Have you ever wondered what goes into ministering to women, what are keys to helping women grow in faith … or maybe even how to plan a women’s retreat? We have a team of ladies that serve in the women’s ministry at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. We thought it would be helpful to have them write a little series to share some of the practical things they have learned throughout the years.
The women’s ministry began at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa nearly four decades ago when Kay Smith began to teach a small group of women in a friend’s home. From that small Bible study, it has grown into a thriving ministry of Bible studies, prayer meetings, retreats and events that God is using to heal hearts, save marriages, deepen faith, and sustain us and our precious sisters as we press forward in knowing Jesus.
We all had such a great example in Kay Smith, Pastor Chuck Smith’s wife, and that legacy has been carried on by her daughter, Cheryl Brodersen, who now leads our women’s ministry.
Ministering to Women with Joy
Over many years of serving in the church, I have observed some essentials that have made the women’s ministries in the churches I have been involved with a great blessing. I’m sure there are many more facets in serving the women of our church, but I want to share with you some of the keys that make it more than just another church service or retreat…but a real delight.
Joy in Serving
At Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, we call our women’s Bible study: Joyful Life. And I’ve heard it said that, “Joyful Life makes a Joyful Wife.” There are so many facets to what makes us joyful women as we come together. We find our joy as we do what God created us to do, and encourage others to do the same. This year we are studying the book of Romans and have embraced Paul’s passion that he expressed in Romans 1:12. It says, “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” When we serve together we find joy in prayer, in the Word, the working of the Holy Spirit, and in unity.
One verse that the Lord brings to mind again and again is Matthew 11:28: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
This verse keeps me in check as to whether I’m doing things in my own strength or doing them with God’s strength. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. When I am walking in what He wants me to be doing, it is a joy … ministry is a JOY. However, when it’s a struggle and a heavy burden, I know something is not right and I need to come to Him and give Him back the burdens to carry for me. With that in mind, here are some areas where we find joy in serving God’s women, God’s way:
Joy in Prayer
The first essential is prayer! Without prayer any ministry will fail. I hate to sound cliché, because I know you know prayer is key … but it is so true! God has given us this amazing offensive weapon in prayer, and so often we forget its value, its purpose and its effectiveness. “The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:17). We aren’t fighting a battle on the physical level, but rather it is a spiritual battle we are engaging in. It is essential that we use our weapon of prayer!
A beautiful thing happens when we pray for our women: God develops a love in our hearts for them that comes completely from Him—it’s supernatural. He guides us in our planning, gives us discernment for our decisions, and heals past hurts and failures. As we pray, the enemy is foiled in his plan to destroy our effectiveness and God is glorified.
Joy in the Word
Another key essential in ministering to women is to keep the main thing … the main thing—that is the Word of God. Left to our own devices and ideas, we will have an empty and barren ministry. You might be the most creative decorator and designer, and have the greatest ideas for programs and messages, but without the Bible, there is no power to move the hearts of the women. God’s Word is alive and has great power. We can’t accomplish anything lasting without it. By His Word, He can cut to the heart and change us individually from the inside out (See Hebrews 4:12). This goes for us personally first (we need to spend time alone with Jesus in the Word), but also for us collectively. As we make God’s Word the central focus, His Holy Spirit takes over and does amazing things … more supernatural amazingness! It is so exciting to watch God show up when we bring His Word, especially when I know how weak and empty I am on my own. He never misses the mark or fails to work.
There is great freedom in sharing God’s Word. When we do, the responsibility of the result isn’t weighing on our shoulders, but rather, it is safely in His hands to accomplish what He pleases (See Isaiah 55:11). Just like a seed that is planted, it will bring forth fruit and accomplish everything God pleases.
Joy in the Holy Spirit
Which brings me to the next essential in ministering to women: the working of the Holy Spirit. We have been given such an amazing gift in the Holy Spirit, and without the quickening of the Holy Spirit, a Bible study becomes a lecture instead of something that sears the heart and changes our lives. The Bible tells us that God has given us His Holy Spirit to teach us all things (John 14:26). He gives us boldness and power. He brings us comfort that we can give to others; one of His names is The Comforter (Acts 13:52, KJV). And oh, how we need His comfort and help!
The Holy Spirit gives us gifts as well that equip us to serve His people. Again, when we rely on the Holy Spirit, instead of our own abilities, we can rest and not strive to accomplish things. Even as I am typing this I am asking the Lord to give me His words, and to infuse this with His heart for you and me. He loves us so much and wants our service to Him and for Him to be full of joy!
Joy in Unity
Another essential piece in ministering to women is unity. “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:24). The enemy loves to defeat us through division, and because of this we need to be intentional to protect our unity. In practical ways this includes working together toward one goal. For me, that means taking the vision of my senior pastor and his wife and carrying it out. It means supporting the leader that God has appointed. When we choose to come alongside those that God has raised up and support them with grace, there is great joy in ministry, and no strife. It means loving others fervently (1 Peter 1:22). It means keeping gossip out of every conversation so we don’t undermine the very unity we are trying to build. It also means submitting to our own husbands first. When there is unity in our homes, it makes ministry in the church a joy. When we work together, as one body, the whole church is strengthened.
May the Lord equip and enable us to serve His women with JOY as we approach Him in prayer, read His Word, respond to His Holy Spirit, and walk in unity with each other! (See also Romans 15:13 and 1 Peter 4:10-11)