While men and women together display the Image of God, women in general represent significant shepherding needs as well as resources in the grand calling of the Great Commission. They often represent more than half, sometimes substantially more than half, of any body of local believers as well as missionaries, whether in house churches, community assemblies, or mega-churches. And they are key relationship-builders in and willing contributors to the health and welfare of families, neighborhoods, churches, communities and organizations.
“Women are possibly the most underutilized natural resource in the world.” – CARE, International Humanitarian organization
How well is your church, ministry, or organization nurturing the needs and opportunities represented by your women in their various giftings, life circumstances, and passions for Christ?
Intentional training /mentoring for women is often neglected as a strategic opportunity to release more Spirit-given resources into the building of God’s Kingdom in a variety of ways. Godly confidence-building is often a key component in envisioning and entrusting greater blessings in ministry:
- women to women discipleship and shepherding
- nurturing in friendship & family
- discovery of personal mission & giftedness
- training and mentoring in executive leadership
- developing and supporting community involvement (foster-adoption to abuse recovery to public health to education to government to entrepreneurship to . . . . ???)
Though many personal and professional Christian growth opportunities exist internationally for men and women together, through schools, conferences, continuing education seminars/classes, and retreats, participation by too many women is limited by their life circumstances and stages, personal obligations and limitations, or their sense of access for cultural, theological, psychological or practical reasons. While some venues are limited to or seem predominantly geared toward men, and some venues draw a mixed men/women participation, still others prefer women to women environments for personal and ministry growth.
Through the various stages and experiences of life, men and women both come into periods of more or less availability of time given the ages of their families, new businesses or jobs, aging parents, health restrictions, educational opportunities, etc. These factors help or hinder a person’s ability to participate in the areas of their interests, including receiving training. And at various junctures in life we all learn more about ourselves, what we enjoy/dislike, what we’re good/bad at, and what it takes to move into a new season of service, again including more or new training. This could involve shifting from an administrative role to a teaching role, a care-taking role to a creative initiative, a supporting role to a leading role. Especially for women in Christian service, what opportunities exist to support them in these transitions?
The varied creativity, compassion and resourcefulness of women provides an expansive and essential resource for the Kingdom of God as they live out their love for and gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ! In order to steward well the gifts entrusted to the Body of Christ through its women, we want to increase access to personal and professional development experiences to more women in a variety of contexts and according to their callings, interests, giftings, opportunities, life changes, and convictions.
How might we better provide for all of our women to access personal and professional growth opportunities that appeal to them in the areas of their convictions, life stages, preferences, passions, and callings?
In her book, 100 Christian Women Who Changed the 20th Century, Helen Hosier describes the life and work of women in a spectrum of realms from speaking and writing (Corrie tenBoom, Helen Stenier Rice, Edith Shaffer) to Bible Study Ministry and Education (Kay Arthur, Anne Graham Lotz) to Media and Arts (Fanny Crosby, Gloria Gaither, Twila Paris) to Business and Social Change (Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks, Joni Eareckson Tada) to Missions (Amy Carmicheal, Helen Roseveare, Mary Slessor) to Marriage and Motherhood (Ruth Bell Graham, Rose Kennedy). The latter half of the 20th century saw an increasingly large number of women founding Christian organizations in response to what they recognized as needs.
How might we recognize, cultivate, and release more of the unrealized potential of visionary women who are gifted and called to serve by leading in their spheres of influence?
Whether in the local church, family, community, national or global ministry, at home or abroad, women are usually quick to see and volunteer to meet needs, support others, and carry a significant part in the practical ministry of any Christian endeavor.