If you’re thinking about how to start a women’s ministry, there are several things you’ll want to consider. Years ago, when I started a single mom ministry for the community, I had no format or any idea of what I was doing. I started it in the 90s, and we didn’t have the wealth of information we now have available to us. The Internet was fairly new; I know that’s hilarious, but it really was. As a result, I genuinely had to rely on the Lord to guide my steps and open doors for me.
This women's ministry post covers:
What I did to start ministry outside the church
My women’s ministry wasn’t marketed as such; I just marketed it as a support network for single mothers like myself.
However, I implemented elements of my Christian faith into it because it’s who I am, and there is no way you can sequester who you are from what you do.
My group primarily focused on providing monthly support. I only did one or maybe two events for the most part.
Nevertheless, I did incorporate and file the proper paperwork with my Secretary of State’s office. I also learned how to write press releases – good ones – and how to market my women’s ministry throughout my community.
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While I did have a board of directors, they pretty much let me do what I needed to do, acted as an advisory committee, and provided financial support when I needed it.
The years I ran that ministry or some of the most fulfilling of my life. It was so much part of my purpose and who I was to encourage and support women that I couldn’t see myself not doing it.
My experience as a women’s ministry leader
This experience is completely different from starting a women’s ministry from scratch that will stand independently in the community. When you start a women’s ministry outside the church, you’re really on your own. As a women’s ministry leader, I was not on my own – I had the church backing me.
Full disclosure: I am not a big fan of doing ministry this way, and I’ll tell you why later.
Still, in this blog post, I will focus on what I’ve learned through the years in hopes of answering your question of how to start a women’s ministry outside the church.
It’s also important to share and state that I am speaking from my own experience. I am not a lawyer, nor am I going to offer any legal advice. I will link resources that may be helpful to you as you make some of these decisions.
I hope this blog post will serve as a creative inspiration for you, not a list of what precisely you should do for your women’s ministry.
How to start a women’s ministry?
First, you pray. Then you way.
(You pray for direction before developing your women’s ministry outside the church.)
This is probably the most essential part of your women’s ministry planning. You’ve got to pray and allow God to lead you in this ministry project.
You do not want to throw together a women’s organization or a women’s ministry only to stop it because you’ve lost stamina or later realized it wasn’t something you were supposed to be doing in the first place.
Take the time to ask the Lord what exactly He wants you to do, and then wait.
Indeed, I recommend waiting some time for confirmation and consulting wise counsel. If you are starting your ministry as part of the church, you’ll need to know how to advocate for your ministry.
If it doesn’t come organically on its own, I ask someone for their opinion about your proposed women’s ministry. There is so much wisdom in asking for input.
My only suggestion is to make sure it is someone who is a visionary. Do not ask someone who has never created anything successfully on their own.
In doing so, you risk their own insecurity and trepidation being communicated to you.
In other words, don’t ask any spiritual scaredy-cats about starting something big and massive like a women’s ministry.
You always have to consider your source with any sort of advice, especially when you are conceiving something that has not existed before.
1. Do a Ministry Needs Assessment
A needs assessment is a great tool to collect the data or information that solidifies the need for your women’s ministry. It is sometimes a cumbersome process, but a needs assessment is immensely imperative.
Otherwise, you may find yourself creating a ministry that isn’t needed or necessary. That would be a monumental waste of time.
Imagine a woman in the Arizona desert creating a women’s ministry to distribute winter coats. That would be pretty foolish, right?
Your needs assessment will help you set priorities for what is useful to work on and when.
For example, if you survey women and discover a huge number of women struggle with morning prayer, that might make your women’s prayer ministry prioritize techniques to help women solve this problem.
So in short, a needs assessment is a process that will bring to light the information that will either validate your women’s ministry or render it unnecessary.
If you find that your needs assessment does the latter, you will tweak your women’s ministry strategy to be more fruitful and in line with what women need in your community or demographic.
Resources you can use for ideas as you are conducting a needs assessment for women’s ministry:
- “Methods for Conducting Needs Assessments” by Paul F. McCawley: https://www.extension.uidaho.edu/publishing/pdf/bul/bul0870.pdf
- I found this resource on a Kentucky government website, but I found it very informative. Use it as a research document: https://education.ky.gov/federal/progs/tid/Documents/Needs%20Assessment%20Template.pdf
- Conducting Needs Assessment Surveys from the Community Toolbox from The University of Kansas: https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/assessing-community-needs-and-resources/conducting-needs-assessment-surveys/main
|Consider||Thinking through the need|
|Understanding the Scope of |
the Current Women’s Ministry
|This is where you ask “What currently exists?” or |
Note: Even if the scope of women’s ministry is nothing more than a monthly meeting at the pastor’s wife’s house, list it.
