A recent blog post on trends in women’s ministry included a comment by one reader who said, “Despite years of Bible study, women cannot tell you where God is at work in their lives today.”
Is that true in your ministry? Have women studied and studied, memorizing facts and figures and charts and verses, yet don’t see God active in their own lives? While this may make us cringe, it’s a reality that is being noticed in churches throughout North America. In their book Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore: And How 4 Acts of Love Will Make Your Church Irresistible, Thom and Joani Schultz explain that “Divine Anticipation” is an act of love that will draw people to your church (and your ministry). Here’s a bit of that book to help us get an idea of what Divine Anticipation is:
“Divine Anticipation is living in the mystery and wonder of God. More than ever, our culture has squeezed our understanding of life into measurable facts, figures, analyses, scientific findings, technology, and cold, hard proof. Yet God still manages to overtake us. We can’t make the sun shine or the rain fall. We can’t bring a body to life, and we can’t explain how the world came to be and how it keeps spinning. From the incomprehensible, overwhelming nature of the universe to the tiniest forms of life, our world is full of mystery. And the mystery is most profound when it’s played out in every stage of our lives—birth, death, relationships, achievement, loss, joy, sorrow, questions, and answers.
“That said, Divine Anticipation means we emphasize God’s reality, presence, and action in our lives today. He is amazing, incredible, and wonderful now! The church has done a great job of emphasizing God’s might throughout history; all those Sunday school classes and Bible courses point us to the God of history in Bible times. We need to remember every day, every hour, that God is as awesome today as ever.
“We’re calling for a movement that not only celebrates the acts of God recorded in the Bible but equally emphasizes what God is doing today. Divine Anticipation invites and trains people to watch for God in action today. To live with the understanding that ‘God is here, ready to connect with you in a fresh way’ is utterly transformative.”
What does Divine Anticipation look like?
So how can we move women who have been studying the Bible for years to the point where they are actually encountering God and seeing him active in their own lives? The Schultzes’ book provides many practical ideas you can implement in your ministry. One idea that you can begin even today is this: Invite people to tell the stories of what God is doing in their lives. Here’s how Thom and Joani describe this:
“If they’re honest, many churchgoers will admit they’ve ‘heard it all before.’ One sermon may elicit stifled yawns more than anything else. But when a regular person is given time to share a personal faith story (some call this a testimony), people perk up. We “regular folks” long to hear about God’s activity in the lives of people like us. We all hunger for the wonder, awe, and reassurance that God is actively involved in people’s lives now.
“Whenever people come together, spend the precious time they’ve given you to share stories of what God is up to. Remember, Jesus came to earth not only to fulfill Scripture but also to demonstrate that God is alive. The Word became flesh and dwelled among us.
“Hearing others’ stories is a way to experience faith as a living, breathing relationship. We can’t have a relationship with an expired historical figure. We can have a relationship with the living God who shows up through people and the events in their lives.”
We’d love to know what this looks like in your church and in your ministry. How is God working? How are you seeing him active in the lives of women? What are the stories that are being shared, and how are you allowing and encouraging the sharing of those stories? Encourage us all by sharing your own stories on our Group for Women Facebook page.