The State of Ministry to Women acknowledges progress in churches’ ministry to women and identifies areas where churches can invest more.
By Dr. Jeff DeGiacomo
I have attended or served in a variety of churches. I grew up attending and have served on staff in rural churches. And I have also served on staff in small and large metro churches. All these churches had dedicated ministry to women. In some cases, strong volunteers led the ministry, while paid women’s ministry leaders directed others.
As I reflect on ministry to women in each of those churches, I am grateful for the work done to reach women with the gospel, gather them together for worship and community, equip them through discipleship, and send them out to advance the gospel. As a church staff member, I have always been supportive of ministry to women. I have championed ministry to women through prayer, encouraging participation among those in my ministry area, serving in a variety of ways with women’s ministry events, and spurring on those in leadership.
When I became a senior pastor, my appreciation for those involved in ministry to women deepened. I became invested in what was happening with ministry to women in our church. As in many churches, an incredibly gifted group of women who volunteer their time lead our church’s ministry to women. As I watched their work unfold upon my arrival, I wanted them to know they were being prayed for and supported in their plans and organization. I wanted to highlight the importance of recruiting, training, and empowering women in our church to be involved in ministry to women so our leaders did not burn out. I wanted to increase our support of ministry to women not just with presence, but also financial support through our ministry budget.
Lifeway Research’s State of Ministry to Women acknowledges progress in churches’ ministry to women and identifies areas where churches can invest more. Every pastor, church staff member, and church can do these five things.
1. Pray for ministry to women
Pray for your ministry to women. It is likely that over 50% of your local church is made up of women. We should be praying regularly for the women in our churches. We should pray first for their salvation. Second, pray for their sanctification. Third, pray for their mobilization. Fourth, pray for those in leadership positions, whether lay leaders or paid leaders. Finally, pray for the Lord to guide them and empower them to effectively reach and disciple women to become disciple makers.
2. Plan alongside women’s ministry leaders
As a pastor, I want to hear from our women’s ministry leaders when planning for the upcoming year. I want to bounce ideas off them, hear their plans for ministry to women. According to the State of Ministry to Women research, only 5% of women’s ministry leaders say they plan together with the church staff.According to the State of Ministry to Women research, only 5% of women’s ministry leaders say they plan together with the church staff. Click To Tweet
As pastors and church staff, we are not helping our women’s ministry leaders by leaving them to plan ministry to women on their own. Ministry to women is an important part of the church. There needs to be increased partnership between women’s ministry leaders and leaders within the church. This would streamline ministry to women to fit under the umbrella of the mission and vision of the church. This would result in stronger, more effective ministry to women within the church.
3. Organize ministry to women
The State of Ministry to Women found just over 3 in 5 (63%) female churchgoers who attend church at least once a month attend a church with an organized women’s ministry. And most churches with an organized women’s ministry have a ministry led by volunteers (83%). In many cases, these lay leaders are left to plan and organize ministry to women on their own.
Our women’s ministry team was excellent in planning and executing events, but they were burning out with each ministry activity. I approached the leadership team about establishing a monthly meeting for the purpose of organization and leadership development. Over the last several months, we have seen incredible progress. Their monthly meeting is not a planning meeting for the next event. It is women’s ministry leaders communicating about all aspects of ministry to women. Church staff must be willing to come alongside these women’s ministry leaders and support them in planning and organization.
4. Recruit, train, and empower leaders to minister to women
A couple of items stand out in the State of Ministry to Women research. First, most of the training women’s ministry leaders are getting comes from books on women’s ministry (60%), women’s ministry articles (57%), and women’s ministry leadership conferences (55%). This points again to the truth that so often we leave it up to women ministry leaders to navigate ministry alone. Second, only 15% of women’s ministry leaders said they were trained by their pastor or church staff member. The Bible is clear that pastors and church staff members are to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12). We must do a better job of recruiting, training, and empowering our women’s ministry leaders.“Only 15% of women’s ministry leaders said they were trained by their pastor or church staff member. We must do a better job of recruiting, training, and empowering our women’s ministry leaders.” — @jeffdejac Click To Tweet
The number one place women said they needed training is in recruiting leaders (43%). Other areas many say they need to develop concern vision and direction (40%) and teaching and training (33%). Nearly every pastor and church staff member is doing these things on a regular basis. When we invest more time into our women’s ministry leaders, their ministry to women will continue to increase in our churches and communities.
5. Support ministry to women
Finally, while most women’s ministry leaders agree their pastor supports their ministry (94%), we cannot take that for granted. We can support ministry to women in two specific ways. First, we need to care for the personal spiritual development of women’s ministry leaders. These women carry the burden of providing strong, healthy ministry to women. They carry the individual burdens of women in your church. As churches, pastors, and ministry leaders, we need to give attention to our women’s ministry leaders by encouraging their individual walk with the Lord and ensuring they are being filled up by the Holy Spirit.
Second, we need to support ministry to women by financially investing in the work. More than 1 in 5 (23%) women’s ministry leaders say their church does not provide the women’s ministry with funds from the church budget. Our church budgets need to reflect dollars being given to ministry to women. We need to financially invest in women’s ministry events, discipleship opportunities, Bible study materials, and so forth. Churches need to examine the possibility of having women on staff who are paid to minister to women. This might be a full-time or part-time position. At a minimum, churches can find ways to financially bless volunteer leaders who make sure ministry to women is happening each week. Let us show our commitment for ministry to women with both pastoral care and financial support.More than 1 in 5 (23%) women’s ministry leaders say their church does not provide the women’s ministry with funds from the church budget. Click To Tweet
While we can be better, I am encouraged that 80% of women in our churches strongly agree that their church values women. I know churches, pastors, and ministry staff can strengthen the work we are doing with our women’s ministry leaders through prayer, planning, organization, training, and supporting them as they provide effective and efficient ministry to women in our churches. Let us start today.
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