Originally published September 1, 2017
I recently heard someone remark that, among complementarian Christians, there’s a lot of emphasis on the things women can’t do, biblically, when it comes to ministry, but not much has been written about how women can serve in ministry without violating Scripture.
There are some valid reasons for that.
First, the false teaching of egalitarianism (women can hold any position in ministry that men can hold) is running rampant through the church, even infecting traditionally conservative churches and denominations. It is imperative that Christian men and women who have a biblical understanding of the role of women in the church continue to teach loudly, boldly, and relentlessly against this doctrinal error.
Next, there are so many ways women can serve the body of Christ without violating Scripture that it would be impossible to list all of them. The prohibitions placed on women in ministry are comparatively infinitesimal and, therefore, faster and simpler to dispense with. In other words, it’s quicker and easier to say, “Women can serve in literally any scriptural position or function of ministry in the Body as long as they’re not instructing men in the Scriptures or holding authority over them,” than it is to list every particular ministry women can participate in without transgressing God’s word.
But sometimes our brains get stuck and we need some specific, real world examples to oil the gears and get our own thought processes moving. Especially when we hit that mental roadblock of “Ministry equals only preaching, teaching, and leadership positions. Period.” That’s not all ministry is. In fact, it’s only a tiny part of ministry. God uniquely gifts His people in a variety of ways for a variety of services. And Scripture is very clear that all members of the Body are essential regardless of the role God has called us to. Jesus was the best preacher, teacher, and leader of all eternity, and yet the pinnacle of His ministry was not a sermon, a Bible lesson, or position of leadership. The most important act of ministry Jesus ever performed was to humble Himself and to give His life for sinners. Let’s make sure we think about ministry the way Jesus thought about ministry:
…whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43b-45
Keeping that in mind, here are just a few of the ways women can freely serve God, their churches, and their neighbors without violating Scripture:
1. Pray for your church, your pastor and staff, your teachers and elders
2. Teach a women’s Bible study or Sunday School class. (Remember, teaching isn’t the only avenue of ministry, but it is one of them.)
3. Teach a children’s Sunday School or Bible class.
4. Play an instrument in your church’s music ministry.
5. Sing in the choir or on the praise team.
6. Direct a children’s choir.
7. Run the Power Point for song lyrics during the worship service
8. Learn how to run your sanctuary’s sound system and board
9. Help set up and put away chairs for services or classes
10. Be the hero who gets to church early and has the coffee ready when people arrive
11. Serve as a greeter
12. Serve on the security or parking lot duty team
13. Serve in the nursery
14. Volunteer to help out in the church office
15. Serve as a chaperone for a youth trip, fellowship, or other activity
16. Open your home to traveling pastors or missionaries who need a place to stay
17. Volunteer your home for the next church fellowship
18. Organize a potluck dinner for your church or Sunday School class
19. Take some treats up to the church office during the week to encourage the staff
20. Serve in Vacation Bible School
21. Offer to help your pastor vet new Bible study and Sunday School curricula for doctrinal soundness
22. Go on and/or help organize a short term mission trip
23. Organize meals for a new mom or a church member who’s ill
24. Help clean the church kitchen after an activity or event
25. Visit hospitalized church members
26. Visit church members who are shut-ins or in nursing homes
27. Pick up someone who needs a ride to and from church
28. Nursing home residents often have no way to attend church. Organize a way for your church to take church to the nursing home.
29. Many people have difficulty attending church because they’re caretakers for an ill or disabled loved one. Set up a rotation of church members to be sitters so the caretaker can come to church.
30. Mow the church’s grass
31. Serve on a committee
32. Volunteer your IT expertise for the church’s computer system
33. Open your home to a college student who needs a place to live
34. Open your home to a woman in a crisis pregnancy who has nowhere else to go
35. Teach cooking, homemaking, or parenting skills to the younger women of your church.
36. Start an after school tutoring program at your church where kids get help with their homework and hear the gospel.
37. Volunteer at a Christian crisis pregnancy center
38. Organize and serve at a church work day (cleaning, painting, facility maintenance)
39. Donate money, gift cards, gas cards, or hotel vouchers to your church’s benevolence fund
40. Get trained in disaster relief and serve the physical and spiritual needs of those impacted by natural disasters
41. Serve in your church’s food pantry
42. Serve in your church’s clothes closet
43. Help organize fundraisers for missions, youth camp, disaster relief, church needs, etc.
44. If your church decorates the grounds for Christmas or other special events, lend a hand
45. Start a backyard Bible club (Bible lesson, game/activity, snack) at a park, apartment complex, school, or other gathering place near your church
46. Start a women’s prayer group with sisters at church
47. Organize a “mechanic ministry” – church members who can fix and maintain the cars of your church’s widows and single moms
48. Organize a “honey-do ministry” – same idea but for repair jobs around the house
49. Disciple a younger woman one on one
50. Invite new church members over for dinner
51. Be your Sunday School class’ secretary or fellowship organizer
52. Take food baskets to church members who are in need
53. Do baptistry duty (help those being baptized with robes, towels, etc.)
54. Set up a sewing or craft ministry, making items for the elderly, disabled, newborns, the homeless, or missions. This idea is one of my favorites (don’t forget to include the gospel, verbally or in print, with your ministry project items).
55. If your church is in a high traffic area, stand out front on hot days and hand out bottled water and tracts to passers by (be safety conscious). You can also put a sticker or label on the bottle with your church’s info or a web site that gives a gospel presentation.
56. Sit and talk – but mostly listen – to the elderly people in your church. You’ll minister to them, and they’ll minister to you.
57. Serve on your church’s wedding, funeral, or special event team
58. Volunteer to care for small children of wedding or funeral attendees in your church’s nursery during the event
59. Work in your church library, or set one up
60. Organize a Parents’ Night Out so church members with young children can have a couples’ night without the expense of a babysitter
61. Babysit your pastor’s children so he and his wife can have a date night
62. Clergy appreciation month is October. Organize gifts or other demonstrations of appreciation for your pastor, minister of music, associate pastor, youth director, etc. (Make sure none of your ministers are inadvertently overlooked.)
63. Teach an ESL (English as a Second Language) class to minister to church members and others who are learning English.
64. Write letters and e-mails of encouragement to the missionaries your church supports (send care packages too!)
65. Send texts of encouragement to your Sunday School class members
66. Start a birthday card ministry. Pray for each church member as you send out his or her card. In a year, you will have prayed individually for every member of your church.
67. If you’re a health care professional, volunteer to provide basic health or dental screenings to church members in need.
68. Minister to battered women at your local shelter by listening, sharing the gospel, and caring for their material needs.
69. Instead of Toys for Tots, organize a “Bibles for Tots” drive for Christmas. Give young readers Bibles to children at local schools, the mall, or a community event as a Christmas gift from your church.
70. Research and write a book about the history of your church.
71. Help set up for the Lord’s Supper
72. Do laundry duty. Take home towels and robes after baptisms, table cloths after church dinners, costumes after the choir’s musical, etc., launder them, fold them and return them to the church.
73. Go to the grocery store and run other errands for church members unable to do these things for themselves.
74. Run your church’s web site or admin your church’s social media accounts
75. Organize an abortion clinic sidewalk ministry team from your church
As I said, there are so many ways women can biblically participate in ministering to others that there’s no way to even think of all the possibilities. But I’d love to add more ideas to this list.
That’s where you come in!
What are some ways you, women at your church, or women you know at other churches minister to others without teaching or preaching to men and without holding authority over men in the gathered body of Believers? Leave a comment and let’s see how many more ways women can minister biblically!