I’m grateful to attend a complementarian church that has always not just “allowed” me to use my gifts, but actively encouraged me to do so. I’m even in seminary thanks to the encouragement of one of the elders. I can flourish where I am, but I also know not everyone has this. How a church does this I think, in large part, depends on the gifts and interests of the woman and obviously the interest and capacity and convictions of their particular leadership. My main ministry interests are writing, mercy/justice, and small groups. Here are the ways my church has encouraged the use of my gifts:
1) Encouraged me to attend seminary, even before I was thinking about it (and helped subsidize it with my asking first)
2) Got to attend small group leader retreat for several years even after I wasn’t a small group leader anymore and got to co-teach equipping breakout sessions
3) We have deaconesses and that position allows for a range of ways to be involved in small group equipping and mercy/justice on a congregation-wide scale.
4) Changed internship to allow women and now call it “Ministry Interns” rather than “Pastoral Interns.” I pitched this based on BCO 19.12 that requires interns to “devote themselves diligently to the trial of their gifts.” My internship allows me to try my hand at various kinds of ministry functions.
5) As intern, I led special Bible study led by interns and pastors during pandemic.
6) Asked me to write Annual Day of Vision and Prayer devotional that entire congregation uses.
7) As intern, included in rotation of interns asked to write Small Group Discussion Guides used by small group leaders in weekly meetings.
8) Connect me to people in parachurch ministries I have an interest in.
9) Participate in ministry events: Spoke at cross-cultural ministry event, panelist for faith and work ministry event.
10) Connect me with other women in ministry in leadership within and outside denomination.
11) One of the elders was putting together a group of people to rethink small group structure and strategy and asked me to be part of it.
12) Used liturgy I wrote for service.
13) Asked to write fall retreat devotionals.
14) A now-defunct discipleship program allowed me to explore in a guided but mostly independent way topics of interest to me.
15) Leaders read what I write/take an active interest in how my gifts are being used locally and more broadly.
16) Looks for ways to say yes and assume that posture when I come with requests.
17) Share my writing on church blog and include in weekly newsletter.
18) Acknowledge my gifts.