In her TGCW12 breakout session entitled “Word-Based Ministry to Women,” Nancy Guthrie asked “What will be the distinctive of your ministry to women?” Certainly there are a multitude of ways the current Christian culture asserts this question ought to be answered, and meeting a woman’s felt needs is surely at the top of its list. But we must ask ourselves: do we want ourselves and our perception of our emotional whims to dictate the agenda of our ministry?
Sadly, the answer is often yes. Over and over throughout the weekend I heard the sober warning about placing myself into the story of Scripture as the main character through so-called studies based on my experience, my story, my perception of God, and how I feel about all that and everything else. It was sobering because I am ashamed to admit in years past these sorts of studies comprised much of my Bible study experience. I well know the appeal of such studies and the authors and speakers that promulgate them.
As I look back over my faith journey, my theological ignorance–longtime, persistent ignorance–astounds me and as I remember thus far the Lord has brought me I am humbly, profoundly, and eternally grateful for the grace of the Lord Jesus that saved me from myself. Several years ago, through careful study and the testifying work of His Spirit, my eyes were opened to the power and sufficiency of His Word. He spoke truth to me in the pages of my Bible, revealing Himself as the focus of the story of all of Scripture. Glory to God, I haven’t been the same since.
Because I’ve known the living and active power of His Word, it has been my passion to teach and to encourage others to see and know the Lord for themselves through personal Bible study. I long for His Word to be the distinctive of my ministry, and not only that but also the distinctive of my home, of my blogging, of my life. Because this is my heart’s cry Guthrie’s challenge resonated with me as a Bible teacher and student, its effects echoing in my mind even this morning as I sat on my back porch and opened my Bible in preparation for study and prayer.
Obviously, in answer to her question, Guthrie argues that we allow God’s Word to be the defining motivation for our ministries to women. Along those lines she offered five distinguishing marks of a Word-centered ministry to women drawn from Heb. 4:12-13 and I will briefly list them here.
A Word-based ministry…
1. Listens to hear the Living Word speak. We want to instill a confidence in ourselves and our students that God does speak THROUGH HIS WORD. Let’s go to His Word expecting it to be alive! The only authoritative communication with any certainty is through the Bible. What are you doing to fuel this expectancy that He will speak?
2. Expects the Word to do its work. It always accomplishes His purposes! His Word has more power than our ideas, our programs, even our compassion. The Word of God does the work of God; it is not up to us to coerce. We can be patient and expectant, presenting the Word skillfully, humbly and winsomely.
3. Allows the Word to cut both ways. It is a two edged sword, speaking of salvation but also warning of judgment. Who are we to edit or determine what is relevant or what has power? All of Scripture helps us see Jesus. We don’t want to blunt the Word because of what may seem more appealing.
4. Challenges shallow beliefs and hidden agendas. The Word shines the light of truth and conviction and exposes how we want to use God and not love Him. Let’s put aside handy Christian cliches and sentimentalism and grasp hold of solid truth. Our expectations of God sometimes reflect a self centered agenda for using God. Let’s submit ourselves to Scritpure and accept its turuth. The piercing of a two edged sword will hurt but we must trust the Surgeon of our soul. He wants to heal and not hurt.
5. Prepares women for the ultimate exposure. Is your ministry preparing women to face the accountability to come in the presence of God? If we fail to present the whole counsel of God are we really successsfull despite large numbers of ladies coming to our events and enjoying themselves? Prepare women to give an account of their lives. We cannot serve and teach well unless we are feasting on the Word ourselves.
Intense stuff. Humbling and convicting, to be sure. And yet so very exciting too. As I glanced around the plenary sessions filled with the thousands of women listening attentively, even hungrily, as the Word was presented through the power of the Spirit, I was overcome. So many women representing so many homes and so many churches and so many spheres of influence.
May we, we women who love the Lord and His Word, be found faithful in whatever ministry the Lord has granted to us. May we eagerly and expectantly hold out the Word of life knowing that it is living and active and powerful. May we forget ourselves and our so called felt needs and instead exalt Christ and remember the gospel. May we boldly and courageously allow the Word of God to pierce and to convict. May we look with joyous hope toward the day our faith will be sight. And, please, Lord, may Jesus and His glory be the delight of our hearts and the Treasure of our lives. Let it be! He alone is worthy!