Recently, I launched a strategy to disciple women at our growing church plant. And when road bumps jostled my plan, I experienced some deep discouragement. Because it is easy to allow discouragement to rob of us of joy and cause us to doubt our calling to serve, I offer you two lessons I’ve learned in women’s ministry.
Avoid pleasing crowds
Anytime a new idea is introduced, you should brace yourself for obstacles. Resistance to change and unrealistic expectations for how a strategy or event will turn out can easily derail any ministry.
But ministers of the gospel must learn to differentiate between helpful feedback and the temptation to please everyone. When we stop to listen to everyone’s opinion, we can easily stop listening to the One opinion that matters. And when we get caught in the trap of pleasing crowds, discouragement can force us off track and immobilize our ministry all together.
Solution: Start small. If an idea or concept is new, then start with a small test group of leaders from which you can more easily incorporate feedback. Starting small also allows for easier and faster growth. The smaller your circle, the easier it is to establish a natural rhythm for gaining momentum.
Avoid feeding misconceptions
Authentic and successful (multiplying) discipleship takes work plain and simple. More than ever, women in our churches are crying out to be discipled, but they often have misconceptions about the discipleship process.
Overwhelming, American church culture sends the message to women that discipleship is simply about growing in their faith and adding Bible knowledge. This consumer-based approach to Christianity invites women to attend services and events that feed the soul without thought to how they might pour themselves out for others.
Even the concept of missional living has been co-opted by the thought that we can pick and choose what cause to support from a menu of options and receive a good benefit or product in return. For instance, to support orphans we can buy a necklace or enjoy a latte (which I do and enjoy doing). But real missional engagement often requires an investment for which there is no return. And as a result, our churches are filled with individuals who will not commit to any endeavor unless it adds “value” to their lives.
Solution: Re-educate minds. Clearly explain what discipleship and missional living looks like. Detail the cost and the true nature of the payoff. Teach women that living “on mission” isn’t about adding another thing to their already overloaded schedules, but a way of identifying opportunities God allows in our everyday lives. Help them retrain their eyesight to look for and respond to missional opportunities.
To the women’s ministry leader who is battling discouragement, keep your eyes trained on Christ and your ear bent toward His voice. To avoid losing your focus, start small and bear in mind that you will need to educate some about the road before them.
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 launchedHiveResources.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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3/14/2015 03:35:49 pm
So good...and so timely! Thank you for being transparent about your experience and very good advice and encouragement, especially for those who are launching out into the deep here in the world of blogging...with the hope that they are reaching others. So blessed to be at your place today via The Weekend Brew!
3/15/2015 11:27:46 pm
Thank you for stopping by Yolanda! Prayers for your writing ministry as you just start out! Blogging is an exciting journey of ministry!
5/15/2015 12:02:38 am
Melody, I have to remind myself of this reality all the time! We can never leave the basics behind! Thanks for reading!
5/15/2015 12:03:04 am
Thanks for reading along, Barb!
3/17/2015 12:43:59 am
As a leader, it is an intricate balance between pleasing the crowd and moving foward to the plans of Jesus. I love what you said about starting a new idea with a small focus group of people. What a great way to get positive feedback and ideas for growth before approaching change on a bigger scale. Thanks for sharing!
5/15/2015 12:03:52 am
Samantha, I have found this method works wonderfully! Plus, it really helps you build up your leadership base! Thanks for stopping by Missional Women!
3/17/2015 01:09:50 am
Such a wonderful word today - it is so easy to be derailed by the opinions, dicrection and discouragement of others - a great reminder of the one we serve :)
5/15/2015 12:04:07 am
3/17/2015 05:11:56 am
I love your perspective in this post, particularly in pointing out the shortcoming of the "I get all my spiritual nourishment from the Bible/being in nature/praying on my own" idea. Christ compared the church to a body, and every part has to be there to support the others!
5/15/2015 12:04:53 am
Yes, Jenny! That is so true! I'm so thankful that our Heavenly Father orchestrated his church that way! What a blessing to be a part of it!
3/20/2015 09:48:07 am
I'm a (recovering) people pleaser. This is a good reminder to please God first. And starting small. I think we sometimes think if we are doing God's work we will succeed regardless. It's encouraging to know we can salvage ministry by re-educating.
3/20/2015 06:16:31 pm
Melissa, these are fabulous words to help balance it all. They place a heart on God and send it on it's way. I cheer your words from the #RaRalinkup on Purposeful Faith. You speak encouragement.
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