Releasing Women for Ministry
FIEC churches have long valued women serving in ministry. How can your church release, develop and champion this essential work?
This article was first published in Indie Issues, November 2021.
How are you encouraging the women in your church to make the most of the roles open to them using their God-given gifts?
Talk to the gifted women in your church. What do they feel would help them to grow in confidence in their ministry gifting? Is there anything they see within your church which might be hindering women to be released into ministry?
Here are some ideas to discuss further with the leadership in your church. Make this an agenda item for an elders' meeting or away day and spend time praying, planning, and putting them into practice - applying them to your own context.
Releasing women for ministry in this way is honouring to them, honouring to the Lord, and of great and lasting benefit to his people.
Look for those women who are already ministering in the church and encourage them in their service.
Who are the women who come alongside others in times of trial? Who are the women who are excited and gifted at teaching others the Bible? Who are the women who are passionate about helping the teens in your church love Jesus? Women are often gifted and committed to children’s work.
Spot these women and let them know you have seen what they are doing.
As you see these women exercising their gifts, find ways to recognise them more openly.
This could be inviting them to share their ministry area with the eldership. It could be finding ways to honour them publicly in the church family.
Pray for them and their ministry.
Once you have identified the women who show giftedness at teaching, invest in them with further opportunities to grow in their ability to handle and pass on God’s word.
If you put on training for the men who preach, could you include women or offer equivalent training for the teaching roles they are involved in?
Encourage those gifted women in your church to mentor those younger than them.
How are you helping the women to pass on their gifts, their proven faith in life’s demands, and their knowledge to those who will fill these roles in the future?
Ministry apprenticeships are not just for those straight out of university or who are young. Among the gifted women in your church, who is it who might benefit from dedicated time for training?
This could be the mum whose kids are now all in school; the single woman who is wondering how to develop her teaching gifts; or the older woman who has retired and is looking to keep serving in church.
Roles for women are many and varied. Consider the needs and context of your church.
Do you need a women’s worker discipling your women or would a family worker be more beneficial? Perhaps a women’s pastoral worker or counsellor or student worker is what is needed?
Employing a woman to your staff team doesn’t mean they have to be full-time. The terms of employment can be many and varied.
Some churches could pay for a woman to be a full-time staff member. Another could pay for two days, and the woman could decide to volunteer another two days. While another might employ a woman part-time as she works in secular work the rest of the week.
As women develop, look for opportunities for them to have further training. For some, they might benefit from a theological degree or training in pastoral care or counselling.
There are now courses which offer part-time with a mix of studying from home and attending lectures. They also allow for flexibility in what is studied. While others might benefit from full-time study.
All these suggestions are offered in the context of recognising the foundational need for godliness and growing in godliness in all our leaders.