The Many Ministries of Godly Women

Article by

Guest Contributor

There are no women in the mosque down the street from us. When the call to prayer sounds before dawn, some women might kneel on their bedroom floors to do the ritual prayers, but they don’t go to the mosque to hear the mullah. They don’t worship alongside the men. If they go to a mosque at all, they enter a separate room where they cannot be seen.

Years ago, my husband and I visited a mosque school for religious leaders in Turkey. Through translators, we asked for a description of the Muslim conception of paradise. A graduate student told us it’s a beautiful place with a river flowing with wine, where men will be accompanied by 72 virgins with big, beautiful eyes. When I asked what women get, the student said, “They get to serve their husbands.” So, if Islam were true, and if I were a good Muslim, I would get to serve my husband alongside 72 young virgins for eternity. Allah is not a god who looks favorably upon women.

How different is the true God! Men and women were both created in his image, first man and then woman, with complementary bodies and roles (Genesis 1:26–27). (Islam does not teach that humans are created in God’s image.) God commissioned both men and women to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it,” exercising dominion over the earth as his representatives (Genesis 1:28).

When that image was tarnished through the fall, God sent his Son, Jesus, to restore the glory of God’s image in the world. Jesus died for the sins of Adam and Eve and all their offspring who would believe. Then, after rising from the dead, Jesus recommissioned his followers, this time to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). This is the mission of the church. Men and women who trust in Jesus participate in this mission together, filling the earth “with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).

Faithful Sisters in Many Seasons

As in the family, men and women have different roles in the church, but together we bear the image of Christ and display his glory to the world. We worship together. We pray together. We sing together. We listen to sermons together. And we speak the word to one another, male and female, knowing we are co-heirs “of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7).

As women, we don’t subvert God’s created order by preaching or having authority over men, but we are fellow saints and full participants in the household of God. Christ has given “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–12). The saints, male and female, do the work of ministry. And there is much ministry to do!

So, what might it look like for women to serve the church, and how might that ministry look different in the different seasons of our lives?

Single Women

Ann is a university student. She sits up front in church and brings other students with her. She’s busy with her studies during the week, so she makes it a point to spend Sundays with her church family. She and the other students fill the church with life and encourage others to share the gospel with the non-Christians they bring. In addition to writing for the school newspaper and heading up the campus pro-life club, Ann also serves in the church nursery once a month.

“The saints, male and female, do the work of ministry. And there is much ministry to do!”

Beth lives with a family from church. She cooks dinner for them once a week and regularly spends time with the teenage girls, walking the dog or baking something tasty. She also plays games with the youngest, a boy. She’s always ready to lend a helping hand when the church asks, she babysits children of the staff, and she doesn’t hesitate to meet with a pastor when she has a theological question.

Claire is an older single woman who runs the children’s ministry in her church and writes curriculum. She always has a baby on her hip and leads a small-group Bible study for preteens. She loves cooking big, healthy meals for families or groups of singles who come over to her apartment.

All three of these women are capitalizing on their singleness, investing time and energy into loving their neighbors and serving God’s people.

Married Women

Deb is a newlywed who just joined her church. She gathers with the saints at every opportunity, including Sunday school, Bible study, and a small group. She’s good at administration, so she’s organizing housing and transportation for the women’s retreat.

Erin is a mother of young children. She realizes the preciousness of these years, so she cuddles and talks to her infant, and she reads and plays with her toddlers. She has a small group of moms over to her house (with their toddlers) to study a book of the Bible. They discuss a few verses between interruptions over stolen toys or spilled Cheerios. Erin feels like she misses church too much (with all those little runny noses and coughs), but even when she misses, she makes sure to listen to the sermon online (often while nursing), prays for other members using the directory, and is in God’s word daily herself.

Fran homeschools, working hard to support her children. She has an open-door policy for younger women in need of advice. They watch her discipline her children and interact with her husband; they ask her questions about fighting sin. Often, these conversations happen on a walk with the dog or in the kitchen while she’s cooking a meal, but she also sets aside time for a book discussion with two women each week. She hosts out-of-town guests and a small group to support the ministry of her husband, an elder of the church.

Grace is a part-time accountant and the mother of four children in school. She shares the gospel with other school moms and uses her administrative gifts to help in the church office. Her friend Helen cried on her shoulder as she finally gave in to her unfaithful husband’s demand for a divorce. Grace counseled her through financial trouble and helped her in many other ways. She and her family enveloped Helen and her young children.

Iris is an empty nester. She came from a prosperity-gospel background, but the word of God penetrated her heart. She came to women’s Bible study, became a small-group leader, and then started teaching other women expositionally. But the extraordinary thing about her is her intentional hospitality and discipling. Instead of using her extra time for herself, she and her husband invited several women to live with them. A group of young women seem to hang on every wise word that comes from her mouth.

These married women are running full tilt for Christ and his church. But their ministries aren’t cookie-cutter. They’re suited to each woman’s life situation and gifts.


Jane lost her husband several years ago. She devotes her mornings to extended times of reading her Bible and praying. (She’s been in the word daily for decades. Imagine the wisdom that’s accumulated.) She has one prayer list of friends’ children who are struggling and another for missionaries and unreached people groups. She is always excited to see how God answers her prayers. She sends texts and makes phone calls to encourage those for whom she’s praying. She loves to show hospitality, often having her small group over or hosting baby or wedding showers. But it’s not just what she does for the church. As church members care for her with rides and finances, they are blessed, encouraged that they can help a dear sister in need.

I wonder how many people have been converted under the preaching of men who are being prayed for daily by widows.

Ordinary, Extraordinary Women

In the “women only” room set off to the side of the mosque, women can pray without distracting the men who meet in the more ornate central room. Not so in the church of Christ. Here, women aren’t sequestered behind closed doors. We are full partners with our brothers in the work of ministry.

The singles, wives, and widow described above are ordinary, extraordinary women, intentionally using their time to build up the church. We can be so busy with life: studies, work, husbands, children. We were created to glorify God as we steward these things, but we were also created for more. The eternal purpose of God, realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, is to create the church (Ephesians 3:10–11).

There is much work to do, and every hand is needed in every season of life. Prayer, evangelism, administration, mercy ministries, counseling, giving, discipling, nurturing, Bible studies, teaching women and children, writing, advocacy, hospitality. These are only some of the ministries we women can enjoy.

As Paul says, “We are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). What good works does God have for you to do, sister? You might ask yourself these questions:

  • For which ministries am I equipped?
  • What does my heart desire?
  • What needs does my church have?

Whatever your ministry looks like, giving yourself to ministry in the church will bring you satisfaction and fulfillment. It’s what you were created for. Walk in it.