Go and Make Disciples

MARIAH CUNNINGHAM | GUEST This past summer, I piloted a children’s curriculum that focused on missions. The final lessons focused on “going.” I have had a focus on missions most of my life through serving on churches’ missions committees, studying missions as an undergrad, and working for MTW. I am all about the “going,” but while I was teaching this curriculum, I saw the “going” in a new light. There are three Scriptures that were used in the curriculum that resonated with me about Kingdom expansion and simplified my understanding of the “going.” Genesis 12:1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land I will show you.” In this passage the Lord is telling Abram to GO! Not only does He tell Abram to go, but He also tells him to leave his country, his people, his family, and all that he knows behind. This is where questioning and doubt start to come in. I am a planner and like to be organized, so this type of thinking really gets me worked up, but the last part of this Scripture is the best. It says, “I will show you.” I love this so much because it is such a powerful encouragement displaying that God is faithful, He is with us, and He will show us. We may not always see the path nor is the path always easy, but He will show us the way to go and be with us in that journey. Jonah 1:1-2 “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ’Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.’” This is another passage where God says GO! After God directs Jonah on the where, He tells him the what, “Call out against it.” God was direct with Jonah by telling him the where and the what, but it was the why that Jonah struggled with. Although he grumbled, complained, and made the journey very difficult on himself, Jonah still went and, in the end, God was glorified. I know in my own life, my attitude reflects more of Jonah than of Christ. I complain when things do not go according to my plan. I grumble when people don’t show up at the last minute and sometimes, I even ask, “what is the point?” Even through my poor, pitiful attitude God can be glorified and the more I grasp onto that concept, the more joy I will find in the journey. Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”...

Go and Make Disciples2023-10-21T15:25:19+00:00

Working Together Across Gender in the Church

HOLLY MACKLE|CONTRIBUTOR When my pastor, Bob Flayhart, asked me to help adapt his life sermon into a book, my immediate wash of excitement quickly turned to a flood of fear. In my experience, it’s hard not to dignify any relational conflicts that arise in inter-gender work with a weight they should never carry. This feels especially constraining in the body of Christ, where an often unspoken sense of higher stakes in working together betrays an underlying level of disunity in the church. As such, I imagined all the ways working alongside Bob could go terribly wrong—all the scenarios in which I could disappoint, frustrate, or annoy him. I spoke my hesitation to a friend who wisely didn’t quash it, but rather turned the tables to the what if. “What if one or all of those things do happen?” she pressed. “I don’t knoooow,” I whined. “What would I do?” Instead of looking at me like I had three eyeballs, in a level, somehow non-judgmental tone she replied with the answer whose obviousness still stuns me to this day: “You waltz.” Oh right. Got it. It seemed my wash of fear would be a good place to employ the very framework Bob asked me to help adapt from sermon into book form, which he termed the Gospel Waltz. It also happens to be the precise skill to which I am witness number one as to its transformative power. Yet how quickly I forget. I am a writer who works largely in collaborative contexts, sometimes alongside the men of our church, which means this is hardly the first time this fear has flared. And I know I’m not alone, as so many women in the church labor alongside men in ministry and service contexts. The questions of what to do if I disappoint him or annoy him aren’t unique to me, and the truth is they barely scratch the surface of the deep-seated fear. It strikes me that the real question as we seek to work together across gender is: how do we do this well? How do we honor the Lord in our projects, planning, and partnership both within the church and out into the larger world?...

Working Together Across Gender in the Church2023-11-15T22:00:50+00:00

Steadfast Hope for a New Semester of Ministry

BECKY KIERN|CONTRIBUTOR It’s that time of year again. Everywhere I look there are advertisements for kids clothing, backpacks, and notebooks. My inbox is full of email correspondences for fall teaching engagements. My social media pages are filling up with photos reminiscing about last-summer adventures. And friends are preparing to drop their kids off on the new adventure of kindergarten and college. All of this adds up to the truth that another summer is ending and a new fall semester is upon us. Some of us are entering into this new semester with excited energy. We are ready to roll out the new ministry programs we’ve developed or Bible studies we’ve prepared to teach. But some of us find this semester approaching and the best we can do right now is limp along. We are unable to fathom where we might get the energy for this new semester. We are still recovering from, or in the middle of, a painful ministry season. Paul’s words of hope to the Romans, can offer us a chance to pause and reflect upon the simple, yet profound foundational truth of the gospel message. His encouragement to the early church was to remember their peace, their relationship with God, and their steadfast hope. And his words of encouragement can offer us the same hope as we enter our ministry work in this new semester.  Romans 5:1–5: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us...

