“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.” Zechariah 4:9-10
I’m convinced the Lord invites multiple individuals to perform similar tasks knowing when He compels ten, perhaps one will complete the work. On at least two occasions, I’ve walked into a Christian shop and found a book by another author on exact topics that existed in my jumbled notes in various journals located in the bottom of a random tote bag i.e., where calling goes to die. In those moments, I’ve stood disappointed and – if I’m honest – a bit envious hearing these words in my soul, “Well, you were never going to write it, so someone had to.” Speaking for myself, on judgement day when our works are laid bare, the gnashing of teeth will be in part due to all the wasted opportunities to fulfill our God-given ministries.
If it weren’t already challenging enough to discern the will of God and bear fruit through good works, the enemy roared in the form of a pandemic effectively shutting down the Christian’s home base of operations – the church. Being sequestered made us nuts and if you don’t believe me, I present the 2020 presidential election and subsequent social media frenzy as Exhibit A. Gloves came off and more importantly, so did the masks and what lay beneath was not pretty. So that we are clear, I am only addressing the behaviors of those standing under the umbrella of “Christian”. We should never be surprised when the world acts like the world, but I still stand amazed at unbiblical beliefs and opinions published from Bible teachers and denominational leaders whose publications have lined my own shelves.
These last two years have stretched churches and ministries to rethink our approach on everything from how to administer the sacraments to secured seating areas for the health compromised. More importantly, and I’m speaking specifically to women’s ministry now, we have been forced to ask ourselves if our reliance on video driven Bible studies is still the best course for discipleship in light of what we’ve learned about the shifting views expressed by several once-trusted writers through social media.
For the record I owe a great debt to many well-known Bible teachers who have transformed discipleship. I fell in love with fill-in-the-blank study with Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” and have never looked back. However, for all the good video driven study has done, I also submit that it has turned a generation of gifted disciplers into facilitators of another’s calling.
Why am I sharing all of this?
At my home church, through a year of praying and reading scripture together, a group of us girls agreed the time had come for the local church to reclaim women’s discipleship using the gifts of those within her walls.
Relying on the zeal of the Lord, we have just completed a 6-week study completely developed by a group of women each of whom presented her gifts to the Lord and said, “Here I am, send me.” It has been one of the most fulfilling, special times in our 16 years of ministry here because from conception to final session, there was never a question that it was all Jesus.
What did we give up?
Convenience. Slicker production. Surely a more skilled communicator (finger pointed at me).
What did we gain?
Fulfillment of our various ministries. We started the thing and because we obligated ourselves to faithfulness, we finished the thing. We locked arms and committed to seeing the task through when otherwise any single one of us would have been too overwhelmed at the enormity of the work to keep going.
We also gained accountability. All the material was reviewed by our beloved pastor who I’m also privileged to call husband. No more worries about shifting doctrine by those we do not know and who are not under authority to maintain biblical teaching.
More than anything we gained connection after two long years of missing the companionship of other women. Enrollment and retention were higher than any other study we’ve hosted with all credit given to the Lord who is moving in our midst to heal the hurting and restore community after spending way too much time alone.
I share this as my way of rejoicing for all the Lord has done. Like the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand when he began the early work of building the temple, these days feel like something very small and yet very sacred. Like the beginning of how things should have always been and just a glimpse of what they will become. I look forward to sharing more about the process and am happy to share details with anyone praying about a similar approach for women’s discipleship.
To my sisters and study partners, words don’t hold enough weight for the love I have for you. You’ve fulfilled your ministries and encouraged me to fulfill mine. I’m privileged to call you both friends and co-laborers in the Gospel.