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9 keys for leading women’s ministry

Hilary Tompkins » Church Church Leadership Wisdom Planning Coaching

Serving in a women’s ministry? Here are nine encouragements for how to lead and love women.

For many, the term “women’s ministry” conjures up all kinds of impressions of websites with dancing flowers and flowing ribbons for craft ideas, bake sales, and tea parties, am I right? For others, it’s the memory of frowning church ladies at the rummage sale, and for still others, it’s the reminder of that last awesome conference where women taught and led worship. For me, “women’s ministry” meant my grandmother’s missionary quilting circle. Today, I have the privilege to lead women who are hungry to study the Bible with each other and learn to love Jesus with all their hearts.

Has Jesus called you to encourage women through women’s ministry? Inviting women into deeper community with each other and with Jesus is worth your time and your heart. If you are leading women’s ministry or considering a role as a leader, here’s how I would encourage you:

1. Be real

As you prepare to lead your women’s group, do you find yourself preoccupied with making sure your hair is cute, that you’re wearing your adorable new shoes, or that you’re clever with your words? If so, you’re not fooling anyone. Not for long, anyway. If you want to lead women, you have to be willing to go where you’re asking them to go. Do you want the women you lead to be honest and transparent? Then you gotta go first, sister.

Women follow many types of women leaders, but they see Jesus in a woman who is real, repentant, grace-giving, and living that out in front of her team. I pray that God would give us all the grace to tell the truth and not hide behind our carefully crafted illusions.

2. Remember that it’s all about Jesus

Women have widely varied interests and pursuits. The one thing that brings us together is our desire to love and worship Jesus. He alone is worth our worship, our love, our time, and our energy. Everything else is secondary.

Fight the temptation to provide something for everyone. Lead the women you serve to love Jesus more and glorify him in their everyday lives.

3. Love women as he first loved you

Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but to lead women’s ministry you’ve got to love women (1 John 4:19). If not, what’s holding you back? Are you afraid that you’ll be exposing yourself to a group of mean girls?

Recognize each woman’s dignity as an image-bearer of God, and then believe that God will give you the grace to learn to love them well. Loving women who wound is tough, but the same grace that is available to you is also available to both of you in abundance.

4. Trust your pastors’ direction

Pastors are the ones who give an account to God for how they’ve cared for the church (Heb. 13:17), not you or I. There are times we may not see the big picture and it’s the pastor’s job to shepherd you and all the women in the church. Help the pastors to do this with joy, knowing that you pray for them and support the vision God has given them. When we fail to do this, women’s ministry is in danger of becoming an isolated place where we do our own thing, and at worst a place of rebellion, distrust, and gossip.

5. Share the vision

What will characterize your women’s ministry? Serving every purpose will drain your energy and tire participants.

At Mars Hill, one of our primary goals is to build the Women’s Midweek Study events at the local churches. This serves the church by facilitating Bible study opportunities and building community. We do this by creating excellent curriculum designed to complement the sermon series and by organizing our study groups to provide a conduit into a Community Group. Occasions for evangelism and community building happen naturally in this context.

Pray and seek God’s vision for women’s ministry in the local church.

6. Invest in leaders

Building a team of leaders to love and encourage is essential to a healthy women’s ministry. Choose women who love Jesus and love his church, not women with alternate agendas who lead from a place of dissatisfaction (no matter how good their ideas are). Have a rigorous application process for potential leaders that requires them to articulate the gospel, offers them opportunity for assessment, and invites them to examine their leadership call. They will attract leaders just like them and build strong teams. Sometimes relationships take longer than efficiency would suggest, but investment pays dividends, especially with young leaders.

7. Train women

Women who love Jesus deeply desire to be trained. Practical training encourages women to be purposeful in their singleness for God’s glory, to be godly wives and mothers, and to be a blessing to the church and their communities as they become trained in Titus 2 principles.

Excellent theological training and Bible study build a generation of women who handle God’s word with integrity and who will then train others. Head knowledge alone produces pride, but a woman trained to apply what she’s learned to her heart is transformed to be more like Jesus. Equipping women to serve Jesus builds up the body of Christ and affords opportunity for women to be active on mission.

Constantly encourage growth opportunities for your women! Training days, retreats, and leadership seminars provide needed encouragement and coaching so we can love Jesus with both our minds and our hearts.

8. Recognize the varied challenges women face

Singleness, marriage, children, motherhood, childcare, career paths, working at home, working outside the home, body image, chronic pain, abuse, addictions – all of these make ministry to women both full of potential and overwhelming at the same time. Many young women face these challenges and seek out the wisdom of older women. Finding older women to model integrity and become examples to younger women is a huge challenge, yet preparing younger women to be a Titus 2 woman to others is deeply rewarding.

9. Recognize the sin patterns

Women tend to sin in areas of manipulation, gossip, competition, and judgment. We quickly forget that the gospel of grace is for all of us, not just those we deem deserving. When women become enslaved to anxious people-pleasing, they need leaders who will fearlessly guide them to freedom in Jesus by telling the truth about themselves and what God has done, setting an example of repentance and bold trust.


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