Steadfast Hope for a New Semester of Ministry2023-08-15T13:13:52+00:00

Making Prayer a Priority in Ministry

MEAGHAN MAY|CONTRIBUTOR Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Better Together: A Team Based Approach to Women’s Ministry. Get your free copy here. We live in a culture that celebrates self-reliance and ingenuity, and this pressure extends into our ministry lives. We become reliant upon instant fixes to what our hearts desire, and our dependence upon the Lord diminishes. We depend upon our own wisdom and skill to accomplish the next task. In love, God uses prayer to shape us to be patient, expectant, and others-oriented. Prayer in the Bible has a communal dimension, which reflects our interdependence. Beginning with the family of Seth in Genesis who called upon the name of the Lord, Scripture shows us that God’s people pray together. In Acts we read that the early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”[1] Prayer as a Priority When we pray with one another, we will learn things about the Lord that we did not understand on our own. As often as we are able, we should prioritize prayer in community. C.S. Lewis, in The Four Loves, points out that the angels in Isaiah 6 are crying out “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another. Each angel is communicating to the other angels the part of God’s glory that they see. As we pray and praise the Lord together, we get to know Him better and deepen our delight and dependence on Him. When we pray in community our lives and ministry agendas are pried out of our own hands and return to the One whose glory we seek. The beginning of prayer (and truly the whole thing) is all about God. “Adoration” and “Thanksgiving” are God-oriented and heal the heart of self-centeredness. Augustine taught that one of the chief benefits of prayer is that it addresses our “disordered” loves. [2] He believed that if we do not let God change these drivers inside of us through prayer, they would be “part of the problem, not agents of healing.” When God is our greatest love and deepest delight, every other aspect of our prayer life is transformed...

Making Prayer a Priority in Ministry2023-08-15T13:24:52+00:00

How Team-Based Ministry Shapes Us

JANET LAROCQUE|GUEST When you think of leadership in the church, how often do you think of team-based leadership? We often think of leadership as an individual exercise. Perhaps someone who is specially trained in leadership who runs and manages everything. Or maybe someone who is the go-getter, who gets everything done. But team-based ministry is how God created us to serve the Body of Christ. In working as a team, we not only accomplish what God has called us to, but He shapes us in the process. Teams Are My Testimony I love team-based ministry. Currently, I serve on the PCA’s National Women’s Ministry Team as Regional Advisor to the churches in mid-America. In my local church, I serve on our women’s ministry Servant Team in the area of Titus 2 discipleship. But let me back up to explain how I got here. I grew up in a liturgical, works-based denomination, fully believing I was a Christian because I had checked all the boxes. There is a beautiful story about that for another day, but around my 40th birthday the Lord decided it was time. He placed a number of people in my path and a greater number of questions in my mind. That all led me to my very first Bible study at Naperville PCA, taught by Karen Hodge, and I’ve never left. As a “made-new believer” in my 40’s I was hungry to know the Lord, devouring theology. Thankfully, the preaching and shepherding I received was solid, well-communicated, and true-to-the-Scriptures. But in my mind, I was making up for lost time and this gnostic quest to know Jesus became kind of a solo-act. At that time, my team was often just Jesus and me—the vertical without the horizontal. Enter God’s grace again, and He began moving me toward less “doing” and more “watching.” So I watched—how women at my church served together on teams—quite joyfully. And I watched—Care Teams, Prayer Teams, small group co-leader teams, teaching teams, and the women’s ministry Servant Team. Then zooming out I watched my pastor and his wife serving together, modeling was a team looks like. Next, I watched our session, a plurality of elders, leading our church—all serving together. All these teams reflect the Godhead—the ultimate team of three persons in one being, eternally serving and pouring into each other. And the best part is, we are invited into that union! As Jesus prayed in John 17: “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (vv.22-23)...

How Team-Based Ministry Shapes Us2023-08-15T13:43:52+00:00

Cultivating Community on Your Leadership Team

SHEA PATRICK|CONTRIBUTOR I’ve noticed a recurring theme in the phone calls I have received during my five years as a Regional Advisor on the PCA’s national women’s ministry team: the women’s ministry team at a particular church is unable to accomplish any of their goals because someone is trying to take over the team, or strife and conflict have caused relationships to completely break down. How can our leadership teams work together while loving and serving the church and each other well? I believe the answer is by working on the relationships between the women on the team. Even more, the relationships on our team can help our women’s ministry to support the mission and vision of the church or it can hinder these same things. We can take steps toward cultivating community on our team by doing two things: 1) remembering God’s design and 2) intentionally pursuing community...

