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 second instalment, we asked, “Why is ministry among women important?” You can read the first part, “What Is a Healthy Women’s Ministry” here.
Jennifer Winger, Calvary Baptist Church, St. John’s, NL
Ministry among women is important because scripture says it is important. Titus 2:3-5 clearly highlights that women are uniquely called and equipped to minister to one another. At Calvary, we use the title of “older woman” carefully as there are many young women that are enriching and edifying the body because they actively spend time in the Word and with the Lord.
In a world that is struggling with sexual purity and identity, where women are finding their identity everywhere but in Christ, the safest place to bear one another’s burdens is with other women who walk confidently in their identity – firmly rooted in Christ. Women need a safe place to share their lives and hearts without shame, and to know it is safe to read scripture with their minds, as well as their emotions. We also need to help women to guard their hearts as to what they ingest into their minds as truth (2 Tim. 3:6). We do not want to be weak women, and sound doctrine makes strong women who can persevere their way through suffering, and gives hope that lasts beyond the moment, and points to eternity.
Sue MacDonald, Grace Toronto Church
Ministry among women is important because women are different from men. In a culture that is doing away with gender distinctions, it has become even more important for the church to come alongside women and to help them understand what it means to be a woman, who is a follower of Christ.
Miranda Webster, First Baptist Church Orillia
John Donne is correct in stating, “No man (or woman) is an island entire of itself.” Women are called by God to care for one another.
Not so long ago, a friend messaged me, desperate and needing reinforcement. For weeks, she and her children have been struggling with lice. She tried shampooing and combing and picking, yet the problem persisted. As a single mother, the daunting tasks of tackling lice became too much. Not to mention, that her children outnumbered her 6 to 1.
Having only had lice as a child, I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to help this single mother. What was I to do? I couldn’t not help her. She has come to our outreach program for a few months, but she didn’t ask for help often. I knew this was an opportunity and it might not come again. So, I sent out a last minute text message to as many mommas that I could think of and asked for their help.
Rearranging their schedules and dropping their plans, these ladies picked up the task of mothering her and her children. Neatly combing through strands of hair, elder wives and new believing single mothers stood side-by-side caring and giving practical help. It was a beautiful picture of sacrificial love. I am reminded of Jesus’s instruction to the disciples in Matthew:
But Jesus called them to him and said, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28
Ministry is often not sexy. It looks like a comb in one hand and shampoo bottle in the other. It looks like searching for nits in the scalp of children who aren’t your own. It looks like rearranging your schedule and calling a babysitter to help someone else in need. It’s not glamorous, yet it is eternally rewarding.
Within the church, there are many mothers, daughters, and sisters to whom we should love and befriend. Women’s ministry creates a space for women to get to know one another and to care for each other’s souls.
Christel Humfrey, Calvary Grace Church, Calgary
Ministry among women is important because we are all commanded to “make disciples” (Matt. 28:19). While a vitally important aspect of this discipleship happens as we sit under the preaching and teaching of the church leadership, there is a relational aspect to mentoring relationships that works better woman-to-woman. This is why, I believe, we are commanded to have these gendered relationships in Titus 2.
Godly older women inspire younger women to have a vision for what their lives could look like. Men always have examples of mature manhood on display in their pastors, but women also need examples of mature womanhood in their lives. Older women understand through lived experience the particular challenges that younger women face and can speak into their situations from a place of understanding, but also biblical truth.
Woman-to-woman ministry is also essential in cases of abuse or when a woman is struggling with personal (perhaps embarrassing) sin issues that require feminine support and perspective.
Bronwyn Short, St. John’s Vancouver
- Women need to be actively and intentionally discipled through the scriptures throughout the different stages of their lives.
- Older women are instructed to pass on the faith and life to younger women.
- Gathering and equipping women for the unique call of God on their lives and to see their identity and purpose in Christ is desperately needed today in face of messages they are receiving from the world.
- Women have great responsibilities and unique opportunities and they need to be equipped to think and live Biblically in those challenges and privileges.
- Women will naturally seek fellowship and if that fellowship is not intentionally shaped around Christ and his word, it may become the source of spiritual ill health.
Priscilla Wong, Markham Chinese Baptist Church, ON
I was born into a Christian home and have attended church my whole life. My grasp of the importance of ministry among women, however, did not come about until my late twenties upon beginning my studies at Toronto Baptist Seminary. My understanding grew not only from attending the classes teaching about the biblical role of women, but also from interacting with female professors and students. At that point in my life, I had few close female Christian friends, ones whose own godly walk with the Lord could stir up my own affections for Christ; yet, suddenly, I was praying with other women, sharing with them, and studying the Bible alongside them. These relationships came to have a huge impact on my life choices in subsequent years.
Becoming a mother and then homeschooling showed me even more intensely the need for ministry among women. I am an introvert: I prefer to do most things on my own. Yet I can say that motherhood isn’t something you can do alone. All around, the world wields its pressures; within, the wrestling with self-doubt, for one. When have I seen this most profoundly? When a Christ-follower looks earnestly into a mother’s weary eyes and genuinely expresses how she has seen God’s grace working in her life—time and time again, I have witnessed the tears begin to swell in this mother’s eyes, a revelation of just how much this mother hungers for encouragement (and how seldom she receives it).
Perhaps, when a women’s ministry is found lacking in a church, its importance has been overlooked because women have not had the opportunity to taste its rewards. But, as I have witnessed, this kind of loving support can inspire solidarity, foster intentionality, and infuse vigour into a Christian community.