Third in a series
By Sharon MacMillan
One morning, a bolt of lightening hit this teacher as she was preparing her lesson.
As I looked over our chosen study guide, I noticed that the core values of Women of Grace surfaced throughout the lesson (upper left hand corner of this page). This jolting truth has made a lasting change in my partner and I as we study our lesson. “This is significant!” we thought. “We can be intentional every week in Bible study as we ask the Lord for ways to help women develop spiritually into fully-formed disciples that can train others.”
With this intentional way of teaching, we can be on the lookout for ways to actively disciple our women. We can identify those who want to learn to teach and invite them into the teaching process. We can watch women who are ready to become spiritual leaders and provide a way for them to use their giftedness. We can teach and model what a prayer warrior does so that they desire to join us in our intercession. We can support women in their mission, allowing them to share where God has sent them to minister and we can encourage them, meeting the ones they are influencing towards the Savior. We can find mentors for those who are ready to be mentored. We can make sure these values appear in our community gatherings so that women are enriched in their discipleship process with every opportunity for fellowship. What an opportunity for Bible Study time to become a center for active discipleship!
Because these core values are in the frontal lobes of our minds as we prepare our lessons, my teaching partner and I spend time observing what God is doing in each woman. Not only is Bible study an environment for spiritual nourishment, it is also a place where women can begin to identify their God-given calling through their interest in a particular core value. It may be a basic giftedness that is needed in the local body of believers.
Work with your women’s leadership team and ask them where they see these core values operating in your women. You will be surprised to find that many of these values are already in place in the local body. Some may require more attention than we have given. In our case, mentoring needs to be cultivated. So we are praying for the Lord to guide.
James identified a fully-formed disciple as “mature, complete, lacking nothing” in James 1:3-5:
“Count it all joy, (my sisters,) when you are faced with many kinds of trials because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
This is serious work in the life of every woman of God and this work gives us great value as His disciples.
Ron Boehm, a leader in the Vision Ohio, church planting movement, is finishing his dissertation about church-planting spouses. He is learning that if a church-planting wife understands her calling she is more apt to be engaged in ministry. If her calling is unclear she will approach her involvement in the ministry quite differently.
Every woman who understands her unique calling from God as His woman will be more willing to enter into a life of significance and usefulness as His disciple, depending on God to empower her and lead her into His ordained work for her (Ephesians 2:10).
As spiritual teachers, we won’t be content until we see movement in a woman’s life as she fulfills her unique calling in her spiritual development. Consider adding this dimension of using the core values in your teaching so that your study time becomes an environment for making fully-formed disciples. Be prepared for an adrenalin rush in the process of partnering with God to make disciples who can teach others also.
If you need to speak with someone about these learning methods and opportunities for spiritual discipleship for women contact Sharon MacMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Chery Boehm at email@example.com
Posted in Core Values, Mentoring, Ministry, Missions, Prayer, Spiritual Formation, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA | Tagged Bible, Bible studies, Discipleship, Equipping, God's Word, ministry, Missions, Prayer, Spiritual growth, Teaching | Leave a Comment »
Second in a series
By Sharon MacMillan
Adults need to engage in 5 different ways for learning to take place because of the way our brains function, according to Malcome Knowles, a well-known educator who has studied how adults learn best. He says:
1. Adults need to understand WHY something is important to know or do.
2. Older students need the freedom to learn in their own way: visual, auditory or kinesthetic methods.
3. Adult learners need to learn experientially through role play, skits, writing, building, etc.
4. Adults need the right time to learn.
5. They need positive encouragement.
With permission from Viki Rife, speaker at “Belleza que Dura,” (Beauty that Lasts), a recent Hispanic conference for women, we observe ways the women engaged in the learning process so we can apply these methods to enrich our Bible teaching.
To see pictures and read the complete article, go to http://www.wgusa.org/learning-styles/
Teachers who have accepted their calling to teach women, know that they must take this job seriously and must plan to teach to the students’ learning style, yet depending on the Holy Spirit to teach. When Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep,” (John 21:13-17) He entrusted to us a very important task.
