Women's ministry is an integral area of church life that fosters the spiritual growth of half the church population. Women's ministry meets the needs of women in the church through classes, events, Bible studies and related activities, reaching out to women of all ages to ensure they are maturing in their faith. While women's ministry is most often thought of in connection with Christian churches, other faiths have similar women's outreach programs.
The primary function of a women's ministry is to meet the spiritual needs of women so that they mature in their faith. The director of a women's ministry creates, coordinates and implements events for women in the church such as Bible studies, women's conferences, holiday teas, mentoring and discipleship programs, retreats and Sunday school classes. They may work with other staff members whose areas of responsibility overlap their own, for example, when developing parenting classes for mothers of preschoolers.
The work environment of a women's ministry is usually a church setting. Those working in the ministry often find themselves working nontraditional work hours, including evenings, weekends and holidays like Easter or Christmas Eve. The work may also take them to settings outside of the church such as soup kitchens, pregnancy centers, community centers and schools. Members of the laity often work in women's ministry, though in some faiths it is the responsibility of ordained clergy. To work in women's ministry, individuals need to be comfortable working with a team of individuals, which can include pastoral and church staff, volunteers and members of the community.
Directors of women's ministry may be required by their church to have an undergraduate or graduate degree in a related field like counseling, Christian education or biblical studies. Many churches, though, hire women's ministry coordinators or directors who do not have a degree, but who have demonstrated experience organizing, working with and running a ministry.
Individuals with experience working in women's ministry can advance in their field by obtaining a graduate or post-graduate degree in a related field that allows them to pursue an academic position. Others work for parachurch organizations or denominational entities that develop curricula to be used in women's ministries. Some may use their experience as the springboard to a career as author or conference speaker.
Women's ministry needs to be sensitive to the diverse roles and circumstances of the women in their church, including single mothers, widows, working mothers, mothers who work within the home, teenage girls and elderly women. Women's ministry can offer counseling and can foster relationships through affinity groups such as sewing circles, gardening clubs or community-service projects. Women's ministry can also aim at providing education and job training to women in need.
Salary and Career Outlook
Many positions in women's ministry are voluntary and therefore do not pay a salary. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that directors of religious activities and education, including women's ministry directors, earned a median salary of $44,240 in 2013.
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