Three W’s: Guiding Principles for Starting a Women’s MinistryBy Kristen Wisen
June 11, 2020
In church planting, it’s common for the pastor’s wife to become the default leader of women’s ministries. While this might be right up your alley, for many of us, this is a terrifying role to be handed. When it comes to organizing a woman’s ministry to meet the needs of a young church, this task can be overwhelming and even daunting.
“Why?” you ask. Here are some reasons you might have heard:
Women are needy.
Women are pushy.
Women are creative and always have a better way to do something.
Women have high expectations.
Women are critics.
Women love to be busy so there’s always constantly a suggestion on the horizon for another meeting, study, gathering, charity or event.
I can write these things because I know they can be all too true—I am a woman, after all! Obviously not everything on the list above is bad. It’s how God created us. But when it comes to organizing a women’s ministry to meet the needs of a young church, this task can be overwhelming and even daunting.
When we planted our church ten years ago, the elders determined we were going to be selective on what we offered our church community. We were going to do just a few things, but we were going to do them with excellence.
Their resolve became my directive as I organized a few simple events for the women. Though there were many suggestions of what we could do (but with too few offers to help), I used the same line our elders used: we’re going to start slow and whatever we do, we will do with excellence.
This is a good mindset to have when entering into women’s ministry. I want to give you three guidelines to help you as you begin to think about women’s ministry at your church.
My daughter loves to sing songs to her children. One of my favorites phrases that she would sing to them as they grew was, “What are you doing and why are you doing it?”
This is my song for you today. If you are organizing the women’s ministries for your church, this is the phrase that needs to be constantly in your head. From Christmas teas to clothing exchanges to Apples of Gold evenings to weekend retreats—all of these are good, valuable events but right out the gate you need to have clear guidelines about what you will offer your women accompanied with a good reason why:
- Does it fit the mission statement of your church?
- Is it competing with other ministries in your church, like small groups?
- Does it meet a specific need of your women?
- Will this bring glory to God or will it bring glory to me?
- Are you feeling the weight of what other churches are doing?
Test your motives; ask why you are doing this ministry. Make sure there is a good reason for offering it. Women’s ministries have the ability to compete with other ministries the church offers and understanding what your elders value is important in choosing what you will do with the women.
First, know the women of your church. What do they need? What do their schedules look like? Will they be able to get involved with another study or attend another event in their lives? Will you need to provide childcare for this study or event? The needs of your women will affect what you choose to do.
Second, you do not have to run every event yourself. Your church is going to be filled with gifted women. The problem is that from the start, you may not know these women well and will need time to get to know them and their giftedness. We call this “proven.” But once they have proven that they are faithful and equipped to oversee an event, go ahead and hand it off to them. Until then, don’t be in a hurry. It’s better to wait than to raise up a woman who isn’t ready to take over a ministry, then later have to make a change.
Church plants do not tend to have a building of their own on day one. This is a great limiter. Is there a home that is big enough for a study group to grow or money in the budget to rent a room for a weekly meeting? Your location may force you to put some of your ideas on hold and that’s not a bad thing. It will give you more time to know who can help you with this study or event.
I cannot emphasize this enough as a new plant: start slowly. You are running a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t have to be all things to all people. Your primary focus is to glorify God in all you do and he’s not in a rush. Slow and steady wins the race and there is a natural progression to adding ministries to the women’s lives. Take your time and don’t feel pressured to add before it’s the right time.
As your women grow in their faith, they will long for faith-driven relationships and look to the church to facilitate that very thing. As the pastor’s wife, you will feel this weight every day, but please know that you are not alone. The Lord knows what your women need and what you need. Trust that he will provide the resources and the wisdom to make decisions on behalf of your women. It is an honor to serve him in this manner, so set aside the pressure of expectations and start slowly, so that you have confidence as you move forward that the choices you make on behalf of the women are for the right reasons, with the right people, and at the right time.