Like most forms of ministry, Presbyterian women's ministry is Christ-centred and many of the groups that I have had the privilege of spending time with over the last year, seek to be just that.
I have heard exciting stories of women helping other women come to Christ and grow in Him. I have met group leaders who long to be effective in encouraging women to understand the gospel and apply it to every aspect of their lives. I have also met godly older women (some in their 90s) who intentionally draw alongside younger women to encourage them in their faith as they seek to live out the gospel at the school gate, amongst baskets of washing and, for some, as they face cancer treatment.
I believe this is what happens when women engage with God through his Word and prayer, in the community of the local church and, as God’s Holy Spirit moves, lives can be changed.
Women’s ministry is diverse in its nature and I have heard of amazing ways in which some groups of women are seeking to work out some of the above. Here are just a few:
- Running outreach events where non-Christians can get just a tiny glimpse of Christ and His community
- Connecting with local care homes and organising short services, hymn singing and one to-one-visits
- Women caring for each other as they face difficult situations
- Running a book group where Christian books are discussed
- Leading a women's Bible study group
- Reading the Bible one-to-one with a new believer
- Holding women's breakfasts, worship nights and Sanctuary evenings.
I have heard of women organising school runs and rotas for hospital appointments, creative groups making gifts to bless the local church and community - the list is almost endless!
Women being intentional as well as active
But Presbyterian women’s ministry isn’t just about women being active. It's about women being intentional. The key to women's ministry is looking at the needs of the women in the local church and the local community and thinking strategically about how best to meet those needs.
Sometimes we are so busy doing something that we forget why we are doing it. Susan Hunt in her book, Women’s Ministry in the Local Church, with J Ligon Duncan, says “The only reliable motive for encouraging women’s ministry in the local church is an insatiable longing to see the display of God’s glory in the local church.”
Sometimes it’s good to have a list of aims that help to shape all that we do. Perhaps something like this:
‘Our aim is to ensure every woman in the congregation has the opportunity to:
- Hear and respond to the gospel (Acts 16:13-15)
- Grow in godliness (Ephesians 4:22)
- Be spurred on to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)
- Be equipped for service (Ephesians 4:12)
- Be active in making disciples (Matthew 28:16-20)’
Developing authentic women’s ministry
Perhaps there are some Presbyterian Women’s groups that have been running something for the past 20 or more years, something which may be meeting the needs of some women. If it is, great! But if it's not – perhaps it's time to prayerfully evaluate why we are doing it?
If we want to find ways to grow and develop authentic women’s ministry in our congregations we need to pray and we need to prayerfully evaluate what our strengths and weaknesses are. We need to look around us at the opportunities God has given us to minister to a wide range of needs listening to God and to women inside and outside our church pews.
Women's ministry doesn’t exist to maintain the status quo, but instead it should be promoting spiritual growth and doing so requires flexibility and creativity. We all need a health check from time to time and our Presbyterian women’s’ ministry is no exception. In whatever we do we should long to genuinely help women grow and thrive in Christ.
2018 Annual Meeting
As we look back over this last year we pray that you have grown in your faith and that those in your group have been enthused, equipped and inspired to sink their roots deeper in Christ.
As we look forward to our Annual Meeting and Celebration Evening on Thursday, 10 May we are looking to God for His blessing as we launch our new theme Beautiful, based on Psalm 27:4.
Kate Patterson will be our guest speaker. She studied English at Oxford and Theology at Bristol and is passionate about making God’s Word accessible and relevant to all ages. Kate is based in West London and is on the leadership team at Holy Trinity Richmond. She is the author of the book The Promise of Blessing.
Join with us as we come together to worship and celebrate all that God is doing throughout His church. We look forward to hearing what the Lord has to say to us through His Word as we focus our hearts together on Him.
Pauline Kennedy is Women's Ministry & PW Development Officer. She is responsible for supporting the ministry of Presbyterian Women, as well as assisting in the development of strategy and coordination of women’s ministry in general.
The PW Annual Meeting starts at 2.00 pm in Assembly Buildings, Belfast. The Evening Celebration is at 7.30pm and will take the form of a celebration as Kate gives her second talk and further unpacks God’s Word with the true meaning of beauty. You can find out more information here.