This heaviness was fueled as I sat on a dirt floor listening to 15 Asian women one by one tell how they had shared the gospel with others. Each one said something like, “I shared the gospel with fifteen people in my village, eight of them followed Christ and one was healed of demon possession.” As I listened, I calculated that 15 women in this Asian country had shared the gospel with 224 people in one month!
These were ordinary women with messy lives who were tenacious enough to believe in the power of the Holy Spirit at work within them to go and make disciples.
I confess that as I listened I tried to appear as if their words were normal. However, I felt spiritually embarrassed knowing that this kind of obedient gospel boldness and discipleship accountability was certainly not my personal normal; nor was it normal in my American-women’s-ministry-paradigm.
But what if it could be the norm? What if there was a shift in the “normal” outcome of women’s gatherings?
HOW DO WE LEAD WOMEN TO ADVANCE THE GOSPEL?
Leverage women’s gatherings as opportunities to mobilize and send out.
Women gathering is not just cultural, it seems we are wired to do so. Whether together under a mango tree pounding grain for a meal, or sitting around a table with pinterest-perfect snacks and hand lettered coffee mugs, women gather. In our American culture where collectively thousands of women gather for Bible study and women’s ministry events, we have an opportunity to mobilize an army. Let’s not lead women to be nice girls caught in a whirlpool of an American version of Christianity, well-marketed journals and cute t-shirts. Gatherings are opportunities to lead women to participate in a Kingdom movement God has been about all along. Let us not be passive about the Great Commission, but lead women to participate boldly in God’s mission.
Remember to keep the end goal in mind.
Every great leader understands the “why” behind what they do. Understanding the “why” fuels the vision and purpose and should be the filter for everything that is planned. Resist the temptation to slide down the slope of focusing on the “how” to pull off a great event and marketing the “what” to get everyone excited. As disciples of Jesus Christ, let us lead by keeping the end in mind – “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:14). This is the “why” that should define what we do and how we do it.
Lead women beyond calendared good causes.
Advancing the gospel isn’t a one time planned event. Opportunities to share the gospel are often beautifully unscheduled. After teaching recently at a women’s event, I listened to one of the women’s leaders tell me how she had always wanted to reach out to a Muslim woman she knew. We discussed some simple ways. In the end she just needed encouragement to move forward. The next morning I had a text that said, “I reached out to my Muslim friend and we are getting together for tea this week. She said she’d like to get together once a week!” Participating in God’s mission isn’t compartmentalized to a calendared opportunity. We need to equip believers to take the next missional step in everyday opportunities.
Lead women to not only study the Bible, but also equip them to share it.
The gospel wasn’t given to us to be bound up, studied and carried around; but to be carried out and unleashed into the world. The depth of Biblical illiteracy saddens my heart. So does the reality that knowledgeable people hoard the gospel, keeping it to themselves. Lead women beyond individual, spiritual consumption to contagious, tenacious outliving of the gospel that has been poured into them. “Until God is using you to change the lives of others, you really haven’t comprehended His truth” – Danny Akin
Teach women to see their mess as opportunities for God’s message through them.
I realize that women are plagued with fears, insecurities, struggles and anxieties. I know because I battle them, too. Let us teach women that God who redeems us from the pit also puts a “new song in our mouth” so that “many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:3
Friends, we need an uprising of women courageous enough to lead others to advance the gospel. It is the task of the whole church of God to make disciples. Let us daringly use our women’s gatherings within church walls to equip women to live out the gospel beyond the church walls. It will require ordinary women with messy lives who were tenacious enough to believe in the power of the Holy Spirit at work within them to go and make disciples.
Lori is a Global Mission Catalyst with the International Mission Board. She and her husband, Mike, and their 3 children lived as missionaries in Africa before returning to plant Grace Point Church in Bentonville, Arkansas where Mike is Sr. Pastor and Lori started and led the women’s ministry for 12 years. She’s passionate about discipling people to leverage their everyday life for God’s mission of making his name and glory known to all peoples. Lori earned 2 Bachelor Degrees at Southwest Baptist University and is currently a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She’s a communicator, adventurer, status quo disrupter, and blogs at lorimcdaniel.org.