Growing a Church by Investing in Motivated Women
Church growth occurs when people feel valued. By equipping women to serve in ministry, churches benefit from their gifts, knowledge, experience, and passion. | by Megan Dickerson
Several years ago, my husband Drew was on staff at a church that we loved — and they loved us. We were a young family and went from 2 to 4 kids while we were there. We were both finishing seminary and figuring out what ministry would look like for us and how we could serve the local church with the gifts God has given us.
Once a week or so, I would end up reading or doing some homework in the church offices while I waited for our toddlers to finish their day in the preschool. As busy as he was, our pastor Darrell would stop and talk to me about what I was reading and learning in class.
At one point, he bought a book for a few women that he saw leading in our church. It was about teaching theology to women and how we could help the women in our church think more theologically. He asked my thoughts and applied some of them at the church.
I will never forget it. He was such a gift to me. Darrell knew me and paid attention; he invited me to the table. I stepped into spaces that I otherwise wouldn’t because he called me out and into faith.
Pastor, I hope you are doing the same with the women in your church. I know many of you are, and the stories I hear from other women are life-giving. I have seen women’s eyes light up as they tell me of a conversation with their pastor where he encouraged them to step into new places and use their gifts in their local church.
While some pastors may feel uncomfortable stepping into women’s ministry, please know that the women in your congregation — and especially your leaders — want you there and want your support. Because you have this responsibility, encourage the women you pastor to gain a theological education. Please do not underestimate your voice in her life. It is incredibly powerful.
3 Ways To Encourage Women In Your Church
What could you do? Here are three ways to encourage the women you pastor:
- Buy a book for the women you see leading.
A book like Word-Filled Women’s Ministry edited by Gloria Furman and Kathleen Nielson would help the women of your church create a culture filled with God’s Word. Read it with them! You could meet with a group of your women’s ministry leaders and talk through the ideas they encounter and what it might look like in your local church.
- Encourage their gifts.
If you see a woman who is gifted at hospitality and welcoming people into the church, tell her. Give her new opportunities to grow. If a woman is skilled at teaching, find opportunities for her to use that gift in the local body. Help women to recognize, strengthen, and use their gifts on a regular basis.
- Encourage them to apply for undergraduate or graduate-level courses.
I have lost count of the number of women I’ve met in seminary who are there because a pastor saw their gifts and encouraged them to go and study.
Do not underestimate the women in your church. There are surely some who are ready for graduate work. Some may be ready to drop everything and move so that they could be in classes on campus. Others might try out an online class or two. Many of them will not consider applying unless you suggest it.
Invest And Equip
Several barriers can keep women away from theological conversations. Many of them feel like they’re not capable, others that there’s not a place for them, and some simply don’t know of the opportunities available. As a pastor, you can do so much to tear down these barriers by simply suggesting the next step.
As you continue to equip those leading in your women’s ministry, I’m confident that your church will benefit from their growth as they grow in their understanding of who God is, the power of his Word, and how they can more clearly share the gospel.
Of course, not all the women in your church will be ready to take a step like this, but I believe some will. As the women who lead in various ministries in your church grow in their love and knowledge of God, I believe that the church will become even healthier.
I have seen how women who learn and grow become contagious to others. My prayer is that God will do a mighty work in local churches all over the world as pastors continue to invest in the women that they pastor.
This article originally appeared on the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary website, for the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership, on February 25, 2021.