Last year Fabienne Harford, director of women’s training at The Austin Stone Community Church, interviewed me about challenges in women’s ministry. Following are the thoughts I shared with her along with some additional comments.
Fabienne: What are some of the main challenges for women ministering in the church? And what are some strategies you see that can help overcome those challenges?
Chris: The three main challenges I see are connecting the generations of women within the church, siloed ministries, and helping women go against the grain of culture. Let’s look at each of these separately.
Challenge 1: Connecting the Generations
This is challenging because each generation is so unique. If we could see all the differences of each generation, we would think, “Well, how in the world are you going to connect all of these generations?” So I think that can be a bit of a challenge. But God calls us to come together as women of all ages and stages of life, and serve in His kingdom and pour into the spiritual life of our church and our community. So how do we do that? We’ve got to be creative. We must find ways to break down the barriers between the generations to show that every generation living today is absolutely vital to the life of our body of Christ and the church as a whole around the world.
Strategy: Share Commonalities
I think part of the strategy is showing how each layer is being built by the one that came before it, and doing things that pull these generations together so they can share the stories of their lives and experiences to say, “You know what, we’re different in some ways but have a lot in common as well.” And when they start to hear the stories of the different generations — both old and young — I think that begins to help those generations connect together.
Challenge 2: Siloed Ministries
Ministries become siloed in the church when, for example, women’s ministry, kid’s ministry, and men’s ministry all function separately without a common thread of what they are seeking to accomplish under the purpose of the church. When each ministry is heading different directions with different goals people in the church become confused on which direction they are heading.
Strategy: Break Down the Walls
A lot of churches today are breaking down those silos and asking, “How can we be a resource as a women’s ministry to women throughout the church, not just those involved in women’s ministry?” Let’s say I’m a man leading a group of co-ed adults, and I really need help, I really need a woman pouring into women in my group. Can you be a resource to me?” So instead of creating this ministry where we’re raising up women to lead in women’s ministry, the focus should really be how we can reach women, help them grow in their walk with the Lord, and set them free to do ministry wherever God is calling them to serve. Women’s ministry is whatever you’re doing for and with the women of the church, period. It’s how you’re engaging those women to connect, being a resource to equip them and then setting them free to serve the Lord in any way He calls them to do so.
Challenge 3: Being Counter-Cultural
In today’s world, culture infiltrates every single thing we do, including the church. Women need help to stand against what the culture is saying is appropriate, and to go back to the Word of God asking, “But what does God’s Word say? How do we equip women to lead holy lives in a world that is anything but holy?” And that is a huge challenge.
Strategy: Teach Biblical Truth
We see things coming into the church that are from the culture, and because it’s out there, people think it’s OK. We must create a desire in women for holiness, but it starts with teaching what the Word says. Some women, especially those raised in this postmodern world, have no idea what God’s best for them is. As they connect with us in the church, they experience a new way of seeing the world and making choices. They must see in believers the true connection between convictions espoused to and actions lived out in their lives. Then as these culturally influenced women begin to understand why Christ followers are to be different, they understand and seek to follow what God is calling them to be and do in spite of what culture tells them.
These are only three challenges in our ministries and our world today that we need to address as women’s leaders. What challenges do you face, and what strategies do you put into action to address them?