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Editors’ note: 

In this four-part series, we’ve asked women from churches across Canada how women’s ministry plays out in their local context. From St. John’s, Newfoundland to Vancouver, BC, these women describe both the aims and practical inner-workings of their women’s ministry. In this first instalment, we asked, “What is a healthy women’s ministry?” Here’s what they said.

Sue MacDonald, Grace Toronto Church

At Grace Toronto, we see a healthy women’s ministry as having three components. Firstly, a ministry where women are connecting with Christ through the scriptures and growing deeper in their understanding of the gospel so that the gospel becomes the lens by which they view themselves, others and the world they live in. Secondly, a ministry where women are connecting with one another and learning, in community and with accountability, to have the gospel go deep into their lives. And finally, a ministry were women are living out the gospel, both in word and deed, in their neighbourhoods, workplaces, and city.

Miranda Webster, First Baptist Church Orillia

For women’s ministry to be healthy and God honouring, it is foundational for the ministry to be rooted in the Word of God. In the beginning, God created the world by his spoken word, and similarly, God speaks to us and creates in us new life through the Bible and his church. The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the [wo]man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work,” 2 Timothy 3:16.  For transformation to happen individually and within the ministry, women must be connected to the Word of God. Little to no spiritual growth can happen apart from the Word of God.

Another healthy quality of women’s ministry is remaining connected to the local church. The church is a gift to the believer. Remaining connected and under the authority of the church will benefit the ministry by offering support and leadership to those serving. There is a temptation for women’s ministry to silo itself from the local church. This is a great disadvantage to the women leading and the women attending the programs. God places leaders in authority to shepherd the hearts and souls, and if women’s ministry is not within the care of these shepherds, then there is a void of this vital leadership from their lives.  

Bronwyn Short, St. John’s Vancouver

  • One that is centred on Christ crucified, which means it has to be Biblically founded, shaped and nurtured and for the glory of God.
  • It seeks to disciple women into their life with Christ, aiming to help them become mature in their faith. This maturity comes from a growing love for and regular habit of humbly reading and obeying scripture.
  • It is built on prayer, understanding that God alone can make and grow disciples.
  • It is accountable to and under the authority of church leadership. It seeks to serve the whole congregation.
  • It is outward looking into all of life, mission and evangelism.
  • It is training up leaders.
  • It reaches a diverse range on women.
  • It is teaching women how to read to become readers and teachers themselves of the Word of God.
  • It aims to equip women for the work of ministry in every area of their lives

Christel Humfrey, Calvary Grace Church, Calgary, AB

At Calvary Grace our women’s ministry is carried out under the direction and oversight of our elders, and is integrated into the life and mission of the church as a whole. We encourage organic discipleship among the women in the manner of Titus 2–older women teaching younger women “what is good” and applying biblical truth to their lives. We desire to have our women’s lives transformed by the Word so that God is glorified and his word is not “reviled” (Titus 2:3-5).

We have found that some organization and structure goes a long way in trying to facilitate these biblical relationships, especially as our church grows. For example, under the umbrella of our women’s ministry, we facilitate prayer partners, small group Bible studies (where the female leaders are trained by our pastor), and larger gatherings like brunches and retreats where we hear biblical teaching and discuss the passage together. These have all been helpful tools in growing a healthy women’s ministry.

Jennifer Winger, Calvary Baptist Church, St. John’s, NL

A healthy women’s ministry is one that is knitted well into the community of the local church, not as a branch of the church.  We glorify God richly when we fulfill the roles and giftings that the Lord has uniquely made for women.  We have experienced the richness of serving in a body where men and women work together as God has laid out in scripture. As women we submit, rightly understood, as Christ submitted to the Father, to the teaching and leadership of the elders.  In everything we do, we seek to be led by the authority of Scripture both in our profession and our practice.  

Our women gather together as a life group weekly, often using the same materials that are being used in our other life groups. The only difference is that during our times as ladies, we can discuss the Christian walk with the unique lens of a woman.  

It is important for women to be taught with what accords with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1) through the preaching and teaching of the local church.  In conjunction, sound gospel centred teaching must be practiced with side by side and hand in hand discipleship, where sound doctrine is laid upon functional day to day living, allowing women to embody the gospel and encouraging other women to do the same.