Regina.jpgRead what one young woman, guest blogger Regina Gibson, has to say about mentoring across the generations.  After receiving her Masters of Divinity in Women’s Leadership from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, she served at LifeWay Christian Resources as a Young Women’s Ministry Specialist.

“In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. [They are] to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, pure, good homemakers, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered.” Titus 2:3-5, HCSB

This familiar command has been plastered on many women’s ministry bulletins, served as the core verse for many women’s ministry programs, and provided clear focus for those who desire to minister to women in the local church, and rightly so. Whether this passage is etched in our memory or highlighted in our Bible or sitting on our desk, we would largely agree that the doing of Titus 2 is a great deal more difficult than knowing it. It seems that there are two primary challenges women’s ministry leaders face when they attempt to apply this text.

THE FIRST CHALLENGE is that the older women in the local church need to be adequately discipled and equipped to fulfill the command and many do not feel so equipped. At one season in my life I served on staff as a leader of the women in my local church. This was an unusual position for someone in their early twenties to find themselves in, yet it taught me immensely about the struggles that all women’s leaders face. I recall encountering women who felt inadequate and ill equipped to fulfill this command in Titus. I discovered through my experience what many women’s leaders have also found: that it is difficult to create a culture in which older women are pouring into younger women if the older women still feel or view themselves as the ones that need to be taught. Truly we are all in need of teaching, but there comes a point when we are the older ones and need to take on the responsibility of teaching young women how to be wives, mothers, homemakers, and simply God honoring women according to Titus 2.

THE SECOND CHALLENGE I’ve witnessed in the local church is the struggle of many traditional women’s ministry programs (think video study, the annual tea or luncheon, a group consisting of mostly 35-85 year olds) to reach and retain young women in their ministry programs. Even if the older women are equipped to teach and ready to reach out, it can seem impossible to draw younger women into participating, serving, and leading in the ministry.

These are challenges must be overcome. As a young woman yet in my twenties, today we will focus our concern on tackling the latter challenge, as it may prove to be the greater of the two challenges.

Sadly there is no magical formula.  There is not a quick fix and no program exists that will immediately fill your women’s ministry with the young women in your local church. Unfortunately, “If you build it (a ministry for young women)” there is a good chance they still won’t come. However, my encouragement to you today is this…if they (young women) build it with you they might come. In my local church I have been privileged to help build and lead a ministry geared toward young women in their twenties and thirties. It started in much the same fashion as any ministry team. With a couple of passionate young women and an experienced Women’s Minister who possessed a heart for Titus 2, despite the extra time, possible inconvenience, and cost. Here are a few things our women’s minister did that I believe had a direct impact on our endeavor’s success:

1.    She listened to us.
2.    She allowed us to implement our ideas and did not even offer her ideas.
3.    She gave us room to “fail” or “succeed.”
4.    She let us use her funds to do something “small” at a large church.
5.    She loved us, empowered us, and gave us what we needed.

It can prove to be a challenge to release any portion of your ministry into the hands of someone else, especially when that someone is younger and has ideas that differ from your own. However, if a women’s ministry leader would prayerfully take this step of faith in selecting and investing in younger women and allow them to lead I highly doubt she would be disappointed with the result.

As a result of our women’s ministry leaders willingness to believe that God could work through the leadership of young women here are a few blessings that our local church received:

1.    100, maybe more, young women were in Bible study this summer/fall, some studying a book of the Bible for the first time.
2.    Young women were discipled and were delighted to have “a place!”
3.    100 young women (NEW FACES) got together for a social event where the young women’s ministry called MESH was introduced.
4.    63 young women have expressed interest in a spiritual growth type retreat which we hope to provide some time in 2011.
5.    Young women who may have never attended a traditional women’s ministry event were introduced through MESH to all that our women’s ministry has to offer. The gap has been bridged.

Every women’s ministry has a different set of challenges. However, this one challenge stands as one we must all face or else we risk God’s message being slandered according to Titus 2. I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord what He requires of you. Also, consider meeting with some key young women in your church and listen to them as they aid your ministry in fulfilling this command.

