Women in the Local Church: Serving Well

“Working with children is not my gifting” she said, as the younger woman ushered her kids through the door of the preschool area. Yet, the message on the board signaling volunteers help is needed in the nursery had become a routine occurrence. It’s no secret that 20% of the church does 80% of the work. If women are 50% of those who attend Sunday mornings and only 10% of us are serving in the most needed areas, could it be that we are not serving well? If you enjoy working with children, in most churches it’s a given that you could plug in. Young children are an intrinsic part of a vibrant church. However, serving the local church extends beyond the nursery.

For many women, serving in the local church gives such reward that there isn’t a question of whether it is necessary to serve. But whether it be from shyness, busyness, feelings of inadequacy, or a whole host of other reasons, some women might not be as quick to jump in. To answer whether it is necessary for women to serve in the local church, we need to consider what the Scriptures teach concerning those in the body of Christ. We are called in 1 Corinthians 12:12-20 to be one of the members of the body, and if we are disciples of Jesus, we are to serve like him.

And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mk 9:35.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Co 12:12–20.

God has equipped each woman with a particular personality so that she might be able to participate in kingdom work. We all have different abilities, talents, and gifts, but all of them are equally important. Serving effectively usually comes down to the amount of time you can commit and where your interests lie. If you are a seasoned church member, don’t wait to be asked to serve. Pray first, knowing there are plenty of ways to serve your church. Then ask church leaders about how they think you could best help your church. It’s important to note that serving the local church is not reserved for the experts.

If you have a love for babies, talk to the person over the church nursery. Go rock those babies! Do you have interest in teaching? Talk to your children’s or youth pastor. From my own experience, I believe the best way for a woman to learn is leading preschool or school age children in Sunday School where she is studying the Bible on a weekly basis. Remember, volunteers don’t have to be theologians, and most churches use printed curriculum that will guide you through a topic or passage of scripture. The discipline of your preparation to teach can deepen your own faith and knowledge of the Bible. Do you love to sing? Do you play an instrument? If so, talk to your worship leader. Do you enjoy meeting new people? Ask about the possibility of serving at a welcome desk or as a greeter.

Perhaps your stage in life doesn’t seem to allow for serving weekly. Youth activities and Vacation Bible School are great opportunities to volunteer with the younger members of your church. If you prefer, consider asking someone in your church office how you might help from home. Sometimes, keeping fellow members connected to their church community is as simple as a phone call. The lost art of mailing “thinking of you” cards could be a good practice to revive and can mean much to those members who are physically unable to attend worship.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Eph 2:10.

For the woman concerned about spiritual gifts, she should consider that spiritual gifts are given to the believer for building up the body of Christ. They are not for the individual. Unsure of your spiritual gift(s)? Don’t let that discourage you from serving. Furthermore, I believe we should consider the scores of any spiritual gifts survey with caution: Remember, this is a man made tool. But if a woman has no idea of where to begin and she is given many options to serve, the survey would give her some idea of where she might consider. In my humble opinion, the best way for a woman to know her spiritual gifting is to find where her church needs help and to give her best in serving there for a good six months. She might find a new love stemming out of her obedience to Christ and his church within this timeframe. And in that service, she might very well discover her spiritual gift.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;  and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Co 12:4–7. 

When serving in the local church we need to be careful that we have the right reasons in mind while serving. Are you looking to biblical standards for serving in the church? Are you putting the needs of others before yourself? Are you serving as an act of service to others in a way to worship and glorify God? Endless service from a wrong heart will do no good but when we serve out of love, God is glorified. Serving well in the local church always requires the right heart posture.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. 

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 12:3–8.

We tend to exalt what happens on the mission field, and while that work certainly deserves our attention, our local church is where the vast majority of us are called to serve regularly and faithfully. What better mission is there to serve than the local church? The health of our local churches rests on the obedience of both men and women to serve well for the glory of God.

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