One of the most exciting things about 20schemes for me is, simply, that whilst many churches in the UK are still debating the role of women in ministry we not only have several women in key roles on our team at Niddrie Community but we are strategically and actively training the next generation of women’s workers. Now that is truly exciting!
I realise that I touched on this in my last post but, taking my cue from scripture and using repetition to stress the weight of the point, I’m going to forge ahead. There are many women in our churches who are struggling with everyday issues of life without support and, sadly, there are many women in our congregation with spiritual maturity and gifts who aren’t given the opportunity to develop these gifts – going on the tea coffee rota alone just doesn’t cut it as a serious ministry opportunity (although it is a necessary and important task).
Women’s ministry is so much more than the role of the pastoral visitor or someone who runs the women’s meeting on a Tuesday afternoon. Again, these are important but not the be all and end all when it comes to the kind of comprehensive women’s ministry needed in our churches and communities.
This post is not just for those of us in full-time vocational ministry either. We have a desperate need for good, Godly, mature women in our congregations from all walks of life including married women, single women, divorcees and widows. Women of all stripes need to be speaking biblical truth and wisdom onto one another’s lives in a variety of contexts. Tragically, far too much of what passes for ministry among women is little more than tittle-tattle, gossip mongering and second-hand pop psychology stolen from Jeremy Kyle. Many women fear to speak the hard truth in love for fear of causing upset or being thought badly of. We need women with a passion for Jesus, a firm grip of solid biblical theology and doctrine who know how to speak fearlessly and boldly into the mess of modern day lives.
The Role Of Women Within 20schemes
20schemes Indigenous Trainees
Indigenous Trainees will play an integral role in our housing schemes. As local converts they will understand scheme dynamics and will serve as living testimonies. It’s a powerful apologetic to see somebody you know being transformed by the power of the gospel before your very eyes! Schemes are tight, close knit communities. Families have lived in Niddrie for over a Century! Indigenous Christians don’t have to work to open doors because they are already part of the community. What they lack is the theological and biblical knowledge that we can easily teach them!
20schemes training takes a three-pronged approach to personal and spiritual development:
1. Biblical Knowledge
2. Christian Character
3. Practical Experience
20schemes Indigenous Trainees spend a minimum of one year, and a maximum of two, training with us taking part in every aspect of church and community life. They are mentored, supported, challenged and assessed. We take the time to prepare them for the next stage of either full-time work or vocational ministry. We want to spiritual encourage growth in community and afford them opportunities to develop their gifts. For those who go on, our training becomes a lot more focused, as they continue training specifically in all aspects of women’s ministry. They can then apply for a Ministry Apprentice Role or a Female Worker Role with 20schemes. This training is more intense, focused and contextualised. Women need to be properly prepared to deal with the realities they will face from a solid, biblical perspective.
Ministry Apprentice (Youth & Children) & Female Gospel Workers
As I’ve already stated, this is an integral role to the church planting strategy – mature women who are willing to commit to move into schemes long term as part of a team.New believers need to know Gods design for them. They need to know what a biblical women looks like and how God expects her to think, behave and act. When mentoring new believers we want to have good Bible study, accountability and lots of prayer. We need to spend lots of time with new believers ‘one anothering,’ exampling maturity and being a helpful example of Godly living. In Christian circles we are used to set formats of once a week Bible study and prayer but that’s simply not enough (I want to say on schemes here but, in truth, I’m not convinced in any context whether once a fortnight actually enables anyone to get beyond the surface skimming of life into some real depth). If the new believer has to leave behind close friendships that are almost as tight as family bonds, friends who are in each other houses daily, texting constantly, doing life together, then in schemes we have to offer something more intimate, more involved, and more connected to everyday life than once a week mentoring session. Authentic community is key.
She will develop intentional relationships in the community, lead Bible studies, one to one relationships, train the next potential indigenous trainees, develop needed programmes or take part in existing community projects as she serves and witnesses within her community. 20schemes continues to provide training, mentoring and support so there will be someone to answer the, “What do I do when?” questions.
Is this approach to women’s ministry important? I believe it’s a necessity in every congregation and setting. In schemes, because the need is multifaceted and complex, it can be all too easy for Christians to avoid the spiritual and focus on the physical. Yet most of the women living in our poorest communities are suffering without the hope of the Gospel. They have not heard the Good News that can set them truly free from their burdens. Women on schemes need more than women parachuting in to be another worker in their life, perpetuating dependency. They need women who will do life with them everyday, its scary, its sacrificial, its heart breaking, its hard – its committed, It’s glorious, it funny, its amazing, its joyous – its worth it!
The harvest is great and the workers are few.