Five Ways Women’s Ministries Can Care for Victims of Domestic Violence

Most likely, around 25% of the women attending your church are victims of domestic abuse.[1] When you see that number, is your first thought disbelief? Mine certainly was, and I am what some would call an expert in this area. But in ministering to the women in my church, I have sadly witnessed its truth firsthand. We struggle to believe that domestic abuse is in our churches for three main reasons. First, abuse is a hidden reality. It happens behind closed doors. The sinful tactics used by an abusive husband are inconceivable, in part because abusers strive to keep their deeds hidden in darkness (John 3:20). Second, abused women often do not identify as victims; they feel responsible for their oppression. Most women come to me for counseling about something else, such as anxiety, depression, or guilt. Oppressors confuse their victims to control them; a common by-product of sin is “disorder” (James 3:16). Victims often do not possess the clarity required to conceptualize what they are enduring is abuse. Third, we struggle to identify abuse because the oppressor usually attends our church. We have talked and prayed with him. We think we know him. In reality, we only see how he presents his public face. At home, oppressors are very different people. Even though Scripture warns us about deceivers (2 Timothy 3:13), we struggle to identify them among the people we think we know. Although we often are not aware of abuse, the Lord sees victims and is active in their rescue (Luke 4:18–19). I also believe that God calls us to join him in their rescue. Below are five ways the women’s ministry in your church could help identify and care for the sufferers in your midst...

Five Ways Women’s Ministries Can Care for Victims of Domestic Violence2022-05-05T00:03:55+00:00

Three Goals for Bible Study Ministry

Last Spring, as the restrictions of the pandemic lockdowns and isolation began, I was so grateful for the means to meet virtually with my people. There were a few brief weeks of quiet, and then the Zoom meetings began, slowly at first. Once we realized the potential, we were zooming all over the place! Book studies, Titus 2 meetings, ministry team meetings, Bible studies—if two or more were gathering, Zoom was there. I even got our far-flung family into the act and we had weekly visits with our kids who live all over the country, and my husband and I even started reading bedtime stories to our grandsons. Before we knew it, “Zoom fatigue” set in, and it wasn’t so much fun anymore. The meetings became more difficult. From poor connections and frozen screens, to the true psychological effects of staring at a screen without the ability to make eye contact or pick up nonverbal communication, virtual meetings grew wearisome. Now, don’t get me wrong, we were glad to be able to at least see one another’s faces as we visited. But when it comes to most of our meetings, nothing replaces being in person. God’s Word is Not Bound As our women’s ministry prepares for our Fall Bible studies, we don’t yet know if we will be able to meet in person, and even if we may, for how long. There’s a strong possibility that we will need to use virtual means in order to offer our studies to our women. The thought of this grieves me. I miss being with our women and sharing together over God’s word. Muddling through an hour of Bible study through a camera and screen feels like talking through prison bars. And yet, even if we must Zoom our studies, I have hope, because, as the apostle Paul reminded Timothy while writing from prison, “the word of God is not bound!” (2 Tim. 2:19)....

Three Goals for Bible Study Ministry2022-05-05T00:14:26+00:00

In Bible Study, Words Matter

Words matter. As a counselor, I know the power of the spoken word, how certain words can break a relationship, while others can heal it. As a writer, I know the importance of selecting the right word to use in a sentence. Sometimes, just one word can be the difference between confusion and clarity. Words matter in the Bible as well. God created the world through just the power of his word; he merely spoke and light appeared. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is The Word incarnate, God’s word to us made flesh. Unlike the words we write or speak, God’s word is active and alive; it changes and transforms. It is truth which sanctifies. As we prepare to return to Bible studies with the women in our churches this fall, it is appropriate to look at the significance of words in Scripture, for every word carries meaning and significance. When we study a passage or chapter in the Bible, it is important to make note of the words used, the meanings of those words, and how they are used. It makes a world of difference as we seek to understand, learn, and be transformed by the very word of God. As you study this semester, consider some of these words: Names of People and Places: The meanings of names carry great weight in the Bible. Whenever we come across a name, whether of a person or place, we ought to look up its meaning. Unlike modern times, in the Bible, a person’s name often indicated something about who they were and what they would become (Gen 17:5). Sometimes God instructed prophets to name their children names that spoke to what was happening at that time in Israel or signified what would happen in the future (Hosea 1:6). Often the names of places tell us something about who God is and what he has done. Repeated Words: Consider how often a teacher or parent repeats the same instructions to children. They often feel like a record set on repeat. In the Bible, when a word is repeated, it’s not accidental. It’s done so to enforce something, to highlight something, to make a point. The author is saying, “Listen up! This is uber-important!” When we come across repeated words or phrases, we ought to stop and take notice. A good example of this is when Isaiah hears the seraphim call out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (6:3) Transition Words: Many bible study students have heard a pastor..

