CTK women recently attended “Word-filled Women” training, hosted by the Gospel Coalition at the Chinese Evangelical Church of Boston. The aim of the conference was to encourage and support the growth of Word-based ministry among women in and through the local church, under the leadership of pastors and elders.
The two-day workshop was the first of its kind offered in the Boston area, and according to the website, “was open to all women currently engaged, or interested in Word-filled ministry—that is ministry grounded in the Scriptures, growing in the context of God’s people, and aiming for the glory of Christ.”
Women from many backgrounds—paid or unpaid ministry, including those in children’s, youth, and mercy ministry were there, but also professionals and stay-at-home moms—the goal was to draw “a diverse collection of women who desired to grow in their ability to handle the scriptures and disciple others using scripture. No previous ministry experience was needed.”
Teachers Kathleen Nielson and Mary Willson led sessions on a biblical approach to women’s ministry and discipleship and also walked the women through Biblical exposition, focusing on the book of Colossians.
All ten of the CTK women who attended thoroughly enjoyed the teaching and were eager to promote it among the women in their congregation. I asked them a few questions, and Kelly Sawyer, Kate Ortiz, Jane Park, T Downs, and Cat Sherrill shared some of the highlights:
What was encouraging to you about the conference?
Kate: It was encouraging to see women being trained in such an intentional and serious manner. We hear about women and men being equal ministers in the gospel but training for women in teaching scripture is often left wanting. Personally, it was good to be challenged to concentrate on and work through a specific passage of scripture and then hear other women’s insights and comments.
Throughout the conference several of us from CTK spoke about how we felt challenged to bring this style of study to the women in our congregations. Few of us felt as though we were attending for solely personal reasons. Several of us had stories of women in our congregations coming to us with the desire for more serious bible study. We’re hoping this serves as a catalyst to start more studies in our churches.
Kelly: I think we often feel there are so many things we need to be doing and we aren’t even certain how to go about executing our long list of items or expectations. At the conference, the focus was God’s word, pointing to Jesus as the center. They also talked about the personal importance of just being in the Word. We need to be in it... reading it over and over. Commentaries and studies are fine but we need to be in the word. This happens over time and in community.
I was also challenged to think of how I study scripture. Am I reading the book as a whole and thinking how each section fits together with the greater theme of the book? This is important in teaching my kids, preparing women’s bible study and any other teaching. I love how the power is in God’s word. He has promised to show up there. We need to be studying it and seeing His plan of redemption through His Son. I was also challenged in how I interact with my relationships. Am I a woman pointing others to the word and using the word in how I encourage or admonish? Do I use scripture in my conversations?
T: I was encouraged and challenged in the same way: that I need to study the Bible more, to look and consider and work to hear the whole flow of a book, not just running to commentaries quickly. That seems more like a challenge but the encouragement was in how doing that did give me a clearer, dearer glimpse of God.
Jane: The seminar was my first time seeing women teach the Bible with so much confidence and authority. I was so encouraged that there are women who are committed to faithful exposition of Scripture and want to teach other women to do the same. There is such a need for this! It is encouraging that The Gospel Coalition even has a Women’s Initiative, led by gifted and knowledgeable women like Kathleen Nielson, Mary Wilson and Jackie Hill-Perry (our teachers at the workshop), whose desire is to grow and challenge women in studying and teaching the Word in the local church all over the country. I was also encouraged that the seminar was so well attended, pointing to the need for this type of workshop for women in Boston. Lastly, I was encouraged by the amount of support and excitement about the workshop from our pastors. Shout out to Pastor Omar and my husband Moses for inviting me and the other women to attend this workshop!
Were most of the women teachers in their congregations currently? Or interested for later on?
Kate: The leaders of the conference told us that there were women from all backgrounds attending. There were seasoned teachers and leaders as well as newer Christians who were eager to learn more. I can’t express strongly enough how the leaders communicated their intentions to equip women of all ages/stages/backgrounds. They consistently told the women that all women can be equipped to lead a study.
T: I think any woman would feel this was relevant to her, and I would definitely encourage any woman to go. Maybe the reason the leaders/organizers want women who are engaged in some kind of church work, whether that be as a deaconess or Sunday school teacher or building-cleaner, is that they want women who understand that they have been called to be part of a Body, and there is responsibility there, to God and his people, and also a need for help from those other people in their own lives. It’s not meant to be a workshop so women can go home afterwards and feel themselves wiser and more capable Bible scholars, captains of their own souls and lives.
A variety of congregations and demographics were represented at the worship. Do you think all of the women thought the seminar was relevant to their congregation and their ministries?
Kate: The content and methods are applicable to all ministries and demographics within the church. I appreciated that.
If the seminar were offered again, would you encourage other CTK women to participate?
Cat: I would definitely encourage other women to participate and to sign up early! (The seminar sold out and many others have sold out around the country.) Boston Chinese Evangelical Church hosted the event. There were 30 attendees from BCEC and 35 from the other congregations. Maybe CTK could host the seminar next time.
Kate: Also, out of the 60 or so women attending, 10+ were from CTK congregations and there were at least 5 women who couldn’t make it last minute. Those numbers were encouraging and speak to the fact that women in CTK desire this!
How do you see the seminar impacting your congregation?
Jane: Eight women from CTK Dorchester attended and we recently had a follow-up meeting to debrief and discuss what could come out of what we learned at the workshop. There has been a desire among women in our congregation for deeper study of the Word and a few of us attending this workshop is an answer to prayer! The challenge now is stepping up and starting something!
You can find out more about the Word-Filled Women workshop, including others offered around the country at https://wordfilledwomen.thegospelcoalition.org/#workshops.