Last week Ronnica talked about the need for women’s ministry. This week, we turn our attention to the motive behind having a women’s ministry. That’s the topic of Chapter 3: The Motive.
When Carrie was scheduling our discussions, I asked to write about this chapter because it spoke so distinctly to my heart. It’s taken from a sermon that J. Ligon Duncan gave, and Susan Hunt specifically asked him to include it in the book. In my humble opinion, this chapter alone makes the entire book worth reading.
I’ve attended many women’s events over the years, some wonderful and some not. At the last conference I attended, the speakers talked about God but didn’t even use Scripture. Instead, they offered little more than a bunch of moral platitudes. I had gone seeking a weekend of spiritual growth, and the “feel good” weekend left me feeling anything but good.
Much of my frustration with women’s ministry can be summed up in that one experience. I’m not against laughing and having fun; there’s a definite place in women’s ministry for that. But a Biblically-based women’s ministry will offer more than a girls’ night out. It will go beyond wanting to give women a chance to kick up their heels with their friends. A true women’s ministry will be different than other pop culture offerings for women; it will also encourage women to be different.
Duncan states, “Without a proper esteem and love for Christ Himself, and an understanding of His covenant love for His church, we will lack the motive-force to serve Him in the world.” (p. 46) If we don’t have the proper motive - love for Christ - we will be ineffective. Christ must be the very reason we seek to minister to others. Without Christ as our motive, we won’t be interested in meeting spiritual needs; we’ll be planning social functions with no lasting impact.
Christ must also be at the heart of a ministry because “[i]f our ultimate motivation is simply because we love people, we will never be able to sustain the call to service that God as given to us because the very people we are called to serve will break our hearts. It is only the grace of Christ that enables us to persevere.” (p. 46) We women are emotional creatures. We tend to wear our hearts on our sleeves, and we are skilled at wielding our tongues. That’s why having the proper motive is so very important. If we are ministering for any reason other than our love for Christ, we’ll be tempted to throw in the towel when people hurt or disappoint us.
Duncan emphasizes that women’s ministry should teach women to love the church, which, at times can seem pretty unlovable. We are a bunch of sinners, saved by grace. We make mistakes. We fail. But we are the Bride of Christ. “The Christian must serve in utter dependence on and with a deep love for Jesus Christ...Falling in love with Christ means falling in love with His Church.” (pp.51-52) When we have a proper love for the church, we will be motivated to serve God wherever He calls.
Is Christ the motivation behind the women’s ministry in your church? In your own life?
Melissa blogs about faith and family on her own blog, Breath of Life. She is also a contributing member at Southern Baptist Girl, a site designed to encourage women to think deeply on matters of faith and life.