Women's Ministry FAQ
1. How can I begin or develop a ministry to women in my local church?
- Download this article: Developing a Ministry to Women.doc
2. Why is training necessary?
- Download this article: Why is Training Necessary.doc
- How important is training? (KD)
- Where do I begin in training leaders?
- What types of training are necessary?
- How do you best coordinate training of Women's Ministries leaders with larger church leadership?
3. How do I utilize volunteers?
- Download this article: How Do I Utilize Volunteers.doc
4. How do I plan Retreats?
- Download this article: Retreats-DM.doc
Developing a Ministry to Women
How can I begin or develop a ministry to women in my local church?
Whether you are serving in an existing women’s ministry in your church or you have been asked to begin such a ministry, this section seeks to address questions and provide resources to support and encourage you in your unique situation.
Why women’s ministry?
This is a common inquiry by church leadership in beginning a women’s ministry. In addition to the command in Titus 2:4 that older women train the younger women, women understand women and identify with their life circumstances. This article by Vickie Kraft, who ministered to women for over fifty years, addresses both the underlying biblical validity of women’s ministry together with excellent examples.
How do I begin? I have an interest in seeing our church minister specifically to women.
The place to begin is to pray. Any church ministry is best approached as a team effort. Find several other women who would be willing to meet with you and pray regularly (weekly or bi-weekly) about how God would have you proceed. Read several books together and begin to develop your unique direction.
- Women Mentoring Women, Vickie Kraft
- Designing Effective Women’s Ministries, Jill Briscoe
- Leading Women to the Heart of God, Lysa M. TerKeurst
How do I begin to recruit leadership and plan a women’s ministry?
Following are several articles that provide practical processes, job descriptions and underlying understanding of the uniqueness of feminine leadership,
What are some thoughts from those who have participated?
Why Is Training Necessary?
As in any other area of service, including employment, training is of vital importance. Properly trained volunteers are critical in making any organization, especially ministries who run on volunteer work, successful. Common questions and ideas about training follow:
How important is training?
Christian leaders learn to be leaders from somewhere. Without guidance, they usually do it the way they have seen it done—and that is not always a good thing! Unless someone equips them with a vision of what their leadership could be and shows them how to achieve it practically, they will stumble.
Training should always emphasize the vision. “Vision leaks,” Bill Hybels says. Your training reinforces what you are trying to accomplish as leaders. Without that constant reminder, we all grow weary and/or complacent. Training is an opportunity to reenergize as a group and remember why we are there putting forth so much effort.
In addition, training actually creates better leaders. When I trained small group leaders, I gave them many useful hints, often suggestions that I wish someone had shared with me before I started leading. I had no one to train me, and so I remember my early attempts at leading a group in horror. All the good intentions and efforts in the world do not make a good leader. There are skills to master, and I can speak from experience that training is a far better way to learn them than trial and error.
Where do I begin in training leaders?
- Define your goals then develop a plan to meet them. Then put these into a form which allows a lay person to be successfully trained.
- After individuals have expressed interest in being involved in the women’s ministry, ideally the leader of the ministry will meet with the volunteer and get to know her, her interests, strengths and personal gifting. This meeting is important to both parties since each need to learn about the other.
- Adequate training, giving the individual the expectations and the tools to meet the expectations are necessary. Many volunteers have been lost due to inadequate training and frustration over not having the tools to do what is required. An indication of willingness to help is an encouraging first step. Training the volunteer to be successful is an equally important second step.
What types of training are necessary?
- Spiritual - https://bible.org/article/beyond-words; https://bible.org/article/fruit-spirit-galatians-5
- Organizational - https://bible.org/seriespage/34-organization ; http://blogs.bible.org/engage/melanie_newton/womens_leadership_training_to_overcome_the_its_my_ministry_mentality
- Group leadership skills - https://bible.org/article/bible-study-small-group-guidelines-and-priorities ; https://bible.org/seriespage/communication-skills; https://bible.org/series/5-c-s-small-group-leadership
- Interpersonal and relational skills - https://bible.org/article/learning-listen-listening-learn; https://bible.org/article/passing-peace-pipe-conflict-resolution
How do you best coordinate training of Women's Ministries leaders with larger church leadership?
That is a great question because it suggests that there should be both cooperation and coordination.
