A Note from Chris Adams: We talk a lot about how to draw women into ministry through the local church. What do they want? What will get their attention? How can we reach women both inside and outside the church? Often we are more focused on what they want and at times forget about what they need.
Today’s guest writer is Kristi Glenn, a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. She reminds us of the real reason we minister to and with women. Let’s never forget the heart of our ministry with women must be based on Christ and knowing Him through the Word!
I confess, I’m not an avid shopper. In fact, I kind of hate it—especially shopping overseas. If malls are palaces of sensory stimulation, Middle Eastern street markets are torture chambers of sensory overload. Every shop has its brightest colors facing outward, most potent smells wafting into the street, and most persuasive salesman standing outside seeking to entice the passerby to stop in and buy. It doesn’t sound so bad until there are 50 of them crammed into 100 square feet. Which means a cacophony of sound and a suffocating combination of smells as each store owner actively communicates in every way they know how, that they have what you want.
Of course, good businesses are always asking, “What does the consumer want? And how can we communicate that to them?” For a business, answering these questions well is life or death. Sometimes, though, we import this business model into women’s ministry with dangerous consequences. We ask ourselves, “Would women rather decorate cakes or make scrapbooks? Would they rather do a study from this high profile author or that one? Do women just want a break from their family routines or something else altogether?” Women’s ministry is not a business, and so, we can’t focus solely on what the women in our churches want. We must consider what they need.
So, what do women need? At their cores all women have the same ultimate need. We need a Savior.
In Genesis 1, we read how God created humanity in two distinct genders, male and female, and both bear His image. The first woman and the first man lived in perfect harmony with God until Genesis 3. They disobeyed God, and their relationship with Him was severed. From that point on every man and every woman is in the same boat. We’re all separated from God and need to be reconciled.
In His grace, God looked on our fallen human race and sent His Son, Jesus, to reconcile all of humanity, both men and women to Himself. He lived the life no man or woman could have ever lived and died the death every man and woman deserved. He came back to life, conquering death and offering eternal life and reconciliation to any man or woman who would believe.
So, what do women really need? They need Jesus and His gospel. How do they know the gospel? From the Bible. This means we must be grounding women in the Bible itself and equipping women to teach the Bible to other women.
Ultimately, when we ask questions like “What do women really want in a women’s ministry?” we’re only discussing the window dressing of the issue. Window dressing is important because it catches the eye of the passerby and brings them through the doors. Especially in a world where a thousand voices are competing telling women their store/organization/church has what they want. Once they’ve come, though, what they really need is to be taught the Bible. What they really need is to be reconciled to God through His Son, Jesus.
So let’s keep having the window dressing conversations. Let’s keep getting people in the door, but let’s not confuse the window dressing with the heart of the issue. More than anything else women need Jesus.
Kristi Glenn is an MA student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is passionate about engaging and equipping women with the Word of God both in the U.S. and around the world.