In many churches, the women’s ministry can seem to run like a well-managed resort. Special events feature a warm welcome, excellent cuisine, choice of activities, and even a small gift to take home!
There are very capable and creative women in leadership hosting Bible studies, mom’s groups, and retreats. Yet there is a troubling trend that has emerged in many local churches. Very often women’s ministries exist on their own islands, detached from the involvement of the shepherds of the church.
While taking an island vacation with your women’s ministry may sound fun at first, a commitment to living on that island can eventually be problematic.
Decisions are made in isolation for the island while not considering implications to the mainland. The people with the most charisma, not necessarily the most qualifications, rise to positions of influence. Existing as an independent island community can limit the available resources, skills, and protection from predators.
Is your women’s ministry operating like an independent island community?
In the evangelical church today, there seems to be an unfortunate disconnect between pastor / elder teams and the intentional discipleship of women. How did women’s ministry become its own entity?
Could it be that women’s ministries have become comfortable operating independently from church leadership?
Could it be that the shepherds of the church have rarely been invited to offer oversight, share wisdom, or provide theological knowledge?
By practically operating outside of pastor/elder involvement, women’s ministries may be limiting themselves and missing out on the richness of Christ’s plan for His church.
One way to begin building bridges is to prayerfully invite church leadership to invest in the older women in the congregation. Here are four benefits of inviting shepherds to oversee the discipleship of women by identifying and equipping older women.
Benefit #1: Scripture is Applied
The book of Titus is written to the leadership of the church to oversee the discipleship of its members. Titus was left in Crete to “set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city” (Titus 1:5). Women’s ministries can be encouraged that the pastors and elders of a local church are ultimately responsible for the discipleship of their entire congregation.
One of the clearest explanations in Scripture on ministry to women is for the older to disciple the younger. Paul exhorts Titus to oversee that older women are “teaching what is good so that they may encourage the young women” (Titus 2:3b-4a).
The first benefit of shepherds investing in older women is that Scripture would be faithfully applied. It is a biblical mandate for pastors and elders to identify and equip older women for the crucial task of teaching younger women. Women’s ministries can prayerfully seek ways to invite their shepherds to fulfill this mandate together.
Benefit #2: Sound Doctrine is Upheld
A second benefit of elders equipping older women to make disciples is that sound doctrine would be upheld. According to Titus 2:1, it is the responsibility of elders to oversee that the Bible is the standard for all that is accomplished in ministry to women.
Women must learn and embrace sound theology so that it permeates everything they do. It is imperative that women’s ministries continually invite pastors and elders to help older women understand the Bible and sound doctrine, so they will be better equipped to teach the next generation.
Benefit #3: Ministry is Multiplied
A third benefit of shepherds equipping older women is that the effectiveness of the entire church body would be multiplied. Ministry and discipleship efforts could be greatly enhanced if elders equipped older women to train and encourage younger women.
In addition, many women have personal and delicate situations that could best be addressed by a spiritually mature woman with more life experience. There are numerous scenarios of younger women in various degrees of crisis in which a trained older woman could support and assist.
Benefit #4: Christ is Glorified
The fourth and most important benefit of implementing principles of women’s discipleship from Titus 2 is that Jesus Christ would be exalted. Ultimately, Titus 2 is given so that the church would know how to grow in godliness to bring Christ glory and display His gospel to the world.
The instructions for discipleship in Titus are given, “that the word of God may not be reviled” and to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour” (Titus 2:5b, 10b). When the Bible is embraced and applied, it can be a powerful witness to the world.
Is your women’s ministry operating outside of the involvement of the church leadership God has appointed? It is never too late to start building bridges that will connect the island of women’s discipleship to the main land of the local church.
Please prayerfully consider the rich benefits of embracing Christ’s design for His church and invite your pastors and elders to invest in the older women. In doing so, Scripture will be applied, sound doctrine will be upheld, ministry will be multiplied, and Christ will be glorified.
*This post originally appeared on The Gospel Coalition Canada.