At this point, you’ve been praying (Essential #1) and have the go-ahead from your church leadership to start a women’s ministry. Now it’s time to strategize.
If you were designing a house, you would plan it around what you want to do there. You might want a craft or exercise room. For foodies and cooks the kitchen would be central. Because the same is true with ministry, you must begin with your purpose so that you can strategize your design.
Gather a group of spiritually mature and diverse women who are excited and ready to help build this house. Plan on meeting for at least a year before the ministry launches. Prayerfully begin with the church’s mission statement, and determine how your ministry fits within it, keeping in mind the biblical imperatives, and write it as a purpose statement.
For example, a church mission including outreach, discipleship, and care may be the same purpose for women. It may be, however, that your purpose is simply to strengthen discipleship specifically for women. If so, write the statement with that part of the church’s statement as central.
Your purpose statement provides the what and why of your ministry. Think of it as the foundation of your new home, God’s layout of what you will do there.
For example, my late friend Vickie Kraft was a pioneer in women’s ministry. She recognized the Great Commission as the purpose of any church. Because Titus 2:3-5 commanded older women to teach younger women both scripturally and practically, those purposes required that she create spaces for teaching and mentoring. With that in mind, she created the Bible study as the centerpiece of the house. There and in smaller areas for one-on-one relationships, mentoring could occur.
Your purpose both limits and guides your strategy. It limits you to activities and ministry areas that achieve your purpose and also points you to activities that you must engage in.
When the crowds of Galilee demanded that Jesus stay with them, Jesus refused saying, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose” (Luke 4:42-44). If he was to fulfill his ministry, he had to leave these people behind. To say yes to his mission meant that he had to say no to what was outside of it. His purpose limited his time there and guided him elsewhere.
You will have to make the same kinds of choices to fulfill your purpose.
Ask questions. How will you best accomplish your purpose? What is the best strategy for your women that fits the church’s vision and mission? What’s working and what’s not with what you’ve done in the past? What is best way forward? Your team will need to take a great deal of time to work through the possibilities and determine which is best to start with in your particular church. And you will need to focus on the big things.
To focus well, consider ways to combine resources of people, money, and time. Some things won’t be chosen; some things may need to wait. To focus, you don’t want to have too many options competing with each other.
Your strategy needs to maximize the work that the larger church can do best and not try to replicate it. For example, if the church is already strong in caring for its neighbors, find a way to fit within its framework rather than do your own thing.
Focus means that something isn’t done simply because someone wants to do it. It requires that the team strategically and prayerfully consider the purpose and mission of everything.
Strategic planning requires ongoing evaluation, so plan to keep evaluating everything you choose to do. Nothing is built in stone. Everything needs tweaking, and some things need a total restart.
Next: Essential #3 Unity