Recently, I asked a group of women's ministry leaders: "What is the biggest obstacle you face in women's ministry?"
They repeatedly cited apathy as a key problem in cultivating disciple makers; the women in their church don't care to invest in a discipling relationship - neither as disciple nor discipler.
A 2015 Barna study revealed women are unplugging from church at an unprecedented rate. The study found that about four in 10 women have not attended church in the past six months. For various reasons, more than half of the women surveyed said attending church wasn’t a priority to them.
It seems discipleship is being chased down the drain by the competing demands placed on women, and many churches are pulling the plug altogether.
If you are striving to see your women's ministry become discipleship-focused, consider these ideas for conquering apathy.
1) Pray for the Spirit to soften hearts
Apathy is the result of a spiritual battle laying waste to our churches, and the foundational weapon in this battle must be prayer. Quickly enlist some troops from both inside and outside your ministry for prayer back-up in this endeavor!
What should you pray for? Pray for the Spirit to move in the lives of your women, softening hearts and opening eyes to the power of the gospel. Pray for discernment in understanding the root issue of their apathy, and pray for courage to speak the truth boldly. Last, begin praying for God to call up leaders with whom you can share your discipleship vision.
2) Understand the root issue
Survey your group on their view of discipleship to pinpoint the reason they feel apathetic. Keep your surveys short and easy to return.
Questions about time commitments may reveal women feel guilty about not attending church regularly and overwhelmed at the thought of investing more time outside their home or work responsibilities.
Questions about previous discipleship/mentoring relationships could reveal bad experiences that are possibly influencing their view of the significance of the church.
Questions about their comfort level with discipling others may reveal your women are under-trained and feel inadequate to the task.
Surveys will help to determine which ladies feel apathetic toward Christian living because of the lack of proper discipleship training. They will also quickly identify wrong beliefs concerning the purpose of the church and their role in it.
3) Establish a discipleship vision
Women's ministries are great at many things, but many lack a clear discipleship vision. If your church already has a discipleship vision, work with your church's pastoral staff to translate that vision into a simply strategy for women's ministry. Once you have it planned out, share it - over and over again. Repeat the vision and strategy until everyone can articulate it...and then repeat it again. Never assume that everyone gets it or even has heard it.
4) Institute accountability in one-on-one relationships
As more women catch the vision, team them in accountability groups based on their needs mirroring the heart of Titus 2. What happens in these groups is up to the mission and methodology of your church; but Bible study should be a key component.
In our home church, we were already meeting weekly to study the Scriptures. So, I asked our pastor to list three discipleship activities he wanted to see grown in our church. He asked our women to pray together, eat together, and meet each other needs. These discipleship activities aided older women when a new believer joined our ranks. They taught the women to pray, demonstrate hospitality, and serve each other in practical ways. And as each believer grew in her walk, these three activities became increasing missional as each sought opportunities to pray for the lost they knew, share missional meals with them, and serve their community.
Does your women's ministry struggle with apathy? I'd love to hear what worked for you as you encourage your women to grow in Christlikeness.
If you are looking for help on how to disciple women try looking at the free Thrive Discipleship Packet printable.
Melissa’s motto as a Christian journalist and creative writer is to “tell of God’s marvelous works” (Ps. 9:1). And with almost 15 years experience in print and editorial services, God has embedded Melissa with passions gleaned from stories and experiences from the field. But helping women fall in love with the sweetness of God’s Word truly makes her heart sing. Two years ago, she launched HiveResources.com to help women sweeten their walk with Christ through Bible study, missions resources, and more. She recently published a 10-week Bible study, Daughters of the King, to help women find their place in the biblical story. Melissa has a M.Div. in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University. She and her husband, Jonathan, are currently part of a church plant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They have five-year-old twin boys, Zacharias and Jonah, who are unwittingly and joyfully shaping them into the image of Christ.
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