We have established that in order to effectively minister to young women through the local church, elders should train the older women in three major areas: (1) Identity in Christ as Disciples; (2) Identity in Christ as Women; and (3) Identity in Christ as Mothers. According to Titus 2:3-5, the older women are to teach and encourage the young women in these three areas of emphasis. There are practical ways that elders can equip the older women to teach the young women in three types of settings: large groups, small groups, and one-to-one ministry.
Large Group Discipleship
In a large group setting, the elders can equip the older women through preaching to the entire congregation, and through teaching large classes on Sundays and at mid-week gatherings. In addition to generally teaching the whole counsel of God, elders can instruct specifically about identity in Christ and spiritual disciplines, a biblical theology of manhood and womanhood, as well as a biblical theology of fatherhood and motherhood.
Furthermore, elders can affirm and clarify the high calling and roles of both the older and younger women. They can teach the important role that older women have once they have gained life experience and godly wisdom to then prioritize teaching and encouraging the next generation. Elders can also teach that young women should rely less on social media, and humble themselves to seek advice from those with godly character in the more experienced generation.
Small Group Discipleship
A small group setting is the most effective way for elders to equip the older women. Small groups can meet in homes at regular intervals throughout the year. These groups allow for the elders to communicate and have interaction about sound doctrine and spiritual disciplines, while also praying for the young women of the church. Likewise, small group settings can be an excellent place for older women to mentor young women.
Older women could teach a Bible study to young women on identity in Christ, biblical womanhood, or biblical motherhood. Older couples could lead a small group or offer an annual class for young couples and spend six weeks on a specific marital or parenting topic. Ideally, small groups should meet in homes which can provide a hospitable setting for relationships to develop among older and younger generations.
One-to-one ministry can also be particularly effective for discipleship. For accountability, the best practice is for elders to mentor older women in small groups. There is no need for an elder to disciple any woman in a one-to-one setting. Elders may, however, be involved with pre-marital or other types of counseling with young couples. Rainey suggested one way to support newlyweds is to set a schedule for marital health check-ups with either a pastor or mentor couple at intervals such as three month, six month, twelve month, and two years. In addition, elders or mentor couples can teach newlyweds how to study the Bible and pray as a couple, and ask them accountability questions about character and communication. The one-to-one meetings as couples can provide a safe space to work through issues regarding marriage and early parenting.
One-to-one ministry is one of the best ways for older women to mentor young women. In Titus 2:3-5, Paul does not explicitly state the setting in which the older women should teach and encourage the young women. Yet the text does indicate that the areas of emphasis are marriage, parenting, and homemaking. It would make sense, then, for the older and younger women to meet in a setting where these activities occur, in one another’s homes.
Meeting in homes provides the opportunity to build relationships, discuss the Bible and life issues, pray together, and practice hospitality. The setting of the home provides the space for older women to implement the sound doctrine they have learned from the intentional training of the elders, to teach and encourage the young women.
Finally, intentional and effective one-to-one ministry provides a safe space to discuss and pray through some very sensitive and difficult topics. Young women struggle with various background issues such as broken homes, divorce, abuse, and mental health. Young couples hoping to start a family can have challenges with infertility or miscarriage. One team of experts noted, “Childless couples often isolate themselves from others because of the difficulty of being around children and the perceived or actual insensitivity on the part of others. The faith community can be supportive by being sensitive to childless couples.”
For couples who do become parents there can be other unique challenges. For example, “Postpartum depression in mothers is a serious clinical condition, affecting as many as 20 percent of new mothers. It can occur soon after the birth of a child and usually lasts for several months, although it can last for up to a year.” Other couples may choose adoption to build their families, or be called to foster care as a ministry.
All of these above circumstances are unique and challenging. One-to-one ministry by elders, older women, and mature couples can be a very effective way to support and respond to these sensitive topics. Each situation should be informed with sound biblical wisdom and prayer, and professional and legal counselling should be sought when necessary.
Summary: Implications for Ministry
In order to disciple young women through the local church, elders should train the older women in three major areas: (1) Identity in Christ as Disciples; (2) Identity in Christ as Women; and (3) Identity in Christ as Mothers. The older women will then be equipped to disciple the young women with sound doctrine. This discipleship strategy can be administered through large groups and small groups. One-to-one ministry can be very effective, provided the meetings are woman to woman or as couples.
This 5 part series has explored a biblical approach to the discipleship of young women. Specifically, the demographic was defined as young women of the Millennial Generation who are in the early stages of marriage and parenting.
First, the biblical rationale was explored and answered the question: Why disciple young women? In the Great Commission Jesus called the church to make disciples, and other New Testament passages called the church to disciple adults. Paul’s letters called the church to disciple young women, and various other biblical texts gave insight to their season of life. However, the consequences of the fall distorted and made painful the role and responsibilities of women, making it a season of life that requires specific discipleship.
Second, contemporary research was explored which answered the question: Who are the young women? Young women of the Millennial Generation prioritize education and career, marriage, and parenting. Their main influencers are media and people, namely, friends and parents.
Third, implications for ministry were explored and answered the question: How can the church disciple young women? Based on Paul’s instructions in Titus 2, the elders should equip the older women to teach and encourage the young women. The content should focus on three main areas: Identity in Christ as Disciples, Identity in Christ as Women, and Identity in Christ as Mothers. These topics can be taught in large group, small group, and one-to-one settings.
God’s Word has an abundance of wisdom on how to minister to young women. May the Church prayerfully seek His vision to teach and encourage the young women in their high callings of marriage, parenting, and homemaking to the glory of Christ.