Women’s ministry is essential to church planting. As church planters, we are weeding through what ministries are necessary to launch in our new cultural context, and what needs to wait. If we say a ministry, or program is essential, we are really saying whatever that thing is must start as soon as we hit the ground.
I’m a word junkie, so I did a quick Merriam-Webster search, which revealed the meaning of “essential” to be “absolutely necessary; extremely important.” Similar words are crucial, vital, indispensable, needed or required. As a church planter’s wife, when I sit with these words, I take a deep breath and pause, because to say something is vitally important to our mission as church planters is to say we can’t simply cut it from our initial vision-casting sessions. We can’t wait until our church is constituted with a few rows of chairs filled with warm bodies on the average Sunday morning. No! Rather to pronounce that women’s ministry is essential would demand that ministry to women is non-negotiable, from the beginning stages of our church plants and throughout the life of the church.
As a woman and church planter’s wife, I strongly believe women’s ministry is essential to church planting for three reasons.
1. Women’s ministry is commanded
One look at Titus 2:3-5 outlines clear directives for the women in our churches. They are given detailed instructions on what they are to be teaching. The church is a family in desperate need of spiritual mothers who are equipped with the Word of God, imparting wisdom and truth within the body and actively training other women to walk out sound doctrine. This all begins with a women’s ministry that has a vision shaped by Titus 2. Women’s ministry in church planting is not an option; it is necessary because we have women on our church planting teams and women in the community we are seeking to reach. A vibrant women’s ministry is a mark of a church trying to align with sound doctrine. After all, the entire book of Titus focuses on sound teaching.
2. Women’s ministry serves as a protective hedge
In 2 Timothy 3:1-7, Paul gives a warning about godlessness in the last days. He cautions about those who will creep into households and capture weak women and lead them astray. The women described here are always learning and never able to arrive at the knowledge of truth. Women’s ministry provides a hedge of protection for your church plant. It has for ours. A few of the false teachers we encountered in our first two years of ministry were after our women. I am thankful for the leadership of our elders and the hedge they placed by making sure we have a healthy women’s ministry. Because of devoted women who are grounded in truth and have genuine relationships with the women in our church body, we have been able to have conversations and walk through rocky terrain together, encouraging one another in pure doctrine and right theology. By having a women’s ministry, you not only protect the women but you also seek the welfare of entire households and your congregation.
3. Women are called to cultivate home
Homemaking is a call to all women of every generation. Cultivating home is for the married woman, the single sister, the gal who commutes to the office Monday through Friday and the girlfriend who has chosen the home as her vocation. If we neglect to nurture a women’s ministry, we will not have ready and willing homemakers. Why does this matter? Homemakers create homes. Home will serve as a vital missional space in your church plant and, honestly, as long as your church is alive.
Our church plant gathered in a living room for months. The host home invited their neighbors to join us and a family that had just moved from overseas. Our first convert, the woman who came to America a few days before we began meeting, was drawn to Christ in that same host home, in that same living room. This is just one of many stories. Many women have connected with the gals in our women’s ministry, which ultimately linked them and their families to the church body. Homes will be used for worship gatherings, life groups, Bible studies, meals, game nights, discipleship, coffee connections and on and on.
In her book Love Where You Live, Shauna Pilgreen writes, “Home is a place to be opened up and spilled out for those who literally live right beside you.” As church planters, we are called to live lives that give and keep giving and we teach our people to do the same. A women’s ministry that is actively seeking to raise up homemakers, purposefully instruct them to live missionally and reach their neighbors, will light a city on fire with the gospel.
I could share many reasons from our journey as church planters that elaborate on why I believe an active women’s ministry needs to be part of your church-planting vision. The reasons I’ve shared bring a multitude of stories to my mind so rapidly I am sure I could fill one journal and then another.
Women’s ministry is absolutely essential to church planting because it is commanded. Ministering to women helps us as a church body fight against godlessness and false teachers by deliberately building up strong women who are filled with secure faith. Women were created to be homemakers. When we raise up women who purposefully cultivate homes that are beacons of light for Christ, we not only welcome the believers to sit at the table but we also invite the lost to meet Jesus.
If you decided to partner with the women of your church plant in a radically intentional way, how much more could you accomplish with them on the field? Let’s challenge ourselves in the church planting realm to make sure we are walking in sound doctrine. Don’t forget your women’s ministry. It’s indispensable!
Published November 30, 2022