Nashville, Tenn. 11/19/2009 12:00 PM GMT (TransWorldNews)
Women’s ministries in churches got a boost when more than 600 women’s ministry leaders gathered in Nashville, Tenn., for the Women’s Leadership Forum Nov. 12-14.
LifeWay Women, a ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, hosted its largest training event of the year, offering keynote addresses by authors Priscilla Shirer, Mary Kassian and Kelly Minter; panel discussions; music and worship led by Travis Cottrell and Minter; and a pastor’s response by David Landrith.
In addition, attendees were able to choose from 60 different breakout sessions on topics ranging from conversations between mothers and daughters to trend-watching.
From a pastor’s heart
Landrith, pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church, Hendersonville, Tenn., told attendees he appreciated them and all they do in their churches. He added that typically when a church’s women’s ministry is strong, it pulls along a strong men’s ministry.
Using Nehemiah as his text, Landrith reminded the women to expect and be prepared for opposition, saying it comes with the job.
"God can give you a ‘holy discontent’ when you know there’s something you have to get into," he said. "Some people don’t get this and will try to discourage you."
He listed several reasons for opposition:
- Some people are threatened by others’ success.
- Some people are just jealous.
- Some people have different agendas.
- Some people are suspicious by nature.
- Some people will lose face when others succeed.
- Some people do not embrace change.
"But remember, the ultimate spiritual opposition comes from Satan," he said.
Trends affect ministry
Margaret Feinbegr, author of the soon-to-be released DVD study from LifeWay, "Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey," said that by looking at cultural trends, women’s ministry leaders can make wise decisions about their ministries.
She said one important trend is that young adults are marrying later, making it crucial for churches to adapt with strong ministries to young adults. These ministries need to meet the needs – expressed and unexpressed – of this group.
Feinberg said it’s unfortunate that so many young adults come to a church, look at the bulletin and see things for children, youth, families, and senior adults, but they don’t see anything there for them.
"The top struggle of these young unmarried 20-somethings is loneliness," she said. "You’ll have to be relationally oriented. Learn their love languages – it will include food!"
She said small things like remembering birthdays and noticing their first time at your church are huge. Inviting young adults into your home, letting them help you cook and generally incorporating them into your life is what it will take to keep them.
"We have to be highly intentional if we want to keep this age group engaged in our churches," she said.
Shirer, an author and Bible teacher from suburban Dallas, encouraged attendees to look at a day in the life of Jesus for eight principles to live by as they go about their ministry. She said they should ask God to grant them:
- Supernatural ability to handle the tasks ahead. "The enemy won’t want you to do anything that requires the power of God."
- Supernatural authority by truly being the hands and feet of Jesus.
- Supernatural vision to see the unexpressed needs beyond what women you minister to say they need.
- Supernatural energy to be ready to meet people where they are even if you have already emptied yourself of all your energy.
- Supernatural priorities to discern what matters to you and what matters to God. Referencing "The Tyranny of the Urgent" Shirer said, "Sometimes the best thing you can do is to scale back your ministry."
- Supernatural focus to stay honed in on specifically what God has for you to do and not being distracted by other good things you could be doing.
- Supernatural compassion to accomplish ministry, remembering that without outreach there won’t be balance in ministry.
- Supernatural humility to remind you that true ministry is when your followers are clamoring to get away from you and get to Jesus. "Even John the Baptist’s ministry was to point out Jesus."
Shirer reminded the women that the goal of their ministries should echo Mark 1:45: "and they would come to Him from everywhere."
"I overheard two ladies talking in the hallway," conference leader and minister’s wife Rachel Lovingood said to participants in a large group session. "They said they were learning so much [at the Forum] and that they were going to steal these ideas.
"Let me tell you," she said with a laugh, "if you want to think you are stealing these ideas because you get an adrenaline rush out of it, that’s OK. But, ladies, we want you to take home everything you learn and use it. Pick each other’s brains. Find out what other women are doing. Network with each other. Learn everything you can from one another."
Next year’s Women’s Leadership Forum will be Nov. 9-11 at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C., and will feature author and Bible teacher Beth Moore. This "for women’s leaders only" event will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Forum. LifeWay Women also will host the first Girls’ Ministry Forum in Nashville Feb. 26-27, 2010. Go to LifeWay.com/events for more information.