Cultivating Community on Your Leadership Team2023-08-15T13:47:15+00:00

Using the DASA Committee Report in One Another Care

ANN MAREE GOUDZWAARD|CONTRIBUTOR Helen is a middle-aged woman in your congregation. She has two married children and one teenager who still lives at home. Helen and her husband, John, have been in and out of counseling with their pastor for at least 10 years, yet she continues to have difficulty articulating what exactly is wrong in their marriage. Because of your recognized leadership in the church, Helen comes to you for advice. What should she do? Counsel doesn’t seem to help. How should she respond when John tells her their problems are all in her head? Sometimes she just feels crazy. “Can you help me?” Helen asks. You’re not quite sure where to turn. In 2019, the PCA General Assembly commissioned a study committee to produce a report on domestic and sexual abuse for our denomination (DASA). The committee, consisting of seven teaching and ruling elders, as well as five “expert” (female) advisors, worked together for three years to compile a biblical basis and practical application for pastors and leaders in the PCA to reference as they encounter reports of abuse in the local church. In June 2022 the committee released their report. I served on this project and had the privilege of interviewing victims and listening to their stories. When the report released, victims and people helpers asked how to use it to help minister to women in crisis. My hope is to answer that question and inspire confidence to effectively help victims like Helen...

Using the DASA Committee Report in One Another Care2023-03-24T17:49:52+00:00

Tips for Planning a Women’s Ministry Retreat

CHRISTINA FOX|EDITOR People often ask me, “What do you enjoy the most: writing or speaking?” I usually respond by saying, “Both.” Writing is my first love; speaking is a surprise love. I began retreat speaking because writing and speaking go hand in hand. It’s something I’m supposed to do as a writer because it is a helpful way to promote my books. But what surprised me was how much I enjoy it. I love meeting women from across the country and learning how God is at work in their communities. It encourages my heart to see the Body thriving and laboring for the Kingdom in places far and wide. The church universal is beautiful and I love meeting her. As a speaker, I’ve attended numerous retreats over the years. As a women’s ministry coordinator, I also help plan retreats for my church. The following are some tips for those who are preparing a retreat for their own church...

Tips for Planning a Women’s Ministry Retreat2023-03-24T17:50:24+00:00

Lessons From My Garden on the Kingdom of God

STEPHANIE FORMENTI|CONTRIBUTOR We planted a garden this summer. We have three raised beds dedicated to some vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, another for herbs like basil and oregano, and one bed specifically for wildflowers. As I have watched seeds turn into flowers, and little sprouts turn into tomatoes, the Lord has taught me about work—my work and His work. Our little garden is my summer classroom for understanding work in the kingdom which led me to three parables in Matthew 13 that integrate yard work with kingdom truths. Both my hands-on time in the garden and the teachings of Jesus highlight that kingdom work involves three important aspects: weeping, waiting, and watching. Weeping: It brings me such joy each morning to walk outside and see how many new flowers have bloomed or if there are any tomatoes to harvest. But no matter how many delights my garden produces, there are always those pesky weeds. Every morning provides new gifts as well as new frustrations. The same is true for life in the kingdom of God. We know that Jesus the King already reigns and is already on the move to make all things new, but we also experience how all things are not yet under His feet. Although the kingdom has come, it is also still to come. It is already and also not yet. So, the work we do in the kingdom is work done smack dab in the middle of that tension. We push against darkness and evil and injustice and ugliness and hatred. But those things also push back against us. Kingdom work occupies that space— the space of tension...

Lessons From My Garden on the Kingdom of God2023-03-24T17:51:03+00:00

What Jesus’ Body Means for Us: Relearning How to Enjoy and Glorify God with Our Bodies

ELIZABETH TURNAGE | CONTRIBUTOR Did Jesus wear diapers? Did Jesus learn to say “Abba”? Did Jesus need to take naps? To all three, if we have a biblical theology of Jesus and the body, we must answer “yes.” Often, we focus on Jesus’ spiritual nature, but we need to reclaim an understanding of Jesus’ body as well. When we pay attention to how Jesus lived in his human body, we better understand how to live in our bodies to enjoy and glorify the Lord. Our Savior Learned and Grew The Bible teaches that Jesus learned and grew. Yes, Jesus was sinless, no doubt, but in his humanity, he had to learn; he had to grow. Luke 2:52 tells us, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (NIV). Jesus didn’t emerge from Mary’s womb potty-trained. Jesus grew from a small baby into an average-sized Hebrew male before he began his earthly ministry. Jesus had to learn how to speak Aramaic and Hebrew, how to read Isaiah, and how to write his alphabet. Just as God designed Jesus to learn and grow, he designed us to learn and grow as well. We can learn new things, like how to play the piano or how to study Scripture. We grow physically, and even when our bodies are fully grown, we can and should continue to increase in “wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man,” by living in our bodies wisely, eating and drinking and exercising and touching and playing to the glory of God.

What Jesus’ Body Means for Us: Relearning How to Enjoy and Glorify God with Our Bodies2023-03-24T18:08:09+00:00
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