We who are called to teach share in the joy and contentment that God gives as He feeds us so that we can, in turn, feed His precious sheep and feed them well. His Holy Spirit partners with us so that illumination takes place in the hearts, minds, souls and strength of His women. The illumination will lead to transformation of their very lives as they become conformed to the image of God.
Pray and ask God, your good Shepherd, to show you how to best feed the women that come to your study every week. If you have chosen a study guide, use it as a tool. Do the scriptural study but think about the learning styles of your students and begin looking for creative ways to teach the truths of God’s Word that will be specific to each woman in your class. You will see the light in your women as you connect with them in how they learn.
Posted in Uncategorized, Women and Scripture | Tagged Bible, Bible studies, Equipping, God's Word, Learning styles, Teaching | Leave a Comment »
By Sharon MacMillan
“I get it!” is a response every teacher wants to see on the faces of their students. Teaching the Bible is no different; in fact, Bible teachers cannot take their role lightly, as James warns, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1 NIV, 2011).
When is the last time you took a second look at your teaching skills when it comes to women’s Bible study? Have you fallen into the trap of business as usual? Do you grieve when the women don’t come prepared because they weren’t able to work on their study with the Lord at home?
This is indeed a heartbreak for the teacher who has expectations for her students to “grow in grace in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.”
Could there be more we teachers can do to inspire, motivate and teach our students to make the most of their Bible study?
1. Do you pray for your students weekly? They have spiritual battles that can be conquered by the use of the Sword of the Spirit. Realize that you may be a tool of the Holy Spirit to connect the dots for the students between what they are going through and what they are learning in their study.
2. Do you value the time the women give to you? It is a very precious gift that the women entrust to us and it needs to be valued.
3. Have you prepared well? Sadly, it may be that the teacher has not fully prepared her presentation so that the women feel the importance of what they are doing as bible students. The fire we acquire from thorough preparation will ignite in them as we meet around the Word.
4. Have you considered enriching the lessons of a pre-written book? Study the content well before you teach. The women have probably chosen the material because they are interested in the subject. But our task as teachers is to connect their interest with their need to grow.
5. Can you identify the learning styles of your students? This is important as you give them a workbook based on a Bible topic or even a book of the Bible.
a. Who learns best by listening to a lecture? Some can take in information and retain it best as it goes through their ear gate.
b. Do you have students who track best by seeing what you are teaching? This is my husband’s style where he can read and comprehend anything
(Imagine my husband out in a boat with a library book, learning how to sail! Well, it happened! And we only hit bottom once! )
c. Maybe you have a group of women who love to learn by engaging their hands in activities. These are the ones who take notes or love to work on some kind of project that is associated with the lesson.
It is possible that there could be a combination of two or more styles. But the point is we don’t all engage best the same way. Now consider what you are doing by giving women a book of fill-ins. Who would gravitate to that style the best?
6. Do you believe God for your students? He wants them to grow in the Word and in their spiritual development overall. Your time together around the Word can be a catalyst for helping them in their prayer lives, encouraging them to be on mission as they share what they have learned with others. You may be equipping mentors to model their faith to others. You may be training the next Bible study leader! You are engaged in discipleship with the women.
7. Finally, do you enjoy your women? Love your women. Let them see that you take this time with them very seriously. Let them catch a glimpse of your heart’s desire for them to become confident in their relationship with the Lord. They will love that you want them to grasp the precious life-changing truths so that their walk with the Lord will become vibrant and alive! Be patient with those that aren’t quite ready to move on as quickly as you would like. We are all a work in progress.
Sharon MacMillan is a pastor’s wife and co-leads women’s Bible studies in her church. She also serves as Spiritual Life leader on the Women of Grace USA Board of Directors.
Posted in Core Values, Ministry, Missions, Prayer, Spiritual Formation, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry | Tagged Bible, Discipleship, Equipping, God's Word, Making disciples, Missions, Prayer, Spiritual growth, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry | 1 Comment »
The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.
