November 1, 2019

Why We Need Unexceptional Women in Our Churches

This is an adapted excerpt from Unexceptional: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things Through God, a new book released by 20schemes. Please order the book through 10ofthose. Every purchase made through 10ofthose helps to support the work of 20schemes.

Not many tours of Scotland begin in the schemes. Six years ago, Tim (my husband) told me of a ministry in Scotland he thought we should visit. Even better, we could combine business and pleasure, spending the first few days visiting that ministry before heading for the Highlands together.

Scotland? I was excited about that. Spending three days in the Scottish equivalent of the projects? Not so much. I went online, watched Mez McConnell’s testimony, heard stories of poverty, addiction, and affliction, and wasn’t too happy with what Tim was getting me into.

Pleasant Surprise

We flew all night, landed in Edinburgh, and dove right into presentations and tours of Niddrie. As we sat, listened, and watched, my suspicions slowly faded in the face of what I was seeing. This was simply what church life was supposed to look like. This ministry wasn’t defined by the hardship, poverty, and addiction they were dealing with—though don’t get me wrong: it was all there—but by the discipleship that was occurring within the community.

They weren’t just preaching a sermon on Sunday; they were building a growing and thriving gospel witness in a community in desperate need of hope. Day by day, week by week, the people of Niddrie Community Church flowed in and out of each other’s lives, truly living life together as they encouraged, exhorted, admonished, and served one another.

The people of the community saw it. I saw it. These were ordinary, messy people, saved by an extraordinary God, serving broken people in need of the good news of Jesus Christ. I turned to Tim on our last night in Niddrie, asking if we could just ditch the Highlands and stay where we were. I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted to see more.

Simple and Faithful

Six years have passed, and I have watched 20schemes grow into an organisation that has 10 church plants in various communities across Scotland. God has been gracious. All those years ago, one of the things that stood out the most was the need for women’s workers in these communities. Sharon Dickens, the director of women’s ministries for 20schemes, has worked with the other leaders to build a biblical and functional women’s discipleship model. This model is now the backbone of their women’s ministry and is elegant in its simplicity—biblically faithful women are set apart to disciple, counsel, and train women in the local church. We should learn from it.

There's a lack of women’s ministry in a lot of churches. Many struggle to have a thriving women’s ministry or, worse, struggle to understand the need for one. Often a mid-week Bible study is the entire sum of the women’s ministry in a church. This book takes years of seasoned experience and shares a vision for women’s ministry that is uncomplicated and compelling.

Learn from Experience

Sharon had a dream for this book. She wants to have you sit down with eight different frontline women’s workers from various communities so you can hear and learn from their experiences. Some of their stories aren’t easy to tell or to hear, but they are stories of ordinary women who are obeying God’s calling and serving other women.

Each author starts by describing what ministry looks like in their context. From there, each woman offers insight and practical advice on how they minister to women in their communities. These women want to tell you that, whoever and wherever you are, you are a frontline worker as well. A healthy, thriving women’s ministry is possible, not just in a scheme, but in your church too.

What might that look like? This book will show you.

  • Aileen Challies
    Aileen Challies is married to Tim and they have three children. She worships and serves at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Canada.Read All by Aileen Challies ›

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