I’ve studied and read and memorized everything there is to know about Oprah, but something seems to be wrong—she still isn’t my friend!
No, I haven’t really done that. But imagine if I did. Would all that “homework” help me develop a relationship with Oprah? No? I didn’t think so.
I’ve been thinking about how this relates to faith and my relationship with God. If I can’t become Oprah’s friend by knowing everything about her—then does it make sense that I’ll have a relationship with God if I only spend time trying to learn everything there is to know about him? The answer to that has to be no.
So what does it look like if we treat faith like a relationship instead of a subject? For me, it has changed my focus from reading, studying, praying, and memorizing for the purpose of knowing about God, to doing all those things for the purpose of understanding God’s heart, spending time with him, spending time with others, and hearing what his heart is for me.
By changing my focus, I understand more about how much he loves me and who he wants me to be. And, I see him as the close friend he wants to be instead of the distant and authoritative God I used to see.
For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. –Romans 5:10
Now, let’s put this in relationship to ministry. In our women’s ministries, if our goal is to help women to have a relationship with God (not just know about him), is there anything we could change? In what ways do we maybe treat faith like a subject instead of a relationship? Things like sitting in rows and listening to teachers/speakers, taking notes, fill-in-the-blanks, memorizing facts, and doing homework come to mind.
None of these things are bad…until women start to develop the idea that they need to study their way toward a “good grade” with God, or begin creating “checklists” for their faith.
Did I do my homework? Check.
Did I get all the blanks filled in? Check.
These activities are done with good intention (they really are!), but can quickly taint women’s views of God, making him into a scorekeeper rather than a grace-filled father and friend. Or worse, they’re so focused on finishing the check list, they completely miss God all together. Soon they’re buried under the law and the “shoulds” of faith rather than being free through Jesus. This happens so easily when God and faith are treated like a subject to study.
So what can we do about it? Turn the focus to building relationships with God and others. The good news is—you don’t have to figure this out alone. For resources that are intentionally created with relationship as the focal point, you can always turn to Group. Our team of passionate content creators are purposeful about ensuring every resource fosters friendship, promotes face-to-face conversation, and weaves Bible teaching into everyday moments. Prayer and Bible study are still staples, but checklists are replaced by spending quality time with God and others.
When we make relationship with God and others the main point, we lead people to view God as their one true confidant. Their faith is rooted when they’re faced with the hardships and pressures of life. And, they become better disciples.
The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Matthew 13:23
Recommended resources for your women’s ministry:
Plan a Ministry Re-model
One way we can re-think how we approach faith in our women’s ministries is to take a step back and evaluate what we’re currently doing. A great resource for walking your leaders through this is Designing Your Women’s Ministry: A Step-By-Step Planning Guide.
Transform Your Retreat
Go from sitting in rows listening to a speaker and taking notes, to facing each other and experiencing God’s Word together. Every Group women’s retreat program is written to get women actively participating through Bible study, worship, discussion, service, and more.