If you’ve ever called another woman’s ministry leader, talked to one at a conference, emailed someone about a program, or been told what your church is doing at an associational event, you have networked! Networking enables Christian women to form meaningful relationships through which they can see what is happening in other churches and denominations. Together, they can look for help and answers to needs in their congregations and communities.
Based on the first group of women I brought together at a network meeting years ago, here are 7 benefits of networking with other leaders in women’s ministry.
1. Networking is an approach to bringing women together for encouragement and support.
During the first networking meeting, we allowed time for each woman to express concerns. I was amazed at the honesty. The experience opened my eyes to personal struggles and struggles in ministering to other women. They shared concerns for family and church, wanted direction for beginning a women’s ministry, and expressed excitement at having this ministry offered. Yes, women need encouragement. As you open your heart to those women, you will form meaningful relationships.
2. Networking is a way for women to identify and use their spiritual gifts.
Many women either do not know their individual gifts or do not know how to use them in the body of Christ. Paul explains spiritual gifts are “for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). At each networking meeting, we encouraged the women to help other women in their churches discover their gifts and explore ways to use them in the church. The goal of networking meetings was to involve as many women as possible in leadership. Coming together for fellowship alone will not result in successful networking. Each woman must ask, “What can I do to make a difference?”
3. Networking is a way to help women mature in their faith.
God’s Word is at the heart of networking. All we do should originate with God’s Word. Its study and works of service help mature women in their faith. Networking encourages maturity in faith through providing and encouraging mentoring relationships. Mentoring friendships encourage growth. A mentor is a tutor, coach, or counselor. The idea is more experienced persons help the less experienced. Paul labored to “present every man complete (teleios, mature) in Christ” (Col. 1:28-29, NASB). As women network, they can mentor each other.
4. Networking is a place to exchange information and ideas.
It was critical to discover a contact woman in every church in my association who could funnel information to her congregation. This included details about the next networking meeting. She would encourage the women in her church to participate. We established a database with all women’s addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses to provide several avenues to send and receive help and ideas. When God gathers His women, borders expand, dreams become reality, and ministry occurs.
5. Networking is an opportunity to identify the needs in our communities.
If we are to reach the lost around us and minister to our women and their families, we must first identify their needs. Jesus identified needs and met them. Many organizations are glad to volunteer time and information. Peruse your phone book or search online for organizations that connect best with the women in your area.
6. Networking is a chance to share resources among all churches.
I quickly discovered that most of the women who attended the first meeting had not participated in the most recent Bible studies and were unaware of the many opportunities available to help them grow spiritually. One network meeting, I collected extra copies of each Bible study our church had offered in the last few years and created a display for the next meeting. I distributed brochures, flyers, and booklets and collected enough resources to fill two large boxes and four milk carton bins. As a result, women were excited and began Bible studies in their churches.
7. Networking is a place to pray for one another, our pastors, and our churches.
We must constantly pray for our pastors; they are under enormous pressure. Encourage the women you lead to pray for pastors and churches. At the end of each networking meeting we distributed one prayer burden card for each woman. After a few moments, we collected the cards and prayed for each request. Oh, how my heart was burdened for those women. Women poured out their hearts to the only One who could help them. All of us need ministry at times. Remember as you reach out to someone with the compassion of Christ that you may one day need someone to reach out to you.
Have you participated in networking with other women’s ministry leaders? How has it impacted your ministry?
This article is excerpted from Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level compiled by Chris Adams.
Shirley Moses is an author, speaker, women’s ministry team advisor at Hagerman Baptist Church in Sherman, Texas, and founder of Beyond the Call Ministries. A LifeWay Ministry Multiplier, Shirley is currently developing a women’s ministry leadership team of women who have a strong desire to disciple other women. If you are interested in joining this team, follow the instructions under “Contagious Connection” at Beyond the Call Ministries.