Published Mar 07, 2023
Imagine for a moment two very different kinds of posters. The first is a “wanted” poster. Wanted posters are used to spread information about people authorities want to apprehend. There may be some kind of reward attached for information leading to their arrest, but most people don’t have aspirations of appearing in this kind of publicity.
On the other hand, picture a recruiting poster. The most common one people think of is a military recruiting sign. The slogan is very different than a wanted poster. It means someone wants to include you, join their cause, and work side-by-side for the greater good.
Now, consider this in the context of ministry. How do you enlist people? Do you treat them as a villain to apprehend or someone to join you side-by-side in the battle for souls? More specifically, how are you creating spaces for women to join you in the mission of making disciples? Here are a few practical tips.
First, help women see that they are valued in kingdom work because Jesus valued women. Consider for a moment places in the gospels that would be missing without the eyewitness accounts of women. The announcement of his birth to Mary, the encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, and most importantly, the first eyewitnesses to the resurrection. Jesus included women in his larger group of disciples; they funded his ministry and supported his work. Luke reminds his readers in Luke 8:1-2, “Afterward he was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women…”
The early church also records the names of women who were instrumental in the spread of the gospel. Whether it was Lydia who opened her heart and home or Priscilla who worked alongside Paul in planting churches, consider the value women bring to your ministry.
Second, create spaces for women by showing gratitude for their service and recognizing their contributions to your church. If all the women in your church didn’t show up next Sunday, what would happen? If you’re like most churches, it might be a disaster. Yet, when was the last time you recognized women for their giftedness? Do the women in your church have places to use their gifts, expertise, and talents? I have a good friend who was a partner in a large national accounting firm. A strong believer, her church saw her gifts of administration and leadership. She was asked to spearhead a large capital campaign and a strategic team in her local church. Her pastor wasn’t threatened by her intelligence or wisdom; he embraced it and gave her honor. Because her leaders showed gratitude, her desire to serve intensified. She wasn’t seeking recognition, but they validated her gifts.
Third, create spaces for women by providing ways for them to be equipped and resourced. When was the last time you provided the funds for women to attend a leadership conference or receive ministry training? Most women I’ve met are volunteers in their leadership roles, and they pay their own way to training conferences. Create leadership spaces for women when you provide the funds to help them grow.
Finally, invite women to the leadership table. I was recently at a summit that was predominately male. As the women gathered for a time of networking in one room, another group of men had a conversation about the role of women in ministry. Not one woman was in their room. When someone made me aware of the conversation, I was saddened because it was a missed opportunity to include a female voice. When you are making decisions that affect the entire church, consider that half or more than half of your congregation is female. Make a space for their voice at the leadership table. Women offer various perspectives and will consider situations that many men might not recognize.
Women are not your enemies or criminals on a wanted poster. They are sisters in Christ who are to be commended and encouraged to join you in kingdom work. Recruit them, train them, and give them a space at the table. As the apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Thess. 5:12-13, “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.”