I’ll never forget my trips to the teacher supply store in elementary school. I loved teaching my students (aka my sister) and decorating my “classroom” in our basement with calendars, lessons, and inspirational posters. One such poster stands out in my memory: it had a photograph of three smiling kids, and it read, Laughter is contagious.
Today, I continue to lesson-plan and teach, but now I do it in the context of the church, where one of the most important truths to “catch” is a settled conviction that Scripture is God’s inerrant Word. When we highly esteem the Bible in our churches and preach it from our pulpits, the effect is Scripture-saturated ministries—women’s ministry included—and the equipping of our people to study it for themselves.
A Contagious Conviction
What does it mean to highly esteem God’s Word as a church? The answer to this question could be an article in itself. But for the sake of being concise, this means we . . .
- Hold a settled conviction that Scripture is God speaking to us, and that all his words are true, trustworthy, and useful (2 Tim 3:16)
- Firmly believe the power of the “sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:15)
- Invest our ministries, and our lives, in the proclamation of God’s Word because we’re utterly convinced that it never returns void (Is 55:11)
When this is what we believe about the Bible, and when our pulpits overflow with these convictions, the effect upon a congregation—and a women’s ministry—will be contagious. Women will grow in their desire for God’s Word as their churches consistently proclaim it.
Where Churches Miss the Mark
Unfortunately, many churches don’t have this contagious effect because they lack a settled conviction about Scripture. But this low esteem for Scripture is equally contagious, and it will saturate the congregation with whatever else is held in high esteem. I’m particularly concerned with the lack of Scripture’s presence in many women’s ministries––for we will only equip our women to study God’s Word if studying God’s Word is the basis for everything we do as a church.
When it comes to where churches tend to miss the mark and, in turn, affect their women’s ministries, a few areas come to mind:
The women in your congregation will “catch” the convictions that motivate the Sunday morning message. If the content of sermons is primarily storytelling and appealing to people’s desire for entertainment, then that’s what women will expect to hear and receive when they gather for fellowship and the study of God’s Word.
Opening the Bible at women’s events too often falls by the wayside, rather than being the reason we gather. Women are often entertained by speakers and content that appeals to our desires to be comfortable and affirmed. Rather than equipping women and urging them to grow through a careful study of Scripture, we give them that which will not last or affect true change in their hearts.
The curriculum that’s often chosen for women’s groups doesn’t provide them with the opportunity to study God’s Word for themselves. Many ministries offer topical studies that use Scripture merely as a proof-text rather than the driving motivation for the study. Other ministries offer discussion groups that center around questionable books, most of which focus on solving women’s problems and boosting their self-esteem, rather than growing them in holiness and in Bible study skills.
For many churches, a lack of equipping their women to love and study Scripture is a result of a lack of conviction about Scripture itself. But this certainly isn’t the case everywhere.
How Our Church Equips Women
When I first came to my church about six years ago, I was astounded by its commitment to the centrality of God’s Word. I’d never heard preaching so steeped in Scripture, and I’d never been a part of a congregation so convinced of its authority. This trickled down to women’s ministries, which had “caught” a love and desire to know Jesus through his Word.
I share below how our church has equipped its women to study God’s Word, not because this is the only right way but because I’ve personally seen the contagious effects of a church’s commitment to God’s Word. The women at our church (generally speaking) are firmly convinced that God speaks through his Word and, therefore, are engaging with the preaching, programming, and studies saturated by it.
Another name for this is “expository preaching.” Our pastors base their sermons on Scripture and draw out what’s there. Our women learn how to study their Bibles from listening to them do this each Sunday.
Our women’s events always center on the Bible––it’s the reason we gather. The speakers we invite are therefore teachers of the Word, and they open the Word to deliver the gospel and to help us apply it to our lives. (Some of our events are even specifically about how to study and teach God’s Word.)
What we learn about Bible study in worship services and at women’s events is reinforced by the materials chosen for small and large group gatherings. Our church writes its own studies, based on books of the Bible, and we also screen curriculum from other authors based on whether it is biblically-sound and will equip women to study the Word for themselves.
Preach and Teach the Word
What a privilege we have in our churches to hold out the Word of life! Paul’s exhortation to the young pastor Timothy will encourage us as we seek to highly esteem God’s Word:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus . . . preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1–5, emphasis added)
The glory and fame of Jesus Christ and the pleasure of God the Father motivate us to fulfill our ministries as the Word is faithfully proclaimed. And when we do, we’ll discover how contagious our biblical convictions are, as our women (and all our people) desire to know God by studying His Word for themselves.