Article by: Sarah Koontz
Recently, I took a course entitled Effective Ministry to Women at Dallas Seminary. It was one of the most engaging classes I’ve ever participated in.
As a woman raising two teenage daughters and writing Bible studies for women—the content was relevant and revelatory.
In this article, I will share some of the most powerful takeaways I gleaned from this transformative course.
But before we get to that, I’d like to introduce you to the two incredible women educators who edified, encouraged, and inspired me throughout this course.
Meet Sue Edwards
Dr. Sue Edwards is a professor of Christian education with a specialization in women’s studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. Her passion is to see modern and postmodern women connect, learn from one another, and bond around God’s Word. Her Bible studies have ushered thousands of women all over the country and overseas into deeper Scripture study and community experiences.
Meet Joye Baker
Dr. Joye Baker has taught and discipled women in the church for more than thirty years. Widowed in 1989 with three children, her heart’s passion is to encourage women in their walk with the Lord and share the love and hope that God alone can give. She has three adult children, a daughter-in-law, and two grandsons.
What is Effective Ministry to Women?
A biblical foundation for ministry to women is established in Titus 2:3-5.
This passage communicates the importance of mentoring relationships among women and the quality of character required for leadership.
As we seek to cultivate and strengthen our women’s ministries, we must recognize that “older” refers to spiritual maturity and not just age.
Effective ministry to women is built on the foundation of discipleship and Bible study.
As ministers to women, we must live above reproach, control our tongues, and not depend on substances or external distractions.
The center of effective ministry to women is in-depth Bible study and teaching partnered with mentoring and discipleship.
I was so encouraged by the time we spent studying this passage in class. It affirmed my own personal convictions about the role of women in ministry and also gave me confidence about our focus on Bible study in our current ministry.Effective ministry to women is built on the foundation of discipleship and Bible study.
Effectively Ministering to Different Generations of Women
To reach multiple generations through our women’s ministries, we must understand the many ways our culture impacts our communities.
Ministering to women often requires us to reach multiple generations simultaneously.
“Highly structured formats, academic Bible teaching without application, and simplistic thinking don’t interest the digital generations. These women seek authentic relationships and ‘spirituality,’ but not packaged in yesterday’s styles.”
According to Elizabeth Inrig, it’s important that we focus on “People over positions, partnership rather than programs, lifestyle rather than events.”
I was deeply encouraged by the professors’ understanding and appreciation for the varied needs of each generation.
Humility is essential in every ministry and especially for women’s ministry.
Whether we like it or not, culture impacts the church.
As we seek to reach the younger generations with gospel truth, we must be willing to learn new methods and fresh approaches to ministry.
As leaders of women, we must respect the older generations while creating space for the younger generations to grow in their love for the Lord.
Dr. Hendricks highlighted the dangers of extremes in ministry when he said, “Beware of the peril of the pendulum.”
It is unnecessary to toss out everything we’ve done in the past and start from scratch. But we must be willing to listen to the needs of each generation and seek to create programs that build bridges rather than walls between the generations.
Sadly, we are doing discipleship like we still live in a print area, but we aren’t.
This is one of the biggest challenges I face in bringing our digital ministry into local churches.
I sense resistance to change and am saddened by the many younger women whose needs aren’t being met because church programs are so limited.Humility is essential in every ministry and especially for women’s ministry.
How Technology Impacts Effective Ministry to Women
As effective ministers to women, we need to teach women how to navigate life in a technological era.
Change is coming faster and faster, and our kids are being raised in a technological world.
Text messages, social media, and e-mail are foundational avenues of communication now.
Therefore, we need to learn how to utilize technology in our efforts to disciple the younger generations.
Digital engagement is an unlimited resource that opens many doors of discipleship.
Our responsibility as followers of Christ is to “sift” all of our digital content through the Word of God.
Operating online with wisdom and thoughtfulness is essential because careless words can compromise our ability to impact people.
As someone who runs an online ministry, this is a responsibility I am constantly aware of.
People seem to be far more comfortable speaking their minds online, yet it is a place where assumptions and misunderstandings run rampant.
It is critical for effective ministers to understand how to redeem technology and utilize it for the expansion of God’s Kingdom.
Evangelism used to be a presentation of logic, but now it’s much more complex.
People are being influenced by images, not just words; therefore, we need to learn to communicate gospel truth in a visual way.
Mission is key in the postmodern world; therefore, we must help postmoderns see how our way of life works.
There is much more circular thinking, a focus on spirit over science, a desire for organic rather than orchestrated, and a trend toward community.
In order to establish effective ministries in a postmodern world, we must figure out how to “gain a hearing without losing our footing” (Dr. Mark Bailey).
My time in seminary has given me the foundation necessary to reach the next generation without compromising the truth. Yet, it is a daily challenge to navigate this complex cultural scene.Operating online with wisdom and thoughtfulness is essential because careless words can compromise our ability to impact people.
Ten Key Truths About Effective Ministry to Women
This course was informative and encouraging because it was filled with practical truths for real-life ministry.
I appreciated the humility and care with which these life-giving lessons were presented and the relationships formed throughout the session.
Each and every one of these lessons strengthened my commitment to women’s ministry.
Here are ten of my favorite takeaways from the class:
- Don’t be surprised by what God has for you; it’s never what you think. God uses the opportunities inherent in times of loss to draw us near to Him, and He orchestrates situations in our lives to guide us toward the path He has prepared for us. All the detours and u-turns equip us to be effective ministers to women.
- People learn best when they figure it out for themselves. They need a safe place to talk it out and find solutions. Effective ministers to women aren’t content with formulas; they talk about mystery.
- You’ve got to seek out mentoring relationships! Effective ministers to women give away as much as they possibly can.
- Effective ministers to women add value wherever they go. It’s not about impact or influence—it’s about obedience to what God has called you to do.
- Effective ministers to women establish practices that keep them in the Lord’s presence (daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly).
- Effective ministers to women hold everything loosely. Never forget that God can use everything in your life to bring glory to His name.
- Effective ministers to women understand that “Younger generations believe truth is relative, but accept facts.” –Rebecca Carrell
- “Every problem every person has is an opportunity. God is using everything in our lives to draw us into His presence.” -Joye Baker
- When you become a Christian, you get all of God, but He doesn’t get all of you. Becoming an effective minister to women is a lifelong refining process.
- The phrase “Raise up the next generation” is used more than 500 times in the Bible. Effective ministers to women are focused on this critical call to action.
Through this course, I developed a better understanding of the practical and biblical rationale for effective ministry to women and the importance of asking questions and engaging in active listening.
I have always felt a strong personal call to discipleship, and this course only strengthened that call.
Understanding who I am in Christ and recognizing that there is no earthly problem or person beyond the reach of God’s living, active Word has brought such freedom and purpose to my life.
This course has equipped me to be a more effective minister to women, and for that, I am immensely grateful.