Word-Based Ministry to Women with Nancy Guthrie
What is going to be your disctinctive quality in your ministry to women? Your consistent aim? The one thing that’s going to mark your ministry?
Fun? More real and personal, relaxed… Love it, but not in the driver’s seat.
Story? Is your testimony all you have? Is it the defining thing that people remember most from your ministry time.
“Just tell your story. Your story has power.” Ask, “Power to what?”
Felt needs? We want to meet felt needs, but it is not the focus.
How do we allow God’s Word to set the agenda for our ministries?
Hebrews 1 tells us what a Word-centered ministry will look like.
God. Spoke. Has this been drained of wonder for us? The God who has power to speak planets into being has condescended to distill His voice into human language.
This is not merely past tense.
1:6– God speaks in the present: “God says…”
3:7-8 “Spirit says…”
Not that God only “said” as if He only spoke a long time ago. The Spirit is saying this NOW and you must listen as if He is speaking directly to you NOW. Because He is.
They are God’s Words being spoken. He is speaking NOW, to every generation.
Do you have the same urgency to hear from God as you do to check your text messages or your voicemail?
Heb 4:12-13 What hearing God’s voice does IN us.
Five Marks of a Word-Centered Ministry to Women
- We Listen to Hear the Living Word Speak— Not a record of something God said one time, but what God is saying, right now.
How do we hear God speaking?
“The Lord told me…” when we really mean “I felt like…” or “I just wanted to…”
Why? Does it sound more spiritual? Does it keep people from questioning us?
We cannot trust our interpretation of how God works within our circumstances. He has spoken authoritatively in His written Word, and is what we most need to know.
When we go to the Word of God expecting it to speak to us, it often answers questions that we didn’t even know enough to ask.
“God talks to me no other way [than in the Bible]. It is personal and He is my friend and He speaks to me, early in the morning. The only authoritative word He speaks to me is found in this Book.” John Piper, Lausanne 2010
What are you doing to instill in women a confidence to trust that God speaks to us? Is your speech sprinkled with, “The Lord told me…” or “The Lord impressed upon me through His Word…”
2. We expect the Word to do its work– The Word is ACTIVE. From the beginning, God’s Word has gone out and accomplished what it set out to do. Genesis 1: God spoke it and it was…
- We expect God’s Word, the reading, teaching, and instructing of it, to do what God intends to be done. More powerfully than our intentions and ideas…
Do you set aside the Bible study to let people minister to one another? When we set aside the study to give comfort and advice to a hurting woman, what are we telling her about the relevance and power of the Word? Do you believe that God’s Word is what she needs more than your advice? We don’t set aside the Word so that we can speak.
Because the Word of God does the Work of God, it’s not up to us to convince or coerce. We don’t have to feel as if we failed when we do not see with our eyes the responsiveness we had hoped for.
It is not up to us to create change in people. It is up to us to deliver the Word winsomely, authentically, adequately…
3. Allows the Word to cut both ways. “Sharper than any two-edged sword….”
Sharp on both sides.
Speaks salvation, but warns of judgment.
Speaks words of comfort and conviction.
Speaks grace and destruction.
Speaks blessings and curses.
In what ways do we allow the Word of God to cut both ways? Do we only encourage encouragement or the judgment?
This is why book studies are superior to topical studies. It forces you to face the ugly stuff.
The commands to destroy the Canaanites in the historical books in the OT do not meet the felt needs of the stay at home mom who is just looking to have some adult conversation. But who are we to edit what God has said to us? Who are we to determine what is relevant and needed, able to bring the change God intends to bring. All of the Word speaks of Christ and they help us to see Jesus from another angle.
Our greatest need is to see Jesus more clearly, and that comes through the full counsel of Scripture.
As leadership, we have the huge responsibility when choosing studies to take care to not edit the Word of God. There are no expendable or irrelevant parts of the Bible. The whole Word of God is relevant because it is God who is speaking.
Are we patient with the women who are “bored” or “offended” or “disinterested” so that the two-edged sword can cut through those things.
4. Challenges shallow beliefs and hidden agendas.
Women have cliches and sentimentalism that have taken the place of solid truth.
“Most of us are content to swim in the shallow things of God until we are forced into the deep end…” Joni Erikson Tada.
We become angry with God when we expect God to do something that He has not promised. We make assumptions that devastate us when those assumptions are challenged and destroyed.
When the Word goes deep, our faulty assumptions are revealed, and removed.
When we are in the Word, it shines the light of truth on our petty jealousies and deep seated desires and forces us to see how we seek to use God instead of loving God. Breaks through our religiosity to reveal the state of our souls.
Many people approach the Bible by standing over it, picking and choosing what they agree with and can go with and what they will pick apart and debate.
Instead, we must come underneath the Scriptures, submit ourselves to its demands, accept its truth… Shape our perspectives and adjust our priorities. Instead of judging the validity of God, we allow the Word of God to judge the validity of our hearts.
If the Word of God cuts to the deepest part of me, it’s going to hurt, and my initial reaction is to protect myself. But we can trust that the Surgeon knows exactly where to cut, and He cuts to heal us, not hurt.
5. Prepares Women for the Ultimate Exposure.
Lies live in the dark, and evil does its work undercover. The Word throws the Light on in the dark room of our lives so the little lies and failures are exposed and driven out.
We will one day stand before the blazing Light of God, where nothing will be hidden, and will give an account of our lives to God.
We are to not only equip our women to deal with the struggles of this life, we are to prepare them for the accountability of standing before a Holy God.
If we have large numbers at events and our women enjoy themselves, but we haven’t prepared them to meet their Maker and give an account of their lives, haven’t we really failed?
Kevin De Young: “Brothers, we are not gate agents.” Do not encourage women to get on a plane and go on a trip on which you have never gone yourself. Are you pursuing God with the same fervor you encourage others? “I don’t want to round people up for holiness without ever having gone there myself.”
We, too, must be prepared to give an account.