The goal is to chronicle what “is” currently happening.
|Gathering Information to understand |
the current population of women
|What are the characteristics of the women in your target population? Are they younger or older, or age is not a factor? Are they married, single, or widowed? Do they drive, or would they prefer virtual activities? How many of them are there? Is the population increasing or decreasing? |
Note: You may have an informal women’s ministry occurring now. This doesn’t mean you don’t continue to develop the ministry, it just means you build upon what currently exists. For example, if women are gathering after choir practice every Saturday and go to coffee. That is something you can build upon.
|Compare Current Women’s Ministry Resources||What are the primary women’s ministry offerings now? A few events or nothing at all? How do women fellowship with one another? Is what is currently occurring sufficient? Is there a need for a women’s ministry? Yes or no – and how do you know?|
After you have an idea of what currently exists in the women’s church population, now you can plot out what can occur. Here is a sample you can download:
2. Narrow who is the target audience for your women’s ministry.
I’ve created a blog post that focused strongly on creating your ministry avatar or a person or thing that represents your target audience.
Still, some of the elements you want to think about as you plan and shape your women’s ministry to meet the needs of your target audience are elements like:
- Where does the target audience hang out in person and online? In other words, where can you find them? Are they in Facebook groups or on Instagram?
- How do they like to communicate? Is your target audience largely text message communicators, or would face-to-face/in-person communication work best for them?
- What is their demographic – age range, spiritual maturity level, ethnicity, hobbies, and life station? (This is particularly important if your target audience includes audiences with specific needs like, for example, young mothers who would likely need babysitting for events).
- What are their behaviors, attitudes, lifestyle preferences, and even personality types?
- What are their pain points? What problematic situation will your women’s ministry solve?
(to learn about your target audience)
- Physically go where they are. If you have a women’s group at your church, be sure to attend those meetings and see what concerns the women express they have.
- Virtually go where they are. there are so many Facebook groups and other communities online that you should have no problem finding Christian women to communicate with.
Find Facebook groups that specifically target the women you hope to serve.
As a pastor’s wife, I am part of a Facebook group for pastors’ wives. I also created one myself. Anyway, a month doesn’t go by without someone posting about the struggles of being married to a pastor. This information gives me insight into the resources I want to offer on my blog for pastors’ wives. Join as many groups as you can and just be there to be a support and a blessing to others. You’ll find that you’ll gain lots of information if you keep your eyes peeled. Also, you can search through old Facebook posts and get some rich data to learn about your target audience.
- Follow your competitors. The term “competitors” gets such a bad rap. But I couldn’t think of another way to state it. Essentially, follow ministries like the one you want to create. Not to steal anything from them but to get a pulse on what people are responding to and confirm what they need. For illustration, if you follow a blog for young Christian mothers, the comments will give you great insight into what young Christian mothers are struggling with.
Resources for networking like a pro on behalf of your women’s ministry!
- Read an article I found called “11 Tips to Help You Network Better”: https://www.kangan.edu.au/students/blog/successful-networking-tips
- Caroline Castrillon with Forbes.com says we need to network differently. See why here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecastrillon/2019/03/10/why-women-need-to-network-differently-than-men-to-get-ahead/?sh=d26e71eb0a17
- “Networking: The Most Important Thing Women Should Do for Their Careers — But Aren’t” is an article directed toward entrepreneurship, but I think the resources are useful for anyone starting women’s ministry outside the church. Click here to view the article: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/332039
3. Womens Ministry Inside Chruch vs. Womens Ministry Outside Church
Let’s talk about the difference between stand-alone women’s ministries and church-based ones.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Each one presents its own set of challenges. Let’s explore them.
Here are the pros and cons of starting a women’s ministry outside the church.
Pros of women’s ministry outside the church:
You don’t have to navigate church politics.
You can do what you want to do – you are the leader.
The ministry will be your vision completely as god gave it to you.
Cons of starting a women’s ministry outside the church:
You will be on your own without much support.
You will have to find venues and maybe pay to use them.
You will have no tech support or printing help.
4. Think Critically About Your Ministry
Define the scope and purpose of your women’s ministry outside the church
Clarify exactly what your women’s ministry will do. I spoke of some of these items above. But they are worth repeating.
What need is it fulfilling?
Is it an event-based ministry?
Will it require a physical space, or can it be run from your home?
As you’re creating your women’s ministry outside the church, again, be clear on what problem you are solving. What are the strengths of your ministry?
