Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Ways the Church Needs to Get Women Involved in Ministry

  • Sue Schlesman Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2017 14 Nov
10 Ways the Church Needs to Get Women Involved in Ministry

Traditionally, women have handled the domestic and nurturing roles in church life: baking, cleaning, organizing, children’s ministry, women’s events, and socials. By the mid-1900s, women were racing to join the workforce, increasing the number of women working and going to college—now making up about 50% in both areas. This transition to the secular world has significantly affected how women serve in the church. According to Barna Research, women comprise only 9% of the lead pastoral roles in America’s Protestant churches, even though most churches (70-80%) express a comfort level with having a woman pastor or priest, and even though women have leadership experience. Men continue to hold most of the highest positions in church life, filling out roles as pastors, counselors, deacons, elders, and adult teachers.

How can the church get women more involved in ministry? Here are 10 suggestions for leaders who want to utilize the enormous potential of women serving in the church:

Photo credit: @Thinkstock/digitalskillet

  • 1. Mentor Women Personally

    1. Mentor Women Personally

    Older (and that can just mean spiritually mature) women should seek out younger (less spiritually mature) women to influence, and younger women should seek out godly, more experienced women to mentor them. Mentoring helps people to discover their spiritual gifts and encourages them to use their gifts in the body of Christ. Mentors encourage their mentees in their calling. Strong women make other strong women. 

    “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind . . . so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5).

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. Mentor Women Personally

    2. Elevate Women in Leadership

    When leaders form new leadership teams or replace leaders who are stepping down, it’s easy for them to choose their friends or other leaders to fill in the space; yet leaders should be constantly looking for new women to place in positions of authority and influence—women who have been serving and have the skill, but have never been given the chance. 

    “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain” (1 Chronicles 4:10).

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/justinkendra

  • 1. Mentor Women Personally

    3. Discourage Cliques

    Women often refuse to participate in events because church cliques interfere with their desire to serve and build relationships. Committees, teams, and small groups cannot be formed only on the basis of friendship if your church is going to be welcoming; excluding newcomers from groups and serving opportunities creates big problems. 

    “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ you are doing right.  But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers” (James 2:8-9).

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Ingram Publishing

  • 1. Mentor Women Personally

    4. Form Serving and Leadership Teams of Varying Race, Age, and Economic Status

    Often well-intentioned women plan events and develop programs that reach a small demographic of their congregation because their planning teams are comprised of a limited demographic. Intentionally choose women of varying color, generation, marital status, and economic status. The variety will help you to plan events inclusive to everyone, leaders and congregants alike. 

    “Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house” (1 Corinthians 16:19).

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/digitalskillet

  • 1. Mentor Women Personally

    5. Take Suggestions

    Often, I’ve seen leaders who collect teams of varying ages and perspectives, but when opinions and ideas surface, the leader chooses not to take anyone’s suggestions and does what feels comfortable to him/her. The fastest way to drive women from your church is to bait them into thinking they have a voice when they really don’t. Church leadership that is autocratic will gather a group of followers, not leaders, who don’t have creative ideas and only complain or criticize. 

    “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).

     

    Photo credit: @Thinkstock

  • 1. Mentor Women Personally

    6. Value Women's Unique Giftedness

    While both genders can organize, teach, welcome, and counsel, women apply these important skills differently than men do. Women view problems from a nurturing perspective; they can anticipate hurt feelings, confusion, and potential risks. Their innate sense of connection makes their perspective invaluable at every level, but especially at top levels of church leadership. They approach decision-making differently, and they have a strong understanding of human nature. 

    “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue” (Proverbs. 31:25-26).

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock
  • 1. Mentor Women Personally

    7. Pay Women Equally

    Because payment for services also reflects value, women on the staff of a Christian school, church, or ministry should receive equal pay to men doing the same jobs. Jesus made no distinction between the sexes—you could argue that he revered women more, as he never rebuked them—so it is unbiblical and chauvinistic for churches and ministries to pay women less money for doing the same jobs that men do. Men’s salaries aren’t determined on the basis of their marital status or financial responsibility, so women’s salaries shouldn’t be either. When gender inequality exists in the church, everyone suffers. 

    “Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate” (Proverbs 31:31). 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/diego_cervo

  • 1. Mentor Women Personally

    8. Do Not Allow Gossip to Go on in the Church

    Women who gossip or argue with one another stifle the work of the Holy Spirit and slow the momentum of the ministry. When differences arise or gossip begins circulating, leaders must confront it and resolve it immediately. Women who gossip cannot be productive for the cause of Christ, and gossip in leadership will alienate others from participating at all. 

    “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28). 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Dolgachov

  • 1. Mentor Women Personally

    9. Avoid Unfair Expectations

     It’s easy to think other people should be more involved at church than you are because they are single, stay-at-home moms, part-time workers or empty-nesters; they appear to have time on their hands to give. Or perhaps they’re pastors or deacons’ wives, and their involvement in church seems required. Each woman must serve in her local church as God calls her, using the gifts He’s given her. Not all gifts attract attention, nor should they. A woman’s life has many seasons, and some seasons are more demanding than others. A good leader gives grace and extends opportunities to godly women, without making comparisons. The Holy Spirit will tell every woman when to get involved and to what degree. 

    “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3).

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/SIphotography

  • 1. Mentor Women Personally

    10. Form Small Groups Around Areas of Interest

    Small groups build community, and community facilitates faith and growth. Groups give ladies a chance for connection and friend-making by establishing points of connectivity. Women can make evites and sponsor activities from their homes, like game nights, sewing groups, movie or book clubs, Bible studies, moms’ groups, mission teams, prayer groups, craft groups, nutrition clubs, walking or exercise groups, gardening clubs, the list is endless. Forming groups of like-minded individuals around a shared interest minimizes fear and creates deep bonds. Groups also provide an easy way for newcomers to join church and for unbelievers to participate without feeling like they’re outsiders.

    “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/monkeybusinessimages

    Sue Schlesman is a Christian writer, teacher, and speaker. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing and is earning her Masters in Theology and Culture. Her blogs, Bible studies, fiction, and non-fiction reach a wide audience. You can find her philosophizing about life, education, family, and Christianity at www.susanwalleyschlesman.com or email her at sueschlesman@gmail.com.