A Note from Chris Adams: As this new year begins, how can you help women in your church grow and see where God is calling them to serve? This is more than just recruiting women to lead. It’s helping women understand who they are and their purpose as a Christ follower.
My friend and partner over the years in various ministry settings, Linda Lesniewski, Women’s Minister at Green Acres Baptist Church, has a visual technique for how to help women recognize God’s work in their lives and their calling. After reading this article, let us know what picture God leads you to use as you encourage women to be all they are to be in Him in 2017.
No one knows who first said “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but we’d all agree that it’s true. Have you ever struggled to define women’s ministry or what’s happening in the lives of the women at your church? Many ministries look for fresh new labels/names/images to assist with that. Yet, no matter what the name is, the quandary remains the same. It’s difficult to verbally explain what women’s ministry actually is.
This challenge pushed me to search out a solution. I eventually came across something that has worked well. First came the mental image, then pictures, and with time, I found actual objects to use when the question came up. Two items sit at-the-ready right by my desk chair: a small trellis and an old pair of bellows.
When I’m visiting with a new church member investigating options for growing or plugging into ministry, I often find her slightly guarded. She’ll assume I’ll want to recruit her to assume a responsibility in women’s ministry. She’ll smile, take a deep breath, and lean back in her chair when I pull out my little white trellis and say, “Women’s ministry here is an infrastructure within the church that provides support for women to grow spiritually and to explore God’s call upon their lives.” Her expression exposes her relief and joy at the freedom available to her to chart her own course. What an amazing opportunity to any woman when a church has such an infrastructure in place! A trellis works for me, but what analogy would you use to describe what’s currently available within your church for women? Do some creative praying and see what comes to mind.
Then there’s the bellows. How do I use them? I sometimes hear a different question that’s less about “structure” and more about “vision.” Today’s young woman has dreams and ideas about what could be. She usually already knows how to make things happen. Finding her own way is more her style, yet she also needs encouragement and permission. A bellow illustrates Paul’s admonition to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:6, when Paul said to “keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you.” I beamed when my sister-in-law gifted me with her uncle’s antique bellows from his time in North Africa during WWI. Though much of the leather panels are cracked with age, they still send small puffs of air out of their tips when I compress them. I’ve even “puffed” women across the table from me when I felt like they needed a bit of encouragement to go forward with what God had placed on their lives!
So, I encourage you to pray creatively, then search for a picture or an object to help engage women this coming year as they consider all their options for spiritual growth or personal ministry. You’ll discover an invaluable resource for drawing women into what God has made available to them through your church’s women’s ministry.
Linda Lesniewski is the Women’s Minister at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas. She is the mother of four young adults and the grandmother of six little girls. She is a contributor to the book Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level published by LifeWay. She has authored A Little Book About Knowing A Big God for children, Women at the Cross, published by Revell, and Connecting Women: A Relational Guide for Leaders in Women’s Ministry, published by Baker Books.