A Shift in the SBC


There is an interesting article  about potential changes in the SBC and the ripple effect it may have on evangelical America.  I have not come to final thoughts about the shift that is occurring in Baptist life – and there is a shift happening – so I’ll reserve comment for now.  Read the article and let me know your thoughts.

  • Do you think Dr. Patterson should have been fired or was the original decision to retire him with benefits correct?
  • Is asking women to serve in higher leadership enough or do you think there will be a push for women to assume senior pastoral or more theological teaching positions?
  • Will people of color support the SBC’s traditional conservative positions or will there be a push to move to moderate politics and theology statements?
  • Will the SBC support J.D. Geear as he moves the denomination in new cultural directions or will we see a growing division within the convention?
  • Where will women’s ministry land when the dust settles?  Will the traditional role of women’s ministry continue or will it get shuffled in the effort to raise women up in leadership throughout the church?
  • What does Scripture say that may impact how we respond to these changes?

These are a few of the ideas I’m working through as I read comments, opinion pieces, and Scripture.  What questions do you have?  What is our next step?

Mile Marker

I wrote the following post in 2007. I still have my mile marker journal and it lists the many times I knew the Lord had specifically directed my steps. Enjoy this trip down memory lane with me and consider starting your own mile marker.

I keep a journal of events that mark changes in my walk with Christ. I call it my “mile marker” – so I know if I am moving forward, standing still, or going backwards.

One of the things in the journal is an October 2005 entry for when I decided to call Mike Simmons my Pastor. For me it is more than just a title – it’s a position of authority. It was significant that I trusted a man enough to call him by that name.

A later entry marks the first time I was introduced as a “religious leader” in the community. It was at CrossRoads Covenant Church in DeSoto. I was humbled to be introduced to the church along with others that minister God’s Word.

I’ve even noted my first invitation to pray for a group where I was not a member.

But, not everything is positive. I also included the time I used scripture to hurt someone I love and did it publicly. I cried for hours at the realization of what I had done. On top of that, he came to me to apologize for making me upset enough to do that! Was a powerful lesson in humility and love that I will never, ever forget.

Then there is yesterday. What made it a mile-marker? I have received several phone calls and emails from people saying how they appreciate that I stood up for Christianity and even more so for not backing down when pushed. I surprised myself when I realized I was standing on the front steps of City Hall loudly proclaiming Jesus Christ is Lord! It was the first public assault on my faith and I survived the test.

These events will soon fade into my memory, but I will have this record of what happened, how the Lord met my ever need, and blessed this path He has set me on.

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

Connecting With Guests


I’ve had a persistent feeling that I needed to attend a church in my local community instead of commuting to a neighboring city. I fought this idea for over a year, but when that quiet voice keeps nudging you to do something it is best to obey. For the first time in almost 15 years I assumed the role of church guest.

Over the past few months I have attended four churches. Church A is a vibrant, growing church with a very contemporary feel and millennial led women’s program. Church B is a large established church with both traditional and contemporary services and a newly formed women’s program. Church C is an established church that has struggled for many years and has a narrowly focused women’s program. Church D is an established church, but they have been without a senior pastor for a couple of years. They have an active women’s program that I would describe as traditional.

Now, remember that I am part of the boomer generation and view the world through that lens. With that in mind, this is what I have learned:

  1. Preaching Matters. Churches A, B, and D have Scripture driven teaching every Sunday morning. The churches have different teaching styles, but I always came away with something new and applicable to my life that was directly from the Bible. It made a difference in how I viewed the church at large.
  1. Quick Connections Count: Church A was a great fit for me and I enjoyed the women’s ministry, but I had a difficult time finding a way to connect to the church. I emailed the church asking about small groups and got no reply. I also did not receive any follow-up emails or other contact following my visits. I eventually did not go back.
  1. Follow Through Is Everything: Church C did everything right. I was greeted when I was a guest and the first week I received two thank you emails, a personal visit (with homemade cookies), and a hand written note from the pastor. I asked for information on the women’s ministry and the director emailed later the second week. I was struck by the effort these wonderful people put into making me feel welcome. I was told about small groups, but my choices were married, multi-gen but mostly married or widowed, or a young singles class. There were no women’s or mature singles classes. Even though they made a great effort for connection they made no provision for a single, mature (aka older) woman. You can welcome your guest all you want, but if you have not taken the time to prepare a place for them they probably will not stick.
  1. Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing: I have decided to join Church D. They are without a pastor and the women’s program is very traditional. Not exactly a resounding recommendation! However, the first week I was a guest they connected me with a women’s small group that immediately provided solid teaching, missions opportunities, and community. The women’s ministry director reached out to me and shared her heart for life transformation in the women she led. It is a church hungry to be a New Testament body of believers dedicated to the equipping and sending of their members. The many things “wrong” about the church did not matter, because they have the most important things right.