What are you good at? How does that relate to the problems you’re solving?
For instance, I am a facilitator or trainer. I’ve been a corporate and training consultant for years.
This means when I speak to groups of women as part of women’s ministry, it comes very easy for me to facilitate discussions and create learning activities.
I’m very good at getting women to talk to one another and learn from one another.
That is a strength that I bring to my women’s ministry. What strength do you bring? Maximize it and build it into your women’s ministry.
Will your ministry be an ongoing programmatic ministry, or will it be event-based? An event-based ministry means you have women’s conferences or women’s events from time to time. It is an episodic effort.
5. Is it a Program or a Quick-Fix?
As you are planning a women’s ministry from scratch, think about how you plan to begin ministering to women now and how you want to scale for the future.
Alternatively, is your ministry a program meeting a pressing need? Do you have a women’s shelter that will train women to be better parents or to get a job? This would be an example of a program in women’s ministry.
For example, ITW Ministries Online is a teaching nonprofit organization that provides ongoing written resources to help individuals grow in the Lord.
However, they also have annual events where you can physically walk into an event and learn or network.
This is a perfect example of an event-based ministry that is also a programmatic ministry combined.
Another consideration is how your ministry will be housed. Will it require a designated space like a rented office or an office in your local church?
I have always had women’s ministries that I could run from my home. However, you could start a ministry requiring a reading library and a place for women congregating. Such a ministry would likely need its own space.
6. Shape The Ministry Committee
Define leadership as you develop a women’s ministry
Create a governing body for your women’s ministry, even if it is simply one or two advisors. I highly recommend you have someone to keep you accountable and support you.
This is especially true if money will ever be involved in your women’s ministry.
Your governing body could be a formal board of directors meeting quarterly or monthly.
If you opt for a board of directors, make sure you create a description of what you expect from them, how often they will meet, and whether or not you will require them to support the ministry financially. It’s also a good idea to create job descriptions for an Executive Committee consisting of board members.
Sometimes, boards are super large or spread out across the United States. In this case, an executive committee should be created to handle the more micro-decisions.
Based on my experience, some sample positions for an executive committee include:
- Chair or Board President
- Board Secretary
Sometimes I have seen the executive committee have a marketing and fundraising chair, but I never did.
Resources for Women’s Ministry Board of Directors:
“6 Things to look for When Picking Your Company’s Board Members”: https://www.inc.com/patrick-henry/6-things-to-look-for-when-selecting-your-companys-.html
“How to Choose a Board of Directors for a Nonprofit Organization” View article: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/choose-board-directors-nonprofit-organization-911.html
“5 Criteria for Choosing Your Board” by Forbes.com: https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2018/07/05/5-criteria-for-choosing-your-board/?sh=7bcbe47f2f20
7. Consider Having an Advisory Board
Women’s Ministry Advisory Committee
Another governing body option is an advisory committee that meets with you occasionally to keep you on track and provide resources, advice, or even support.
How you choose to organize it and your board of directors largely depends on whether or not you will legally incorporate it as a women’s ministry.
Incorporation is a legal process, and I am not qualified to advise you here. I will say incorporation may provide you some protection for both you and your board of directors.
Following are some resources and links to help you make the proper decision. However, I do think it’s a good idea to speak with a legal professional.
Identify key stakeholders for your women’s ministry. Stakeholders or anyone who has a stake in the success of your ministry.
For women, that could involve churches, faith-based women’s organizations, children’s organizations, and women who would be potential benefactors of your women’s ministry.
Begin to build a rapport with the stakeholders for future support and collaboration.
Who knows, the Christian preschool in your community could be an amazing partner. They could promote your women’s ministry to the moms they serve or even provide practical resources such as a meeting place. Start networking.
How to start a women’s ministry outside the church #1: Draft planning documentation
Some of the work your board of directors will do includes strategic planning. This involves making critical and far-reaching decisions on behalf of the women’s ministry. It also typically involves making decisions to ensure the ministry is successful over time.
Think of it as a document that will who your organization is, what it does, and what it hopes to accomplish.
I found this page and must share it because has so many resources for writing your strategic plan. Adapt it for your women’s ministry. I love this resource! Click to see it: https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/strategic-planning-nonprofits
How to start a women’s ministry outside the church #2: Outline the Ministry goals
Very often, women’s ministry goals are a starting point, and strategic planning is developed later.
Nevertheless, I am partial to starting with a vision statement.
The vision statement garners some degree of excitement and energy that might fuel the rest of the planning process. You can click here to see my take on writing a vision statement.
