Mistakes . . . not an easy topic because it is painfully personal. I have been involved in women's ministry for thirty years and have made every imaginable mistake—more than once. And this is not just past tense. I am often shocked at my rookie mistakes. I forget the fundamentals.
A sense of urgency to get the ministry started can cause us to neglect what is most important—prayer.
- I have known and been inspired by women who prayed for years before their church started a women's ministry. Their waiting was not wasted. It produced a maturity that prepared them to disciple women.
When one woman has a desire to start the ministry, it may seem easier and quicker to act independently; however, this contradicts Jesus' prayer "that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you" (John 17:21). We are part of God's household and our interdependence should be reflected in how we do ministry. A personality-driven ministry will, to some degree, reflect a personal agenda.
- Schedule a conversation with your pastor, or appropriate staff person, to discuss the possibility of a women's ministry. Determine how the ministry will be accountable to church leadership and how the various parts of the ministry will relate to one another. Without accountability any ministry is at risk. Ask for permission to gather other women to pray, study the issue, and submit a proposal for a Word-driven ministry that reflects the gospel.
If there is no clearly defined biblical purpose for the ministry, it is easy for preferences to trump principles. Every woman has a different idea of what the women's ministry should do, so there is a hodgepodge of unrelated activities and tasks. A task-driven ministry runs a high risk of division and competition.
- Study doctrinally-sound resources that give biblical principles for a women's ministry.
- Study your church. How can a women's ministry support the church's vision and mission?
- Determine the purpose and principles before deciding what the ministry will do so that what you do is grounded on why you do it.
When a woman has a passion for a women's ministry, and pours her heart and energy into starting it, she is susceptible to finding her identity in that ministry. She holds it tightly. This is life taking rather than life giving.
- From the beginning, a plan should be in place for how long women will serve on the leadership team and how other women will be trained for leadership. When new leaders understand the biblical purpose and principles of the ministry, they can build on that foundation.
Dear sisters, don't let the fear of making mistakes hold you back. There is no fail-safe plan, but we are assured of our Father's unfailing grace to His children. When we make mistakes, He lovingly bids us to "test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!" (Lam. 3:40). He uses our mistakes to teach us more of His mercy. He is the Redeemer of our souls and of our mistakes. So "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, [let us] press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13–14).