I hope to use this experience to help me when I work with women’s ministry leaders. We have all read the many reports on how to reach millennials and to develop Titus 2 ministries. However, I think it really comes down to the basics. Preach the Word, create community, and embrace the Great Commission. How do you think that would look in a women’s program? How can we take what we know about generational differences and apply it to reaching church guests? Let me hear your thoughts and ideas!

What Factors May Impact Ministry?


I recently asked two groups of women to list factors that may impact the future of women’s ministry. The first group represented the millennial generation with women between 18 and 35 years old and the second group represented older generations with women 36 years and older.

It was interesting that the two groups did not agree on which factors will have the greatest impact on women’s ministry. The millennial generation was more focused on factors arising from the church including clarity of the mission and vision in the church, focus on previously taboo subjects, and home life and family issues. The older generations were more outwardly focused listing leadership opportunities and development for women, rising numbers of un-churched and de-churched, and postmodernism and relative truth as most significant.

The top five items listed by each group are listed below


  1. Clarity of the mission and vision for the church
  2. Previously taboo subjects
  3. Home life and family issues
  4. Leadership opportunities and development for women
  5. Technology and social media

Older Generations

  1. Leadership opportunities and development for women
  2. Rising numbers of unchurched and de-churched
  3. Postmodernism and relative truth
  4. Scheduling of time and resources
  5. Family dynamics such as women working outside the home, and single parenting

How can you use this information when planning for your women’s ministry? The lists give us a window into what each age group values as important. They are concerned about specific influences that may impact the way they view ministry. Ask your women this same question and you will learn about their interests and concerns. Then use that information to develop support ministries, mentoring, and outreach to share the Gospel and disciple women to be mature in their faith.

Generations of Women


Approximately 30 years ago women’s ministry shifted from a missionary and outreach focus to increasing concern about the spiritual development of women in the local church. Women’s ministry became more relational in an attempt to educate, equip, and empower women for Kingdom service. This model of an inward focused ministry designed to serve and build up the local church body thrived for over two decades.

The millennial generation’s influence began to significantly impact the church in the early 2000s with existing women’s ministry leaders often at a loss as to why ministries that had flourished for decades were now drawing fewer women and in many instances were becoming obsolete. Women began leaving the church at alarming rates and traditional women’s programs were no longer of interest to young women.

Social media and personal blogs have provided anecdotal reasons for the millennial woman’s flight from the local church, but there is limited research on how women’s ministries may need to evolve to remain relevant in the local church. A recent investigation sought to begin that discussion by asking women’s ministry leaders to establish areas of agreement on the future role of women’s ministry, how it might best be organized and applied in the church, and to identify any factors that may impact the direction of the future of women’s ministry.

The Future of Women’s Ministry

A total of 59 women participated on two expert panels with one panel representng millennials 18 to 35 years old and the other panel representing non-millennials 36 years and older. All the participants had a minimum of two years experience with women in ministry and agreed to an evangelical belief statement.

Results of the study showed that millennial women view the purpose of women’s ministry similarly to non-millennials, but how they design and implement ministry is very different. Also, both groups agreed on several factors that may impact women’s ministry, but did not agree on which factors would have the greatest impact.

Regarding the purpose of ministry two of the top three priorities were shared between the two panels. Both “discipleship training that includes spiritual growth in various forms across all generations” and “support for family, marriage, and parenting” were listed by both panels as one of the top three purposes of women’s ministry. The top three responses for how women’s ministry will be organized and applied, and factors that may impact women’s ministry did not share any of the top three priorities between the two panels.

Results from the study support previous reports stating millennial women do not want to participate in traditional women’s ministry activities and are looking for new ways to express their faith and spiritual beliefs. When asked to identify how women’s ministry should be organized and applied in the local church, only two items were shared between the two panels. Both panels agreed women’s ministry should be more focused on relational ministry and incorporate a greater use of technology. However, none of the top three responses for how women’s ministry should be organized were listed by both panels. Thus, millennial women and non-millennial women have different views on how women’s ministry should be designed to fulfill the purpose previously discussed.

This suggests millennial women do want to participate in ministry with other women, but they choose to engage in activities that may not have been provided by non-millennial women’s leadership. If women’s ministry leaders hope to attract millennial women they need to understand the desires of young women. Women’s ministry will need to be organized in small groups, focused on building relationships, and be made available at various times to meet the schedule demands of today’s modern woman.

The study also revealed that the millennial and non-millennial generations shared several concerns about factors that may impact the future of women’s ministry. Seven items were shared between the two age groups including leadership opportunities and development for women; technology and social media; home life and family issues; racism and ethnic relations; gender issues; prominence of national women’s ministries and their leaders; and generational differences.

