Connected Women Build Up the Church

RACHEL CRADDOCK|GUEST

I confess I do not remember the days of strong WIC Ministries in the PCA. I confess that I didn’t even know WIC Ministries existed until a year ago.

I am currently thirty-five and became a member of a PCA Church when I was twenty-three. During my first several years in the PCA, I was a new believer, a new mom to four children under the age of five, and new pastor’s wife—I barely had any extra margin for women’s ministry in my local context—but my heart always longed to see more connected women in our Presbytery. The men in our Presbytery meet monthly for prayer, and quarterly for Presbytery Meetings; I always desired to see women from different PCA churches gathering together for encouragement, connection, equipping, and prayer.

Part of a Greater Whole

Last year, at my first Women’s Leadership Training (LT), Karen Hodge asked if I would be willing serve on her National Women’s Team as Regional Advisor to Women’s Ministries in Mid-America. I was quite shocked that she would ask me; I had only been leading women’s ministry in my local context for four years at the time, and I was in every way a newbie when it came to connecting women outside of my local context.

As I have served awkwardly as a newbie Regional Advisor—learning as I go, one PCA acronym at a time—my heart has grown to see connected women on a Presbytery Level, Regional Level, and National Level. Being a small slice of the Women’s Ministry National Team has given me a diverse group of wise women who have prayed for me and walked alongside me during a difficult season in my life, and helped me troubleshoot the women’s ministry issues I have faced as a young leader in my local context.

The love and connectedness I have received when I reached out beyond my local context, has blessed me more than I could ever ask or think. To step out of my small suburban, Ohio women’s ministry and serve alongside life-giving leaders from South Carolina, Texas, Delaware, and Washington has helped me practically see what Paul writes about in Ephesians 2, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,  in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

Having Christ in common is what joins us with one another on the National Team, when we are connected, we grow into a holy temple, built together to be a dwelling place for God. Being built together with PCA Women on a local level, presbytery level, regional level, and national level builds up and strengthens the church, reflecting God’s glory in contrast to the world around us that ever increasingly embraces isolation and individualism.

We Are Not Alone

I long to see more connected churches and connected women’s ministries, the PCA was created to be a connected denomination. Presbytery Level Women’s Ministry is a mechanism to help us fight against the lies which tell us we are alone as women’s ministry leaders and that no one else will understand this problem I am facing in my local context. We are not alone!

When Christ is our reference point and our cornerstone, we will seek to be built together with that smaller church plant down the road. Women connected by heavenly citizenships see past outward appearances or outward differences in programming and fight to be unified because of commonality in Christ. Jesus’ death and resurrection is for the women in the large, upper-class, deeply-staffed, over-resourced church, as much as it is for the women in the small church plant with a solo pastor and an over-worked, young mom, unpaid, women’s ministry volunteer with limited resources. Jesus and His Work on the cross is for the women solidified in their complementarian views and for those still struggling with a complementarian view. Jesus rose again for the women’s ministries that love to host with tea and doilies, and women who would forego the tea and doilies and prefer to have their event in a local, grassroots brewery.

I long to see PCA women forget about the outward differences and simply connect because in the gospel. PCA women all have the same Spirit living inside of us—doilies or no doilies. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4).

Unity in Presbytery Level Women’s Ministry

Presbytery Level Women’s Ministry is meant to provide relationships, encouragement, equipping, opportunities for local leadership, and opportunities for local and diverse teachers to teach women outside of their local church. Presbytery Level Women’s Ministry also provides local women’s ministries the opportunity to host speakers and Bible Teachers who may live just across town. When we begin to connect God’s people to God’s people, our unity grows—as we grow in unity with one another, we grow into a dwelling place with diverse resources, talents, ideas, and gospel friends.

I believe Presbytery Level Women’s Ministry needs to be Spirit-led. If we aren’t led by the Spirit, we will continue to live in isolation, or worse: connect with distorted motives. I also believe Presbytery Level Women’s Ministry begins with a few Spirit-led relationships. Events are fleeting; events come and go. I don’t believe events create lasting Presbytery Ministries; I believe relationships create life-giving Presbytery Level Women’s Ministries that will outlive events and seasons of strong leadership teams.

I also believe we need to be intentional to pass Presbytery Level Women’s Ministry to the next generation of Women’s Leaders. If you are feeling led by the Spirit to contact your Presbytery Level Women’s Ministry Contact, invite a Spirit-led younger woman to engage in ministry alongside you. We should always be intentional to serve shoulder to shoulder with younger women and intentionally let go of our positions to make room for new leadership.

I confess, I am a Presbytery Level newbie and I have yet to produce fruit in the area of thriving and multiplying Presbytery Level Women’s Ministries—but my heart does long to see more connected women in our denomination to strengthen and build up the church. My heart longs to be built into a dwelling place and packed in tightly with each and every woman in the PCA—unified in the gospel of Christ, not neglecting to meet together but encouraging one another.

Currently, my daughter’s favorite way to play is to gather her Barbies in a circle for Women’s Ministry Meetings and Bible Study. I am dreaming big and long that there will be a day when my five-year-old daughter will gather her Barbies on the floor of her room for a Presbytery Level Women’s Ministry Gathering—and maybe thirty years from now, Presbytery Level Women’s Ministry will be something she is Spirit-led to long for too.

About the Author:

Rachel Craddock

Rachel Craddock is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University (05’ B.A. Education) and a first-grade teacher at heart.

Rachel has been in the PCA since she became a Christian through the ministry of Campus Outreach during her time at Eastern Kentucky University. She has served in children’s, youth, and women’s ministries in the local churches she has attended over the years. Rachel currently serves as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator at North Cincinnati Community Church, is a writer and speaker, and serves as CDM’s Regional Advisor of Women’s Ministry to Mid America. She writes on her blog and speaks at women’s events and retreats out of a desire to encourage women in a relatable way to practically apply the gospel to their daily lives.

Slowly Unraveled: Changed from the Inside Out was written from a heart that desires women to embrace the freedom of the gospel as well as encourage women to cling closely to a daily lifestyle of repentance, faith, and obedience. The gospel doesn’t require perfection, but it does require relationship with a God who unravels the old and makes us new in the redemptive blood of Jesus.

When not busy serving in her community as a substitute teacher in the public schools or parenting her four fun children Ezra (10), Asher (8), Caleb (7), and Lydia Jane (5), Rachel enjoys reading, dark roast coffee, trail running, traveling, date nights, and blogging. She and her family are members of North Cincinnati Community Church in Mason, Ohio where her husband serves as lead pastor. You can connect with Rachel on FacebookTwitter, Instagram or on her blog, rachelcraddock.com.

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