Girl & God Guy Bible {Hive Resources}Recommended ages: teen boys

Price point: $13-32 (hard and softcover)

Features: full ESV text, character profiles, “Quick Relief” indexes and glossary, devotions written by longtime student ministers Michael and Hayley DiMarco, in-depth book introductions, and must-know terms and verses for each book of the Bible.

At heart, the God Guy Bible is a devotional Bible, but it’s a Bible geared toward teens who desire to know and apply God’s Word for themselves.

Per the publisher description, the God Guy Bible points “guys to the Bible as the foundation for all of life, fostering a love for God’s Word and a desire to know him better.”

The “Know This” devotionals and “Ask Yourself” sections highlight passages and themes and how to apply them to daily living. Plus, daily reading plans encourage the reader to engage their Bible daily.

God Girl Bible

God Girl & God Guy Bible 2 {Hive Resources}Recommended ages: teen girls

Price point: $29-50 (Hard and soft covers)

Features: The features for the God Girl Bible are essentially the same as the God Guy Bible. They include: full ESV text, character profiles, “Quick Relief” indexes and glossary, 200 devotions written by author Hayley DiMarco, in-depth book introductions, and must-know terms and verses for each book of the Bible.

What separates the God Girl and God Guy Bibles? In the God Girl Bible, there are 26 full-page profiles of women in the Bible called “God Girl Stories.”

Additionally, the God Girl Bible has a uniquely feminine design to appeal to its target readership.

Both the God Guy and God Girl Bibles would make a worthy gift for challenging for any teen or tween to start 2015 off in Christ.

ESV Bibles for Kids - reviews {Hive Resources}

If I had to pick a favorite for my boys (age 6), I’d pick the Seek and Find Bible and ESV Grow! Bible simply because they pack the most bang for buck, offer the most tools for study, and are geared toward helping children become self-sufficient students of God’s Word. 

Despite being really heavy, these are Bibles that I know the twins will grow into for years to come.

Special thanks to Crossway Bibles for sending me these Bibles to review for you! And a big thank you to Zach and Jonah, who were so excited about their very own Bibles that they even agreed to help me review them!

Finding the right ESV Bible for your child {Hive Resources}

May 2015 be a year you grow in your knowledge of our beloved Savior!

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


Melissa Deming is the creator of Hive Resources — a site to help women sweeten their walk with Christ through Bible study, ministry and missions resources, and more. She is the author of "Daughters of the King: Finding Your Place in the Biblical Story." Melissa has an M.Div. in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Sharing His Light with the Lighten Up Challenge

Making Christmas Meaningful {A Christmas Series at Hive Resources}

Today, I’m launching a new series – Making Christmas Meaningful – to give you some new and fun ideas for sharing Christ’s love this holiday season. As the celebration of Christ’s birth, Christmas is already full of meaning.

But sometimes we have a tendency to dim the light and love of this special time of year as we cast the spotlight on lesser realities  – presents, parties, and more. This year, take some time to be intentional to enjoy and share the true meaning of Christmas. Make it meaningful.

The Lighten Up Challenge

Take the Lighten Up Challenge this Christmas {Hive Resources}

Last month, I had the honor of meeting Rachel Lovingood, women’s ministry speaker and the author of numerous resources to train women in evangelism and discipleship. I fell in love with her great sense of humor and passion to see women mobilized to share the gospel.

Rachel Lovingood, author of the Lighten Up Christmas Challenge {Hive Resources}

Rachel’s resource, Lighten Up: Reclaiming the Holidays, is a 25-day challenge to talk about Jesus to those around you – all in a flipbook format you can put by your kitchen sink, bathroom vanity, or even your mantle.

Each day includes a key Scripture verse centered around the “He is the light” theme, a short devotional thought, and a daily challenge to share a specific message with a friend.

Challenges include:

–reminding friends of their value in Christ

–sharing Jesus with specific people in your sphere of influence

–confessing sin to a friend you’ve wronged

–inviting your neighbor to take a walk with you

–serving the unloved

–speaking kindness

–ideas for blessing others

–seeking opportunities to live as His light

Share Christ with someone for 25 days this Christmas {Hive Resources}

Also included in each day is a note of accountability with a place to write in the name of the person you shared Christ’s love with that day. Do this challenge by yourself, but for even more accountability, try it with a friend or your ladies small group. You can check in with each other on your social media and post instagram pics of Christmas lights (with your favorite verse) to encourage each other along the way.

Throughout the flipbook, Rachel shares helpful hints for telling others about Christ, tips for sharing your personal story, and even fun holiday recipes to help you savor the Joy of Christ this Christmas.

Make Christmas Meaningful - a tool for women's evangelism {Hive Resources}

Want to challenge yourself to share the light of Christ this Christmas? Order a copy of the “Lighten Up Challenge” Flipbook at Rachel’s site. Just look for the Paypal button in the left column! Or you can email her directly at

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. 4:5-6


Melissa Deming is the creator of Hive Resources — a site to help women sweeten their walk with Christ through Bible study, ministry and missions resources, and more. She is the author of "Daughters of the King: Finding Your Place in the Biblical Story." Melissa has an M.Div. in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.