When Adam was given work to do after God’s wondrous creation, he became a man with a mission. We, too, as God’s women, have been given work that is of even greater value than that of Adam’s caring for God’s creation. We have been called to “make disciples.”
We know that Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 28:19-20 give us directives as His ambassadors on mission: Go “make disciples”. We are to accomplish this by baptizing them and teaching them.
What does an active disciple look like? She is one who learning to “love the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind and strength and her neighbor as herself. “
When discipleship is happening, we see her love for God’s Word and her desire to pray for every concern of her heart. We see a heart for people around her. It is a joy (understatement!) to watch. It’s like the joy that comes from watching your children raise healthy, happy, well-disciplined children.
Dede is such a disciple of Jesus. She has become an inspiration to those around her. As she learned to give God the controls of her life and family, she began to reflect God more clearly to them. Now they watch her and don’t hear her.
At work, Jesus has become an issue. His light is reflected there. Bullying has ceased because Dede wouldn’t join the office gossip and bad-mouthing. Her co-workers come and tell her how God is speaking into their lives, backing up something God had led her to share. Fruit bearing! That is a sign of a disciple of Jesus. Purpose! A woman of purpose goes to her work, on mission to be Jesus to the people around her. When we meet for lunch, we don’t talk about problems as it used to be. We share the love Jesus has for us both. And sometimes, this dear sister brings loving exhortation to me.
Knowing her is pure joy!
Posted in Core Values, Ministry, Missions, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tagged Disciple, Discipleship, God's Word, Jesus, Making disciples, Missions, Prayer, Spiritual growth | Leave a Comment »
This is the last of a three-part series responding to a concern that by taking missions out of our name, missions will disappear from who we are. This series was co-written by Viki Rife and Janet Minnix.
Recently, Grace Brethren International Missions decided it could better operate around the world by removing the word missions from its name. However, removing the word did not change the ministry’s purpose. Rather, Encompass World Partners now has freer access to places where missions would be suspect at best, and illegal at worst. In much the same way, Women’s Missionary Council felt it was strategic to change our name to give us greater access to the woman who needs more than a missionary focus – who needs to be mentored in biblical womanhood and grounded in the sure foundation of God’s Word. However, a name change did not change our purpose. A woman who internalizes God’s truth will grow in her love for Jesus and develop a heart that listens to God, hears His calling and willingly engages in His mission in the place He chooses for her, using the talents and abilities with which He has gifted her.
We believe that the best way we can help mission efforts to thrive is to equip and inspire women with God’s call for all His people to be on mission. If we invest in helping women set aside the “fluff” that distracts them from being fully committed to God, we are preparing them to hear His calling. If we equip them with solid Bible knowledge and an understanding of how to listen to Him and serve Him, they will be ready to go wherever He sends them. And a natural outcome of their increased commitment to Him will be a desire to pray for lost people and for those who are reaching them.
We believe that if we help women grow and change internally, the results will be much more effective than just giving them a list to pray through. Their prayers and investment will then be based on a heart that understands the challenges missionaries face, because they themselves will be passionately involved in reaching the lost in their own sphere of influence. We believe that strengthening women in their walk with Christ is the best way to assure that there will be future workers for the harvest.
So, why does Women of Grace USA exist? To equip women with a strong understanding of God’s truth, to encourage them in the disciplines of prayer and study of God’s Word, and to challenge them to respond to God’s call in their lives. Is it women’s ministry? Yes, because it is ministry to and for women. Will missions disappear? No, because Women of Grace USA is preparing women to be missionaries where they are, whether next door or around the world.
Posted in Core Values, Mentoring, Missions, Prayer, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA, Women's Missionary Council | Tagged Bible, biblical womanhood, Equipping, God's Word, Missionary, Missions, Obedience, Prayer, serve, Women of Grace USA | 1 Comment »
I began my last post by asking: Why does Women of Grace USA exist? I didn’t answer the question, so I’ll repeat it: What is the purpose of Women of Grace USA? The purpose of our forerunner organization, Women’s Missionary Council, was to promote the cause of home and foreign missions work, and to deepen the spiritual life of women through Bible study, prayer and sharing Christ with others. While WMC had goals that encouraged Bible reading, prayer and personal witnessing, it was primarily a missionary organization, focusing most of its attention on the first part of its purpose statement.