Regina is delighted to be a stay at home wife to Chris and mom to Micah. She also served on a local church staff leading in women’s ministry during her time at seminary. Regina has a deep love for young women in the local church and serves as a regular Bible teacher and leader for young women at her family’s home church Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. The Lord has also allowed her the privilege of teaching the Word at women’s conferences and retreats around the country.

Resources:

Women Reaching Women 

Transformed Lives

Woman to Woman Mentoring

 

Comments

  1. Great suggestions and ideas – out of curiousity – is MESH an acronym.
    I walk away from this post energized and ready to take a step back and apply this information with our women!!! Thanks!!!

  2. Hey Melissa
    I am so glad you were encouraged! It thrills me to here leaders excitement for my generation.
    And to satisfy your curiosity MESH is not an acronym. We aren’t to fond of those :) It was inspired by Colossians 2:2 where Paul talks about believers being knit together in love as they pursue maturity in Christ. We desire the young women at Long Hollow to be MESH(ed) together as they pursue Jesus Christ.
    Many blessings to you & your ministry to women,
    Regina Gibson

  3. Angela Boles says:

    Regina – I was privledged to attend your Go Deeper…Memorize & Meditate class at the Lifeway conference. You are truly inspiring and I have resolved to go deeper with my own personal study time. My question however involves our Women’s Ministry at our church. Could you recommend 2-3 good studies that you feel would accomplish a deeper fellowship, mentoring (in the Titus 2 way )and also draw women mulit-generational to enroll.
    With child care…we are limited to about an hour and a half for our evening studies so if there is a way to accomplish all this in our time frame…that would be great!

  4. Chris Adams says:

    I’m going to pop in here too on the suggestions for studies. One thing you might do it just walk through a book in the Bible together. If you want to use a study guide, here are a couple of possibilities: Stepping Up by Beth Moore is a study of the Psalms of Ascent and she does encourage scripture memory in that resource. She also highly recommends memorizing scripture in Believing God. And Breaking Free is all about praying scripture. So hopefully those might be helpful and would work for different age women.

  5. Hey Angela,
    It is so good to hear from you! So thankful that the Lord encouraged you to go deeper in your time with Him! So exciting!
    I seriously believe that the best approach you could use is identifying an older woman gifted by the Holy Spirit with teaching to teach the class. Going verse by verse through a book of the Bible with a “LIVE” teacher you can know & touch is invaluable to my generation. Not only that, but in my experience exponentially grows & matures a disciple, because it teaches them to study on their own. Albeit it takes time, effort, and passion on part of the teacher, but if they are gifted to teach they likely will dish all of this with joy. There will always be a place for video studies and workbooks and that would work, WELL even! BUT if you have a woman passionate for the Word right there in your midst USE HER! And watch what God will do!
    If you would really like a study guide/resource Chris mentioned several great resources. I really enjoyed Psalms of Ascent personally! I have also heard great things about Kelly Minter & Priscilla Shirer studies which either have no video or a short video segment respectively. A study with no or limited video this might be advantageous if the goal is to attract young women. With an hour and half you could have a teaching time and sharing time. I firmly think there needs to be adequate teaching & good discussion.
    Many of my friends have enjoyed book studies such as Radical and Crazy Love. Our generation seems to be drawn to a good challenge. If you use a book study make sure to hone in on the Scripture for the teaching portion. Crazy Love is chalked full of it, can’t miss it! There’s also a very short video component in the study.
    If you can/have time ask the young women in your church what they would like to do or study most. This will at least give you an idea of where they are spiritually and what they desire. I would urge you to be prayerful, of course, and to do what is best for them as their God given leader. I know the Lord will lead you well!
    Keep me posted (via email or facebook or blog (click my name at the top of the article to go there)). I would LOVE to know how it goes for you & help in whatever ways I can.
    With love in Christ
    Regina

  6. Angela – Just as a side note – we just did Crazy Love and had a wonderful turnout of our younger generation group! It was a mixed gender group versus a womens study, but seemed to be quite successful.
    We are starting Francis Chan’s Forgotten God in January at the suggestion of the group next. :)
    Our younger ladies LOVED Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God. :D
    Melissa

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