In Bible Study, Words Matter2022-05-05T00:24:33+00:00

Ministry Leader: Replace Yourself!

I came into the Bible study exhausted, un-showered, wearing a baseball hat, and clutching not a Bible, but a Tupperware container that held my cold, left-over dinner. All around me swirled comments and scripture readings, but on that night, the best I could do was show up and absorb it. And it was amazing. You see, until that fall, I had been the leader of that very Bible study. For years I arrived dressed and prepared, sparkling and engaged, mentally ready and willing to share and teach God’s word. I poured hours into the group; I mentored and encouraged the women and rarely needed a week off. God gave me the gift of teaching and the time to prepare. But then my schedule changed, and I couldn’t keep all the balls in the air. In fact, the balls were falling everywhere. I knew I had to step down from leading the Bible study. I still worked at the church by day, but God made it increasingly clear that my evenings would require a different focus and a reshuffling of priorities. It was time to replace myself. Often in ministry we face this transition with fear. Our roles, whether paid or volunteer, handle the very word of God. What if all the work we’ve done is swiftly undone? What if years of relationship building are lost in the face of change? What if the person who comes after us is not gifted in the same way we are? Here’s the answer: Relax, it was never about you...

Ministry Leader: Replace Yourself!2022-05-05T00:44:40+00:00

How to Choose a Bible Study

Many of us who love God and his word will soon be planning for fall Bible studies. Along with organizing volunteers and coffee pots, we will be making an important decision: what bible study resource do we use? Other than a familiar author’s name or referral by a friend, how do we choose well? What should we be thinking about when choosing a bible study? Asking four questions can point us in the right direction. First, what is the author’s view of scripture? Second, what does the author do to lead you into the text? Third, what does the author do to lead the text into you? And fourth, who is the hero of the story? Author’s View of Scripture First what is the author’s view of scripture? One of the easiest ways to know if the author thinks the text itself is most important is whether or not you are directed to actually read it. This must always be our first step with the word. Even if it is a familiar passage, we must first get back into the context and hear the words afresh before we begin our study.Next, care must be taken to accurately exegete, or interpret each passage. Verses should be studied and explained within their original context, not pulled out to make an unrelated point. Authors who view the scriptures as authoritative and inspired by the Holy Spirit will point you to read the text first and will handle it with care...

How to Choose a Bible Study2022-05-07T23:21:54+00:00

Connected Women Build Up the Church

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.”

Connected Women Build Up the Church2022-05-07T23:41:44+00:00

Hinged: Vitally Connected to Christ and His Church

My office shelves are lined with a colorful assortment of pictures and memories I have amassed over twenty-five years of ministry. There are pictures of mentors and friends who have profoundly shaped my life. A Japanese silk fan and a colorful teacup from the Dominican Republic remind me of connections with my international sisters in Christ. In the middle, sits a brass hinge in a small black frame. People often ask me to tell the stories behind these mementos. Without fail, everyone asks me about the hinge.I am a HingeI am a hinge. A utilitarian piece of hardware. Its job is to connect two pieces together so that they are made useful. When a hinge does its job, you rarely notice it unless it squeaks. My calling as a hinge gets me up every day. I connect people to people and churches to churches. My goal is to strengthen them both by connecting them to sound resources.I long to hinge in such a way that people don’t see me but see the Christ and the beautiful unity that occurs when things join for His glory. I am a fifty-one-year-old hinge. I have great delight when I get to stand in the gap and help women connect across differences: different generations, cultures, and contexts. But I have no greater joy than when I see them vitally connected to Christ and His Church. Have you ever wondered what difference it would make if we believed we were better when hinged together to Christ and one another? 

Hinged: Vitally Connected to Christ and His Church2022-05-07T23:42:28+00:00
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