Being on a church staff made it easier for me to coordinate with other staff members. In our case, those who led similar ministries met as plans were made for church-wide training, so we all knew the purpose and topics. I was able to then plan my ministry’s leadership training as a complement by putting our focus on other topics or relating the church-wide training more specifically to women and their needs.
If you are not part of such discussions, perhaps because you are a volunteer, set up a meeting with the staff member in charge of the larger training. If he plans to independently determine the topics and purpose of the church-wide training, express your desire not to be repetitive but to provide complementary training. Ask him for periodic meetings or emails to inform you about upcoming training topics so that you can encourage your leaders to attend and also be selective with the topics of your own training. Stress your desire to support his training and focus your training on the specifics of your area.
If your church does not have anyone in charge but each ministry works independently, it is more difficult to coordinate training. If a staff member oversees various ministries, prayerfully consider asking if he might gather the leaders to brainstorm training ideas in line with the church mission. If no one on staff has that role, consider suggesting a meeting to all who do training to learn from each other and better coordinate.
Several years ago I was at a conference at a mega-church which had done good follow-up research to their training. They informed us that volunteers better respond to training of a smaller, more cohesive group led by a leader of their ministry than a large less-personal training from someone with whom they had no relationship. So coordination is great, but don’t completely replace your own training with church-wide training that is less specific to your volunteers and their needs.
Whatever you do, proceed with respect and in prayer for unity and wisdom.
How do I utilize volunteers?
Training – as stated above, give your volunteers the proper tools to succeed.
Touch – very important is to stay in touch with your volunteers! Your ministry is dependent upon these people and they must know they are valued. Keep them in the loop with updated information on the ministry and encourage them along the way.
Encouragement – by all means, make sure they know they are appreciated. People will always do more than is expected of them when they know they are appreciated. Don’t take your volunteers for granted; train, encourage and edify them as they give of their time and talents to the ministry.
Volunteers are the backbone of the church. I have volunteered in a myriad of roles as well as serving as on church staff leading ministry, coordinating many volunteers. When workers are not used well, they don’t volunteer very long.
Volunteers must feel valued, needed, and well placed. They tend to be competent, smart, and experienced. To use such people well, tap into those strengths so they know that they are not simply there to handle your to-do list. You must include them in the discussion as to how the event, program, small group, etc. will be done. Involve them in the planning. Instead of micro-managing them, train them to carry out their responsibilities.
Always check on a new volunteer’s progress, but don’t panic if she is not doing it your way or according to your timing. If you find that someone is lagging too far behind, however, it is best to sit down with them and ask if there are personal or coordination issues that are causing delays.
As you match a volunteer with a responsibility, talk to them about what they love to do and what they do well. Using them within their gifting places them where God has designed them to thrive. But keeping in mind that most positions contain some elements that will bring out their weaknesses, discuss those elements of the role as well.
Write a job description of every position so there are no surprises. Although this takes a lot of time on your part, it is worth the investment in the future and in your team member. Volunteers often tell me that the person who recruited them was less than open about the work involved. Don’t fear a refusal. You don’t need warm bodies but volunteers who are all in.
Make sure your volunteer catches the ministry’s vision because that keeps her going. If a potential helper doesn’t share your dream, she will be unwilling to persevere when things go wrong—and they will.
When their responsibilities are over, acknowledge your volunteers in a public way if possible. Show your appreciation by taking the extra time needed to write them notes and even giving small gifts, if possible.
In God’s bigger picture of his kingdom work, your volunteers are there to serve God and you are there to serve them. Love on them; appreciate them; train them; and help them see their responsibilities as God’s eternal work. If you do that, you will have volunteers that stick with you for the long run.
Link to Bill Hybels’ book The Volunteer Revolution: Unleashing the Power of Everybody:
Women’s Retreats are designed to re-charge women spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Whether you are beginning to plan a retreat or you have been asked to be a Retreat speaker, we have resources for you.
Planning a Retreat:
1. “Retreats: First Things First” https://bible.org/article/retreats-first-things-first
2. Sue Edwards’ book Women's Retreats: A Creative Planning Guide
Sample of a Retreat:
Link to Dianne Miller’s retreat “Women of Influence Surrounding the Life of Moses”:
You are the Retreat Speaker:
“So You Think You Want to Be a Speaker” article: https://bible.org/article/so-you-think-you-want-be-speaker
Related Topics: Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Leadership, Women's Articles