When I assumed the leadership of women’s ministries at my home church a few years ago, there was a lot of contemplation, evaluation, conversations with other leaders, and a whole lot of prayer. My heart’s desire was to honor Christ and His Word and to continue the legacy of purposeful classes, groups, and events for women in our church family while seeking God’s will in all of those things. As I worked with other leaders through the transition process, one of the important questions we asked was, “Which classes, groups, and events should we continue, and should any be ended or started?”
One of those answers was beginning an annual worship and prayer event for women. We saw a need to emphasize the importance of both worship and prayer, as well as provide a unique opportunity for women to connect together to refresh, challenge, and encourage each other. We also saw a need for an annual event that gave women an opportunity to be spiritually challenged and equipped—particularly for those who may not be a part of our ongoing classes and groups with similar purposes.
These events provide a chance for our women’s ministry to live out the mission, and we’ve seen them have a deep impact over the past several years. Knowing many other leaders are in search of ideas for impactful events with mission and purpose, let me share our worship and prayer event so that you might have an example to spur you on.
Event Vision and Goal
In the initial planning, our team considered these questions:
- Who do we want to see attend this event? Who will most likely come?
- What time and which day of the week is best?
- How can we structure the event so that women are encouraged to participate fully?
- What kinds of prayer opportunities will be included? Corporate? Small group? Individual?
- What kinds of worship opportunities will be included? Both participation/singing and listening/reflecting?
- Where will the event be held and how will the room be set up?
- Will we serve refreshments?
- What are the main goals for spiritual impact and personal response?
For our worship and prayer events, we chose a word or phrase as a focus for the evening. “Refresh,” “Overcoming Strongholds,” and “Invest” are examples that gave us a solid framework and purpose for each event. We experimented with both Thursday and Friday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and more women attended on Friday evenings. We opted to simplify and keep the focus on worship, so we provided bottled water but didn’t serve food. Without an opportunity for fellowship built into the event by sharing a meal, we suggested that women meet for dinner beforehand or go out for dessert or coffee afterwards.
The event was held in a large multipurpose room with a small platform, a basic sound system, a large screen, a piano, a projector (helpful for displaying lyrics), and multiple round tables with seating. The round tables allowed for small group praying using easily accessible handouts with prayer prompts. We also brought in various floor lamps, lanterns, and candles for a cozier atmosphere instead of using the brighter, harsher overhead lights.
Planning the Worship
The overall goal of our worship time comes from Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman in John 4—to worship in spirit and truth. As we engage women with God’s truth, sometimes conviction and challenge is needed. Sometimes rest and refreshment is needed in being reminded of who God is. Other times there is healing needed in being reminded of who we are in Christ. The goal is to bring women to respond in their minds and spirits—not with just a warm fuzzy feeling, but with an acknowledgment of who God is and what He is revealing to us through His truth.
The worship leader serves a pivotal role in this as she carefully considers the purpose of each music element and its alignment to the overall focus for the event. Special considerations include which key ranges are comfortable for most women, which instrumentation to use (we use piano only for our events), and how familiar the songs are. The worship leader chooses songs with strong biblical lyrics, including one or two new songs to spur worship that women can listen to and learn. We include times of corporate singing as well as times to reflect and pray during a solo or instrumental song.
Planning the Prayer
For the prayer focused parts of the evening, we include times for corporate, small group, and individual prayer. This format also allows for several women, in different seasons and circumstances of life, to help prepare and lead during the event. There are typically three to five prayer focuses under the main theme with a different leader for each focus. Each prayer focus includes specific Scripture to help guide our prayer time that can also be used word-for-word as a prayer. Each prayer leader explains the focus, leads in corporate prayer, then invites women to pray together for a set time period at their tables using the Scripture provided on handouts at each table. To close the small group prayer time, we invite women to spend a few minutes in silent reflection and prayer and then respond. A worship segment transitions to the next prayer focus.
Outcome of a Worship and Prayer Event
While none of the worship and prayer events brought in droves of women, we’ve had a good response. Our events attract a variety of women, including those who are a regular part of our classes and groups, as well as those who are new to our church family or unable to attend ongoing activities for some reason. The church community has matured through lots of new and renewed connections. We purposefully include various kinds of prayer and worship opportunities, hoping to engage all women while being mindful of different personalities and preferences. These events also give women a chance to lead, which strengthens active and potential leaders for our ongoing ministries. Above all, through the worship and prayer events, we’re providing an opportunity for women to connect through the essentials of worship and prayer and to lift our eyes to our Father to bring Him glory.
Worship and prayer are essentials for every believer and should be part of every local church family. Might they also be a specific focus for a group of women within your church family? Might the Lord be prompting you to plan an event like this? I am praying with you for clear answers and hearts and minds willing to respond.