A great gift that accompanies every invitation to speak at women’s events is the opportunity to observe and to learn from leaders in a variety of contexts:
What’s working for them?
How often do they meet?
How does their leadership team function?
I love working with the women at the church I call home. We’ve been together for over twenty years, and so it’s easy to fall into a comfortable rut, to forget that there is more than one “right” way to do the job.
Rethinking Women’s Ministry: Biblical, Practical Tools for Cultivating a Flourishing Community is Cyndee Ownsbey’s invitation to re-imagine and recommit to “intentionally providing biblically sound encouragement and spiritually driven growth opportunities for all women.” (11) Based on survey data from 1,140 women, Ownsbey’s insights have also been shaped by her commitment to the biblical pattern of woman-to-woman, life-on-life ministry outlined in Titus 2, Acts 2, and elsewhere in scripture.
Cyndee’s work has challenged me on three distinct fronts that I am eager to get to work on:
Like most New England churches, we skew older and whiter. Even so, it’s encouraging when young mums participate in our meetings and events. Childcare is provided at times, and, when not, the meeting is scheduled for evenings when dads can pitch in. My goal is to provide opportunities for our young women to begin taking on leadership roles.
Work, spiritual apathy, biblical illiteracy, family responsibilities, and cultural influences all present barriers to full participation, and Ownsbey puts her finger on one influence I had not considered: social media provides opportunities for women to connect online with so much convenience that the challenges that go along with face-to-face ministry may seem unnecessary. It takes discernment to sift through on-line content, to embrace what is good, and to make room in our lives for the people who are near and real.
Good advice here:
“When a woman volunteers, say yes and put her to work as soon as possible.” (25)
But what about the echoing silence that fills the room when no one volunteers?
My plan this year is to start small–to get the women in my group comfortable with the sound of their own voices, sharing their own story in safe spaces, and speaking up with opinions and insights, even on simple matters. It’s much more efficient to do things myself or to consult with “my posse” when planning an event, but the young women in our church are the future of our ministry. They are valued and need to be encouraged to have input as part of a vital leadership team.
A multigenerational team is more likely to birth a multigenerational ministry.” (54)
Rethink Biblical Literacy
Sitting with a group of women around a table with open Bibles can be enlightening. Because my own Christian pedigree is weak and spotty, I have imagined great things about the devotional lives of women who have been born and bred in a pew. I am learning it is not safe to assume anything about the level of confidence women have with handling the Word of God.
Truly, the only way to know, understand, and apply the Bible is to, well . . . read it. This takes time, and it requires significant effort. The role of a dynamic women’s ministry is to partner with women in helping them to see the value of that investment.
With worksheets, coaching tips, assessment tools, and fresh ideas, Rethinking Women’s Ministry provides motivation, know how, and a warm hand on the shoulder for all of us who are trusting for grace to build and sustain a dynamic women’s ministry in our local churches.
Many thanks to the author for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
For more on women’s ministry as it relates to Bible study and fostering biblical literacy, I highly recommend Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds (Second Edition) by Jen Wilkin. I reviewed the book a few years ago, and you can find my thoughts on it here.
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase Rethinking Women’s Ministry: Biblical, Practical Tools for Cultivating a Flourishing Community, simply click on the title within the text (or the images here), and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
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24 thoughts on “Innovative Solutions for Women’s Ministry Leaders”
This sounds like such a wonderful resource. A multigenerational team is more likely to birth a multigenerational ministry.” This is a powerful statement and so wise. I have learned much from both those older and younger than myself. It is also true that just because we sit in a pew regularly does not make us Bible literate. So much for us all to yet learn. This is a review which not only provided a resource to be checked out, but also much to think on. Thank you!
The older women God has brought into my life have shaped me in ways I can’t even begin to enumerate.
So good to hear from you, Joanne!
This sounds like a great resource for women’s ministries. Thank you so much for sharing it with us and thank you for linking up with us today @worthbeyondrubies
Definitely a good resource!
I have such passion for women’s ministry and this book sounds like it thinks outside of the box. The idea of Birthing a multigenerational ministry from a multigenerational team is my heart’s desire.
I just read an article about a church that will be closing its doors and then reopening them with the thought that the “white-haired” people are not invited back but hopefully they can attract a younger population. Basically, they are starting over without the generation that started the church to begin with. The idea of a church trying to be young and hip at the exclusion of a whole generation makes my blood boil.
Your book review and thoughts are timely as I continue to find my place in church as I get older. Thank you and I will be getting this book. 😊
Yes, I’ve been seeing that article and responses to it on FB, so I need to read it for myself. Very sad.
