10 important ways church planting can help women

When we think of missions, church planting may be the first thing that comes to mind. Yet it is often not thought of as ministry to women because the focus of church planting is much broader. As I reflect on my time in Thailand, here are some of the ways church planters help women.

Church planting helps women through

1. Providing mentoring
This can include tutoring, financial assistance, advice, encouragement and even connecting people who can provide mentoring and good opportunities for the future.

2. Improving livelihoods
Many of our church planters start micro-enterprise or livelihood projects projects with women so they can earn additional money to support their families.

3. Supporting marriages
Many women who come to faith are in difficult marriages. Through the help of church planters, they find support for these challenges. In many cases we have seen husbands come to Christ as a result of his wife’s living testimony. In other situations the marriage ends but the woman doesn’t have to face the divorce process alone.

4. Modelling female leadership
Many church planters are women. As a result they are able to be an example and role model to the women and girls they minister to.

5. Training and equipping for ministry
Women’s retreats and seminars provide opportunities for women to develop their gifts, to mutually support each other and to practically help each other. Even after the missionaries are gone, these gifted and willing women are able to lead retreats.

6. Honouring elderly women
In several churches I know, funds are provided to help elderly women. Church members will also visit and care for them in a way that has been modelled by the church planters.

7. Encouraging participation in church
In the churches established by OMF missionaries, women lead worship, share testimonies, teach and, in some cases, preach. Women are vital to most of the churches. I helped with a church plant in Thailand that started with two elderly women and one younger woman. The main church planter was a single woman working with them. One of the Thai elderly women in her 70s went on to help start a second church!

8. Offering freedom in Christ
Many women in Thailand follow traditional religious practices on behalf of their families. Those who turn to Christ are supported as they find out what following Jesus looks like day to day.

9. Encouraging female church planters
OMF church planters have worked alongside many Thai women who are church planters. In most cases these women work part-time while church planting. One woman is a cook, so she makes her living making and selling food. Another woman has a beauty salon but volunteers 10 hours or more a week to do evangelism and discipleship in a church planting team. This is like Priscilla and Aquilla (Acts 18:1-3) using their occupation to assist Paul in planting a church in Ephesus.

10. Lending a safe place for women in crisis
Church planting missionaries often help women with medical issues, basic female issues, debt relief, raising children, learning to read and pregnancy. We once hosted a single unmarried Thai girl live with us during her pregnancy and birth. Another time, we provided a safe-house to protect a woman from a violent husband. Church planters regularly do these kinds of things.

God is able to use church planting as a blessing in the lives of women. Have you ever considered being a church planter?

Original article can be found on OMF

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About the author

After having their hearts touched at a missions conference, Mark Leighton and his wife, Becky, joined OMF in 1985 and moved their family of three boys to Thailand. From 1985-1995 they worked in Central Thailand, helping to establish two churches. From 1995-2007 Mark and Becky served as regional directors in Central Thailand. In 2007 they were appointed field directors of OMF Thailand, serving in that role until they retired at the start of 2017.

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