Although there was general agreement on the factors potentially impacting women’s ministry the two panels did not agree on which factors will have the greatest impact. The millennial generation was more focused on factors arising from the church including clarity of the mission and vision in the church, focus on previously taboo subjects, and home life and family issues. The non-millennial panel was more outwardly focused listing leadership opportunities and development for women, rising numbers of un-churched and de-churched, and postmodernism and relative truth as most significant.

Similar Purpose with a Different Process

The results illustrate the disparity in how women of different generations understand the future direction of ministry with women. The non-millennial panel described women’s ministry as becoming more intentional and focused on relationships and mentoring, but they also maintained the desire for organized events and retreats. Structure was still a significant part of the women’s ministry design and application. The millennial panel, in contrast, described women’s ministry as becoming casual and organic, focused on local small groups, and being relational at all levels. They recognized the use of large national gatherings, but did not suggest local conferences and retreats would continue. The informal and organic nature of the ministry would by design limit the hierarchy of leadership and authority.

The women’s ministry panels made two things clear. First, women of the millennial and older generations have shared beliefs on the purpose of women’s ministry and agree that ministry specifically for women by women should continue. That said, the results also show the future of women’s ministry may depend on leadership recognizing the unique culture of the millennial generation and the desire of young women to take control of their own faith development and opportunities for spontaneous spiritual growth.

Recommendations For Change in Women’s Ministry

The study provided recommendations for generational preferences for women’s ministry. Specific recommendations for modifying women’s ministry programs for millennials include:

  1. Design discipleship training that focuses on spiritual maturity as a priority.
  2. Provide support for families, marriage, and parenting needs.
  3. Provide opportunities for organic mentoring to develop.
  4. Use small groups to make ministry more relational.
  5. Recognize women’s hectic schedules and add variety to ministry opportunities.
  6. Design and express a clear vision and mission for the women’s ministry.

Recommendations for ministry with women older than 35 years of age include:

  1. Design discipleship training that focuses on spiritual maturity as a priority.
  2. Provide support for families, marriage, and parenting needs.
  3. Provide opportunities for cross-generational involvement and mentoring.
  4. Provide Bible literacy training in addition to theology-based education.
  5. Ensure activities are intentional in nature with a faith development focus.
  6. Provide leadership training and opportunities for ministry leadership.


Women’s ministry is in the midst of change as the millennial generation moves into positions of leadership. The church must continue to address the issues of engaging and retaining women in women’s ministry programs and ultimately in the church. Intergenerational ministry should be the goal using Titus 2:3-5 as the foundation. Ministry leaders can build on the shared purpose between generations to establish the mission and vision of the ministry. Areas where the generations agree on ministry design may form the cornerstone of the ministry with satellite activities focused on generational preferences. Women’s ministry leaders will want to watch for ongoing change in the church culture and to be proactive in adapting to the changing needs of women.


This information is from my dissertation completed for the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree through the Cook School of Leadership at Dallas Baptist University. I want to thank my committee members Dr. Scott Floyd, Dr. Norma Hedin, and Dr. Sue Kavli (chair) for their input on earlier versions of this material. – Barbara J. Parker, Ph.D., Ed.D.

Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down – A Review

ordinary-bookI had a mixed reaction to Tony Merida’s book, Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down, published by B&H Publishing in 2015. The premise was good. Christian faith isn’t about light shows and performance. Faith is lived out everyday in our ordinary lives. My concerns were not with the idea of practical faith, but with the insistence in how that faith would be accomplished.

The author explicitly states that salvation is a gift of grace (p. 24), so he is not describing a works-based system of salvation. However, he has added his own how-to list for what Christians must do. The author itemizes at least twelve things that Christians must do to love their neighbor, but the Bible has no such list that applies universally to all Christians.

“My point is that we must have an open heart/home toward people that extends beyond what’s comfortable…,” (p. 41).

“Every Christian must do something to care for the orphan,” (p. 80).

“Sometimes we must do emergency relief; but we must also tend to the matters of restoration and development,” (p. 82).

“So we must help provide financial aid,” (p. 84).

“First, churches must strengthen their relationships with orphanages,” (p. 85).

“Further, we must help our Christian businessmen and women get a vision for orphan care,” (p. 85).

On the positive side, the book challenges us to take care of our neighbors and addresses several social issues and taking Scripture back to the basics. I found the book to be a great mechanism for self-evaluation. It provides a way to examine what we each are individually doing to share God’s grace with our community.

I would recommend this book to mature Christians who understand the biblical mandate to love God and love others does not come with a specific to do list. We should let God challenge each individual to use the gifts and talents they have been given to advance and glorify the Kingdom of God in their own way.


Disclosure: A free copy of the book was provided in exchange for a review of the text.