Merry Christmas

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2

For Christians, Christmas is about the Incarnation of God. John described Christ as light coming into the darkness and he said that the darkness could not extinguish it. The Greek literally means: “The darkness could not take it down.” God’s light has come into the world to overcome the darkness, and the darkness is helpless against it. This Christmas season embrace the light of God’s truth and Jesus Himself, who is the Light of the World.

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Defining Women’s Ministry

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I read a post tonight that said women’s ministry is almost nonexistent in large evangelical churches!  Since when?  I think the author was meaning that traditional, event driven women’s programs are becoming extinct, but I can assure you that women doing ministry is alive and well!

There is nothing in Scripture that indicates the local church must have a specific, formal program called women’s ministry; however that is what most people think of when they hear the term women’s ministry. Ministry among women can and should occur in a variety of ways (Nielson, 2015, para.4). When placing the word women in front of ministry, it describes any action performed by women in service for God. Therefore, women’s ministry is not to be defined only as ministry performed by women for other women. 

Elizabeth Elliot (1976) best described this idea when she stated,

We are called to be women. The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman. For I have accepted God’s idea of me, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am and all that He wants me to be (p. 43).

CULTURAL CHALLENGES AND CHANGES

I think we would all agree that women’s ministry is reacting to the pressures resulting from cultural shifts in gender relations, generation preferences, economics, politics, and religion.  As early as 2009, women’s ministry leaders were acknowledging changes were happening and women’s ministry would no longer function as it had during modern times (Taylor, 2009, pp. 2-4).

During the past decade a clearer picture of what those changes would be has emerged. Research has shown that teenagers are leaving the church during early adulthood or may not affiliate with a church at all or until later than previous generations (Kinnaman & Lyons, 2007, p. 22). One in four members of the millennial generation are unaffiliated with any particular faith (Lugo, 2010, para.1). People no longer attend church as a cultural expectation, which presents challenges to those leading women’s ministry (Burke, 2015, para.1-2).

One result of the trend of remaining spiritual, but unaffiliated with the local church, has been the proliferation of independent ministries. Women are being drawn to national speakers as role models and for spiritual training, at a great loss to the local church. “National women leaders should be a reference point, but not a replacement for female leadership at the local church level” (Shellnutt, 2016, para. 25). 

So what are we going to do?  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Pray for the women in your church. Pray for young  leaders to rise up and serve.
  2. Pray for the men in your church. Pray for a collaborative ministry between all members of the body of Christ for Kingdom growth.
  3. Build relationships with women of various ages. Mentor those spiritually younger than you and seek godly wisdom from those more mature than you.
  4. Be flexible. Women’s ministry is changing and we must be willing to adapt.
  5. Remain grounded in Scripture. Hold fast to the truths of Scripture so that the culture does not drive the ministry.

Do you have other ideas on how to define women’s ministry in the 21st Century? I’d love to hear your comments and ideas. 

Burke, D. (2015). Millennials leaving the church in droves, study finds. Pew Research. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/12/living/pew-religion-study/

Elliot, E. (1976). Let me be a woman. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Kinnaman, D., & Lyons, G. (2007). Unchristian. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Nielson, K. (2015). Why women’s ministry: Questions you’re asking. The Gospel Coalition. Retrieved from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-womens-ministry

Shellnutt, K. (2016). The bigger story behind Jen Hatmaker. Christianity Today. Retrieved from http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/november-web-only/bigger-story-behind-jen-hatmaker.html?visit_source=twitter&start=4

Taylor, M. (2009). Brave new women: The transformation of women’s ministry in 21st century culture. Retrieved from http://leadnet.org/brave_new_ women_transformation_of_womens_ministry_21st_century_culture/

The World Has Come To Us

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There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

I recently finished reading Cultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World by David Livermore. The author walks you through information to help you understand what you do when you encounter someone who isn’t like you, how do you feel, and what goes on inside you.

There’s something secure and stabilizing about being with people who view the world like us. Laughing together about things we find funny, ranting together about things that anger us, and sharing an appreciation for some of the same food, art, and perspectives on the world can be the ingredients for building wonderful memories together. But quite honestly, there’s nothing very remarkable about enjoying time with people like us. If you want to see remarkable then love and appreciate someone who despises the very things we value and vice versa. Yet the real mystery of the gospel lies in how we deal with those relationships of difference.

A multicultural focus was once limited to missionaries going abroad, but the question of how ministry leaders and their organizations can effectively minister in culturally diverse situations is a critical and challenging problem for everyone in our globalized world. Developing cultural intelligence is becoming an increasingly important skill for ministry leaders serving at home. We need to understand, go deep, and express God-given love for people of different generations, faiths, ethnicity, and even politics.

Have you experienced ministry in a multicultural context? How did you handle the situation and equip your women to serve in that situation? Do you have any suggestions that might help others? We would love to hear your ideas.

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The past two years I have been trying to balance a full-time job, part-time ministry position, and a full time doctoral program!  It has been a lot to balance and I have not always done it very well.

When you are juggling that many responsibilities there is always something that gets dropped and for me that has been my personal health. Since starting the doctoral program I have gained 30 pounds! That is the freshman fifteen each year! Something needed to change. It was becoming hard to do the things that I needed to do, much less the things I wanted to do.

Leader, if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t continue to lead at the level needed to help your team be successful. You certainly can’t lead a team to be healthy if you are living an unhealthy lifestyle. The healthier you are – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally – the more health you can bring to the team.

I have been intentional about my health the past four months and have lost those 30 pounds! More important, I am now careful to keep the scales more balanced. Work, ministry, school, and health are all important. Each may get a little more attention for a few days, but I do not not let any one or two areas take over my schedule anymore.

Now it is your turn. Be honest.

What is one thing you would need to change in order to live a more balanced life?