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More than Teacups and Doilies

Mar 21, 2024

The first recollection I have of women’s ministry is mother-daughter banquets. They were always held at Knott’s Berry Farm Chicken Dinner Restaurant. They were beautifully decorated, and the program always included something silly like a skit or a funny fashion show and someone who sang special music. These banquets felt special because, as a child, getting to dress up and go somewhere “fancy” was not an everyday thing.

As I grew older, I remember attending small women’s conferences where they had workshops on what colors looked best on you and how to match your clothing to your shoes. Lunches always included lovely tables set with beautiful teacups and doilies and the occasional strand of pearls. I appreciate all the work that went into these events, but as a young woman growing up in the church, what was imprinted on me was that women’s ministry was to give mothers a place to spend time with their daughters and be entertained and physically nourished.

In my curiosity to see if this was other people’s experience, I began to ask some of my friends and acquaintances what they thought women’s ministry in the church was. Let’s be clear that I am speaking of corporate women’s ministry, not women in ministry. Those are two separate things. The consensus seemed to be that they understand women’s ministry programming to be a place where women gather, eat, drink tea, and socialize. More like an exclusive club for Christian women and, dare I say, especially moms. That seemed harsh, but it I can see their perspective. It is easy to fall into that mentality.

As a woman who leads other women, that perspective left me wanting so much more for the women around me and for the global Church. Women’s ministry should be a place where, in every stage of her life, a woman can know that she is supported. She should attend events knowing she will be encouraged in her walk the Lord and equipped to serve Him better. Every event should draw her closer to the feet of Christ. 

We should not shy away from taking a good look at how we are doing women’s ministry. Women were an important part of Jesus’ ministry, and they still are today. The first person to see him after the resurrection was a woman, Mary Magdalene, and she was entrusted to share the Good News of His resurrection! How is our ministry to women preparing them to receive the Good News of Jesus and share it with others?

We should desire women’s ministry events that include every generation, that help women learn the Word, and prepare them to make an impact for Christ. I believe that if pastors, women ministry leaders, and the congregation partner together, we can achieve great things that will help raise up women in the church who will make a difference in their communities.

There are three groups I would like to address and encourage:

  1. Pastors, women make up approximately half of the church. Are they represented in your leadership? Are women being invited into the conversations on how to approach the issues that your congregation and the culture around you are facing? Are you investing time in teaching and training them to serve in their gifting? Are you using the “Ezers” (Genesis 2:18) in your local body to help your church grow in wisdom and knowledge? If you are not, I encourage you to begin to work toward that today.
  2. Women’s Ministry Leaders, are you aware of the unseen women of your church, singles, single moms, pre-teen, and teenage girls? Are you building relationships that will allow you to speak the truth to others with love and kindness? What areas do your women need to grow in? Are you equipping future leaders or has your ministry become just social events? I encourage you to not give up, to keep pressing on, and to ask the Lord for a vision for the ministry.
  3. Women, are you involved in the women’s ministry at your local church? Are you praying for the women of your church? I encourage you, find ways to get involved such as opening your home for a small group, helping plan an event, or leading a Bible study.

I encourage all of us to be teachable. A new perspective is not easy to obtain, but it gives space for the Holy Spirit to work. Teachability allows us to navigate and grow through many situations, and to be a blessing to others in the process.

Women’s Ministry will look different for all of us based on our local context. As part of the Body of Christ, ministry is always living and breathing and changing. But what will never change is the fact that God has uniquely equipped women to serve Him and His Church through the work of the Holy Spirit.

After a few years in ministry, I learned that women’s ministry is much more than teacups and doilies. A tea party may get people in the door, but the Gospel of Christ will be the only thing that transforms their lives. I am eager to see how the Lord continues to transform lives and congregations through healthy and effective women’s ministry.  

Written by Josie Ramirez for the Year in Review 2022–2023. Josie is the Women’s Ministry Director at Grace Community Church of Seal Beach in southern California. She is also a Charis Women Board member and is a recent graduate of Grace Seminary.