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Think Tattoo Not Nail-Polish

Think Tattoo Not Nail-Polish

A Guide To Pick A Women’s Ministry Curriculum

Cheyenne Werner

Women's Ministry Director

Peace Church

Published On:

November 1, 2023

Women’s Bible Study books are as numerous as nail polish color options. But unlike lacquer that can be removed with a swipe of acetone, Women’s Bible studies have a tattoo-like imprint on ladies’ lives. With that kind of enduring influence, curating curricula is worthy of careful consideration.

So what factors should Women’s Ministry leaders consider when choosing a curriculum? Two categories come to mind: Structure and Substance. Details like time, duration, and “homework load” often make a difference in how invested women can be. And yet if the content is confusing, overwhelming, unsound, or distracting from the Gospel – then women will leave with a counterfeit understanding of God’s Word, of who He is, and of what He is like.

Let’s walk through three factors from each of these two categories, starting with Structure.

  1. Time. There’s a reason why kids’ sports seasons are typically limited to 6-8 week sessions. As a busy mom, 1.5-2 months feels like a feasible commitment, and allows for a couple weeks’ break before the next busy season. In Michigan, where the school year starts at the end of August, 8 weeks is the sweet spot to give ladies a few weeks to get their families into the school-groove before adding on Bible Study and still ending before Thanksgiving. Most Bible study books fall in the 6-10 week range. Consider yourcontext. Do seasons, school years, or holidays impact the availability of your women? While it may seem “unspiritual” to make such a big deal of this factor, you may be limiting the population of women able to attend if duration isn’t taken into account.

  2. Type. Some Bible studies use Christian non-fiction books that have discussion questions at the end of each chapter. Other Bible Studies use workbooks that have daily passages to read, along with commentary and/or questions to guide women to an understanding of the passage. Both are instrumental in discipleship. Generally, however, they are the difference between “giving a [woman] a fish” (i.e. using non-fiction chapter books) and “teaching a [woman] to fish” (i.e. using Bible study workbooks). A beginner fisherwoman is going to get pretty hungry and despairing if she’s expected to only eat the fish she catches herself. But if she never learns to “fish” by studying the Bible on her own, she’s always going to be dependent on others to tell her what to get from God’s Word. A thoughtful strategy to what types of studies you use at your church matters!

  3. Teaching-format. Video-teaching has become pretty standard for women’s Bible study curricula. One of the greatest benefits to using video-teaching is access to insight from the author themselves! This can help create aha-moments for women who were stuck on a particular question or passage during the week, and it also helps women feel more connected with the person behind the written word. At the same time, don’t write off digital-free Bible studies! One of the most compelling and well-received “teaching” formats we have used at Peace Church is having two women on stage share about the “highlights and hard-things” they encountered while reading through that week’s passage.

Considering these structural factors will help narrow down your selection base. Now let’s filter these options through the lens of Substance:

  1. Scripture. A “Bible study” should (drum roll please…) study the Bible (and not just an inspiring topic with scattered, isolated verses)! While there are topical Bible studies that are well anchored to scripture, women are more likely to do those studies on their own or with a friend. Structured, scheduled Bible Study is a chance to train believers to build Bible-literacy by digging into whole chapters and books of the Bible at a time and grappling with tricky passages together that they might otherwise skip over. In fact, there is a massive misunderstanding that the Old Testament is disposable. As you’re considering what part of scripture to study, remember to teach and model that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man [and woman] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever do topical studies. But be strategic about what topics and books of the Bible you choose!

  2. Source. The only cover-feature more alluring than an illustrated sprig of eucalyptus is the name of everyone’s favorite Christian female author. But before you appease the mob of women requesting a certain book by a certain source, do your research! Make sure that any source you are using is trustworthy and written with sound theology. Invite your pastors to make author suggestions or evaluate books you’re considering. Find articles, podcasts, or interviews of both male and female authors who have written studies on the book of the Bible or topic that you want to dig into with your ladies.

  3. Scope. If you’ve narrowed down every one of these earlier categories, then the next thing to consider is whether the scope of the study is a good match for the span of your women. A curriculum should always include an explanation of the Gospel; a demonstration of the cohesion of Scripture through faithful cross-referencing; contextual information to help guard ladies from misinterpretation; questions that reach both the heart and mind; teaching that addresses both sin and grace; and content that magnifies God over and above all else. While these are essentials for your scope, other aspects should be determined by the makeup of your participants. If your women’s ministry is comprised of a lot of newer believers, be cautious about choosing a study with an intense amount of “homework” or that uses a lot of theological vocabulary without explanation. If your population is older, be sure that the application questions aren’t primarily geared towards young moms. But don’t think a diverse population poses a problem for picking a curriculum! If you have a mixture of ages and stages of spiritual maturity, err on the side of a simpler (but engaging!) curriculum that still encompasses all the essentials. The women in your group who have more Bible knowledge will most likely dig deeper into the passage on their own and then share what they learned with their discussion groups. In this way, you are creating a Titus 2:3-4 environment with “older women teaching the younger women.”

While these 6 factors will help you narrow down your top picks for Bible study curricula, don’t be paralyzed by fear. Unlike tattoos, there is one last factor that can redeem even a poor curriculum choice: Prayer. As women’s ministry leaders, even our most faithful attempts at picking the perfect book are limited because we are not omniscient or omnipotent. So while it’s important that we use discernment, ultimately it’s God who knows exactly what they need and who inscribes His Spirit on their hearts (1 Cor 3:6-9, Is. 55:11, 2 Cor. 3:3). Commit to pray for clarity and entrust the women in your ministry to your faithful God.

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