This truly is an encyclopedia of practical ideas for women’s ministry leaders. What intrigued me the most about the title was “for the 21st Century.” I thought it would be interesting to see what those outside this office would think a 21st century women’s ministry would look. Contributors to this book were from Vineyard churches, a Christian church, an Evangelical Free church, and a Lutheran church.
The book does contain some great and practical ideas. There are nine sections. Section one is entitled Fellowship and Fun-
“…The church is to be built on relationships and community. The Bible says more than once that we are the body of Christ-we are all connected.” “One of your jobs as a women’s ministry director is to help women build deep lasting ties with other women in the church…learn to bear one another’s burdens and to love one another with Christ’s love…” “Help every woman in your church discover how we are mysteriously and wonderfully interconnected and interdependent.”
This section has some great ideas for welcoming, icebreakers, and fellowship.
Section two is about serving others.
“The Bible never calls for us to be spectators, or worse, to be needy creatures who continually enjoy being served without ever returning the favor by serving others. In fact, the Bible makes it quite clear that each Christian has been given a gift and is expected to use that gift for the benefit of the body.”
There are great service ideas from haircuts for those in jail or shelters to helping those in the congregation with home projects.
Section three covers spiritual growth.
“It’s also helpful for women to spend time with other women who know and love Jesus. In every church, there are women who are wise and spiritually mature. These women are great examples to others. Spiritually mature women can encourage others, inspire others, instruct others, counsel others, and gently rebuke others where needed.”
This section includes a mentoring program, ten-minute devotions to be used in a group (some good, some shallow, some out of context), and fifteen group prayer ideas (that I personally found hokey).
On Bible studies they state, “Bible studies are the core of every women’s ministry.” The Bible studies included in the manual are open-ended questions with no theological guidance for the leader.
Section five is called “Girls Movie Night Out.” This section has more than 25 movie choices with discussion questions. For more formal gatherings, section six tackles celebrations and special events. “There are several events in this section that are designed to celebrate family relationships or a special time in someone’s life” There are some great ideas for special events that include teens in celebrating with each other.
The chapter on outreach not only gives some clever outreach program ideas, but it offers help in practice sharing Christ. Before an outreach event, a few meetings are planned to help women practice sharing their faith.
Many women’s ministries offer retreats.
“Retreats are wonderful opportunities for women to get away from their everyday responsibilities and to rest, have fun, and spend some concentrated time learning about God”
Here you will find basic retreat planning information, suggested schedules, discussion group ideas, and themes.
But, back to my interest in what others thought a 21st century women’s ministry would look like in structure. The “Leader Helps” segment is full of information about purpose statements, building leadership teams, team communication, job descriptions, surveys, and financial forms. I chuckled to myself, because it was like reading our old WIC Manual…very similar actually. We are ahead of the game! Others think the 21st Century does want structure.
Until we can produce our own comprehensive manual, I would recommend this as a resource to those who could wisely use the ideas through our reformed/covenantal grid.