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Women's ministry has mulitple meanings. For the purpose of this article women's ministry refers to meeting the needs of women in the Christian church.
Women’s Ministry is a growing field which centers on meeting the spiritual needs of Christian women and helping them to grow in their faith in Jesus Christ. The word ministry comes from the Greek word 'diakoneo' literally meaning “to serve.” Women’s Ministry exists to serve women and to teach women how to minister to others. It is action based and focuses on living a Godly life with guidance from the Bible.
The commonality of having a women’s minister in Christian churches has increased over the past few decades. A women’s minister is an individual, often a volunteer from the congregation or a church staff member, responsible for coordinating and leading events specifically for women. Some of their tasks might include hosting Bible studies, retreats, service projects or gathering events. Their primary goal is to assemble the women of the church to share time growing in their spiritual knowledge and love of God.
Women’s ministry dates back to Biblical times where strong women, such as Sarah, Deborah, Ruth, Mary, and Martha, had a strong influence on the development of the early church. A prominent scripture which Christians use as a Bibilcal presidence as to the purpose of women's ministry is Titus 2:3-5. Women’s ministry took root in that aspect of scripture and has grown to feed women spiritually all over the world.
One of the first women’s groups to emerge as an organized force for women’s ministry is the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). WMU was founded in 1888 as an ancillary branch to the Southern Baptist Convention. The primary purpose of the organization is to educate and inspire women in the mission of God and to connect women with outreach opportunities.
In more recent times, the need for a more prominent authority from women in the Christian church has emerged due to the increasing number of women attending church. Research done in 2000 from Barna Research Group shows that women are the driving force in church attendance, as 9 out of 10 women in the United States classify themselves as Christian. The research proves that 69% of women are looking for a deep spiritual connection, a connection they look to find in the Bible, small group meetings, and time with mentors. This level of involvement demands organization; women’s ministry groups provide that outlet.
The response to the demand for women’s ministry groups can be seen in many Christian denominations. Protestants were among the first to start such formal organizations in the mid-20th century. The Assembles of God began Women’s Missionary Council in 1925 for women to support and encourage each others’ prayer life. Southern Baptists added women’s ministry in the 1970’s which developed into Women’s Enrichment Ministry in 1993. It is presently referred to as LifeWay Women. Similarly, United Methodist started the Evangelical Coalition for United Methodist Women (ECUMW) in 1989. It currently exists as RENEW Network and is an evangelical women’s network with the purpose of addressing women’s issues within the United Methodist Church. Those serve as examples from the many women’s ministries available.
The growth of Women’s Ministry is the result of a growing number of resources available to leaders. Influxes of books, websites, and educational opportunities have been developed to cultivate women’s ministry. One such establishment, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was opened in 1917 and has since become a prevalent source for women’s ministry training, as they offer specialty degree programs in women’s ministry. Similarly, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, founded in 1908, offers women's programs to educate and inspire.  Another source that serves as an interactive website for women’s ministers is WomensMinistry.net. The site provides a vast array of resources such as event ideas, leadership tips, and Bible studies. The resources are coupled with a forum for prominent leaders to act as guides and answer questions for other women’s ministers.
Jennifer Rothschild, founder Jennfier Rothschild Ministries & womensministry.net
Beth Moore, Founder of Living Proof Ministries
Jill Briscoe, Co-founder of Telling the Truth
Dr. Rhonda Kelley, Professor of Women’s Ministry
Chris Adams, Women's Ministry Specialist
Arlene Allen, National Director of Women's Ministry Unlimited
- ↑ "What Is Christian Ministry?" Got Questions.org 2002-2009 14 March 2009 http://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-ministry.html
- ↑ Dr. Rhonda H. Kelley, Chris Adams 2009 "Women’s Enrichment Ministry"
- ↑ "WMU History" 1998-2009 http://www.wmu.com/
- ↑ The Barna Group 6 March 2000 "Women Are the Backbone of the Christian Congregations in America" http://barna.org
- ↑ Womens Ministries Unlimited 2000-2006 http://womensministriesunlimited.ag.org/aboutus/our_history.cfm
- ↑ RENEW http://www.renewnetwork.org/history.asp
- ↑ New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 2004-2008 http://www.nobts.edu/
- ↑ Southwestern Women's Programs http://www.swbts.edu/womensprograms
- ↑ 1998-2008 http://www.WomenMinistry.net