I’ve spent the past month thinking and considering the past ten years of changes in the local church regarding ministry to women. I’ve also considered the trends I see for the next decade and what we might see coming in the years ahead. I’ve read other blogs on church trends because overall church trends tend to affect smaller parts of the whole. I’m both encouraged and discouraged at the same time. So, instead of doing an article on trends for the coming year (and beyond), I want to outline some of my prayers for the local church and how we minister to women.
Here are five things I’m praying for women leaders in the year ahead. I hope you’ll join me and even add to this list.
1. Unity among believers. Jesus prayed for unity in John 17, not just for His time, but for our time as well. His words in verse 21 say, “May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.” It’s no secret that 2020 is going to be a year for political differences, yet my prayer is that the world will see believers live in harmony, even in the midst of differences. Can we pray for the women in our churches to work together for the gospel? Can we as individuals evaluate the way we easily criticize others on social media or have an attitude of entitlement? Can we lay aside our personal preferences and approach each other in humility and grace?
2. Biblical application in our teaching and in the way we live. I’m praying we truly will be women of the Word—that we will get in God’s Word and His Word will get into us. I’ve seen a trend over the past decade of women who want the knowledge of the Bible, but not the power it contains to transform us. Could we begin reading God’s Word and ask the question, “What actions do I need to take and how can I be more like Christ by abiding in His Word?” May Romans 12:2 be part of our daily prayer, which says, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
3. Prayer will return as a focus. We talk about the importance of prayer, but I’m astounded at the number of women who have never prayed out loud. And when I generally ask women what spiritual discipline they would like to develop more deeply, prayer always rises to the top. So, how are you going to be a woman committed to prayer this year and in the coming decade? Do you truly believe the Lord wants to answer your prayers? Will you spend more time than voicing prayers under your breath or will you get on your knees and cry out to God for Him to move? When was the last time you prayed for God to do something that could only be explained by Him answering it? I challenge you to pray for big things this year. Reflect on Psalm 66:19-20, “However, God has listened; he has paid attention to the sound of my prayer. Blessed be God! He has not turned away my prayer or turned his faithful love from me.”
4. A return focus to evangelism. I’m always challenged to look for opportunities to share my faith. Even though I’ve taught evangelism methods and am confident that evangelism is a priority, I don’t always follow through in my daily actions. I believe our ministries to women have focused far too long on ministering to one another and our missional strategies have looked more like ministry projects than fulfilling the Great Commission. Why aren’t we encouraging women to share their faith? Why do we continue to see declines in baptisms? I was challenged once again yesterday that the word “go” in Matthew 28:19 is a reminder that evangelism should be a natural part of our “going”—as we go. Evangelism isn’t a program you do but a lifestyle you display to the world. It’s being intentional in conversations and having spiritual eyes to share the hope of Jesus. If there’s one thing our world needs in the coming decade, it’s hope, peace, and confidence in eternal security.
5. Finally, my prayer for 2020 and the coming decade is that leaders will continue to develop younger leaders, let them lead, and invest in the next generation. As I write this, I realize that by the end of this decade I will most likely be retired from vocational ministry. That’s a sobering reality, and it propels my desire to make the most of raising godly leaders who will impact churches and communities. And while I don’t have all the answers, I’m committed to cheering young women in their calling. It’s one reason I still teach high school girls on Sunday mornings and why I have young women in their 20s in my home on Sunday evenings. I want to be a woman who doesn’t just “hang on” to a position, but a woman who sees the potential in the next generation. I want to live out Psalm 145:4 that says, “One generation will declare your works to the next and will proclaim your mighty acts.”
What about you? What are your prayers for women in the next year and the next decade? I’d love to hear from you. And look for my next article on Wednesday when I outline some trends I see for the coming decade.
Kelly D. King is the Manager of Magazines/Devotional Publishing and Women’s Ministry Training for LifeWay Christian Resources. She is the author of Ministry to Women: The Essential Guide for Leading Women in the Local Church. You can hear Kelly at LifeWay’s You Lead events that are held in several cities around the country or listen to her co-host the Marked Podcast with Elizabeth Hyndman.