Starting a new ministry can feel like a daunting task. It is hard not to feel overwhelmed with what to do first, wondering if it will succeed, and then feeling uncertain if you are doing it right! These feelings are understandable. In three churches, I have had the opportunity to lead in women’s ministry. In two of those three ministries, I transitioned into an existing leadership role, and in the third, I opened a new ministry. Each time, I wondered if I was going about it wrong.
As part of the Calvary Chapel heritage, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa has been a thriving ministry to women over the decades from Kay Smith’s Joyful Life, teaching the Bible and helping women grow in faith. Likewise, we at CGN desire to see women in our churches grow in Bible literacy and reap the benefits, which we list in our previous article, “Is Women’s Ministry Necessary?”. So, how does one go about starting a women’s ministry? Here are simple steps I have learned:
It is crucial to evaluate the season your church is in and to give thought to the timing of launching a new ministry. Do you have many new believers who are eager to get together and learn the Bible? Is your church busy with commitments? What type of obligations do the ladies in the congregation have, whether at home, work, school, etc. Would it be a good time to introduce a new women’s ministry?
As you assess the right timing, here are a few guidelines I have learned to use:
Seek the Lord’s guidance. Then invite one or two like-minded women to join you in praying for a ministry to start. Do not talk about it publicly until you speak to the leadership of your church, out of respect for their decision-making process.
Talk to the Pastor
Make an appointment and ask the pastor to discuss plans for this ministry with you. Explain what you feel God has put on your heart to do. Ask the Lead Pastor what his vision is for the church, and consider how a women’s ministry could help fulfill that vision. For example, if the vision for the church is to win souls and disciple people, a women’s ministry can help meet that.
Solidify your vision for this ministry, which means asking the question, “What would you like to accomplish in a women’s ministry?”
The leader does not have to be the pastor’s wife, although that is often the pattern seen in our Calvary Chapel circles. If she is not called to this role, it is ok! It is a matter of gifting and calling, rather than a traditional way of fulfilling that leadership role.
Choose accommodating meeting places, times and frequency. I suggest taking breaks over summer and holidays to bring anticipation for the ministry, when a fall and spring semester begins! It also gives women a chance to join the group and for others to take a break, if needed, rather than seeing it as a lifetime commitment.
Decide what you will do in your meetings. This will determine if you have a Biblical and mature teacher who can “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). If such a teacher is not available, there are many materials available for your group to use: Bible teachings on video with discussion materials, books to read through together, breakfast and prayer time, or Scripture reads and discussion.
Make the invitation for women to join the ministry in the way that your church makes announcements. Put it on social media, the church website, request a pulpit announcement, print flyers and start talking to the ladies to inform them!
Have your first meeting! Provide a little hospitality and show appreciation for each woman who joins you. Start with introductions and a little explanation of what your plan is. Don’t be surprised if you are the only one talking at the meeting, as women may need some time to get to know the group and build trust.
There is no need to think about all these steps at the same time! Just focus on one task, and when that step is complete, move on to the next one. The women will be reached through the power of Christ!
The start of this ministry may be a small group, and that’s ok! Be faithful to them, teach them, and lay a solid foundation on the Word of God. Do not "despise the day of small things" as, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much” (Luke 16:10). The ministry will earn a good reputation if the focus is on God, and the women in your church will develop an interest in it. It is God who adds the increase, as 1 Corinthians 3:6 says.
Finally, do not hold onto this ministry as if it were your own. The women belong to the Lord, and it is His church you are serving. Keep praying as you lead, asking God to guide you, and be willing to adjust the ministry as the Lord shows you.
Rosemary cohosts a new podcast for women in ministry titled "When She Leads." Learn more about the podcast and start listening today! Have a topic for the show? Share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org