Ministry goals are an important part of starting your women’s ministry outside the church. People are going to be wary of your intent and who you are because you don’t have a church “brand” backing you up. That’s OK, and you can still be successful. You’ll just have to earn trust; having a clear, concise set of goals will help you.
Your women’s ministry goals will direct everything from the activities you engage in to your fundraising efforts. These goals tend to be broad and comprise what you worked for and toward over the long term.
For example, your ministry goal might be to host three events within two years. That’s a measurable goal and could give place to the objectives to make it happen.
Your goals should be attainable and realistic. This is one of the reasons a board of directors is very helpful. They can honestly give you feedback on what is possible and what is just a dream or a waste of time.
Starting a women’s ministry outside the church #3: Write the women’s ministry goals and objectives
Goals and objectives work beautifully together.
If your goal is to host three events in two years, your first objective would be to define the type of event you want to host, plan potential dates, identify venues, delegate a leader for each event, etc. Each goal will have several objectives to ensure that it happens.
Think of the objectives as the “steps” needed to meet the goal.
It’s a good idea to regularly report how you are progressing toward accomplishing your women’s ministry goals to your board and stakeholders.
This accountability will keep you on track and provide you with resources and support should you need them.
Properly managing your women’s ministry resources is critical. This is especially true if you decide to make your women’s ministry a legal nonprofit organization like what I did.
Managing finances can be a challenge for any women’s ministry.
In other blog posts, I’ve stated that it’s a good idea to partner with your local church for accountability and financial resource support.
For example, someone at that church likely manages the money there and could help you with handling registration fees and other financial structures.
Let me tell you, when I led the women’s ministry at my church, I could not have imagined conducting women’s ministry without the financial undergirding of my church.
Our financial secretary already had many of the structures in place I needed to organize the incoming funds. It was so nice not to have to recreate the wheel. Since you’re likely branching our on your own, ask around for a trustworthy person who could donate their time to help you. You never know until you ask.
If you are starting your women’s ministry from scratch and will be a stand-alone women’s ministry, I recommend hiring An accountant or bookkeeper to help you stay compliant. Watch your books closely and make sure every penny goes where it needs to go.
Keeping good records will be critical to your women’s ministry. Several online software packages could help you. I used QuickBooks by Intuit. It was an absolute lifesaver.
They offer a 30-day free trial as I write this blog post. But their simple start program is $25 each month. If you’re reading this long after I’ve published, certainly, things could have changed.
Unless it’s absolutely necessary, I would avoid handling money in my women’s ministry. Aside from registration fees, I wouldn’t bother with it at all.
You’re undergoing a process to create a women’s ministry outside the church. You have enough to think about, in my humble opinion. Get someone reliable to help with money.
Of course, that’s up to you and if you do use money, make sure you have the proper systems and supports to ensure success.
How to start a women’s ministry outside the church # 4: Establish a Ministry Budget
I know I sound like a broken record, but if you are handling money, you want to make sure you manage it responsibly. This means you will definitely need a budget for your women’s ministry.
You’ll want to consider things like operating expenses, food for meetings, postage, printing, office supplies, and web hosting costs.
Women’s Ministry Leader, I don’t have to tell you what a budget does. It basically will help you know how you’re spending your money and ensure that you have enough money to do your women’s ministry activities.
Without a budget, you’re in the dark. Create a soft budget so that you know what you will spend. Even with my small women’s ministry back in the day, I had a line item for the contingency planning period this was in case something unexpected happened, like I had to pay rental costs for a place to meet or something. A failure to plan is a plan to fail.
How to start a women’s ministry outside the church tip #5: Brand Your Ministry
Name your women’s ministry!
This is often the most fun part of starting a women’s ministry… naming it!
Before you even think about naming your women’s ministry from scratch, complete some of the planning steps above. Many of the aforementioned tasks will shape and guide your thinking; sometimes, your name will emerge naturally from your work.
For example, as you plan your vision statement, your women’s ministry name may become evident. Or, as you are planning what your ministry will do, the same can happen.
I so love naming ministries and projects! My friends ask me to do it all the time. It’s easy for me to come up with a snazzy name people will remember.
Bring in other folks to help you name it, though.
Because I have learned from personal experience something can make complete and total sense to me, and the rest of the world is like, “What? What does that mean?” I’ve learned this lesson the hard way a few times through the years. 🙂
In the end, make sure the name is easy to say, understand and spell. I love using descriptive yet straight-to-the-point words.
Look at the name of this blog: Women’s Ministry Resources. It gets no simpler than that. You could also make an acronym.
Acronyms are fun!
