This is the 3rd of a series on beginning a women’s ministry, but the essentials apply to existing ministries and all kinds of ministries as well.
When it comes to how and what to do in a church-wide ministry to women (new or already existing), everyone has her own perspective that arises out of her experiences, personality, and giftedness. Not everyone gets excited about the same things. Often those who feel unheard are the loudest voices when it comes to assessing what is needed, so start with the scriptures to guide you to vision and strategy.
The Bible highlights discipleship, care, and intergenerational ministry among women, so it provides some unity in determining vision. It’s the decisions as to how to carry out the vision, however, that often bring the most disagreement. (See Essential 1: Prayer and Essential 2: Strategy.)
Why is it important to unite around the strategy?
First, Jesus prayed for unity in the church. “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:20-13 ESV).
Unity is the way the world recognizes who Jesus really is. Our fractures are more than simple disagreements on perspective because they reflect on God himself and our faith. So it is important that the decision-making group unite around both vision and strategy.
Second, praying in unity involves a special presence of the Spirit and God’s promise to answer: “. . . if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matt. 18:19, ESV).
Although the context concerns church discipline, the principle is the same: God values unity in prayer.
So the question becomes how to get there when everyone has a different perspective and opinion.
The way forward is to remember that it’s not about individuals, but the group. How is God leading the group as a whole to what is best for the entire group of women to whom they minister?
Paul’s words in Phil. 2:1-11 are applicable:
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Those not excited or even upset over the chosen strategy need to support it for the sake of unity by trusting God and recognizing that it’s not all about what’s best for any one individual, but what is best for the entire church. Ask God to speak to the team, and then trust that he did. Recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for any church or ministry.
No ministry can do it all or be all things to all people; some things will change and others won’t be done even in a large church. As the decision-making group focuses and strategizes, they will make changes in someone’s favorite activity and decide not to implement others’ ideas. They must create a focused strategy so that they don’t do too many things and stretch the money and leadership too far.
Such decisions will be hard to accept for those who feel like they are looking in from the outside and no one is listening. Whatever your vision and strategy is, work toward unity as a steering team, and communicate well to those outside about your process and unity, asking them to join you. Ideally someone from the team should speak personally to those whose ideas weren’t adopted and ask them for support.
God blesses and values unity.