Women’s Ministry 101
an unexpected call to bring dinner over to a frazzled mother of three, invitations to join her family for Sunday lunches, the grace to overlook my children’s lack of manners at said lunches, babysitting for much needed date nights, lunch and shopping on my birthday, and Christmas presents for my family.
It grew, despite a generation's difference, until gradually I felt safe. Safe enough to open my heart, safe enough to reveal my real needs and expose the parts of me that were worried, scared, and hurting. It grew until I was finally able to say to her, “I don’t know how to trust God sometimes;” to admit, “I don’t feel so much content in His will, as resigned to it;” and to ask “How can I pray for the deepest desires of my heart when I don’t have faith that He will give them to me?” And then to be able to read this, several days later:
I have been thinking about what you mentioned about feeling resigned to an outcome we are praying for because of the reality of it and the need involved, etc. And I understand that, and have prayed feeling that at times in the past. I also am seeing how much better it is to pray for our deepest desires with hope and faith. We hold ourselves back, when we see our circumstances, and then pray accordingly. The hard part is, after not seeing change, to continue praying this way. I am at this place too. It is a choice I make daily of how to pray about life altering issues within my family. Sometimes, it seems as if things are continuing a wrong direction that I cannot turn around. But, this is what I see and feel.
We are called to go beyond that...to what we know is true....and the many Scriptures flood our minds here to equip us to pray believing.....and for God's will to be done. And we pray for sustaining grace while we wait, in large portions… I believe we pray for the unimaginable things, so we can know what God's will is. Well I have more thoughts on this, but that’s all for now...will write later.
It was just what I needed to hear and it was just who I needed to hear it from. Not from a book or an internet preacher, but from another woman who had walked the same ground I had, faced the same fears, and could offer me honesty and hope. And here’s perhaps the most surprising part--none of it happened “in church.” None of it was organized or scheduled. There was no notebook, Bible study, or special speaker. I don't even know if she had any intention of "ministering" to me or if she was just loving me the best she knew how.
There’s been a lot of conversation lately about what makes for good women’s ministry. And with my generation so eager for more depth, it'd be hard not to get excited. But if we're not careful, we may end up in exactly the same place that we started. If we're not careful, we'll easily find ourselves replacing one formulaic approach with another. Instead of tea parties, we'll meet at coffee houses, and instead of acrostics and poems, we'll rely on flashy graphics and technology.
All the time forgetting that lasting ministry only happens in relationship.
We must remember that the real work of woman to woman ministry is a lot messier, a lot more personal, and a lot more unscheduled than we’d like it to be. It means taking a moment to care, a moment to listen, a moment to feel deeply the questions and doubts of another woman. It means being honest with your own feelings and admitting that you’ve wrestled with the same thing. And ultimately it means waiting on God and trusting His Providence to build the bridge between two hearts to get to the point where this can happen.
We can schedule all the meetings we like--even those as valuable as a Bible study-- but we can't rely on them to do what only love can.
So maybe, as we move forward, the first step to developing a good women’s ministry for this generation isn't to schedule a meeting at the local coffee house to be transparent with one another; maybe, it's simply inviting another woman into your life and home. Maybe it's doubling a recipe to save some time for a working mom. And maybe it's showing up one day, watching the kids, and doing the laundry so another woman can go grocery shopping without having to use the car-cart.