It is definitely a challenge to adjust to our roles in the church as we age. My prayer is that God would enable me to continue to contribute and to remain relevant in my teaching.
I hope you’ll share your response to the book after you’ve had a chance to digest.
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I coordinated a church ladies’ ministry for several years and worked within them for years before that, That’s where I seemed to find my niche. So I would have loved this book then. Our church now is so small that it doesn’t really have a separate women’s ministry besides an every-six-weeks Bible study. I may still look into it. I like the principles you drew out.
I love a multi-generational approach, but found it hard to incorporate. One challenge we had was that the young women didn’t attend because they thought it was all “older” women (even though many of us were just in our 40s and many of them were in their 30s). Honestly, that hurt a bit. In our first church we were in after we married, women of all ages went to every event, and I loved and learned from the intermingling. I couldn’t understand the mindset of keeping separate from “older” women. We tried different things to attract the younger women, and finally two or three started coming (which happened less because of anything we did and more because the new youth pastor’s wife started coming–evidently she didn’t know everyone else thought we were too old. 🙂 ) There had been an active ladies’ group in her home church, and she was delighted to finally be in one herself.
I love your idea of starting small and giving women safe spaces to share their stories.
My church is also small, so I chuckled when Cyndee shared info about having one person on the leadership team for every (I think it was) 100 members of the ladies ministry. Well… I guess we’re doing okay with just me based on those figures. 🙂
I want to work on building confidence in our young women so they will know this is their group too, and will gain experience for taking on bigger projects and over all leadership eventually.
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I’ve seen this book and thought about grabbing it! It sounds great!
It really was both inspiring and practical.
This sounds like a book worth my reading. New to my church and still finding my place in the women’s ministry…but these principles seem helpful and practical whatever your role in the ladies group.
Yes, and do persevere in becoming part of the group. We are so much better together.
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I know you are a great resource and a blessing to both the women and the men in your church family, Michele. Women’s ministry can be tricky at times, but it is worth it when the leadership is God-filled. God bless you as you continue on!
And you as well! I love reading about your ministry activities!
Agreed: this sounds like a valuable resource, based as it is on research rather than just opinions. I’m most interested in learning what she might offer for inter-generational interaction. Our church is unusual, with the bulk of members being milennials. My age bracket–even if broadly categorized as Over 50–is the smallest demographic. We also have oodles of babies and young children! Our fellowship is only ten years old and located near a university, which greatly impacts the population. The young parents assure us they appreciate our voices of experience and wisdom accumulated over the years. But the age difference still feels awkward sometimes.
At one time, our church mirrored yours. Back when I was in the “young families” category, we had a shortage of middle aged, older couples. NOw that I (ahem) am in the latter group, we are just now beginning to have young couples with children join our fellowship again, and it’s so encouraging!
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Oh, that IS good news! We need each other!
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Thank you soo much for sharing about this book! I have been looking for a resource as I am the wife of an Associate Pastor at a small New England church and lead the women’s ministry. We have mostly an elderly congregation, and one that until recently wasn’t given opportunity to grow in spiritual disciplines and in their own words, remained stagnant for many, many years just attending church.
I have seen great progress in our small group morning ladies bible study and am so very encouraged. I am looking for more opportunities for women’s ministry in our small church and I think the book you shared about will help check my presuppositions and provide wisdom moving forward.
Again, thank you so much for sharing about this resource!
Karen, either I didn’t know you’re a New England girl, or it had slipped my mind! This is a rugged place to do ministry, for sure.
I”m so glad to have given you a heads up about this book. While a tiny bit of what Cyndee has shared applies to big churches (such as the ratio of one person on the leadership team per 100 women who attend–HA!), I found her words to be both challenging and inspiring.
I love the insights you are sharing about reaching out to younger women and mentoring them! So important for our future churches. This sounds like a great book. ( I also read Jen Wilkin’s book last year and got so much out of it.)
Yes, God has impressed me with this need, both in our women’s ministry and in other ways to encourage them to have a voice and to assume ownership over the things in our church that are important to them. Trusting for creativity and energy for this!
Michele, this sounds like a powerful book! Rethinking is good, especially in church ministries. And I would say, especially in women’s ministries. Things and mindsets have been altered so much.
I really like what you said here: “the young women in our church are the future of our ministry. They are valued and need to be encouraged to have input as part of a vital leadership team.”
So much truth!
That’s my goal!
Thanks for reading and letting your thinking be challenged!
Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too!