One of my favorite acronyms was for a youth training organization I was associated with years ago. The acronym was B.E.S.T., which stood for building exemplary systems for training youth workers. Sometimes, acronyms mean absolutely nothing to the mainstream public; other times, they can spark empathy and even excitement.
For instance, AARP… I know it means something, but it’s not commonly known what exactly means. Do you know? 🙂
At any rate, test out your name by asking for that input from others I advised earlier. Your board of directors, stakeholders, and the advisory committee could be a part of selecting your name…or not.
You could even type out a mock business card with that name on it and see how it strikes you.
Does it garner some excitement or emotion?
Is it boring?
Does this sound too much like something else?
Does it leave you with options to grow, or is it too narrow?
If you name your women’s effort something like “Bible Study Helps for Women, Inc.” you will find you have absolutely no room to grow outside of that name.
Choose to go broader rather than too specific in terms of naming your women’s ministry.
Again, since you don’t have a big church name behind you when you start a women’s ministry outside the church, you need a catchy name people will remember on its own.
Need some inspiration for naming your women’s ministry? Check out Steve’s video from Nonprofit Ally.
My BONUS “how to start a women’s ministry outside the church” Tip: Create a marketing plan for a women’s ministry outside the church
Now that you have a name, you can reasonably think about your marketing plan. How will you make sure people know about your women’s ministry?
Now, let’s talk about creating a plan to reach the women you want to be part of your women’s ministry.
What is the best way to reach your women?
This is why I create an avatar or persona of the women I am targeting for ministry. Are your potential women mostly online? Or are they in an age group that doesn’t live their lives online?
Would they respond better to posters? If so, how will you get them in their hands? Where do they hang out? Where will they likely see a poster?
If you create a website or blog, as I mentioned in this post (click here to view), you may already have an audience for your women’s ministry!
If you don’t have an idea about how your target audience will receive information, just go ahead and list out all of the ways you can communicate with them.
This includes all the varieties of social media as well as local community calendars.
Most local community calendars are online and may list your women’s ministry events! Some won’t for religious organizations, but some do. Investigate it. I’ve had a great experience with that through the years.
Leverage Social Media
If you’re planning on targeting one social media outlet, learn as much as you can about it.
For instance, most people know Facebook will not show Facebook posts unless a page has been active and has lots of engagement.
Similarly, Facebook always wants you to pay to make your post available to others. This is valuable information for your women’s ministry marketing plan. I did create a page, but I am not planning on promoting posts…as of right now, that is. Please like the page: https://www.facebook.com/WomensMinistryResourcesandTips
Next, if you are using social media, you want to devise a schedule for posting content to that social media outlet. The key is frequency.
You need to post often, and you need to post things that will garner responses and engagement. Include all of that in your women’s ministry marketing plan.
Understand this: a women’s ministry outside the church is competing with women’s ministries that may be part of churches. You want to stand out; you want to be discovered. In this day of social media, you can. You have to research how to do it.
Take the time to learn about whatever social media outlet you like and select. What are the best practices? What can you do to make sure you are found by women in your niche?
Hubpost has a good article on writing your marketing plan. I like it because it is basic and perfect for a beginner: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/marketing-plan-examples
I downloaded a sample marketing plan template from the Small Business Development Center. I really like it. It’s a great template you can type your information in. Click to download it from my Google Drive.
Don’t negate the in-person pitch to promote your women’s ministry
While the magic of social media to reach the women in your target audience is an amazing approach, face-to-face is still a great way to get the word out about your women’s ministry.
Try to schedule meetings with local pastors’ wives to share about your ministry. Invite her to lunch or coffee and bring printed resources she can take with her.
While we live in a largely virtual world, building good old-fashioned relationships still works – especially with women’s ministry.
If nothing else, it creates a “buzz” around your work. Word of mouth is the absolute best way of marketing your women’s ministry.
Create a spreadsheet to keep track of your contacts. Include who you contacted, when, and the result of the contact. This spreadsheet will be helpful to you later should you need to follow up.
Other ways to market your ministry are:
- Partnering with local ministries and church events (as I mentioned like twice already 🙂
- Sponsoring Christian women’s events or buying space in their programs
- Blogging on a topic important to your women’s ministry and including your local city or town to attract local women
- Distribute flyers and postcards (not modern, but can work).
- Incentivize others to promote your women’s ministry by offering a free t-shirt or something cute and pretty if they promote the ministry.
- Always keep cards with you and hand them out when you meet or see someone
Starting a women’s ministry from scratch will not be an easy task, but will be a fulfilling one when you find you are achieving your ministry goals and seeing your women’s ministry vision statement come to life …right before your very eyes.
What questions do you have? What comments? Share them below!
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