We did an excellent job of learning about missionaries and their work, praying for their needs, and giving to support them and their ministries on the mission field. But less time and energy were devoted to other essentials, including making disciples for true life transformation, mentoring according to Titus 2:3-4, and developing leaders for the next generation. Perhaps in many cases we put the cart before the horse, telling women they should be praying for missions when they had never developed a true heart for God.
We have been alarmed over the years to see that the commitment to missions seems to be dying in many areas. However, it is not because we removed missionary from our name. The causes, and they are many, represent a broad range of cultural and generational factors too numerous to list.
We have women in our churches today who don’t know what biblical womanhood is, who did not grow up in church and were not raised with godly role models, who do not have a strong foundation in God’s Word, who don’t know the basic stories of the Old and New Testaments. We have women who struggle in their marriages, their jobs and relationships; who suffer from debilitating physical or mental illnesses; who are living with the result of poor choices made earlier in life. Women who are so overwhelmed with the pressures of their lives that they readily admit they don’t know how to pray, let alone how to pray for a missionary. Do we have a responsibility to these women?
Women of Grace USA believes that we do. That is why, when the name was changed, a rewording of the original purpose statement was adopted: To encourage women to grow in their relationship with Christ and challenge them to be actively engaged in God’s mission. Spiritual growth was placed first because we believe that a strong Biblical foundation and a heart for God are essential if we want to see involvement, not just with missionaries, but in God’s mission. Our present motto, “Local Ministry, Global Impact” suggests that we must minister to the women in the local church in a way that will have worldwide results. It assumes that missions is a vital part of our organization; we have just used a different term for missions.
Posted in Core Values, Mentoring, Missions, Prayer, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA, Women's Missionary Council | Tagged biblical womanhood, Equipping, God's Word, Missionary, Missions, Prayer, Spiritual growth, Women of Grace USA | 1 Comment »
Why does Women of Grace USA exist? Recently I was challenged to re-think my response to that question after reading a comment about the fact that the word missionary is no longer in our name. A concern was expressed that missions will disappear and we will become just a women’s ministry. Are we abandoning missions for the sake of women’s ministry?
The absence of “missionary” from our name does not mean that “missions” is absent from Women of Grace USA. As one of our board members said, “Removing [missions] from our name has in no way removed it from our hearts.” For example, browse through the current issue of Women’s Spectrum and you will find articles about four Featured Missionaries, an article by a missionary/church planter (Beth Bryant), and a story about 19th-20th century missionary Amy Carmichael. Women are encouraged to contribute to special projects suggested by the Featured Missionaries. Opportunities for involvement in missions include women’s GO teams, and Honor Her Scholarships to help Grace College women go on short-term mission trips.
In the list of our Core Values, Mission is third, right behind God’s Word and Prayer. We chose Mission instead of Missions because we believe that “Women [should] be personally and cooperatively involved in fulfilling the Great Commission.” Some years ago, veteran missionary Tom Julien stated that “Missions [is] an expression of the mission of the church [the Body of Christ].” As a support and resource ministry for women in the local church, our vision is to see individual women intentionally living “on mission to share God’s love next door and around the world” – the slogan we adopted a number of years ago.
In a recent post on this blog, I referenced an article on another woman’s blog which cited several examples of women who are actively engaged in God’s mission in their own communities. While the article was about changes in women’s ministry, these women were reaching out and building relationships with spiritually needy women “next door”— in the same way that missionary women find ways to build relationships with spiritually needy women “around the world” so they can share the gospel of Christ with them. I believe both groups of women are missionaries. Is one more in need of prayer support than the other?
What do you believe is the true definition of a missionary?
Posted in Ministry, Missions, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry, Women's Spectrum | Tagged Amy Carmichael, Bible, God's Word, ministry, Missionary, Missions, Prayer, Spiritual growth, Tom Julien, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry | Leave a Comment »