This post is the second in a series called: Making Women’s Ministry Missional. View the first post, Conquering Apathy here.
How many new disciples did your women's ministry produce this year? It's a fair question, but not a common one, partly because we don't like the answer.
Too often, women's ministries center around events designed to meet the felt-needs of women: giving them a break, helping them feel accepted, reducing loneliness. These needs are important, but if women in the body of Christ are to become fully-formed followers of Christ then we must do more than meet needs. We must adopt proactive discipleship strategies that cut to the root of a woman’s most foundational need – Christ himself.
A discipleship-based women’s ministry helps women know Christ and equips them to make him known to others.
If you're striving to transition a women's ministry toward missional living, you must first establish a discipleship vision. Here are a few steps to get you started:
1). Teach the big picture of Scripture
Many women's ministries aren't missional simply because the women they serve don't understand what it means to live “on mission.” They might know Christ, but they are ill-equipped to make him known to others (and don’t know why that’s important!)
Casting a discipleship vision means educating your ladies about the significance of discipleship in their everyday walk, rejecting the view that discipleship is an “elective” or continuing education course to church attendance. Walking a woman through God's redemptive story from Genesis through Revelation is one way to open her eyes to her role in God's story for the world. Although time-intensive, teaching the big picture of Scripture provides a firm foundation on which to build a discipling culture in your women.
2) Talk about it all the time
You must talk about the discipleship vision all the time. Then after you’ve talked about it, talk about it some more. Don't ever assume everyone knows the vision of your women's ministry until they can articulate it themselves. Then keep the vision in front of them as often as you can utilizing key influencers in your group whom you can task with sharing the vision. Spread the word on social media, insert it into every event you host or announcement you give focusing on why it's needed and the end goal. (LINK TO POST: CONQUERING APATHY).
3) Turn down temptation to get off track
Determining the exact vision of your women's ministry is the easy part of transitioning to a discipleship-based women's ministry, but keeping discipleship as the focus so you don't derail your gospel effectiveness is much harder.
To ensure you don't get off track, measure any new potential projects in terms of discipleship fruit. Ask the following:
--"How does this project help us accomplish our discipleship vision?"
--"What kind of investment would this project/program require of each woman?"
--“Does this event/program take away time already allotted for discipleship?”
--"Does this event/program measure success in terms of attendance only?"
--"How does this program help us grow long-term fruit in the lives of our women?"
These questions might encourage you to evaluate existing projects and phase out or repurpose them to include a missions and evangelism focus.
4) Trumpet Christ's horn
Celebrating fruit is a crucial part of the vision-casting and vision-catching process. By asking a woman to share the story of God’s work in her life, you are encouraging her continued faithfulness as Christ's disciple and affirming her role in God's work in the world. But praising Jesus for his work also has a practical benefit - it fans the flame of discipleship in the hearts of others who are listening. A Christ-honoring discipleship vision is catching!
To make the most of this step in the vision-casting process, be intentional to calendar specific days when you celebrate the fruit of Christ’s ministry in your church. Include a testimony at each event or even a Q&A with a disciple. Assign quarterly testimony times in corporate worship services. And most importantly, ask your pastor/pastoral staff to comment from the pulpit on the discipleship fruit he sees in the women among you.
What is Christ doing among the women in your church? What creative and fun ideas do you have for celebrating Christ’s work?
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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