A few years ago, my church staff read Thom Ranier’s and Eric Geiger’s “Simple Church”. One of the ideas I remember taking away from that read is to streamline my women’s ministry offerings into the two days of the week that our church has standard services instead of having various offerings all throughout the week. In essence, everything our women’s ministry offers in women’s services is only offered on our traditional schedule of Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday nights. We do, however, periodically offer special events on different nights other than the standard service times.
I did this for a few reasons:
• Safety – I prefer to have our women meet when others are also in the building, especially at night.
• Convenience – It is much simpler for families to plan church services around two standard days of the week instead of trying to keep up with the other/additional days they are due back for various other services. People are already busy, and it is not my intention to have them at church all throughout the week.
• Harmony – For women whose husbands do not go to church, “having to be at church” for other women’s classes throughout the week can grow discord, and further alienate the spouse from church.
• Childcare – This is a big plus! I did not want any of our women to miss out because they did not have childcare. Our church offers children’s ministry at every standard service hour so this is now a non-issue.
Let me share how this “Simple Church” approach helped one of our women’s ministries. We are Southern Baptist, and like any good SBC church, we have a women’s group called the Women on Mission (WOM). The WOM supports missions work, and in particularly, raises a significant amount of funds throughout the year that helps both our church and individuals participate in mission work. Our WOM collects needed items, and also stays in touch with our church families that are on mission. Because we are a missions-minded church, the WOM is an integral part of our church.
Up until 2012, the WOM operated separately from Women’s Ministry at our church; we co-existed. The WOM was a well-established ministry while “women’s ministry” was somewhat new. The WOM was made up of about 8 very faithful women. All but 2 of them were senior adults. These eight women accomplished a lot, but they were literally killing themselves trying to keep up with everything they were doing, like preparing for our town’s strawberry festival booth in the spring and the annual craft fair in the fall, where they raised the majority of their funds.
They met once a month on a Monday night when our deacons had their meeting.
In 2012 the pastor that I reported to placed them under the women’s ministry umbrella, as the acting WOM president was preparing to leave. Immediately I appointed one of the ladies on my women’s ministry leadership team to be the interim WOM president for the next 18 months in order to get that ministry into a healthier state. Ruth had a heart for the WOM so she was able to quickly assess some needs and implement the remedies.
The first thing we did was move the monthly WOM meeting to a Wednesday night. Do you know what happened? It immediately went from having 8 women to almost 40 women! This is the difference that the “simple church” strategy made. Women could now attend because for the most part they were already planning to be there on Wednesday night, and now they had childcare, which allowed them to be there. It was a win-win!
The original WOM members embraced the newer members, and it has been wonderful and thriving ministry ever since. That was two years ago, and our WOM is now fully functioning with officers. Our WOM has basically evolved into a WMU (Women’s Missionary Union that now includes children’s missions as well). We have more than doubled our fundraising dollars, which means more money for missions!
Maybe you can think of one of your women’s ministries that may benefit from a slight change.
My church’s mission is to REACH, MATURE & MOBILIZE, so every women’s ministry I offer has to meet one of these criteria. We are trying to take our congregation through a journey of salvation, discipleship and ministry/missions.
“To have a simple church (or women’s ministry!), you must design a simple discipleship process. This process must be clear. It must move people toward maturity. It must be integrated fully into your church, and you must get rid of the clutter around it.” Simple Church, p. 26
Because of the size of our church and the ministries that have been birthed by some of women, we have a few offerings on Wednesday nights. This new “simple church” women’s ministry strategy meant that I had to share women’s ministry. You see my Wednesday night class used to be the only women’s ministry offering on Wednesday nights, but when I had women whom felt led to start a Mom’s In Prayer group and a book club, I felt it important to give them the same benefits that my class had. It was a night women were already planning to attend church, and they had childcare. If I had been selfish with “my” timeslot, our women’s ministry would not have grown nor would these women been able to utilize their spiritual gifts and callings that God had blessed them with, and that would have been disservice to our church body’s needs.
In trying to communicate those offerings to our target audience I’ve started using the term, “Wednesday Nights for Women”, so when women are reviewing our church worship guide or newsletter they will basically see what there is to do on Wednesday nights for women! I am in the process of making this change on our church website, too.
I think I am also going to use the term “Sunday Mornings for Women” and “Sunday Nights for Women”. Our current church members are aware of what we do and where to go, so I am now employing a simple strategy to help our newest and/or unplugged women find us.
Here are all the women’s ministries that we offer:
Sunday Mornings for Women:
In Room #3111 at 10:20 a.m. we offer a women’s Sunday School class. Because this is a reaching ministry, this class is growing and is actually just now moving into room #3111 because they have outgrown their other class.
Sunday Evenings for Women:
In Room #3205 At 6:00 p.m. we are currently offering a women’s study of my book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet”, which is about structured prayer journaling. (Click here for more details) I only list “Sunday Evenings for Women” when we are offering a women’s discipleship class in the spring and fall. Discipleship is where we mature women.
Wednesday Nights for Women
In Fellowship Hall at 6:30 p.m. – We currently do something different each Wednesday night in this class. The first Wednesday night is “Joppa Nite” where we engage in small group/short-term ministry projects. The second Wednesday night we host the WOM meeting in this room This is where we engage women in missions work. The third Wednesday night, we are currently hosting an interactive scripture study where I am utilizing various women to help prepare the topics (a maturing & mobilizing strategy). You can read more about this here. The last Wednesday night is reserved for tabletop discussions where the women meet in small groups to discuss a specific spiritual discipline or passage of scripture. It is in these services, we are providing opportunities for women to mobilize.
In Room #1306 at 6:30 p.m. we have Mom’s In Prayer where mothers come together to pray for their children. This is a maturing ministry.
In Room #3205 at 6:30 p.m. we have Discovery Bible Study which is a reaching and maturing group. These small groups study a short passage of scripture together.
As you can see we offer several offerings for reaching, maturing and mobilizing women on Wednesday nights. On both of our standard days of the week, we are offering opportunities that meet our church’s mission.
Note how I list the day of the week, the room and the time first, then I will provide a brief summary of the offering with an invitation for the women to join us when I publicize these ministries. Since doing this, I have had new visitors to each of these services, and we’ve only been using this “simple” wording since the beginning of the year.
“Since understanding is so critical, you must be comfortable articulating your process. As you eliminate and reduce…you will need to be constantly communicating the simple ministry process. To keep the church (women in your church) focused you must regularly remind people.” Simple Church, p. 221.
Do all your women’s ministry offerings line up with your church’s mission?
Are your women’s ministries accessible to all women of your church?
Are some of your women’s ministries designated as a “door” or entrance to engaging women?
What steps can you take to simplify your women’s ministry?
I hope some of what I have shared is helpful to you for streamlining your women’s ministry.
Note: The ideas that I share in this post are not an exact representation of the “Simple Church” model, but my adaptation of the components within the book that I felt led by God to incorporate in our women’s ministry.
For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 2 Corinthians 1:12
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Gina Duke is the Director of Women’s Ministry at her church where she has implemented a Women’s Involvement Ministry, called “Joppa”. Gina holds a B.S. in Organizational Leadership, and is currently completing her Associates in Ministry. Imparting biblical and practical solutions for authentic Christian Living, Gina is the founder and president of Churchtown Ministries, and author of “Organizing Your Prayer Closet” (Abingdon Press). She would love for you to subscribe to her blog at www.GinaDuke.com. You can find her on Pinterest at Gina Duke / Churchtown Ministries. You can also follow her on Instagram and Twitter @TheGinaDuke